Smartphone news: #Addiction #Nokia #SelfCharging #Marshall #Audio

marshall london android smartphone

This week’s smartphone news covers addiction, self-charging devices, the revival of Nokia among several other stories. Let’s begin with addiction.

The smartphone addiction problem

In a story published by TIME, Katy Steinmetz discusses a problem most of us face now in the 21st century, the problem of anxiety related to being without our handheld devices. Why are we letting technology rule our minds and can we have the strength to be in control of our technology usage? Larry Rosen from California State University explains,

Technology tends to “overact” our brains, draining us of unfettered, daydreaming-type creativity, he says. Today’s average college student, a member of the first generation to really grow up digitally native, now focuses and attends to one thing for about three to five minutes before feeling the need to switch their attention to something else, he says: “It makes us very tired. It makes us very miserable. It overloads our brains. … It is not good for us.” In his work, Rosen has referred to these gadgets by using an acronym for Wireless Mobile Devices — or WMDs, for short.

Perhaps we need more self-control software. I understand there are a few companies offering help to the addicted but there may be room in this space for startups interested in helping people find focus in their lives.

Self-charging smartphones

Nikola Labs is probably fueling the problem of smartphone addiction by making the technology ever more available. If we can avoid the inconvenience of charging our phones then we won’t ever have to part ways. Plugging your phone into a socket will still be required (for now) but research is under way to eliminate the bother as Will Zell, CEO of Nikola Labs explains in a report from MIT Technology Review,

They won’t make plugging your phone into a charger obsolete, but Zell says that Nikola’s phone case should be able to give users about 25 to 30 percent more battery life between charges. The company built its first working prototype of a smartphone case this spring and plans to start selling it in the first three months of next year for about $100 (a Kickstarter campaign for the company had raised about $74,000 of its $135,000 goal with eight days to go as of publication; Zell says Nikola Labs has separately raised private funding to bring its product to market).

I wonder how the addiction problem would look if we never had to charge again. Even so, charging while we’re sleeping really isn’t much different. Personally my smartphone is available 95% of the time as it is.

Nokia’s smartphone plan

In a statement from Robert Morlino, Nokia has laid out the options to re-enter the smartphone market. This time the business model will be different in that the company will no longer be producing the hardware but will partner with another company that will apply the Nokia brand name on a device designed by Nokia.

The right path back to mobile phones for Nokia is through a brand-licensing model. That means identifying a partner that can be responsible for all of the manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer support for a product.

If and when we find a world-class partner who can take on those responsibilities, we would work closely with them to guide the design and technology differentiation, as we did with the Nokia N1 Android tablet. That’s the only way the bar would be met for a mobile device we’d be proud to have bear the Nokia brand, and that people will love to buy.

Leveraging the Nokia brand name is a huge win for the company and finding a partner with the right terms and conditions could mean a huge cash cow for the company long term. Expect to see Nokia smartphones running the Android operating system in Q4 – 2016.

marshall london smartphone

Marshall’s music focused smartphone

Get ready for a smartphone with a focus from audio giant Marshall. Founded in 1962, Marshall has 53 years of experience in the audio industry and are now poised to release a top notch smartphone. The Marshall London phone is a gorgeously designed Android device that has its focus on sound quality. The product page says it all.

Marshall London packs a lot of heat under the hood; take for example the Wolfson WM8281 Audio Hub. This soundcard gives the London a separate processor for music, allowing it to play at a higher resolution. Higher resolution means that even the best quality MP3 will sound phenomenally better when played with London. Additionally it lets you play uncompressed music such as FLAC format.

Thanks for joining Vancouver Gadgets as we wrap up the smartphone news for the week ending July 18th 2015.

Jay Kenobi

JBL Charge Review

JBL Charge Review

I’ve had the JBL Charge for about 2 weeks now and so far it’s been a blast! This little Bluetooth wireless speaker is about the size of pop can and can follow you anywhere. I’ve paired it to my iPhone, iMac, MacBook Pro and Moto X without much hassle. I’ll be unboxing the JBL Charge in this post for your convenience.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sound quality

For a small unit the sound is definitely a lot nicer than I expected. The unit has full rich sound and for a small room this is a solid choice.

