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Archive for November, 2013

Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset Review

Posted by Andrew at 6:04 PM on November 30, 2013

I’ve been a user of Plantronics’ Bluetooth headsets for many years, starting with the Explorer 320 and more recently the Voyager Pro. I’ve always liked them because I found them a good fit on my ears but they’re trouble-free and easy-to-use with no problems pairing on a wide range of phones. More recently, I’ve taken receipt of a Voyager Legend and, so far, it’s living up to its name.

On review here is the full Voyager Legend UC package which comes with the headset itself, Bluetooth adaptor, desktop charging stand and charging case. This is the complete outfit for those in the office and on the go, aimed at those who use both mobile phones and IP-based communications, such as Microsoft’s Lync or Skype. This is the Microsoft version with an alternative version supporting Avaya, Cisco and IBM services. The Legend can manage two Bluetooth connections simultaneously so calls coming in from both routes can be answered on the headset and speaking from experience, this is very handy.

Plantronics Legend Box

The Voyager Legend UC comes in a plain box but opening it up reveals a wealth of accessories and adaptors, including UK and continental plug adaptors plus various USB connectors and chargers.

Plantronics Legend Inside Box

Here’s the charging case with the USB Bluetooth adaptor and the Voyager Legend itself. The Bluetooth adaptor is half the size of the previous generation that came with the Voyager Pro.

Plantronics Legend Charging Case

As might be guessed from the name, this is a charging case and the case has a built-in rechargeable battery which charges the Legend when it is in the case. In the photo below, you can see the contacts in the case on the right. It’s a clever idea, especially when on extended travel as you don’t need to lug around chargers – the case itself recharges via a micro-USB connection.

Charging Contacts

Of course, the desktop dock provides a convenient place to keep the Legend and charge it at the same time. There’s a magnetic catch to snap the headset in place.

Plantronics Legend Headset and Dock

Plantronics Legend in Dock

In use I find the Legend very comfortable to wear and I almost use it almost exclusively to answer my calls at my desk, whether the call comes through on my mobile or my desk phone. The headset is stylish enough to wear without feeling self-conscious, though I tend to take it off when I’m away from my desk. The Legend has three earpiece sizes in the box to accommodate different ears and can be worn on either the left or the right ear.

The Legend has some great features, such as auto answer, which detects when the headset is lifted from the dock and answers the call automatically. The Legend accepts voice commands, letting you put the headset into pairing mode, answer or decline calls and check battery level with ease. There are hardware controls on the headset for on/off, volume up/down, accept call and a multi-function button which does a couple of different things.

The talk time is rated at 7 hours and I never had any trouble with the battery running down unexpectedly. The charging case extends this even further with two full recharges from the case taking the total call time to 21 hours. Call quality is excellent, with callers sounding clear and natural, and most people don’t realise that I’m on a Bluetooth headset. The Legend also supports A2DP, which is handy if you want to listen to music or podcasts, albeit with one ear.

Plantronics have an Android smartphone app which, amongst other things, can help you track down where you last used the headset via GPS. It’s a neat idea but I found the app didn’t always play nicely with other GPS-using apps as the Plantronics app would turn off the GPS after getting a lock. The other app would than flail around looking for a signal lock. I submitted a bug report to Plantronics so hopefully they’ll get that fixed soon as it’s very irritating when playing Ingress.

There’s no two ways about it, the Plantronics Voyager Legend UC is a brilliant headset which I’m sure will do me for years – it has both the features and the construction to last. It’s definitely a premium product and it doesn’t come cheap: the RRP is over £150 but you can find it online for less than £100 including the carry case. However, it’s worth it if you want to to use a hands-free headset on an extended basis both at the desk and on the go.

The Voyager Legend UC was provided by Plantronics for review.

Angry Birds Seasons gets in the holiday spirit

Posted by Alan at 12:07 PM on November 29, 2013

With Thanksgiving having now past, we reach the heart of the holiday season, with cold weather and frantic shoppers. There are a number of ways to get into the spirit of the season, including the music you listen to and themes for your desktop and web browser. But, you can also look to mobile gaming as an option.

