Bluetooth Earpieces Do Battle With the $3,000 Hearing Aid

One night in June 2010, New York composer Richard Einhorn went to bed in a motel feeling stuffy and woke up almost completely deaf. At the time, Einhorn, who wrote the oratorio Voices of Light, had limited ways to deal with his nightmare condition, known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. He visited an audiologist and bought a hearing aid for $3,000. (His insurance plan, like most, didn’t cover it.) Unhappy with the expense and the limits of the earpiece’s technology, which struggled to adapt to different noise levels, Einhorn began searching for alternative gadgets that could restore more of his hearing for less money.

Today, he has a backpack full of them. To supplement his old-school hearing aid, he favors a $350 iPhone-linked earpiece made by Sound World Solutions, a hearing-hardware maker in Park Ridge, Ill., for whom he’s begun to consult. With the Sound World device on, he can amplify phone calls and streaming music as well as his surroundings. A third, $500 earpiece was custom-made by Ultimate Ears in Irvine, Calif., to help him detect a wider range of musical tones while composing. For restaurants and theaters, he has a $45 directional microphone that pairs with a $5 app to isolate desired voices. And for especially cacophonous places, he has spare $700 microphones, made by Etymotic Research in Elk Grove Village, Ill., that he can strap to companions.

Einhorn credits the audio patchwork with saving his career and his life. “It’s incredible,” he says over lunch in a busy restaurant, as he toggles the proper setting on his phone.

The Bluetooth-connected earpieces aren’t classified as hearing aids by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They’re called personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. Basic versions of such devices have existed for more than a decade in lonely RadioShack aisles and a handful of other places. But in the past 18 months, advances in circuitry and low-energy Bluetooth transmission have helped developers radically improve the designs to make high-quality, long-lasting alternativesto hearing aids while keeping pricesat a fraction of the industry standard.

Whatever regulators or insurers call them, PSAP manufacturers are angling to expand the $6 billion global market for hearing technology. Largely due to the cost, 75 percent of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss don’t use aids, says David Kirkwood, the editor of industry blog Hearing Health & Technology Matters. “A lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids,” he says. “But there are now inexpensive, easy-to-get alternatives.”

Part of the reason PSAPs are cheap is that they’re unregulated. Hearing-aid fittings and audiological calibrations account for much of the cost of aids from the big six makers—Siemens, Sonova, Starkey Hearing Technologies, William Demant, GN ReSound, and Widex. A midlevel pair that retails for $4,400 costs about $440 to manufacture, according to AARP. Research and development spending is also a factor: Unlike the free Bluetooth standard used by upstarts such as Sound World, old-school hearing aids run on proprietary signal processing and transmission technology. Siemens, Sonova, and Widex declined to comment; GN ReSound, Starkey, and William Demant didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Still, being kept out of doctors’ offices has been a huge problem for PSAP makers, says Venkat Rajan, who tracks medical devices for researcher Frost & Sullivan. While the size of the market can be difficult to gauge given the lack of regulation, anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been soft, he says. It doesn’t help that, according to industry journal the Hearing Review, the average American buying a hearing aid is 71 years old. “Trying to find that customer base has been difficult,” Rajan says.

The marketing of hearing aids, classified as medical devices by the FDA since 1977, is strictly regulated in the U.S. According to agency guidelines that predate the latest generation of equipment, PSAP makers aren’t allowed to market their products as medical devices. Instead, they’re supposed to be used recreationally by people who can already hear comfortably. The FDA, which wouldn’t say whether it plans to change its rules, occasionally issues warnings to companies it believes to be violating them, so PSAP ads tend to include at least one verbal somersault. An ad for Etymotic describes its latest product, the Bean, thusly: “Not a hearing aid but has many advantages.”

The $300 Bean is the brainchild of Mead Killion, the co-founder of Etymotic. He invented the analog hi-fi amplification technology behind the device back in 1988, but says it’s only since 2013 that circuitry has become cheap enough for the product to be worth manufacturing en masse. His company uses the same technology in adaptive earplugs designed for orchestra musicians or infantry troops to keep music or conversation audible while dampening loud noises. A decade ago, Killion failed to persuade the FDA that early PSAPs should be sold over the counter. He’s lobbying for a contract with the Department of Defense.

Normally, I hear fine, but I conducted a hands-on experiment shortly before an interview with Killion. It became clear that having professional help putting these things in is a good idea. Initially, one Bean in each ear made it easy to hear faraway gossip in a noisy Whole Foods. Then I pushed them too far, and suddenly could hear nothing at all. Killion said the problem was waxy buildup in my narrow ear canals, so the next step was a $150 cerumenectomy—that is, getting a doctor to scrape out gobs of wax and clear the blockage.

The era of Internet diagnosis hasn’t eliminated the need for medical professionals, says Erin Miller, president of the American Academy of Audiology. “This is our biggest problem with the PSAPs in general,” she says. “We want to make sure someone has looked in the patient’s ear.” All the more reason, PSAP makers argue, to put their products in medical offices next to those from Starkey and ReSound. For now, the companies’ sales will be limited to true believers like Einhorn, the composer. “You have to remember that I’m a maniac,” he says. “I will do anything to hear as best as possible in any situation.”