Design

I love the design of this thing. It feels solid and fits nicely in your hand. The materials are a combination of plastic and metal for the exterior. The unit also comes with a cool looking carrying case made out of some stretchy material.

Battery Life

Out of the box the unit was already pre-charged and lasted about 8 hours. On a full charge the claim is about 12 hours however it’s hard to gauge exactly when you turn the thing on and off multiple times throughout the week.

Size and Weight

At 20.3 x 19 x 8.4 cm and 1 Kg this device can go anywhere. My plan is to take this camping in the summer.

Difficulties

Occasionally I had issues pairing the device via Bluetooth. I found that holding the power button down on the JBL Charge put it into pairing mode. You could hear a faint beeping noise and the device would become discoverable.

 

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Sport Pulse Wireless from Jabra bolsters your fitness training needs

sportpulsewirelessthumb

Sport Pulse WirelessTake training to the next level and get the ultimate wireless workout with Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless, new earbuds – and an all-in-one training solution with Jabra Sport Life application – announced by Jabra this week. Combining an in-ear biometric heart rate monitor, immersive Dolby® Digital sound and real-time voice coaching, Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless will inspire runners, cyclists, and exercisers of all types to beat their best performance.

Built-in Heart Rate Monitor and App: The Smart Way to Train
With a built-in intelligent app – Jabra Sport Life – exercisers will get the most out of their Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds, helping them plan, track and check each workout. It has never been so easy to test fitness levels and aerobic capacity, adjust heart rate zone levels to optimize training, and set goals based on distance, time or calories burned.

“Jabra has a strong legacy of innovation in wearable technology,” said Darcy Clarkson, Senior Vice President at Jabra Consumer Solutions. “Sport Pulse Wireless is the next generation of intelligent audio solutions for fitness fanatics that will allow our customers to work out with the confidence of clinical precision.”

Premium Sound, Completely Wireless Workout
Music is a big part of many peoples’ workouts, and the SPORT Pulse Wireless is designed to fire up exercisers by listening to their favorite songs with a customizable sound experience and powerful, purpose-built speakers that deliver world-class wireless music performance. Personalized audio coaching provides feedback on your workout every step of the way, enabling music and training to be controlled from a single app.

As Tough as You Are
Encased in carbon fibre, Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds are built to take a pounding and are sweat  and storm-proof, so there is no excuse for missing a training session. Ergonomic Audio Response ScienceTM technology ensures a secure, comfortable fit that’s lightweight in a compact design so nothing gets in the way of exceeding training goals.

The Next Generation of Jabra’s Sports Line
Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds continue Jabra’s tradition of global ‘firsts,’ building on a solid heritage of superior sound engineering. The earbuds represent the next generation in Jabra’s family of wireless audio solutions for people who are serious about exercising, complementing the award-winning Jabra Sport Rox Wireless and Sport Wireless+ earbuds.

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless will be available for $199 at Best Buy stores, BestBuy.ca, Future Shop stores and futureshop.ca in November.

About Jabra

Jabra is the brand of GN Netcom, a subsidiary of GN Store Nord A/S (GN) – listed on NASDAQ OMX. Jabra employs about 900 people worldwide and in 2012 produced an annual revenue which amounted to DKK 2,355 million. Jabra is a world leader in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad range of hands-free communications solutions. With a reputation for innovation, reliability, and ease of use that goes back more than two decades, Jabra’s consumer and business divisions produce corded and wireless headsets, plus mobile and in-office speakerphones that allow people and businesses through increased freedom of movement, comfort, and functionality.

Apple Buys Beats, But What Does it Mean?

apple beats audio

Apple, the company that transformed digital music into a worldwide phenomenon, confirmed that it was buying Beats Electronics for $3 billion. This is a move that will help Apple reinforce its position in the new world of streaming music and stay ahead of the personal accessories explosion.

New research from Futuresource Consulting provides market context which reveals the full extent of the market opportunity.

