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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Addicted To FaceApp

Yes, I know that FaceApp came out a few years back, but I didn’t pay attention to it. I thought that since I am somewhat of a Photoshop expert, there was no need for a smartphone app that manipulates faces to make people look younger, older, or the opposite sex. It can also give you anyone a beard, a different smile, etc.

The fact, as I discovered this week, is that FaceApp does this far better than Photoshop can. It uses a type of artificial intelligence that learns by analyzing up to millions of examples of images with several traits. When I transformed myself to an old man, it not only added red skin blotches to my skin, but gray hair (at least I won’t be bald) and deep wrinkles. It really frightened me. “I want to be dead before I look like this,” I joked. But there was truth to that statement as well. Just look at the picture!

Will I look like this soon?

Once the transformation of myself into several different versions wore off (and that took a couple hours), I decided to try it on others, including my brother or sister.  I didn’t have any vengeful feelings of making my siblings look bad — or at least what they might look like in twenty years. But I soon thought of people I didn’t like — former “friends” who screwed me over, former bosses who didn’t appreciate me, and even some celebrities I wasn’t fond of. And I couldn’t put down my phone.

My favorite was turning Tom Cruise (who I have nothing against) old and wrinkly. I have always been jealous of the way he keeps himself up (of course, Botox and plastic surgery help), so I decided to “unjealous” him. I’m sure Cruise himself would laugh.

Tom Cruise "Before and After"

It’s day three, and I am still having a lot of fun. As a matter of fact, I’m having fun writing this article about all the fun. But is it really healthy fun? For one thing, this app makes me very self-conscious, and I often feel bad about myself using it. It also makes me realize what a fake world we’re living in as I realize a lot of people really use this app to present a completely different version of themselves. Finally, it shows how — especially in the digital age — we’re obsessed with what’s on the outside of the person, not the inside.

And as I type this, I’m thinking of whose face I can next terrorize. You may be laughing, but the next one could be yours!

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Sony Announces New WF-1000XM3 Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM3 Earbuds

For the most part, Sony’s entry into the earbud era has been a disaster. In 2017, Sony released the WF-1000X earbuds, which I initially posted positive things about. It took me a couple more days to realize what a quality control disaster they were — short battery life, horrible phone calls, and poor connection consistency.

Last year, Sony released the WF-SP700N buds with some minor improvements. The voice call quality was still bad, but worked decently in quiet environments. The battery life remained awful, and the buds still had connection issues. But Sony isn’t known to just lie down and accept its failures; they went back to the drawing board.

2018's WF-SP700N buds were less than satisfactory.

The popular audio and video company has just announced the WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds, and CNET refers to them as providing “the best-in-class true wireless sound.” At $230, Sony’s new wireless and noise-cancelling earbuds have a new design, new case, newly improved battery life (6-8 hours — incredible if true), and new noise cancelling microphones for phone calls.  They are also Bluetooth 5.0, which helps in terms of connection and, in some cases, sound quality. Basically, they are supposed to represent the fantastic over-the-ear WH-1000XM3 in a much smaller form.

The Verge claims Sony’s new earbuds are its best answer to the AirPods yet, and especially complements the noise cancellation.

“Sony says it has improved the active noise cancellation on the M3s compared to the original WF-1000X, and I can attest to that. Whereas the first model felt like it offered little over the noise isolation you get with a good earbud seal, here the effect is definitely more pronounced and noticeable.”

Click to play in YouTube.

The article notes that thanks to the new Bluetooth 5.0 chipset, each of the two earbuds makes its own connection to your phone without depending on the other. This means you can use one earbud to make a voice call while the other charges in the case. The new buds also cut down audio lag when watching videos — this has been a huge negative for Sony’s past two attempts at earbuds.

The biggest thing missing is some type of waterproofing. As someone who swims a lot these days, I am patiently awaiting for earbuds I can go swimming with. If I can’t go swimming with them, I’d at least like to keep them on in the shower. This blog will have an in-depth review of the WF-1000XM3 earbuds next month.

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Have Comfort Issues

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

I was looking forward to trying the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 for the past month. Since I wasn’t able to get an official review package, I did the next best thing — head over to Best Buy and try them out.

Please note that this is an “ears-on” analysis (like many of the hands-on reviews I’ve been doing here) and not an official in-depth review. Hopefully, that will come at a later date. But for now, I can only talk about my initial thoughts.

