Two Days With The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

I am really tempted at making the Galaxy Note 10+ my next smartphone. For now, I have a review unit and spent most of Friday and Saturday (literally — I didn’t do much of anything else) using it. There are only a finger-full of things I don’t like, but — overall — I think Samsung made an incredible smartphone/phablet. Here are some of the things that helped make my time with Samsung’s new phablet glorious.

Battery

The most annoying thing about owning a smartphone is worrying about losing all the juice and having to recharge it. If you do have to recharge the Galaxy Note 10+ during the day, the fast-charging capabilities are, indeed, fast. With the 25W charger that comes in the box (you can also purchase a 50W plug), the Note 10+ went from 13 percent to 63 percent in about 25 minutes. 

It’s very likely you won’t worry much about the 4,500mAh battery completely depleting during the day, even if you are a power user like myself. And this is with the screen brightness turned up almost 80 percent of capacity.

Screen

The screen on the Galaxy Note 10+ is glorious.

Speaking of the screen, the Note 10+ has the best screen that’s ever been put on a smartphone. The color reproduction is perfect, it works well outdoors, and there are many options to tune the screen to the greatest desires of your eyes.

I initially thought that a 6.8-inch screen would be too big for a smartphone, but Samsung proved this notion wrong. Since the bezel space is almost nonexistent, the phone is still pocketable. And if you find the 6.8-inch screen too large, you can always get the regular Note 10, which has a 6.3-inch screen.

Sound

The Note 10+ has wide stereo sound.

The rich, robust, and encompassing sound is the same as it is on the Galaxy S10+. You won’t need external speakers with the Note 10+ unless you connect it to your television set and want the whole room filled with sound. Of course, you’ll probably want to have headphones on if you are listening to music, but even that isn’t necessary if you want to play your music out in the open. 

S Pen

The S Pen has always been the Note’s distinguishing feature, but Samsung makes it more unique this time. Though the S Pen still feels cheap, it feels like more than a stylus since it can remotely operate the camera and other things. It has certain “flick” gestures that allow you to go though or rewind a presentation. It is also great to use with Spotify. Most importantly, it does what it was meant to — write well.

Phone Calls

The Note 10+ has everything but a headphone jack.

Phone quality has taken a backseat to other smartphone features over the past decade or so, but Samsung makes sure that your voice sounds robust and clear. Even when on speakerphone, my friends on the other end said I sounded clear. One couldn’t even believe I was on Speakerphone.

Camera

I need to spend more time with the camera before I can make any full-ranging judgments. Perhaps I will add my impressions to this article or write a whole separate one just on the Note 10+’s camera capabilities.

Summary

The Galaxy Note 10+ may cost $1099, but it is (gulp) actually worth the price for those who need a top-notch phone, camera, media player, GPS, internet browsing machine, and digital notepad in your pocket. Even if you think you don’t need all these things, you’ll change your mind once you spend time with Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note.

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Apple’s PowerBeats Pro: Pros And Cons

Apple's PowerBeats Pro

When discussing my first impressions of Apple’s PowerBeats Pro a couple months back, I liked but did not love the new earbuds. Now that I’ve been able to use them for three full days, I can say that my first impressions were mostly accurate. Here are some of the major pros and cons:

PROS

Fit and Comfort

The PowerBeats Pro are larger than your typical earbuds, and they have ear hooks. The trade-off for the size is definitely worth it; the Pro buds fit your ears perfectly. You can run with them, dance with them, and do almost anything else (but don’t swim since they only have an IPX4 water resistance rating). They never feel like they are going to fall out of your ears.

Sound

The PowerBeats Pro buds have very good sound.

Although Beats headphones have a history with heavy bass, it’s not so prevalent on the PowerBeats Pro — and the more balanced sound certainly isn’t a bad thing. The bass is still there for your hip-hop and EDM songs, while the treble is there for your classical music. The mids are minimized, but the overall sound is very good if not great.