What we say: Whilst Bluetooth is regarded as an old technology now the reliability can’t be questioned. It would seem that this type of technology is a log time coming to a thirsty industry for inventive technology. Source - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-05/hearing-aid-alternatives-get-cheaper-more-powerful 

The Perfect Icom Radio Earpiece Ever

They are not just your normal earpieces. Nor are they just anything that lets you listen to your music. For any security guard, detective officer or investigator, ordering for the icom radio earpiece will not just be any other addition. In a world that is revolving around quality innovations, having the best set of earpieces in town should be your least target as a security officer. It can be even better if you do rely on the radio technology to send and receive signals in an institution. Just know that, if you really need some light and top notch earpieces, then this is the perfect offer you will ever get.

Product description

Different with most radio earpieces, this model is exceptionally light and durable to last for as long as you possible. They are easy to use as they don’t drop easily. However, what wows most customers is its audio quality. On trying them out, you will indeed approve of the quality audio that can be excellent for numerous contexts. The PTT or microphone holding clips allow you to simply attach them to your vest. When displaced while walking, you can simply press from the front instead of grabbing the whole unit to get it back in position. Though mostly used by investigators and detective officers carrying out operations, getting them for your security guards will enhance that surety on the quality of signal reception.

How to where them

These exceptional pieces are long wired. You can thus wear them under any clothing that can allow the microphone to be passed down through your sleeves to the cuff where you will clip them. You may also find it comfortable to clip them to the vest or just near the lapel for perfect communication. The length of the wire is about 110cm. add that to the allowance created by these devices and you will have a comfortable receiver to walk around with. For anyone who really understands what the nature of the job demands, then missing out on such top quality earpieces is not likely.

Features

- Electric microphone- it has an in-built electric microphone with a hidden speaker located just at center of the switch.

- Low profile high quality sound- with the flexible and transparent acoustic tube, you are not only assured of top quality sound, but also efficient undercover work as the transparent tube won’t be noticed.

- A 2 jack straight plug –it the 3.5mm mono the 2.5 mono spaced at 6.7mm between each.

Benefits

The technology used to make the microphone gives you the wide line between this product and some other counterfeit earpieces in the market. It is comfortable and doesn’t strain you around on your job. You don’t need to worry about your undercover job being blown up due to microphone exposure. This is what has made many customers to appreciate icom radio earpiece devices. It can be accommodated in any kind of clothing due to its small size.

Furthermore, its available connectors come in a sleek design that helps perform tasks as you use two way radios. However, you are advised to check for connectors that suit the task at hand. For instance, if one opts for a straight connector pin that works well for marine radios for domestic use, then expect a great difference in the sound quality. Each one of them is designed to work well in certain environments. That’s why buying, there will be certain assets to be considered for a perfect one for your task. All in all, the earpieces offer the best quality sounds for work stations such as real estate, transport, shipping, healthcare and security.

Cons

There are no current negative issues about these devices. You just have to ensure that you order directly from respectable sites that sell them. This will help avoid getting fake devices. It also offers you a chance to understand the perfect connectors suitable for certain fields. You will surely have no issues with these earpieces.

Conclusion

For better security performance, you will need the best headsets for communication. Without even getting referrals from anyone, the quality of icom radio earpiece will definitely prove to be the best. You can then enjoy connecting with fellow colleagues, clients and loved ones through this modern innovation. Don’t miss out on the best earpiece around being offered at just £20! Good luck!

Police investigate after driver caught with mobile, headphones AND LAPTOP on busy Aberdeen road

This is the moment a motorist was captured on camera driving in a busy street – looking at his mobile, with his laptop plugged in and wearing earphones.

A screenshot from the video on Queen's Road, Aberdeen

The shocking footage was recorded in rush hour traffic and shows a blue 4×4 heading towards the centre of Aberdeen.

The male driver of the Land Rover Discovery now faces being quizzed by police about his antics – and has already been condemned by road safety campaigners.

The video was shot in the city’s Queen’s Road and uploaded to YouTube by a mystery cyclist known only as Cycle Cam.

Initially, the driver can be seen apparently looking down at his mobile phone as he cruises past the self-styled vigilante.

But when the biker catches up with him as he gets stuck in a queue of traffic, the full scale of his onboard gadget collection is revealed.

His ears are plugged by headphones connected to a mobile device, he is looking down at his phone and even has a laptop switched on and open next to the transmission tunnel of his vehicle.

The cyclist flashes his lights and points out the separate gadgets to him, but the 4×4 pulls off.

In a description to accompany the video, Cycle Cam writes: “This bloke is driving a Land Rover in town, looking at a mobile phone, laptop and wearing headphones on both ears.

“Not only is he not paying any attention to the road, I suspect he’s not even on this planet.

“I was truly surprised when I saw the laptop with the screen on and the headphones on both ears.

“I was ‘just’ expecting him to be on his mobile phone, as I see dozens of times everyday.”

The latest driver is just one of many motorists named and shamed on YouTube by the cyclist, who first caught the public’s attention last year with a video of a man pretending to be a police officer during a road rage encounter.

