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Jaybird SB1 Bluetooth Headphones Review

February 10th, 2010 3 comments

I have a problem.  I am totally addicted to Bluetooth headphones.  I have no idea how I developed this addiction or what deepseated child neuroses my constant updating of my BT headphones collection is satisfying, but I can’t get enough of the silly things.  My wife is very patient with my obsession, despite how much money I spend on it.  The Jaybird SB1 is the latest addition to my collection.

My previous experiences with Jaybird left me a bit leery of ordering these.  I had purchased a set of their Freedom headphones when those had first come out only to realize when I got them that they were not compatible with glasses.  Which basically meant they were useless to me, even when I was wearing contacts (cause, you know, I have to look cool by wearing shades).  I can’t believe that no one on the Jaybird testing team had this problem.  I don’t know about you, but I use wireless headphones as much as possible.  Years of listening to Air Supply and Barry Manilow at glass-shattering volumes have left my ears unable to discern much of anything, so I don’t miss the ultra-high fidelity that wired headphones bring.  And I’m willing to give up that fidelity anyways because I hate being tangled up in cords, especially at the gym.

I ordered the SB1‘s through Amazon, where they were marked as pre-order status (and cheaper than on the Jaybird site itself).  They actually arrived within their customary 2 day window, much to my surprise.  So here are my first set of unboxing pics.

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(Man, that guy could be my twin.  Well, at least in terms of the chrome dome anyways).

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Nice plastic wrapping.  Could the electronics industry use any MORE plastic?  I mean, I know we have infinite oil supplies, but still.  Sheesh.

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Nice and new out of the box.  The manual, by the way, is a marvel of simplicity.  I think there are only fifteen sentences in the manual.  Everything is done through colored pictographs.  My wife was unable to figure out what said pictographs meant, which goes to show you who the target audience might be.

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This is the power/control portion of the headphones.  Five buttons.  That’s it.

Pairing was very straightforward.  The phones arrived with sufficient power to turn on and connect to my iPhone without any issues.  Charging took about three or four hours.  It has a nice touch in that the power indicator only glows red until it’s charged up.  When the SB1’s are fully charged, the red charging light goes off.

There is about an inch of extension to the drivers, and the foam is fairly thick.  The controls are covered in a matte rubber, and are easily manipulated even in gloves once you’re used to them.  The big silver power button serves as a play/pause button and the iPhone only allows volume control through BT anyways, so it’s not like I had a lot of choices to make.

The Jaybird people make a big deal out of the fact that the headphone pads swivel in two dimensions.  The amount of play in that swivel is not huge, so I don’t know that I got a lot of additional comfort because of this.  The foam covering the headphone drivers is a thicker version of the foam that come with earbuds.  Jaybird must be expecting that these things will last, because they didn’t provide a spare set of foam covers.  I can see them being torn over time and Jaybird would be well advised to make sure they have replacements available.

Sound quality was good.  Like I said, I’m no audiophile, but I had no issues with the sound level reaching my ears, even compared to my previous Sony BT headphones, which plug directly into my ears.  Phone quality was also good.  Folks on the other end had a bit of trouble hearing me but I chalk that up to the fact that I’m not a yeller – I speak at a normal volume no matter the environment and expect the headphone mic to pick me up.  The SB1’s did that just fine.

In terms of downsides, I had three main issues with the SB1’s.  First (and this will vary based on user), the headphones are TIGHT against your ears.  My ears were sore after an hour or two of use and I don’t think I have a very big head (small brain, you know).  For the more cranially endowed, the SB1’s might be way tight.  I’m sure the plastic headband will expand and loosen over time, but it’s something to keep in mind.  Second, I experienced weird volume issues as the power on the headphones drained down.  It was very difficult to reproduce, so I couldn’t tell if it really was a problem, but for some reason, the volume refused to drop down below a certain (very loud) level.  It was bizarre.  Finally, I noticed that the rubber underside of the plastic headband had started pulling away from the headband at the edges.  It wasn’t horrible, but it was enough that I was concerned.  I ordered a replacement pair from Amazon and this time I’m going to check the edges right upon opening the packaging.  I wasn’t sure if the edges had always been this way or if it had developed over the two weeks I’ve had the headphones.

