Archive for the ‘Wireless’ Category

Review: Jabra Halo Bluetooth stereo headset

September 3, 2011

Summary
If you listen a lot to web radio or podcasts when commuting, shopping, walking and similar, this headset is a good choice. It is not ideal for music and extensive phone calls.

Intro
I’ve had the Halo for about six months now. I got it as a replacement for my Koss PortaPros, which I have been using as my standard headphones when walking to/from work, listening to music at work and listening to music/podcasts when commuting. The Halo cost me about 800 NOK /150 USD. My aim was to avoid wire tangles and getting more use of the Bluetooth functionality on my phone. I also hoped to be able to use them for handsfree calling, as they include a microphone.

The headset


The Halo has a somewhat plasticky construction. They fold together, and the folding mechanism serves as an on/off switch. When you “open” them, they turn on and look for the BT unit they are paired to. I haven’t tried pairing with more than 1 unit at once.

On the inside of the head band, one light indicates BT activity and one light flashes to indicate low battery. The right speaker unit has a button on the outside, which can be used to play/pause playback (works in most Android music/podcasting programs I’ve tried), to accept a call, and to speed-dial the last person you talked to by pressing it twice rapidly. Sound volume is controlled by sliding a finger up or down the speaker unit – works well! – and skipping to the next or previous track can be done by double tapping on the upper or lower part. It’s a little bit tricky to hit the right spot for next/previous.

The construction doesn’t feel sturdy, and initially I was worried about the headset breaking, but I haven’t had any problems. I do try to avoid leaving them at the very bottom of the bag.

In use
The Halo is light and comfortable to wear. An added bonus for me was that, unlike the PortaPros, they don’t catch in my hair when I take them off.

When turned on, they quickly connect to the unit they are paired to, in my case a Samsung Galaxy S II. If no BT unit is available to connect to, you might have to turn the Halo off, enable BT on your phone, and turn it back on to connect. I thought I might be able to use the button on the right hand side to make a connection, but no luck.

Battery life seems to be about 10 hours of sound playback. I haven’t really tracked this closely – I just try to remember to charge them every now and then, and battery life hasn’t been a concern. The fact that the Halo charges over microUSB is a big plus.

Not having wires is great. No tangling into luggage or bags, no plug protruding from the mobile phone when it’s in my pocket, no work administrating the one metre long PortaPro wire when moving around.

The Halo works pretty well for exercise – except that the inside of the headband has a comfortable textile material which will absorb sweat easily. That makes me reluctant to use them when running.

Sound quality
This is my only major objection to this headset. I hoped it would be able to fully replace my PortaPros, but when it comes to dedicated music listening, they just can’t compete. In noisy surroundings – like on the bus – where the sound from any semi-open headset would be degraded by the sounds from the environment – sound quality feels tolerable. But if you sit in a quiet office space, like I normally do when listening to music, it’s not good enough. Consequently I bring my PortaPros with me for music listening. It is possible to use a cable to connect the Halo via 3,5mm jack instead of over Bluetooth, but as the PortaPros are a little more comfortable over a long timespan and have better sound quality even when the Halo is wired, I bring those instead of extra wires for the Halo.

Phone calls
Phone calls sound great – that is, if you are the one using the Halo. The other party tends to complain that the sound from the microphone is too weak, and if the other party is in a noisy environment, I most often use the handset itself for the call. Fortunately, the Halo can be enabled/disabled from the in-call menu.

Conclusion
On the go, I mostly listen to podcasts and streaming radio, and I don’t do a lot of phone calls. The Halo thus fits my needs quite well, and if your usage pattern is similar to mine, I recommend it. I do hope to see a future edition with better audio quality and improved microphone performance.

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Pairing the Apple Wireless Aluminium Keyboard with the Nokia N82

January 20, 2008

I had some problems hooking the Apple Wireless Keyboard up with my N82 and thought I’d share the experience.
The procedure should be very simple, and goes as follows:

Get the Nokia wireless keyboard support software. You want the 3.1 version, even though the N82 isn’t listed as supported by the software. Install this software on the phone (I assume you know how that part works – the easiest is to go to the site above over wifi and download the app straight to your phone, or download to your computer and transfer the install file to the N82 via bluetooth.)

Start the software. It is not located in the “Programs” folder – it is in what I believe is called “Connections” or something similar (I have Norwegian titles on my phone). That’s the same folder you have bluetooth settings in, among other stuff.

Activate the keyboard by pressing the on button. It should start looking for a bluetooth client to pair with – the status light should flash regularly. This is where I had a problem – every time I switched on the keyboard, it automatically resumed the connection with my Mac Mini, which it was paired with. To avoid this, I switched off bluetooth on the Mac (you could probably also just unpair it). The keyboard cannot pair with several units simulateneously (which is unfortunate – I would like to pair it with the mini, the N82 and the PS3…).