Describing his or her self as a “daily cycle commuter”, Cycle Cam’s online profile says: “General cycling education and naming and shaming bad driving in the roads of Aberdeen city and shire.

“Don’t want to be a star in my videos? Don’t endanger others. Drive properly, don’t be impatient and don’t be rude. Simple!”

After being contacted by the Press and Journal about the video, police said they were “following a positive line of inquiry”.

Last night, the driver was criticised by local councillors and road safety groups.

Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross councillor Ross Thomson said he had been “extremely stupid”.

He said: “Dangerous driving like this has been a concern of the local community for some time and is regularly mentioned at community council meetings.

“It is especially a concern on the Queen’s Road because of the close proximity of all the schools in the area.

“The fact he was wearing headphones and had on a laptop is extremely dangerous.

“If you’re wearing headphones you are completely cutting off one of your senses, meaning you can’t hear emergency vehicles or other drivers’ horns.

“I know that driving through town can be frustrating but there is no e-mail that is more important than the life of a pedestrian.”

Neil Greig, research and policy director at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said the driver should be “ashamed”.

He said: “It’s a clear example of breaking the law on mobile phone use and the driver should be ashamed to be taking such risks for the sake of keeping in touch. No call is more important than someone’s life.

“The IAM have no problem with camera users sharing their footage with Police Scotland so that they can consider if formal action is required.

“Ideally, we would like to see more police out there enforcing the law rather than relying on amateurs.

“No one taking such footage should be pursuing a car just to get a good shot. Concentrating on catching someone out is also a distraction from the real task of driving or riding safely.”

You can watch the video by Aberdeen Cycle Cam here, on Scotland’s Worst Drivers’ Facebook page.

Source - https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/482954/hold-police-investiagte-after-camera-catches-driver-using-laptop-mobile-and-headphones-on-busy-aberdeen-road/

How To Wear A Police Radio Earpiece?

meant especially for the people in uniform, Through this they communicate with one another. A message which is passed on by one police officer to another can be heard by the use of this earpiece. This is really very beneficial for the policemen. You will even find it worn by reporters or commentators during matches and reports. This helps one to hear communications while communicating.

Why To Wear These Earpieces?

The police radio earpiece comes in different forms it can be a loop or also a simple earbud like an earphone which you can fit into the ears. But often earbuds can come out while running or moving. Loops are said to be more comfortable and can easily fit into the ears. You can wear this easily in the ears. The police men wear these earpieces because –

  • To communicate with one another easily whenever they need
  • These earpieces offer better audio so that one can clearly hear the messages passed on to them
  • It is small and comfortably fits into the ears and hardly anyone around you can hear it

These earpieces are designed for professional purposes. Mainly security personnel, police officers, detectives, militaries and armies use these kinds of earpieces while they are at work or on duty. Often they feel a need to convey some message to other officers on duty. Then with the help of walkie-talkie or a radio they transmit the message to others. This is indeed a very useful device for professional people.

How To Wear?

The police radio earpiece is available in 3 different sizes – small size, medium size and large size. You have to buy the one according to the shape and size of your ear. Otherwise you may face some problems and the earpiece will either come out because it is loose or it will not fit for being smaller than your ears. So, choosing the right size is very much important. Second thing is that it comes in a pair for both right ear and left ear. But mainly policemen wear it in one ear so that they can focus on the other sounds and noises too.

You have to find out in which ear you are comfortable. Mainly people who are right handed are more comfortable in right ears and just the opposite for the left handed people. Then you have to take the earbud of the earpiece and push it properly into your ear. Make sure that it has fitted properly into your ears and will not come out. If it is loose then adjusting it in right away is necessary. Now when you are done with the earbud take the loop over your ears and push it to adjust. Use your finger to push it back to ears and make it comfortable.

Now it is the testing time. If you are comfortable with the earpiece check the sounds and noises. Is everything working properly and whether or not you can hear clearly? Once all are okay and done properly, the job is complete. Now you can tuck it inside your shirt or jacket whatever you feel more comfortable. Customized earpieces are also available which are made exactly according to the size of your ears. This will, undoubtedly, fit best in your ears. You will not even feel uneasy or uncomfortable wearing it, like most of the other earpieces.

Some Important Tips

Since the police radio earpieces are worn often and regularly, keeping it clean is very important. When you are done with it, open it and put it inside the box carefully. The wires are delicate and if you do not take proper care, it will become broken and will not work properly. Mainly these earpieces are made up of plastic and are coated with silicone adhesive. This silicon ensures a better durability of this product. Buying the right piece for your ears is essential. So, buy from a reliable store that sells excellent products. It can be an online or offline store but make sure it is reliable by checking the reviews and feedbacks of previous customers.

Earpiece comes in handy for hands-free phone

You can get this orignal post at nwherald.com

The last time I remember being hands free was when I was in high school, riding my bicycle hands free.

No hands on the handlebars while I bicycled with my golf clubs to Green Acres – no kidding – Country Club in Donnellson, Iowa. My 10-speed was a marvel in balance. It certainly helped that Donnellson was flat and the streets well-paved, as well as completely lacking in traffic.