The global consumer electronics [CE] market has been moving skywards since the recession of 2009, but with growth confined to mobile devices and the emerging markets. Many CE brands are struggling as more competitors enter from China and new brands compete in high growth niches like wireless audio.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Since 2009, total CE sales have risen at 9% CAGR, reaching $676 billion worldwide in 2013. However, the European market has slumped from 26% of global CE consumption in 2009 to just 21% in 2013. Meanwhile, emerging markets have grown to account for an estimated 50% of worldwide CE market value in 2013, China’s domestic market alone accounting for around 15%.

Audio has been relatively buoyant, spurred by the boom in mobile music and streaming services, which have driven demand for accessories like wireless speakers and headphones. Sonos, which has pioneered wireless music systems, doubled sales to $535 million in 2013. Beats Electronics, launched just five years ago, has become the market leader in high end headphones and enjoyed estimated sales of over $1.5 billion in 2013. Pure, which drove DAB hardware in the UK, is now pushing into networked audio players.

Ironically Apple, which started the MP3 revolution, has seen iPod sales decline sharply as smartphones have taken on the role of music player with many consumers.

From a music streaming angle, consumer spend on global music subscription services such as Spotify and Deezer was estimated to be just under $2 billion in 2013.

There is still significant potential for the market to grow, with music subscriptions accounting for just 10% of the total music market spend last year, equivalent to around 25% of the digital music market. This is expected to exceed $5 billion in 2017, equivalent to 30% of global music market spend. In comparison, spend on online video subscription services such as Netflix last year was almost $5 billion.

In Sweden, music streaming accounted for around 70% of total market spend in 2013, up from around 20% in 2010.

Many consumers are moving away from ownership towards an access model, for both music and video. Total “pay per download” e.g. track and album downloads from services such as iTunes, declined in the USA last year, significantly down in Sweden and stabilising in the UK. Some consumers are changing their behaviour and this is impacting ownership, although most music buyers are still in the transition somewhere between buying CDs, buying digital tracks and albums – with the final step paying for a streaming subscription service such as Spotify.

Paid-for streaming subscriptions are increasingly driven by in-home wireless audio products, such as wireless speakers (e.g. Sonos) and integrated Hi-Fi with airplay, Bluetooth and the like.

Global shipments of wireless home audio products grew by over 100% in 2013 to reach 27 million units. Futuresource’s latest Living With Digital consumer research indicates that owners of such devices are 2.5 times more likely to pay for a digital music subscription compared to the overall population.

 

SOURCE Futuresource Consulting

Jabra Sport Wireless+ review

JabraSportWirelessPlus

Having used the Jabra Sport Wireless+ headphones since February, I have a confession to make. I’m not switching back to regular headphones!

Cutting the headphone cable has been a great move for me as it’s now so easy to listen to music and not be cabled to my Apple devices.

At first it was a challenge trying to hook the headphones on my ears and configure them via bluetooth in my iPhone. Jabra Sport Wireless+ headphones should be charged every 4 hours or so of usage so a few of my workouts have been without music because I have forgotten to charge and have run out of batteries. Sometimes the headphones do fall out of my ears despite the guarantee from Jabra. I haven’t tried switching between the three sizes of ear gels provided as they come with small, medium, and large.

Once you get past these little hiccups it’s smooth sailing with the Jabra Sport Wireless+. The sound is great and both treble and bass are easily noticeable and more than adequate.

Product specifications are always a big part of any technology blog review as well so let’s dive right into those.