To be absolutely certain the keyboard was “rebooted” I also briefly removed the batteries – this shouldn’t be necessary at all, but who knows.

When switching on the keyboard again, the light blinked regularly and the keyboard showed up when I searched for it in the wireless keyboard app. After following the onscreen instructions with regards to setting a password, I can now consider my N82 a personal computer. Rejoice!

You might be interested in knowing that the left command key (apple key) maps to the left soft key, and the right command key maps to the right soft key. The central navigation button on the N82 (the “OK” key I guess?) is mapped to Enter – or sometimes shift+Enter. You can get to the menu with alt+tab. I haven’t figured out how to “escape” (red button on the N82) yet.

Awesome stuff is happening!

April 4, 2007
DSC_4341

No, I’m not talking about my master’s thesis nearing completion – unfortunately, it is quite far from being awesome.

However, as if to compensate me for having to stay indoors and staring at OpenOffice when the weather outside is brilliant and sensible people are having their Easter holidays, the worlds of games, music and technology have dropped me three presents!

Games first! Some readers might be aware that I’m a big fan of SingStar, that game where people who tremendously enjoy singing in the shower can finally do so outside of the shower as well. Many times after playing (yeah, it is really playing and not singing it’s about, right?) I’ve said “wouldn’t it be awesome if we could have more voices going at the same time, or the entire band?”. The potential was obvious, and my prayers have been heard. Harmonix, the guys behind Guitar Hero (which I, sadly, have barely played) are creating a game called Rock Band where four players can take part. Vocals, guitar, bass and drums! YEAH! The potential awesomeness is completely off the charts. I can barely contain myself!

I’ll go in more detail some other time, since I have two more pieces of awesome news I want to share with you.

Music! In my previous blog post, I complained about DRM on music – in short, music files bought over the web that you can only play X times or only on this or that device. It seems someone was listening, because starting in May, EMI (the record company with Robbie Williams, Coldplay and lots of other big names on contract) are starting to sell music on the internet – without DRM. The price will be slightly higher than on the tracks already retailing on iTunes, but the quality will be higher as well. This is the beginning – I am confident the other record companies will have to follow EMI on this one. Yeah!

Finally, technology. Last year I heard some rumblings about wireless power, and how it was physically quite possible and probably would happen, you know, inside our lifespans, at least. Well, guess what. Philips are coming to market with a wireless LED light bulb this year, and next year we’ll see a wireless power receiver in phones, keyboards, mice etcetera. At this stage, the range of the “power waves” is about 1 metre, and the power transmitted is sufficient for, well, LEDs, mice, keyboard, cell phones, but not larger devices such as laptops. We’ll get there. This is awesome.

I love the feeling of progress! Collaborative gameplay never seen before, finally music in decent quality available legally without DRM – and wireless power. Bring on the future, I can’t wait! Yeah!

The Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router

January 8, 2007

I was just on the phone with a friend, who couldn’t get his new D-Link router working. He was on the phone a few days ago too, concerning the same router. This time, he concluded – “Why are these things so unreliable??”

I had to fight back an instinctive urge to defend wireless technology, brought on by my techno-geek spine. It is actually true that wireless networking is less reliable and more difficult to set up than it should be. That goes for most wireless products I’ve tried. However, some are worse than others, and the D-Link my friend consulted me about wasn’t the router I recommended to him.

In fact, I recommended the Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband router. After reiterating my recommendation to my friend and commenting that D-Link is crap, I decided I should give the Are Wold Seal of Approval to the Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband router in the hope that more people will buy decent, high-quality networking products.

Are Wold Seal of Approval for the Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router

If you are looking for more specific reasons to get it, I’ll offer the following:

– Stable/reliable
– Reasonable cost
– Very small!
– Good range

STOP THE PRESS! Preliminary testing indicates that the Linksys does not pass the Torrent Test ™. The Torrent Test involves me and at least one other person maxing out our 3,5 Mbit connection with 3-6 bittorrent streams. So if you are torrenting heavily over a line that’s this fast, the Linksys might not be for you. I’m looking into this – our modem could also be the problem. (April 2., 2007)

The first one of these is actually the most important. I have used both Linksys and D-Link routers which have caused me a lot of pain because of unreliability. Sadly, you can’t reason that since one Linksys router is good, another will be decent too – that’s not how it works. However, this specific router is really the first one I’ve had no complaints with whatsoever. Well done, Linksys.

Norwegian readers can check the product page for the Linksys Compact Wireless-G Broadband Router at Komplett.no, which also includes some consumer reviews.