Phone Quality

Unlike the latest critically acclaimed earbuds from Sony (as well as most other earbuds), the PowerBeats Pro work very well when making phone calls. People tell me that even when I am in a crowded place with noise, they can still hear me (although they can still hear a bit of the background noise as well). If call quality is one of your major concerns, these won’t let you down.

CONS

The Case

OMG is this case large! It feels like a miniature rubber brick, which is still too big for your pocket. Then, there’s putting these buds back in the case, which can be quite difficult. It gets easier to fit these for charging after a couple days, but it’s never as simple as it is with the AirPods and other buds.

Poor Noise Isolation

There is no active noise cancellation on Apple's latest earbuds.

The AirPods have no isolation whatsoever, and although the Pro buds block your ears, the noise isolation is not that good. Some may consider this a good thing since they wear these when jogging or even driving (be careful, please!), but you will notice the annoyance of all the ambient noise when you are at a gym or coffee shop. It would be nice for the next PowerBeats device to have actual digital noise cancellation.

Wind Noise

It’s expected that wind will affect any type of ear device that sticks out, but the PowerBeats Pro buds let the wind in even more than most earbuds. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is annoying. I can’t imagine using these while walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago during the month of January.

Summary

There are better sounding and better sized earbuds on the market. However, for those who exercise a lot and need earbuds that work well for making phone calls, the PowerBeats Pro may be worth the expensive $250 price tag.

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Can Apple Make Foldables Work?

Apple could make Samsung's concept a success.

This blog has discussed the problems with foldable phones. Samsung is finally delivering their Galaxy Fold next month, and Huawei is about to release theirs. Both releases come after several setbacks. However, it appears that Apple isn’t afraid and will eventually enter the foldables market.

According to CNET, Apple is looking to first launch a foldable iPad in 2021.

“According to an investor’s note from UBS cited by CNBC Apple is ‘steadily working on the technology,’ first for the iPad and then for the iPhone, but it likely won’t be ready for prime time until 2021.”

The article adds that this really shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially when based on many patents Apple has filed over the past couple of years. It’s just that most expected the iPhone to get a crease before the iPad. One can expect any foldable device that Apple releases to cost a fortune.

Apple will likely revitalize the iPad in the next few years.

However, anybody who frowns on Apple’s efforts doesn’t fully understand the history of the company. Remember the clunky (but cool) portable MP3 players in 2000 and 2001? Apple was late to the game in late 2001, but made the iPod one one of the most important devices in history. Apple literally changed the way music was purchased, consumed, and spread.

Remember the smartphones of the early 2000s? They were clunky, unreliable, and had terrible battery life. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, they changed the course of communications history. Now, just about everybody has a smartphone that is either an iPhone or influenced by it.

Apple made the regular smartphone mainstream. They can do the same with foldable devices.

Remember how Microsoft failed with tablet? Their devices had poor battery life, and Windows didn’t quite work fluidly on a tablet in the 2000s. Apple released the iPad in 2010, and it became so successful that many now think Apple invented the computer tablet.

With the exception of the AirPods, Apple has certainly fallen behind the times in terms of innovation. The iPhone is no longer ahead of the pack, the iPad isn’t as popular as it used to be, and the MacBook Pro is no longer the premium notebook to own.

Despite not being the leader of the pack, Apple still remains the leader of quality. The Cupertino company doesn’t announce a product unless it has been well tested and ready for consumers. In 2019, Samsung and Huawei’s foldable devices likely won’t make a dent in the marketplace. But in the next decade, expect Apple to make foldable devices mainstream.

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First Impressions: Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Hits Levels Of Smartphone Brilliance

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

A few days back, I wrote about how disappointing it was that the Note 10 series does not have a headphone jack. Because of this, my excitement wasn’t huge when I went to go try the phone out. However, the good far outweighs the bad, and I would love to make the Note 10+ my future smartphone.