I could maneuver the mile to the golf course without putting my hands on the handlebars, except to make turns. It probably was dangerous, and police probably would pull me over now for hands-free bicycling.

Why I didn’t crumple up into a pile of bicycle and blood is beyond me. But I had hardly a care in the world when I was biking to the golf course or other points in between. And this was before helmets and the notion of traumatic brain injuries. I was just a kid.

Now, hands free takes on a new meaning in Illinois. It’s not about bicycling; it’s about driving.

And, as of Jan. 1, it is illegal to talk on your cellphone while driving if you are holding it up to your ear. Police can pull you over if they see you and give you a $75 ticket first time out. And if you don’t get it the first time, the second time you are pulled over, the ticket is $100. After four times, you could have your license suspended.

I don’t want a ticket. No call is worth $75. And you would have to be plain dumb to lose your license over cellphones.

I’ve had a cellphone for almost nine years; I think it came inside our wedding cake. For all my life, I had been tied to the landline, only it wasn’t called a landline. It was called a telephone, and it was attached to the wall. And if you wanted to make a call, you were attached to the wall.

I was a latecomer to cellphones. In fact, I was anti-cellphone. If I had a cellphone, it meant that I was connected to the world at all times; there was no getting away from it. Of course, if it rang, you would answer it. No matter where you were. In the living room. In the bathroom. Egad. In the car. There was no escaping the world with a cellphone. I wanted that escape.

But I’ve come to find out that I do not receive a lot of telephone calls. And I do not make a lot of telephone calls. I haven’t done a thorough analysis, but I think most of the telephone calls I receive come from my pharmacy, my friendly pharmacy. Completely computer generated.

My good wife comes in second. We’re really never that far apart to need to call.

But call I do on my way home from my Friday evening appointments, talking all the way from the parking lot to our driveway. I make the call to let her know I’m on my way home, giving her a chance to fire up the oven for the pizza.

And I’ve been doing this with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand to my ear holding the phone. It’s never been a problem. Not even close. It’s like talking to someone in the passenger seat. It’s hardly a distraction.

But it is a distraction, according to Illinois state law. And distractions cause crashes.

So, instead of holding the phone to your ear, you have to use hands-free technology, such as a Blue Tooth device, an earpiece, a headset or a speakerphone. The Blue Tooth is out of the question. People who use those devices look like they have cicadas sucking on their ears. Ugh.

An earpiece came with our cellphones, and that is what I am left to use.

I gave it the first try a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t see how it improves safety over a handheld phone. But greater minds than mine prevail in Illinois.

It took several minutes – before I started the car – to figure out how to plug the earpiece into the cellphone. Then I had to fairly jam the earpiece into my ear so it wouldn’t fall out or puncture my eardrum, then I made the call to my wife, and then I started the car. By the time I was in reverse, I was talking on the phone hands free.

The call was amazingly clear compared to the last time I tried using an earpiece years ago. I could hear my wife and she could hear me. Amazing.

But I was afraid the earpiece would fall out if I moved my head too quickly, and that’s enough to get into a crash. I am guessing the more I use the earpiece, the more comfortable I will become, and it won’t be long before it is second nature. Just like riding a bike. Hands free.

Natural History Museum Replaces Dippy Dinosaur With Blue Whale Skeleton

Directors of the Natural History Museum in London have announced that ‘Dippy’ – the famous diplodocus skeleton that greets visitors in the museum’s iconic Hintze Hall – will be replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale by 2017.

The idea is to better convey a more modern feel to the museum, one that reflects the cutting-edge science being conducted by the institution.

“Everyone loves ‘Dippy’, but it’s just a copy,” NHM director Sir Michael Dixon told BBC News, “what makes this museum special is that we have real objects from the natural world – over 80 million of them – and they enable our scientists and thousands like them from around the world to do real research.”

At present, the 25m-long blue whale is hanging –in a flat position- in the ‘mammals’ gallery and is accompanied by a life size reconstruction of the animal.

The skeleton was acquired by the museum in 1891 and it originally cost curators £250. The massive animal was beached at Wexford in Southeast Ireland and its remains were immaculately processed and preserved. To date, it is one of the biggest – and best-preserved – whale skeletons in the world.

Over the coming two years, the entire skeleton will be taken down and each individual bone will be thoroughly cleaned and carefully catalogued before it is re-structured and placed in a dramatic new pose, ready to better symbolize the new science of the 21st century.

The massive remains will be placed in a graceful diving posture designed to impress visitors to the hall.

By virtue of being the largest animal to ever exist on our planet, the blue whale skeleton will likely present an even more impressive sight to behold than Dippy presently does. Its presence could also help to raise awareness for whale conservation and preservation of our natural heritage in general.

The conservation aspect of this move is an especially relevant point, as it was NHM scientists that first demonstrated that hunting of the blue whales needed to be stopped in the first place.

This move, whilst surprising, is not without precedent. In the past, the Hintze Hall has also featured a complete sperm whale skeleton as its main attraction, as well as carefully preserved African elephants – and other displays as well.

So where will Dippy be going once his replacement arrives? At present, there is talk about taking the iconic dinosaur on tour in order to bring the Natural History Museum to the people, by housing him in regional museums throughout the UK.