For the second time in less than a week, Rovio has pushed an update to its popular Angry Birds series of games. While the last one was for the original version, this new update is for Seasons, which generally gets new sections that are based on the current time of year. This update is no exception — “This all-new Angry Birds Seasons episode brings 25 festive, frosty and fun-filled levels, plus another 4 bonus levels”, to Finnish company claims.

angry birds seasons

The new levels bring a change of pace, in that you can now fling the birds down into the water, in an attempt to have them rise back up and attack the pigs in a new way.

Did You Get Your iPad on Black Friday?

Posted by J Powers at 10:52 AM on November 29, 2013

Target-Black-FridayApple was pretty secretive on their Black friday sale. Target seemed to be the best option for an iPad this week and people stood in line for their black friday deal as early as 8 PM Thursday night. So did you get a new iPad Air or iPad mini?

After scouring the ads, I chose to stand in line at Target last night. They offered a $100 gift card with purchase of an iPad Air or $75 for an iPad mini. I got there at 7:50 expecting about 25-30% of the crowd was heading toward the iPad line.

Walmart offered $100 gift cards for iPad mini. Best Buy also had a gift card deal. Apple store only had a $75 card, didn’t advertise their deals and also didn’t give any deal for a Retina mini. So hopefully the 20% waiting in front of me for iPads won’t deplete the inventory too bad.

Once the doors opened, the line moved quicker than a one horse open sleigh. Of course, that was the first line. The second line was the true wait – people anxious for their iPads for the holidays.

What was interesting was the people I talked to in line already had iPads. This was either an upgrade or they wanted to get a second tablet for their families. One person was waiting for a Nexus 10 tablet, but decided to get the iPad as well.

Target was also ready for this event as most people got the iPad they wanted. They did run out of 16 GB iPad Air at about 9:30 PM. I was in line for a 32 GB model anyway and I saw a lot of iPad minis getting sold, too.  You could even get 2nd and 4th generation iPads that night.

I tweeted VegasBill during the event, who also was waiting in a Target store line in Vegas. I shouted out “This is what it will look like in a couple hours”.

I don’t normally do Black Friday. Those years I did, I was always disappointed because it was 4 in the morning and we would have to wait 6-8 weeks for rebates of specials.

This year was a bit different. I wasn’t too upset on the 2+ hour wait and I got the iPad Air I was looking for. Best part – I got a gift card which I could use at that moment if I wanted.

I did suggest that next year Target should talk with Starbucks and get a mobile barista to stand at the iPad line selling coffee…

YouTube Acknowledges Spammy Comments

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2013

YouTube logoHave you noticed an increase in the amount of spammy comments on your YouTube page in the past few weeks? You aren’t alone. YouTube has acknowledged on its Creator Blog that they have received a lot of feedback from creators about the increase in comment spam.

The increase in spammy comments began after YouTube decided to make new YouTube comments powered by Google +. The idea was that this would allow the content creators on YouTube to more easily see the comments from the people that mattered to them (like their friends, for example). Instead, something unexpected happened. The YouTube Creators Blog notes:

While the new system dealt with many spam issues that had plagued YouTube comments in the past, it also introduced new opportunities for abuse and shortly after the launch, we saw some users taking advantage of them.

To combat this problem with spam comments, YouTube is going to do some updates. The updates will include better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts, improved ASCII art detection, and a change to how long comments are displayed. They are working on improving comment ranking and moderation of old-style comments. YouTube is also going to release tools that will allow creators to do bulk moderation soon.

Mugenizer N11 Qi Charger with Battery Review

Posted by Andrew at 6:14 PM on November 28, 2013

Mugen Power Batteries LogoHere on GNC I’ve reviewed a succession of USB rechargeable battery packs and I’ve tested a couple of Qi chargers for my Nexus 4. Now for the first time I can review both at the same time with the Mugenizer N11 Wireless Charger Power Bank. Fundamentally, it’s Qi charger with a built-in rechargeable 4800 mAh battery. Genius!