Rather than list bullet points about my initial thoughts, I’m going to concentrate on a few of the things I really liked about the Note 10+. I really think that despite the size of the screen, the Note 10+ is a better buy than the 6.3-inch Note 10.

The Note 10+ has everything but a headphone jack.

The Note 10+ is all screen and minimal bezel. The bezel is slightly thinner than it is on the Galaxy S10+, which I thought couldn’t be possible. When I put it next to my Galaxy S10+, I barely saw a size difference. However, the most important thing about Samsung’s new phablet is that it is still a portable device. It is still pocketable (though you should get a sleeve and a screen protector if you put it in your pocket). Unfortunately, the back is also still a fingerprint magnet.

The back of the Galaxy Note 10+ loves your fingerprints.

The Note 10+ is a fantastic portable media machine. I watched some YouTube clips on it and not only did the colors pop out, but the stereo sound was even more enhanced than it is on the S10+. Without hardly any bezel, it looks like you are watching a video screen that is floating in space.

Then, there is the S Pen, which is now more like a magic wand that can perform various gestures. I was able to use it in order to switch between the front and rear cameras. But it is still an excellent writing device, though I didn’t get to test it yet with my favorite note-taking app, OneNote. The only thing missing on the S Pen is a camera, but it’s not something that you really need (but would be incredibly cool).

The Note 10+ is the perfect digital notepad.

I didn’t get to test out the camera that much, but did notice it was better at focusing than the camera on my S10+. The video camera not only offers Live Focus while shooting, but also allows for a bokeh effect. For now, it’s the best camera offered on a smartphone, but that may change once Apple releases the new iPhone.

It’s still a shame that the Note 10+ doesn’t have a headphone jack. However, in general, the device feels like a mini computer that can do just about anything while the features don’t feel gimmicky. You may think that the Note 10+ isn’t for you until you actually play with it in person.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10′s Lack Of Headphone Jack Is Disappointing

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 comes in two different sizes.

I’m a little excited about the Galaxy Note 10. It’s definitely more exciting than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which was announced last year around the same time. I’m especially interested in the “+” version of Samsung’s latest smartphone. Here are some of the Note 10+ features.

  • 6.8-inch 3040×1440 (OLED) display
  • Snapdragon 855 processor
  • 12GB RAM, 256GB or 512GB internal storage
  • 4300mAh battery
  • 45W wired quick charging
  • microSD card slot (not available on the smaller version)
  • S-Pen with six-axis motion sensor
  • In-screen fingerprint sensor
  • Triple-lens rear camera
  • Dual-pixel front camera
  • IP68 Water Resistance
All of this sounds great, doesn’t it? Though I haven’t tried the new Note out myself (that comes in the next couple of days), here are some great videos I found. 

I know some people who think that the 6.8-inch screen is too large for a smartphone, but those who have tried it say it’s still pocketable. If it is too large, there’s always the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 10. You’ll likely be happy with either version of Samsung’s new phablet. However, it looks like I may stay away from the Note 10 even though I can easily upgrade without paying too much.

So, what’s my biggest issue with the Galaxy 10 and 10+ announcement? Samsung, who once made fun of Apple’s headphone jack dongle, is now requiring a dongle itself since the headphone jack has been deleted on the new 10 series. Apparently, I’m not the only one who is upset. This could be a huge mistake on Samsung’s part.

One of the greatest benefits of switching from the iPhone XS Max to the Galaxy S10+ five months ago is that I have been able to use any wired headphone with the exception of those made specifically for iPhones. I have written about how much better wired headphones sound several times. Yeah, there are dongles one could buy. However, anybody who has tried to carry a headphone dongle with them at all times knows how easy it is to lose it.

The headphone jack is one of the features that gave Samsung a head start over other brands like Google and Apple — at least to audiophiles. I know at least two people who still buy Samsung phones over iPhones specifically because of the headphone jack. To say I’m disappointed in Samsung is really an understatement. But the lack of headphone jack never stopped Apple from selling iPhones, so perhaps it isn’t too much of a big deal for Samsung. We’ll find out soon enough.