Before that happens though, he will likely still have pride of place in a dinosaur-themed exhibit elsewhere in the museum, so we’ll still be able to stop by and say “hi”..

TURTLE BEACH ELITE 800 REVIEW

Turtle Beach’s Elite 800 wireless headset for PlayStation 4 screams “flagship.” It’s a gorgeous piece of kit, all shiny black with lush earpads and rounded edges. Set the free-standing headset on its charge base, which doubles as the wireless transmitter, and it’s an eye-catching addition to an entertainment center. Pop ‘em on your head, and the feeling of quality carries over. Save for a handful of notable flaws, this is perhaps the best headset that Turtle Beach has ever produced.

We’ll start with the form factor. The Elite 800 feels solid from the moment that you first pick it up. It’s not so heavy that it’s uncomfortable resting on your head, but nothing about it feels flimsy or poorly put together. The thick plastic is also adorned with flourishes of metal and blue plastic, and the thick earcup padding looks eminently comfortable even from a distance. There isn’t even a visible mic jutting out from the thing, though there are actually two — they’re invisible, built directly into the unit.

If you wanted to describe the headset in one word, that word would be “sleek.”

The stylish design sensibilities carry over to the charging base as well. The oval-shaped unit is topped by two small depressions, one of which is fitted with magnets and charging contacts. In charge mode, the headset sits upright, with each earcup slotting into its own shallow well.

The magnets do a good enough job of sliding the contacts into place, but it’s relatively easy to set the headset down in the charging bay incorrectly. Improper placement prevents the Elite 800 from charging, so it’s important to be careful when setting it into the cradle. One handy tip that Turtle Beach’s documentation doesn’t mention: If you hear the headset’s power cycle on, then off, after you set it down, you know it’s charging.

TurtleBeach Elite 800 review hinge macro

The base station connects to a PlayStation 4 (it also works with PlayStation 3, and with mobile devices using Bluetooth) via a USB cord, for power, and an optical audio cable, both of which are included. The optical audio is expected, but the fact that the base station/transmitter draws power from the console isn’t ideal.

The PS4 has only two USB ports located on the front of the machine, and one of them always has to be occupied if you’re using an Elite 800. Couple that with the fact that the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller already doesn’t have the best battery life, and you can see where problems might start to crop up.

That’s not the only problem with the base station, however. The PS4 doesn’t provide a charge to the transmitter when the console is completely powered down. Sony does offer a “Rest Mode” that continues to send a charge through connected cables, but it’s all too easy to shut the whole thing off and stop charging the headset. It’s possible to wire the Elite 800 directly into another power source, such as a computer, but this problem could just as easily have been solved by including a wall plug power adapter for the unit. As is, you’ll probably want to go grab one for yourself.

Power is also sometimes a problem with the headset itself. Turtle Beach promises 10 hours of life on a full charge, but that number comes down when features like Active Noise Cancelling are used. If you’re prone to participate in marathon gaming sessions, it might be a good idea to keep a backup pair of headphones handy. The headset also does a terrible job of communicating when low on battery power; instead of simply shutting down, the audio starts to crackle and fade in/out, giving the impression that there’s signal interference.

Despite these issues, the Elite 800 makes a strong case for itself in the realm of overall performance. It’s comfortable to wear thanks to the thick, padded earcups and additional padding up top. The material is surprisingly breathable, keeping ear sweats at bay, but discomfort sometimes crops up during especially lengthy sessions thanks to a snug fit that presses the inside of the headphones against the tips of your ears.

In terms of sound, the Elite 800 delivers dynamite performance. Positional audio, enabled by DTS Headphone:X 7.1 virtual surround technology, is among the best we’ve heard in a two-driver headset. It’s easy to pick up on an audio source by both location and distance, even when you’ve got heavily layered audio blasting through the headphones. For multiplayer games like Destiny or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, there’s a definite advantage in being able to tell where potential threats are coming from.

TurtleBeach Elite 800 review controls

The Elite 800 also has a multitude of settings to fiddle with. The earcups and snug fit go a long way toward providing passive noise cancellation, but there’s also an Active Noise Cancellation mode and a range of mic monitor settings for different environments. Active Noise Cancellation definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s handy – as is the variable mic monitor – in all different types of playing spaces.

As usual, Turtle Beach’s own “Signature Sound” setting provides the best overall virtual surround experience. There are four categories of EQ settings, for Games, Movies, Music, and Stereo, and multiple tuning options in each, with more available to program into the headset using a Windows-connected Elite 800 and the Ear Force Audio Hub app.

It’s a lot like the company’s Xbox One-friendly flagship, the 500x, but with a very important difference. The Xbox cans communicate which setting is active using high/low beeps that practically require the user to have a cheat sheet on hand. The Elite 800 addresses this problem, using a pre-recorded voice that communicates settings changes as you make them.

While it’s very handy, cycling through the headset’s various settings can also be a pain. Everything from EQ settings to power to mic monitor to Bluetooth on/off (the Elite 800 can pair with mobile devices) is managed using four-way touchpads on both the right and left earcups. It’s convenient, but the controls are also extremely sensitive, to the point that an errant brush along the side of your head can too easily change things up.