Connectivity

  • Wireless Technology: Bluetooth™ for wireless connectivity
  • Supports Bluetooth® version 3.0
  • AVRCP You can control your music from this device when it’s streaming from another device, such as your mobile phone

Music Streaming

  • Device can stream music from a source, such as a Smartphone, Bluetooth enabled laptop, tablet, or MP3 player
  • Omni Directional/noise filter enhances call clarity by eliminating background noise from the office
  • Mute gives you the option to mute/unmute the microphone directly on the device

Battery & Power
 Talk Time

  • 
Talk Time is the most time you can talk before a device runs out of power. The Jabra Sport Wireless+ is up to 4 hours of usage
  • Standby Time: Up to 120 hour(s)
Standby Time is the most time a device can stay powered on

Design

  • Wearing Style: Behind-the-ear
Behind-the-ear wearing style
  • Ear Cushion Type:Large (L) sized ear gels, Medium (M) sized ear gels, Small (S) sized ear gels

Bang and Olufsen devices produce sweet sounds for the music lover

bando

bangandolufsenIn the realm of audio Bang and Olufsen offers some great gadgets for those who are true audio nuts or who just love to listen to their music really loud.

Back in late August I visited the store on West 7th Ave in Vancouver and met with Albert Iglesias and we ran through some of the company’s offerings.

Bang and Olufsen H6 and H3

We started with some of Bang and Olufsen’s headphones including the H3 and H6. While it’s hard to translate how good the sound quality in a short video clip let me just say that the H6 pounded like nothing i have ever used. I demo’ed them on my MacBook Pro and iPhone. While they would be awkward for running and exercise they would be great should you be sitting at a desk or on the couch. The H3 headphones are better for portable use but treat them with care because they are far more expensive than a pair of Apple headphones. They retail for $274.95.

Bang and Olufsen Beolit Play

One of my favourite Bang and Olufsen products was the Beolit Play. It offers a wireless and portable music system that works with your digital devices. I took my iPhone and MacBook Pro along for the demo and was able to use its Virtual Airplay to play music from my iTunes through the speaker. Granted I had wifi access while at the store and this is something you should know. That being said the sound was awesome.

Bang and Olufsen A8

I also had a chance to demo the A8, another of the Bang and Olufsen products that is one-piece stereo brings your music to life from your digital devices. It functions as a docked or undocked device when you insert an iPod or iPhone and like the Play produces rich quality audio. I’ve put a short video on our You Tube Channel as well of this device and you should note the connector is on the top of the device. I did not slot my iPhone or take an iPod to try and we again employed the virtual airplay feature.

Bang and Olufsen A9

Albert and I also demo’ed the A9 and one of the features I loved in this product was the ability to glide your hand over the top of the A9 to increase and decrease the volume.


The A9 is a giant speaker situated on top of a stand and like the A8 packs a wallop in the sound department. The B and O products are all sleek and stylish and the bass delivered by the A9 really pounds at high volume.

 

SONOS Playbar Review

SONOS Playbar

The SONOS Playbar was a pleasure to review. It was super simple to setup, configure and use. I could operate the device via WIFI as the bridge was connected directly to my router meaning I could use my smartphone or computer to send commands. Or I could simply turn on my TV and listen to digital audio from the programs there. Streaming music from my Apple TV’s iTunes Match account worked like a charm but in order to use the SONOS computer application downloading the music beforehand would be required.

SONOS Playbar
SONOS Playbar

As you can see from the image here I was met by a rather large box about 3 weeks ago.  I unpacked the Playbar and was able to setup the system to work with my TV, PVR remote, smartphone and computer in about 30 minutes total. The unit itself weighs in at 11.9 pounds and retails for about $750.

As I’m big into streaming music with iTunes Match the only thing that disappointed me was that I could not use the SONOS native application to send music to the Playbar. This mind you was a minor disappointment since I have my house wired with Apple products and could create a playlist on my iMac and use AirPlay to stream direct to my Apple TV. For those of you storing your music files locally you shouldn’t have a problem.

My wife doesn’t care for the deep bass sounds too much so I was faced with the task of modifying the equalizer settings. I found this option to be hidden a little too deeply in the SONOS computer application. Personally I thought that this setting should have been much easier to access. The smartphone application by the way did not have the option to modify the equalizer. Hopefully future releases of the software will improve this shortcoming.

As for the overall audio experience I found the SONOS to be excellent. I have an ear for sound quality and could say with confidence that you will not be disappointed with this unit. The Playbar boasts nine Class-D digital amplifiers that are perfectly tuned to match the speakers and acoustic architecture. You’ll find six midrange and three tweeters in this optical audio setup. Additionally you can create a 3.1 home theater with the addition of SUB or 5.1 with SUB and PLAY:3 speakers. Check out all the specs here.