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Next MacBook Pro Looks Promising For Apple

The MacBook Pro will get a 16-inch screen update.

This blog gave the 2018 MacBook Pro a positive review. I don’t hate the Butterfly keyboard that Apple has implemented since 2015 as much as others do. However, there have been a lot of complaints and lawsuits regarding the keyboard. And, after using the HP Spectre X360 for the past several months, I don’t think I can go back to a compromised keyboard.

Apple has obviously been listening to its customers, and it appears that the next MacBook Pro will make some important changes. Mac Rumors has the news on the new 16-inch Pro.

“Last week, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the 16-inch MacBook Pro will also feature a scissor mechanism keyboard, as Apple finally begins to transition away from its troubled butterfly mechanism keyboard design.”

According to the report, the keyboard isn’t the only thing Apple is improving. The 3,072 x 1920 pixel resolution display, made by LG, will be enclosed by very small bezels. The new Pro will be roughly the same overall size as the current 15-inch model. The new MacBook Pro is scheduled to be released in either September or October.

Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro won’t see any refresh until 2020. And there are varying reports on whether or not the 16-inch Pro will permanently replace the 15-inch one. Still, the release of the new MacBook Pro this fall could be exactly what Apple needs.

Dell's XPS 13 has successfully challenged Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro.

In the early part of the decade, Apple had a strong hold on the notebook market, even if they didn’t offer touchscreens. I remember walking into places like Starbucks and seeing most people with some version of the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. By 2015, Dell was gaining traction with the XPS 13 and the XPS 15. Microsoft had a rough start with the Surface Pro, but it was considered a MacBook equivalent when the third version was released in 2014.

Apple had hopes of revitalizing its market share when the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros were released in the fall of 2016. However, many people were disappointed and thought that Apple had compromised too much in order to make a much lighter notebook. I remember some people saying that Apple should have called their new notebooks MacBook Air Pros. They certainly had a point.

There are some who believe that Apple needs to match Microsoft and release a notebook with a touchscreen and digital pen. However, most Apple users just want a notebook that doesn’t feel like an overpriced compromise. Perhaps they’ll get their wish in the next couple of months.

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 May Be Worth $399

Bose's latest wireless headphones cost $399.

I sometimes give my first impressions of a device, and they are negative.  Then, when I spend more time with the device, I admit my impressions were wrong. And this is definitely the case with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which — after three days of use — I find have some groundbreaking features.

Phone Quality

I cannot believe how clear-sounding the phone quality is. Bose’s new headphones are the first headphones I’ve ever tried where I don’t have to leave a loud-sounding environment to talk to someone. Not only do the mics cancel out ambient noise for me, but my friends (on the other line) say they can only hear minimal background noise when I talk.

I can’t explain how convenient it is to be able to stay at my table at Starbucks when making a phone call. I am able to talk without disturbing the rest of the store, which plays loud music. Perhaps the most annoying Starbucks customers are the ones who talk loudly on the phone without realizing it. With these new Bose headphones, one can talk quietly as if they are in an empty room.

The NC700s are groundbreaking when it comes to phone call quality.

Noise Cancelling

Last year, Bose was outdone in noise cancellation by Sony. However, with the Headphones 700, Bose takes the top spot again. The new headphones offer 10 levels of noise cancellation through the Bose app and three through a button on the left ear cup.

At the highest level, the NC700s block more sound than any other pair of headphones. Best of all, the ear pressure, which used to be prominent with Bose noise-cancelling headphones, is minimal. They aren’t significantly better than Sony’s XM3′s but enough to notice a difference, especially with high frequency sounds.

Comfort

The NC700s offer a comfortable fit.

In my initial impressions, I noted that the NC700s weren’t very comfortable. But after using them for a longer time, I really got used to the tight (but not overbearing) fit. Once your ears get used to the pads, they’ll feel more like pillows. Even  though the headphones are heavier than past Bose headphones, the comfort level is the same.