Overall, the Elite 800 is one of the best headset solutions available for PlayStation 4. The build quality, the audio quality, and the added features – particularly Bluetooth pairing (take calls while you game!) and membership to Turtle Beach’s Elite program (mainly for the two-year warranty) – amount to a superb package overall. It’s not without its shortcomings, but in the inconsistent market of wireless headsets for next-gen consoles, the Elite 800 is a standout option. For a premium price, of course.

Highs

  • Fantastic, powerful sound
  • Stylish design
  • Lots of handy features
  • Extremely comfortable to wear

Lows

  • That quality comes at a premium price
  • Charging issues if you use power save with your PS4
  • Headset-mounted controls are less than ideal

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/headphone-reviews/turtle-beach-elite-800-review/#ixzz3Qb7dL1Nz

RFID and AIDC News: What is Zebra’s Strategy for Motorola’s Mobile Wireless and Data Collection Businesses?

In early 2014, printing and RFID system focused Zebra Technologies announced it was acquiring the “Enterprise Systems” business from Motorola Solutions, in a deal that closed in late October. That left Motorola to focus on its radio systems business.

It was a somewhat surprising move, certainly moving Zebra up the supply chain food change. What was the strategy behind the deal? How fast and how far will the integration of Motorola into Zebra go? Is Zebra now a “solutions” company?

SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore recently interviewed Mike Terzich, Zebra’s Chief Administrative Officer who is leading the integration program, on these and several other topics.

Gilmore: Mike, before we start talking about the Motorola Enterprise acquisition, you’ve been around the Auto ID industry for two decades. Not long ago, it was a very recognized and defined space. Now, not so much. It doesn’t receive much press coverage at all today, though SCDigest is trying to rectify that a bit. Is it because it’s just so easy to make it work today that end users just don’t need much education any more?

Terzich: I think part of the reason that it has evolved the way it has is that if you look at who the industry icons were back in the day, the Intermecs, the Symbols [Symbol Technologies], the Telxons, the Hand Held Products, Datamax – all of them have been consolidated up into large industrial conglomerates. Zebra is really one of the last of the independents.

For years, you had so much independent development, and every manufacturer had their own operating language and everything was proprietary, so that added a dimension of complexity that users had to deal with. Over time, as architectures became more open and interoperable, the mystery kind of disappeared on how to implement and integrate this stuff. The question now is not really about the technical aspects, but issues like how to optimize my assets across my supply chain network. Today it is much more of an application and business question than it is a technical one with Auto ID.

Gilmore: I must admit the Motorola announcement took me a bit by surprise, though it was clear there were some tensions within the old Motorola Solutions between the radio side and the wireless and data collection businesses. What was Zebra’s strategy in making this deal?

Terzich: A little bit history – we tried to be part of the opportunity back in 2006 and 2007 when Symbol Technologies was put on the market and eventually found its way to Motorola. We made a pitch at the time – I was personally involved – and as I like to say we were a day late and a dollar short in terms of making a deal.

So our interest level from a strategic perspective has really been in place for seven years. So when the opportunity re-presented itself last year, our CEO Anders Gustafsson and Motorola started to have some conversations. For us, it was always about the attraction of where we saw the market evolving, and this whole concept around enterprise apps and intelligence, the interest of companies to optimize across their value chains, and we felt that the combination of Zebra and the enterprise mobility business from Motorola made complete sense because it allowed us to offer a broader portfolio and a higher percentage of the solution offering.

For us, it also allows us to become closer to the application development side of the business. As a printing company, while we had a vision and an aspiration to be part of where enterprises were willing to go in terms of managing their business, it’s hard to lead application and solution development around your brand when you’re the printing component. Printing has become almost second nature today, while the wireless business and the portfolio Motorola has there in terms of mobile computing and the trends were we seeing with Cloud-based application development, the Internet of Things, asset optimization, and ubiquitous mobility – that’s what enticed us to say this is still a very relevant strategic opportunity today as it was back in 2007.

Gilmore: I understand you have rather fully integrated Motorola in already. I would have thought that initially, given the very different nature of the business, that you would have started with it as separate SBU. I also understand you are quickly getting rid of the Motorola brand name in favor of it all being Zebra Technologies. Is that correct, and if Yes, what was the thinking?

Terzich: It’s semi-correct. Where we are integrated is in our go-to-market strategy and our face to the customer. When you look at where Motorola Enterprise Mobility was selling, who their customers were and their routes to market, it was a combination of strategically calling on some very large end users and a significant reseller and integrator channel. It turned out that the amount of common end user customers and channel partners between Zebra and Motorola Enterprise is really quite significant.

So we had the opportunity to integrate sales forces, and when you think about it through the eyes of the sales team, your carrying more products in your sales bag, you are selling largely to the same channel partners that Zebra and Motorola were both selling to independently. The largest end users are mostly customers in common, so there was some natural synergistic opportunity in our go to market model.

Where we have remained separate is in the R&D and development side, because the product lines are complementary not competitive, and over time Motorola’s competency in mobile computing, data collection and wireless networks are unique skill sets for us. So we are maintaining separate engineering and product development organizations, but we come together with a common global sales and marketing organization.