Overall, the SB1’s are a good set of BT headphones.  They did slide around a bit on my head, which I really kind of chalk up to the fact that I have no hair.  The sound quality is good and the microphone seems to work just fine.  Controls are easy to use, charging seems quick, and overall I’m pretty happy with these.  The specs indicate that these are pairable with up to two devices but when I tried to pair them with my PC, I got all kinds of errors.  Contacting Jaybird support indicated that this was a Windows limitation rather than an SB1 issue.  I will ding them on support though – I asked them another question and I have yet to hear back from them.

I’ll update the post when I get a replacement pair from Amazon.  I’m hoping that these will be my primary BT headphones for the foreseeable future, but I’m sure I’ll fall in lust with another pair.

UPDATE: I received my replacement pair of SB1’s in the aftermath of the East Coast Snowpocalypse.  This time I took a careful look at the edges of the headband where the rubber and plastic meet.  They seem to be just fine, so it makes me think that either I got a defective set or it might be a problem that develops over time.  I’m hoping not because I do like these headphones.  I’ll post another update if I notice that they are starting to pull apart again.  Jaybird does offer a year warranty so you do have some level of recourse.

12 Things X-mas List, Part 1

November 25th, 2009 No comments

I was going to wait until after Turkey Day to start posting my “12 Things That Would Be Really Cool To Have For Christmas” list, but then I decided that the earlier I start, the more likely I am to actually get one of these things.
So here is number one (these are going to appear in no particular order of preference, btw):

The Eye-Fi SD wireless card.
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The Eye-Fi card is the 1st wireless memory card for your digital camera. It is just like a normal SD card except that it is wireless enabled and can be synced with your home wireless network (actually it can be synced with up to 32 different wireless networks) so you can transfer your photos and videos to your computer without the mess of cables. And we all know how much I hate cables (fyi, A LOT).

There are four classes of cards.
Home ($49.99) – This is the stripped down version. It’s 2GB and only transfers JPEGs and only to your computer, not to photo sharing sites.
Share Video ($79.99) – This adds the ability to upload video as well as uploading directly to photo sharing sites like Flickr, Facebook and more.
Explore Video($99.99) – This adds Hotspot access and Geotagging to the package
Pro ($149.99) – Includes RAW support and “Ad Hoc” transfers (the photos get transfered to your laptop instantly while you shoot)… This is essentially wireless tethering without the need for a Hotspot or wireless access point. Awesome!!!

There’s a few other card options as well, so there really is a card to suit everyone’s need and budget. And of course, any Eye-Fi user get a free iPhone app that uploads all your iPhone images and videos automatically to your selected sharing sites.

And the best part, it works with your existing digital camera. Currently these cards are compatible with over 1,000 different models.

So of course the next question is: Does it work with the Mac?
Yeah. It totally works with the Mac. OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6 in fact.

Here’s a rundown of system requirements:
An SDHC compatible camera. Not sure if yours is one of them? Find out here.
A broadband Internet connection
A Wi-Fi router compatible with 802.11b/g
A computer with Windows XP/Vista/7 or Mac OSX 10.4, 10.5, or 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
An internet browser, specifically Internet Explorer 7 (Windows only), Firefox 2 and 3 (Windows and OS X) and Safari 3 (OS X 10.4 – 10.6)

What it comes with:
A 2GB or 4GB (depending on model) SD Eye-Fi Share Video memory card with built-in Wi-Fi
Eye-Fi Manager software
Free USB card reader for easy setup
Quick Start Guide

specs:
Range: 90+ ft outdoors & 45+ ft indoors
Advanced power management that optimizes use of your camera power
Wi-Fi security: Static WEP 64/128, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK

I know I sound like an advertisement for Eye-FI (I swear, I am not actually on their payroll). But it really is that cool of a product. And one day I’ll be able to dump out the entire drawer of cables I have dedicated just for that purpose. That truly will be a wonderful day.

Via Eye-Fi website

Schlage LiNK system controls who gets in

May 3rd, 2009 No comments

I stumbled across this product line while looking for a new deadbolt for my house.  I’m a big fan of wireless and remote control appliances, so the new Schlage LiNK system caught my eye immediately.

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The LiNK system is a wireless remote access network system that allows you to control access into your home.  Ever lock yourself out of the house?  Ever needed to let a child in because they forgot a key?  Want to let a petsitter take care of Fido?  Well now you can take care of all those situations using remote access via the Internet or your iPhone/cell phone.  The LiNK system consists of a bridge module that connects to your wireless network.  The bridge module allows control over a line of Schlage locks.  It also controls a remote-enabled wall plug so that you can remotely activate lights, appliances, etc.