I initially didn’t like the stainless steel hinge since it prevented the headphones from being able to fold up. However, I realize the stainless steel hinge provides a device that’s virtually void of making creaking noises, which other headphones annoyingly do.

Other Perks…

Unlike headphones from Sony or other brands, you can pair the NC700s to two different devices at once. For example, I am able to enjoy a movie with the headphones on my laptop and answer a phone call  (with the headphones) from my smartphone without having to do any pairing. With Bluetooth 5.0, Bose’s headphones do this very smoothly.

The touch controls on the NC700s work very well. There are also separate buttons for noise cancellation levels, Bluetooth pairing, and access to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. The headphones work perfectly with Google Assistant.

Some may balk at the 20 hours of battery life, especially when compared to the Sony XM3′s 30 hours. However, a simple 15 minute charge with the included USB-C cord will give the NC700s almost three hours of battery life. One simple touch of the Power button will turn the NC700s on or off.

Conclusion

The Bose 700 have it all — comfort, sound, noise cancellation, and excellent phone capabilities. They may not sound the best for those who prefer heavy bass, but those who purchase the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 will not regret their very pricey purchase.

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T-Mobile Will Not Carry Newly ‘Fixed’ Samsung Galaxy Fold

Samsung Galaxy Fold

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has been revamped, and it is almost ready for release in September. Samsung has the news.

“Earlier this year, we announced Galaxy Fold—Samsung’s first foldable device, and the beginning of an entirely new mobile category. Since then, we’ve made improvements to Galaxy Fold to ensure consumers have the best possible experience.”

Samsung adds that the product design of the Galaxy Fold has undergone some necessary improvements and tests in order to make the device solid. One of the important changes is that the top protective layer of the display has been extended beyond the bezel. This will help prevent the many scratches early testers have been talking about.

In addition, Samsung claims that they have not only strengthened the hinge area, but they have decreased the space between the hinge and the body of the Galaxy Fold as well — this will help keep out dust and other particles. But is the Galaxy Fold already doomed?

According to The Verge, one major cellular carrier has decided to skip out on the re-release. Here’s a quote from T-Mobile:

“T-Mobile will not carry the Galaxy Fold because we already offer customers a wide range of the latest smartphones. Please reach out to Samsung for any further inquiries.”

As The Verge notes, this is just PR speak for “We don’t want to have anything to do with this phone!” This is especially damaging for the Galaxy Fold since T-Mobile is one of Samsung’s biggest partners. Perhaps T-Mobile realizes that the Galaxy Fold isn’t worth tarnishing their brand over.

T-Mobile will not carry the Galaxy Fold.

It’s important to note that T-Mobile customers can still buy the Galaxy Fold unlocked, although that will probably cost a couple hundred dollars extra. Considering the phone is already priced at around $2000, this can be quite problematic. It’s safe to say that Samsung will have to lower the price of the Galaxy Fold if they want any consumers to purchase it.

So far, it’s not certain which other carriers will embrace the new Galaxy Fold. AT&T has not indicated one way or another if they will offer Samsung’s foldable phone to their subscribers. Perhaps this is just a “wait and see” approach. But if the Samsung Galaxy Fold is to make any major impact, it needs a major carrier. The next couple of months will certainly determine whether the Galaxy Fold makes some sort of impact in the marketplace.

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Samsung AKG Earbuds For Galaxy S10 Are Excellent

Samsung includes great wired earbuds in the S10 package.

I have a confession. Even though I’ve had the Samsung Galaxy S10 since March, I haven’t used the AKG earbuds that came with the phone. I’m tired of earbuds that are included with smartphones because they are usually of low quality. They are usually the kind of headphones that you can purchase for $10 or $15. This is especially the case with Apple.