Playbar works with a host of music services including Amazon Cloud Player, AUPEO!, Deezer, iHeartRadio, JB Hi-Fi NOW, JUKE, Last.fm, MOG, Pandora®, Rdio®, Rhapsody®, SiriusXM™ Internet Radio, Slacker® Radio, Songl, Songza, Spotify®, Stitcher SmartRadio™, TuneIn, Wolfgang’s Vault®, WiMP, and downloads from any service offering DRM-free tracks.

Have I piqued your interest? Let me know if you’re seriously considering the SONOS Playbar or if you already own one. I would be very interested to hear about your experience!

SONOS Playbar
SONOS Playbar
SONOS Playbar
SONOS Playbar
SONOS Playbar
SONOS Playbar

 

 

Sonos Play:3 packs a punch and makes for a sound Christmas gift

Sonos Play:3

With the final weekend of holiday shopping now upon us and the crush to get the malls is in full swing Sonos has a great sound system that you should look at.

This system is easy to find online simply by searching and can be purchased that way as well so maybe you don’t’ even need to leave your home to get this for the music fan or audiophile in your house but you can if you want to.

Sonos Play:3
Sonos Play:3 with iPhone

WIth the Sonos products you can easily stream your entire music library, music services, and radio stations. The device can be controlled wirelessly with its easy to set up music player. The great thing is you can start with start with one music player and expand throughout your home. This can be done with one touch of a button. It can be set up either horizontally or vertically and it packs a wallop with 3 driver HiFi speaker system.

A complete list of specifications can be found on the Sonos website.

I test drove the Sonos in my home and was able to configure it quickly and easily. I had installed the software for the player on my Macbook pro and the app on my iPhone. The stored files for the player will work on Mac as I mentioned above as well as Windows XP Service Pack 3 and higher.

A recent development upgrade also means that the Sonos now plays your iTunes music direct from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch anywhere there is a Sonos speaker or player. No more syncing your Apple mobile device with your computer just to hear your iTunes music on Sonos. iOS 6 required for this to happen though.

The player supports a lot of music services as well and if you don’t’ stray beyond Amazon Cloud Player and Sirius XM you should be fine. iTunes and Windows Media Player Playlists work with the device as do music files in MP3, iTunes Plus, and WMA Format.

The device retails for $329 Canadian and can be found at Future Shop and other retailers in the Lower Mainland. Thanks to John Settino and the iPR group for the device.

Buddyband a bonus for those of us who struggle with tangled earphones

buddyband earbud saver

If you ever use multiple Apple devices such as an iPod or iPhone like I do then you know how much of a pain those earphones or earbuds can be. They can become tangled in everything and even chewed on by your cat.

buddyband earbud saver
Packaging from buddyband

Well now Buddyband has the answer to all your earphone perils with its nifty little band called funnily enough the buddyband. Designed in Vancouver by Robert Straker this is a neat little Christmas gift and perfect for the stocking of someone on your list.

What started as an idea for a recent UBC grad hoping to get  a jump on the tough job market has turned into a nice little bonus for all of us who are tied to all things mobile. The elastic earphone accessory comes in a variety of colours and keeps earbuds from getting tangled.

Back in 2010 Straker got the idea to start sewing by hand the bands from bra strap type material in his basement apartment in Kitsilano. Now they are manufactured professionally and in 2012 Straker put them on the market and launched buddyband.ca. The website stresses the simplicity and functionality of the band and uses humour to appeal to potential customers with phrases such as “Earbuds are born free, and are everywhere entangled.”

While his experiment has been successful in having a few local stores stock the band marketing continues to be a challenge.“I’m not one to go out with a loudspeaker and bother people,” said Straker. “But I think it would be a good thing if more people knew that Buddyband exists”.

“It isn’t airborne exactly yet but the wheels are moving” he said. “They fit into stockings pretty well so we’ll see how the Christmas season goes. And I am learning quite a bit from setting this up so hopefully the next venture will be easier to move forward with. I have about 3 more non-buddyband ideas I’m working on right now”.