Gilmore: And what about the branding? Is the Motorola name gone, it is now all Zebra Technologies going forward?

Terzich: From a contractual/legal perspective, we have to get off the name and the “batwings” [the Motorola logo] as part of the transaction, so it’s not like we have a choice. We can however leverage the Symbol Technologies brand, and we are going to do that as a product brand is some isolated areas. But Symbol as a name has been out of circulation for about seven years, and while it has some affinity say in the reseller community, the long term strategy is that everything will be branded Zebra Technologies.

But in the transitional period there will be some product that have to transfer to a Symbol products sub-brand as a means to get off of the Motorola bat wings.

Gilmore: What’s your take on wireless systems market? It really now is just down in the US to just two major players, Honeywell and now Zebra. Is it is still a good market, a growth market?

Terzich: What’s interesting about the combination is we’re now number one in mobile computing, number one in data collection, and number one in printing. We have a very large global service organization. And then you get to wireless LAN, and that’s the fifth of our major revenue buckets.

What’s interesting about wireless LAN is that it has the highest growth profile of any of those segments, but clearly Motorola’s position here is not number 1. You have some very large players [e.g., Cisco] that operate in a more horizontal market mode, and focus generally on more “carpeted” areas of a business, versus a distribution center or shop floor or a retail store. I think Motorola had done a nice job of carving out a niche relative to some markets that we service, principally in the retail and some of the hospitality markets, and the product has been successful and we have quite a bit of customer loyalty in these sectors.

So our strategy going forward from a wireless LAN perspective is to be very vertically focused and application specific where the product has some advantages, and to build off that customer loyalty. We don’t think the answer is to compete broadly in the wireless LAN marketplace because we don’t have the R&D engine or the brand equity in some of those markets or applications.

So we are going to stick to our knitting, which will concentrated in retail, hospitality and healthcare, where our product seems to resonate.

Gilmore: You and Motorola use primarily a channels strategy. Are you in the solutions business, and can you do that if you use a channels strategy and are one-step removed from the customer?

Terzich: Great question.

One of the things that most people don’t realize is that Zebra, organically before the Motorola acquisition, had about 80% of its business through channels and about 20% through some large, named strategic accounts. And those accounts tended to be some very sophisticated adopters of technology that effectively act as their own systems integrator.

These are large retailers, large transportation companies, and large manufacturers that well understand how to deploy technology to drive efficiency and productivity. So that was our composite, and Motorola’s was very similar, the difference being that because Motorola offered enterprise mobile computing, they tended to call a little higher in those organizations, and they worked more closely with application developers and independent software developers because usually the real problem is solved by application software and re-engineering of business processes.

So Motorola may have been calling on maybe 40% of its revenue from a strategic account perspective, and that means they had a seat at the end user table and they are influencing those companies, even if those are sometimes still being fulfilled through channels.

So where do we fall in the solutions spectrum? Both product lines do not constitute a solution by themselves, they still need to connect to application software and that requires integration support. So the channel will remain a very vital part of the strategy.

At a very simple level, we see that there are opportunities for better enabling application software. So how do we make mobile printing devices and mobile computing and data collection devices better together from a product design set? How do we make our technology more interoperable and attractive for application development?

When you look at this technology and how ubiquitous it is you, find that deployment is really though many hundreds of application developers. You don’t see a small number of applications as being really dominant. Our job is to continue to work with those developers to make our solutions as easy to integrate with them as we can.

No CIO or CFO goes to bed at night thinking “I need to bar code something.” But they do wake up and say I need to take a billion dollars out my supply chain, or whatever the figure is. What we do is often a key piece of what becomes the strategy to achieve those goals.

Gilmore: If I understand it right, you have released your own Voice solution, originally developed by Motorola’s Psion unit in Europe, here into the US market. Before, Motorola relied exclusively on partners here for Voice software. What is the strategy?

Terzich: Ultimately, Voice as a technology is just another extension of using mobility to make operations more productive and efficient, especially in warehousing applications. So it’s really just a continuum to us of bringing more capability to those that are trying to optimize workflow. Workflow has become without question one of the biggest areas of opportunity across anyone’s supply chain. This is part of why we are so excited about the combined portfolio in general, and our Voice solution is part of that.

Gilmore: Mike, appreciate you sharing your insight today.

Terzich: Thanks Dan. I enjoyed the conversation.

For more information and conversation visit the source of this article – http://www.scdigest.com/ontarget/15-02-04-1.php?cid=8965

Record Calls (Literally) On The Go With Bluewire

Today’s smartphones really live up to their name, as they are filled with almost every tool we can imagine. From cameras that are more potent than most compact ones to high-end processing and computing power, they are as good as the next personal computer – I know for a fact that my actual phone is way better than the first computer I had, more than a decade ago.

There is one feature that most, if not all, smartphones come with by default, that is actually not used by most people: call recording. While the feature is quite handy on a situation where the phone is being used the normal way, there are some situations where it is not so much, like when you are using an earpiece and are away from the phone, not being able to hit “record”.