However, the AKG-tuned wired buds that are included with the Galaxy S10 units are the type of buds you would want to buy even if you didn’t own a Samsung device: The sound is robust, the fit is great, and the phone call quality is absolutely fantastic. I would say that the sound is easily better than some of the wireless headphones that cost $200.

I really like the fact that the cords are wrapped in cloth; this makes it easier for you to put in your pocket without worrying about the wires cutting apart. The nozzles on the buds are angled, and this is bothersome at first. However, they end up feeling more comfortable than non-angled buds. And if you put the right-sized rubberized tips on, you not only get great noise cancellation but throbbing bass as well.

Samsung's earbuds are easy to put in your pocket.

The highs and mids of the sound spectrum are decent, but the separation of the frequencies is slightly blurred. At times, especially when listening to heavy-bass EDM, it’s hard to differentiate vocals from the throbbing beats. But it’s not a huge deal, especially since these buds are actually included with the Galaxy S10. Only die-hard audiophiles will be upset.

Furthermore, Samsung’s buds make the case for using wired buds instead of wireless ones. You don’t have to constantly worry if the Bluetooth connection is working, and you can easily swap the headphones from your smartphone into your computer. Most importantly, when you use the buds to make phone calls, the person on the other line won’t have to ask you to repeat yourself constantly.

Perhaps if the AKG wired buds weren’t so plain looking, more Samsung owners would give them a chance. Samsung certainly needs to up their marketing efforts to let people know these aren’t your ordinary wired earbuds. It’s not so often that a company includes such high-quality buds in a smartphone package. Once again, Samsung is ahead of the competition.

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Is Oculus Quest A Hit Two Months After Release?

The Oculus Quest VR headset was released on May 21.

The Oculus Quest has received good reviews from iReTron and other sites. It was released on May 21 and sold out almost instantly everywhere. Content for the VR headset has also been rolling out. So, is it safe to say that the device is a hit? Is it safe to say that the Oculus Quest has pushed VR into the mainstream? The answer is complicated.

Great Reviews

Nobody can deny the fact that the Oculus Quest is the best-received VR headset in existence. The device is universally loved — and not just by this site. CNET gives the headset four stars, with the reviewer claiming it is the “best thing he’s tried all year.” In another four-star review, Mashable calls it “a new milestone for VR.” TechRadar also has mostly fantastic things to say about the Quest. You will have a difficult time finding a bad review out there.

Good Sales?

The Oculus Quest is sold out at almost every location. However, it is not known exactly how much stock Oculus initially supplied. It’s no secret that companies often hype up a product by releasing limited stock, then building PR hype by saying it’s sold out.

The initial stock of the Quest sold out fast.

On June 11, Variety claimed the Quest was doing well, but not doing “blockbuster” numbers.

“Early indicators suggest that Facebook’s new Oculus Quest VR headset is seeing solid sales, but it doesn’t seem to be a blockbuster. Still, some estimate that Facebook could sell more than 1 million units in 2019.”

However, Jack McCauley, one of Oculus’s co-founders, claims that initial sales of the Oculus Quest indicates that VR won’t break through.

Oculus Quest Problems

As with almost any new product, there are bound to be quality control problems. One of the biggest issues with the Oculus Quest is screen flash/jitter. Viewers are bound to see screen static appear once in a while. It’s not enough of an issue to ruin the experience, but it is annoying. Oculus says there is a software fix coming for the issue, but many believe it’s a hardware issue.

The Oculus Quest has some minor quality control issues.

Then, there is tracking. This author and some others claimed there are tracking issues when using the headset outside. However, Oculus makes it clear that the Quest is not meant to be used in sunlight, which could ruin the device. Yes, it’s like a Gremlin! However, tracking issues appear to happen in normal scenarios as well.

A Hit, but Not a Home Run

It’s safe to say that the Oculus Quest is somewhat of a hit, especially since it has moved VR farther into the mainstream than any other VR device has done before. But, it’s not the home run — at least so far — that the VR industry has hoped for. Perhaps we need to give the device a little more time before we call it an absolute success or failure.

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