We look forward to hearing more from Robert and his other ideas as well as the success of Buddyband. They will definitely be on our radar for 2013 and beyond!

There Are Only 30 Shopping Days Left Until Christmas….

Mike Agerbo

A scary thought isn’t it? Christmas is creeping closer and closer and you’re wondering what to get for the techie or gadget guru on your list. This year there are more choices than ever in terms of both the types of gadgets and the companies making them.

Retailers in Vancouver also number in what seems like thousands and they too are offering the latest and greatest gadgets. Staples, Best Buy, Future Shop, London Drugs all have something to for you to look at and consider.

Recently we spoke with Mike Agerbo from GetConnected. Mike has over 15 years of creating and hosting broadcast television, Internet, and radio programs he is highly recognized as one of Canada’s leading tech experts. He was able to make some great recommendations on the latest and greatest gadgets and how Canadians can take advantage of them.

Mike Agerbo
Mike Agerbo from GetConnected

We connected to Mike through Toronto based communications firm Argyle Communications who was working in partnership with Staples on a recent survey by the retailer.

Staples’ survey found among other things that “52 per cent of Canadian consumers have not upgraded their computers within the last three years, meaning that the majority have not yet taken full advantage of the newest technology.”

We asked Mike among other things why this has happened and what possible options people have in making new purchases.

“People are still running Windows XP on old machines. They don’t yet know what new machines are really capable of. With an operating system like Windows 7, they really have the chance to take advantage of the new power of these desktops. They have a great user Interface and are easy to navigate.”

Mike also noted that today it’s really all about getting and staying connected. We can connect laptops to TV’s and other devices such as smart phones. Smart phones now too take amazing photo’s and HD video.

We also wondered if consumers should look at some different types of devices or stick with their traditional purchases for gadgets with the Christmas season upon us.

“At this time of year notes Agerbo its time to go into a Staples store and get something in your hand. A lot of people looking at tablets especially. They are such a hot item and there is so many out there.”

When asked about getting an E Reader or a tablet he noted that “there are colour tablets as well as Black and White E Reader’s. I’d go with an E Reader and a tablet can so you have that versatility at your fingertips.”

The Staples survey also noted that Canadians are not currently using technology to its full capacity. We asked Mike how Canadians could do so using the Christmas season as a way to acquire some new items.

“With all the new devices the connected world allows you to move things around and bring these devices together. Take the opportunity to move those videos and photo’s off of a smart phone or tablet into a desktop or laptop and make something with the video’s or photo’s and create a gift or book for someone.”

Great ideas for the Christmas season regarding gadgets from Mike. With these devices in your hand, you have the power to create more meaningful and lasting memories for friends and family and be one of the people in the know about the latest and greatest gadgets.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas….

Xmas Decorations

It is? Really? Chrismas believe it or not is just around the corner. Though retailers like to trick us sometimes into thinking Christmas comes in November it does come in December and this time of the year is the perfect time to think about what friends and family may be looking for at Christmas.

Gadgets are a big part of anyone’s Christmas list including mine. I’m looking to replace my Macbook which has done me so well for the past four years. It’ still going strong but I can’t resist the temptation to get a Macbook Air or Pro.

Xmas Decorations
Xmas Decorations

I also really want an iPhone. I don’t have one or any smart phone for that matter. I still use my Nokia phone which has done me quite well over the past couple of years. I can’t decide on whether to go with the iPhone 4 which is dropping in price now that the 4S is out. Which one should I get? I’m not sure but the Android phones do look tempting too but how well with they work with my Mac environment.

Over the next month, We’ll be posting some great tips on Christmas Gadgets and gift ideas. Later this week we catch up with local expert Mike Agerbo from Get Connected. Mike has some great tips for you our readers on what the best buys are for Christmas.

We will also have some other reviews planned in December. These will include what to do in December and January once you have those gadgets and how you can integrate them and more importantly use them effectively as part of your daily life!