Mugen kindly sent me an N11 as soon as it was released and I’ve been using it for about a week or so. First impressions were good as it came in an attractive card box which smoothly slid open.

N11 Box

The box holds the N11, a USB-to-microUSB cable and a power supply, all in matching white.

N11 in Box

The N11 is made from a hard shiny plastic with a rubber ring in the centre to help hold the charging smartphone over the Qi charging spot. There’s a row of charge lights on the top surface and one end has the on/off switch, charging USB port and recharging microUSB port.

N11 End View

If you are wondering how big the N11 is, it’s almost exactly the same size as a Nexus 4. Here’s mine but note the Nexus is sitting back on the charger a little bit.

N11 and Nexus 4

Enough of how it all looked, how well did the N11 work? Frankly, it worked great. Unlike some of the other Qi chargers I’ve tested, it’s easy to spot where the Qi charging coil is. This makes aligning the phone with charger really straightforward and there’s a beep from the N11 to let you know everything is lined up. Here’s a screen shot from Battery+ showing the excellent charging rate.

N11 Charging

The N11 worked equally well with devices that needed a USB cable to charge. The battery is 4800 mAh which means you could recharge most modern smartphones twice from flat. Generally I was able to recharge my Nexus 4 three times from around 20%. The N11 supports charging from the USB port and the Qi charger at the same time, which can be handy. The port is rated at 1 A.

My only criticism of the product is that it was sometimes difficult to pick out the exact charge level on the blue LEDs as the light bled from one to the next. Is it fully charged or 90%? As the power level fell, it was easier to make the level out.

Charging lights aside, this is great product and it’s now my main charging device for my Nexus 4. It’s pricey enough at a nickel under US $70, but the combined Qi charger and battery pack make this essential for anyone who has a Qi-equipped smartphone such as the Nexus 4 / 5 and  some of the Nokia Lumias. You can use the N11 on your desk or on the go. Recommended.

Thanks again to Mugen Power for the review unit.

TGP # 133 Black Friday Picks

Posted by Gadget at 3:50 PM on November 28, 2013

Welcome to The Gadget Professor Show #133 hosted by Don Baine, produced by Mike Baine.

We’ve Got Technology Covered! The Gadget Professor Show – a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network!

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

The Gadget Professor has snuck out of the house on Thanksgiving morning to record The Gadget Professor Show! Here is a brief look at where and what the hot deals are for Black Friday!

Sit back and relax while you watch The Gadget Professor.

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Visit The Gadget Professor on Facebook www.facebook.com/gadgetprofessor - check it out and LIKE him!

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Audio version NOW AVAILABLE!!

B&H Black Friday Deals

Posted by geeknews at 10:33 AM on November 28, 2013

APPLE 13.3″ MACBOOK PRO NOTEBOOK COMPUTER
SAVE $200! BLACK FRIDAY $1249 was $1499 + $89.98 FREE ACCESSORIES +FREE SHIPPING

HGST 4TB Deskstar 3.5″ SATA III Internal Desktop Hard Drive
SAVE $65! BLACK FRIDAY $174.95 was $239.95 +FREE SHIPPING

LOGITECH RECHARGEABLE TRACKPAD FOR MAC
SAVE $30! (59%) BLACK FRIDAY $19.99 was $49.99 + FREE SHIPPING

TASCAM DR-07MKII PORTABLE DIGITAL AUDIO RECORDER
SAVE $37.51 BLACK FRIDAY $112.49 was $150 +FREE SHIPPING

SAMSUNG UN32EH4003 32″ LED HDTV
SAVE $90! BLACK FRIDAY $227.99 was $317.99 + FREE SHIPPING

Sale Ends Monday 12 Noon EST

Plus they have Nikon Deal that is simply crazy.. This deal ends at Midnight Eastern on the Nov 30th.

Robot Underpants: 11.27.13 (129)

Posted by Langley at 1:18 AM on November 28, 2013

Happy Thanks-uhkkah-giving, from Mat “Langley” Luschek, Eric Rice and “Starman” Michael Gaines. This week we talk about not participating in Black Friday madness, Thanksgiving, Beastie Boys vs Goldiblox, the scent of George Takei, Doctor Who’s 50th, Family Guy’s death in the family and more!