In fact, this is exactly the gap that Bluewire wants to fill. Developed by Senss, it is a project looking for financing on Indiegogo, and is announced as the world’s smartest Bluetooth headset call recorder, which is probably right. Using a common Bluetooth connectivity, it has the ability to record both ends of a smartphone or VoIP conversation, being also able to store it securely on the device itself.

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Bluewire is an earpiece itself but, if a user already has one and prefers to use it, that is not a problem, as Bluewire can record whatever call is passing through the phone. It has 16GB of memory, Qi wireless charging, built-in flashlight, accelerometer, two-way communication, and several other interesting features.

One of those features is NFC, Near Field Communication. If Bluewire is tapped to a smartphone after a phone call is made, that last call will be transferred and saved to the phone and sent to the user’s email inbox. Bluewire works as far as 33 meters from the smartphone.

Do you find Bluewire useful and plan to pledge for their Indiegogo campaign? Let us know in the comments.

Source - http://tech.co/record-calls-with-bluewire-2015-02

Headphones As We Know Them Will Soon Become Obsolete

They’re a staple even on cutting-edge smartphones, televisions, and Hi-Fis, but the jack plug was invented back in the 19th century to route phone calls. Imagine hundreds of them being rearranged with swift dexterity by switchboard operators.

Has any technical standard ever lasted as long?

Despite the jack plug’s age, it will still come as a shock when it disappears into obsolescence. Especially to those people who have just bought an expensive pair of headphones.

The original design was a quarter inch in diameter, which is still used on electric guitars, but it shrank to 3.5mm for headphones. It is showing its age, though, and even the smaller sockets are now hindering the gradual de-thickening of mobile phones. Which is why they’ll soon be replaced.

There are basically two main ecosystems for mobile phones today: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Both of them are well on their way to ditching the 3.5mm socket altogether.

At its developer conference last year, during a talk on designing accessories for the iPad and iPhone, Apple announced it was working on headphones that connect via the Lightning port. That odd, proprietary socket that replaced the original 30-pin iPod connector now provides audio as well as power.

Philips was first to develop a pair: the Fidelio M2L. So, just when you thought Apple couldn’t be any more of a walled garden, there now exist headphones that work only on its devices.

Perhaps it was a deliberate measure by Apple to not be the first to launch such a product through its recently acquired Beats brand, to avoid the same accusations of profiteering that cropped up when it dropped 30-pin connectors for Lightning. Certainly, much of Beats’ $3 billion price tag could be recouped if every iPhone owner bought a new set of Lightning-equipped headphones.

The latest version of Google’s Android operating system, known as Lollipop, also includes support for USB audio. This is effectively the same thing as Apple’s new feature but with a universal USB plug rather than proprietary connector.

headphonesFlickr/Garry Knight

What do these features mean for audio? Unlike a traditional headphone wire, which carries the analog signals produced by a chip inside the phone, the new headphones will take digital audio and convert it to an analog signal only when it reaches the speakers next to the ear.

In theory, if you buy decent headphones, this will provide better quality: not only will that DAC (digital to analog converter) most likely be better quality, but there will be less degradation along the wire thanks to digital error correction.

It could also allow phones to be made even thinner, as the round headphone socket is increasingly the bulkiest component, in terms of width, in svelte handsets. Whether or not we really need thinner phones when customers are complaining that their handsets bend in their pockets is another matter, but it certainly makes for easy marketing.

Another benefit is that noise-canceling headphones could draw power from the phone over the wire, as Philips has already taken advantage of, eliminating the need to charge yet more batteries. There’s also the ability to have a microphone on the same cable, and all sorts of buttons to control playback. You could even have apps running on the phone that tweak settings on the headphones, adjusting bass or treble.

So the advantages are clear and numerous, but there are also downsides: how do you charge your phone and listen to music at the same time when your charger and headphones use the same socket? Not a deal-breaker, but still an issue.

Most importantly, your current and potentially new and expensive headphones will become obsolete. You could use an adapter, but that’s far from ideal and will cost you on top of your phone.

Thankfully, this isn’t going to happen tomorrow. Although there’s nothing to stop you splashing out on digital headphones now if you want to adopt early.

The iPhone, for instance, alternates between a partial refresh and a total redesign with each new model. We had the 6 and 6 Plus in September and will most likely get the refreshed “6S” this year, so it’s easy to imagine the “iPhone 7″ losing its 3.5mm socket in September 2016.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, so we’ll have to speculate.

You’re probably more likely to retain a 3.5mm socket for longer if you use Android, as there’s a wide range of manufacturers on the platform, so you can choose the one that retains the plug longest.

The really interesting thing will be to see when manufacturers ditch the Lightning and USB ports entirely.

Wireless charging can already handle topping-up our batteries, and Bluetooth can deal with audio and peripherals. Losing the ports will also make devices sleeker and easier to waterproof.

So while it looks certain that the 3.5mm socket will become an anachronism within a couple of generations of phone, the USB and Lightning port may not be too far behind, and the headphones that you bought to replace the ones that became obsolete will also become obsolete. Such is the way of technology.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/headphones-as-we-know-them-will-soon-become-obsolete-2015-1#ixzz3Qb96ojii