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Tres cool.  And given the nature of the technology, it can be expanded to include other types of remote automation, making this the basis of a home where you don’t have to get off your couch to do anything.  Well, most things.  Why is no one working on the remote control mobile toilet?!?!?

SmartVue S8 Surveillance System lets you watch from anywhere.

April 27th, 2009 No comments

There’s been a rash of burglaries in my area.  Nothing huge, and a lot of opportunistic stuff, but enough to get me concerned.  So I started looking into video surveillance systems that were relatively easy to install and fairly foolproof.  I ran across the SmartVue S8 in my travels and decided that I need to keep this one on my short list.
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The system is wireless and modular.  Each wireless recorder supports up to 20 different cameras, all connected wirelessly to the DVR.  This is professional level stuff, with cameras that can be mounted to ceilings or walls.  There are versions for outdoor use as well as versions that protect against vandalism.  Its configuration management is web-based, and there’s even an app that will allow you to watch your cameras from your iPhone.  The management software allows you to view/manage up to 1 million feeds.  1 million!  That’s a lot of dressing rooms, my friends.  It will switch automatically to a low light version for night use.  And it will automatically take a 2 megapixel snapshot when it detects motion.  No more grainy footage of the guy making off with your new flatscreen.  Now this is security.  Of course all these features do result in a premium price when compared to most personal video surveillance systems.  But isn’t your safety  worth it?

I’m wearing a HALO

April 7th, 2009 No comments

You all know how I love slim.  Women, toys, phones, furniture – if it’s sleek and minimal, I usually want it.  This new product from Jabra is right up there in the slim-o-sphere.  So of course I want it.

jabra01The HALO is Jabra’s first stereo Bluetooth headphone.  It’s due in May (gee, the timing wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain product that will be releasing stereo Bluetooth streaming by any chance would it?) and is one of the few Jabra products designed for two ears, not just one.  It folds in upon itself to minimize its storage requirements even more and will play for six hours between charges.  Of course, being a Jabra, it will also let you take calls as well as listen to your new iPhone 4G sans wires.  Man, I’ve been asking for that since iPod 5G.  About FRAKKIN’ TIME Apple!

Course, this slim beauty isn’t cheap (slim beauties rarely are), so if you want it, it’ll set you back 130 bones.  Gotta pay to be pretty, baby.

via DVICE

RCA Wireless Portable Phone Jack

March 26th, 2009 3 comments
Wireless Portable Phone Jack

Wireless Portable Phone Jack

Even though people are replacing their home phones with cellphones. Some still believe in the land line for safety.  However, if  you start to run out of telephone jacks and don’t want the cost and work of installing new jacks, meet the Wireless Portable Phone Jack by RCA.

The Wireless phone jack converts your AC outlet into a phone jack with dumb proof installation.  You simply plug the wireless phone jack into any of your AC outlet.

I’m sure there’s gadget converter out there for AC outlets to ethernet as well. We’ll definitely write about it when we get word.
Features

  • Turn any AC outlet into a phone or modem jack, Add a fully functional phone/modem jack without running wires, Easy phone line access for satellite and TIVO wherever needed, Fully compatible with new set-top baxes including Dish Network and DirecTV, Includes base jack and extension cord
  • Compatible with call forwarding, call waiting, three-way calling, conference calling, etc.
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 8.2 x 3 inches ; 3.4 pounds.
  • Includes base jack and extension cord.

Wireless Portable Phone Jack

Via Gadget Grid

solCHAT untangles your car just a little bit.

March 25th, 2009 No comments

I don’t know about you but my car is a mass of wires.  I’ve got power cords for my iPhone, my GPS, and (for really long trips) a couple headrest monitors connected to a DVD player.  That’s a lot of stuff plugged into cigarette lighters jacks.  Thank god I don’t smoke, cause I really need the plugs.  And while I like wireless Bluetooth headsets, they’re yet another thing I gotta have a power cord for just in case I run out of charge while chatting with my supermodel actress “friend” from Sweden.  Well Scosche has just announced their solCHAT to help me deal with that last problem.

43612926600x400cbhsol_backThe solCHAT is a solar powered Bluetooth speakerphone.  So you throw this little puppy on the dash, connect it to your iPhone or Bluetooth capable handset, and head off into the sunrise talking away.

Now my supermodel friend has said that the wind noise when I’m driving topdown in my Aston Martin makes it difficult to hear my melodious voice, but that’s a small price to pay for having one less thing to plug in.

Should be available soon.

via