* Goldiblox vs Beasties
* Eau My Cologne
* Eccleston Talks About Why He Left Doctor Who
* RIP Winamp…?
End Track: Nick Browning’s cover of “Alice’s Restaurant”

Stitcher Enhanced its Provider Portal

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:44 PM on November 27, 2013

Stitcher logoStitcher has made enhancements to its Provider Portal. Details were explained in a recent email that Stitcher sent out to people who are currently providing content through Stitcher. At the time I am writing this, it appears that Stitcher has not yet added this information to their blog.

What’s new? The Stitcher Provider Portal will now offer content providers page links and player widgets for new and archived episodes. It also has embeddable Stitcher logos and icons. Stitcher also added Twitter functionality.

All listing from shared show pages and player widgets will count toward an individual content provider’s Stitcher Rank List. In short, Stitcher has given people a few more ways to bring listeners to the content that they have on Stitcher. It also will “reward” that effort by counting the visits through those sources as part of your Rank.

Another new addition is the “Stitcher Stat Facts”. Every month, Stitcher is going to provide figures and statics about Stitcher user behavior and demographics, listening patterns, and insights. People who provide content through Stitcher can use the Provider Portal, click on the “Stitcher Stat Facts”, and learn more about the audience they are reaching through Stitcher.

Wireless 600 Mhz Spectrum Auction Impeding on Wireless Microphones

Posted by J Powers at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2013

wirelessA couple months ago I was at a conference recording interviews. I stopped and talked with another independent broadcaster to compare rigs. I noticed he had a wireless unit that was in the illegal wireless range. I told him about the spectrum auctions and how devices in that range interfere with the Emergency band. A week later, he notified me to say he got a new wireless to comply.

Hopefully its not in the 600 Mhz range…

The FCC opened up new spectrums for Auction. The 600 Mhz range (Channel 38 – 606 to 614 Mhz) is a spectrum that T-Mobile and Sprint are vying for simply because they only have a high-frequency ranges (in the 1900-2100 Mhz range). These low frequencies can push signals much farther, therefore, better call quality.

However, this new spectrum auction could affect those people who use wireless devices. Broadcasters, musicians or anybody that uses a wireless device might have to turn around and buy new equipment — if the wireless device is in the 600 Mhz range. Wireless devices affected could include microphones, instrument body packs and other high quality wireless devices. 

 

While no mention of emergency bands are going to be on the 600 Mhz spectrum, your device might see signal interference if used. Similar to hearing a TV or radio signal in a speaker when it shouldn’t be there (this was a running joke in the movie Spinal Tap as the amps would get interference all the time). If a caller was trying to contact emergency services, their call could be hampered because of other signals around them.

Sennheiser Asks for Compensation

Audio specialist Sennheiser has put together a petition to the FCC to compensate those people who own microphones using the 600 Mhz range. They stated the 700 Mhz spectrum change of 2010 forced people to buy new equipment and it is not fair to ask them to do it again only three years later.

These wireless devices can cost anywhere from $600-$2000. A TV station for example, can have several wireless devices to use so they can report the news. This could mean a replacement cost of $5,000 or more (more toward the $20,000 range), if all devices are on this 600 Mhz spectrum.

“Wireless microphones are an essential ingredient of content creation in the United States,” commented Joe Ciaudelli, spectrum affairs, Sennheiser Electronic Corp. “Currently, the United States is the number one content creator in the world when it comes to broadcasting, film production and live events. The A/V professionals that produce this content, which is enjoyed by both domestic and international consumers, depend on the 600 MHz frequency spectrum each day.”

Does My Equipment Use 600 Mhz?

So far from what I have reviewed, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Kam and some Sony wireless systems use the 606-614 Mhz range. These are mostly UK-based electronics, too. Other US based wireless UHF microphones use a lower channel (30-32) range.

If you do have equipment that meets the 606-614 Mhz range, it might be best to plan for a changeout. Talk with your representative about replacement options.