For one thing, Bose did change the design. These new headphones sort of remind me of the Parrot Zik 3 wireless cans. The stainless steel headband crunched against my head a little too much, making me feel like these would be uncomfortable to wear after a couple hours, unlike other Bose headphones that have a soft and cushion-like feel.  Bose went out of their way to redesign their headphones, but the old adage is still relevant: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, what Bose is known best for is their slightly muddled bass sound, and those who like that won’t be disappointed with their latest. However, despite claiming that there are improved sound drivers in the new headphones, I really couldn’t tell a major difference between the sound on these and the QC 35 II cans. Of course, that’s not a bad thing either. But, like all of Bose’s wireless devices, the Headphones 700 don’t have the aptX codec for better wireless sound that so many Samsung phones are compatible with.

The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 do have improved noise cancellation, which is hard to believe, especially since the NC on the QC 35 II headphones was almost perfect. There are three levels of noise cancellation, and the highest blocked out just about all the noise at Best Buy. This type of noise cancellation is great for being at a crowded place, but it’s not good for people who jog and encounter traffic.

The call quality, which I was only able to test for a minute, was great. My friend in San Francisco didn’t have to ask me to repeat myself once, even though I was talking to him in a crowded store. He said he couldn’t hear much of the background besides my voice. I could hear him perfectly as well.

All this makes the Headphones 700 very good, but not fantastic. For $399, Bose should have hit a home run. Instead, they hit a triple. Perhaps more time with these will change my opinion, but the excitement levels just didn’t hit me where expected.

 

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RIP The Foldable Smartphone?

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Foldable smartphones have consumed a lot of buzz over the past year, but that seems to be dwindling down. Most of the excitement came when Samsung gave a look at a working new smartphone called the Galaxy Fold. Even before that, people were salivating at all the things a foldable smartphone could do.

“Samsung has built a sturdy backbone to the device, with a hinge system that has multiple interlocking gears. All of these gears are hidden at the rear of the device, and allow the Galaxy Fold to transform from tablet to phone modes,” claimed The Verge in a glowing analysis. Of course, things didn’t actually work out that way.

When Samsung sent the review units out in April, many reviewers complained about screen flickering (or completely blacking out), a bump appearing under the display, screens being easily scratched, and some software issues. It’s true that the scratches appeared after reviewers removed the screen protector, which Samsung says shouldn’t be done. But most phones don’t require you to keep a screen protector on.

Now, the Samsung Galaxy Fold has been delayed — at least twice. The Huawei Mate X has also been delayed. Both companies claim their foldable smartphones need “extra testing.” The companies are doing all they can to fix the physical defects (the software defects can be fixed later with an update), and — in the meantime — people are losing interest in the foldable devices. The tech industry has a short attention span, and people are definitely moving on.

Huawei has delayed their foldable smartphone as well.

According to Gizmodo, Samsung isn’t giving up, and they are trying to fix the problems as soon as possible. Apparently, the Korean company has not only increased the size of the protective film (making it more difficult to peel off), but they are also decreasing the size of the gaps between the Fold’s screen and hinge — this prevents foreign materials from getting inside.

Samsung also appears confident enough to produce more versions of the Galaxy Fold. Some may find this laughable, but perhaps Samsung knows what they are doing. Remember when the Galaxy Note came out in 2011 and didn’t quite excite consumers? When the Note 2 came out in October of 2012, Samsung fixed most of the problems and made a top-selling device. Perhaps it really is too early to dismiss Samsung’s efforts to create a foldable smartphone that actually works.

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Apple Music Climbs to 60 Million Subscribers

Apple Music is catching up to Spotify.

Apple Music started in June of 2015. At the time, this blog praised the integration with Apple devices as well as the great sound. However, we noted that there wasn’t as much of a selection when compared to Spotify (that has changed), and that it didn’t play the correct versions of the songs (sometimes, the music platform played a version by another artist).

However, that was just the beginning, and things have certainly changed. By December of 2015, Apple had 8 million subscribers. Having Apple Music on the iPhone or other iOS devices was absolutely necessary if you wanted Siri to play a certain song.

Four years later, it appears that Apple has surpassed the 60 million subscriber post, even though it still has a way to go to catch up to Spotify’s 100 million. According to The Verge, Apple’s latest milestone adds 10 million subscribers to the 50 million that was claimed in April. When it comes to Apple devices, Apple Music is still the biggest streaming service. Should Spotify be worried?

Spotify is still the best.

When it comes to quality and selection, I still prefer Spotify over Apple Music. And since I moved away from the Apple ecosystem (nothing personal, Apple!), I’ve unsubscribed from Apple Music as I have no need for it. On my Samsung Galaxy S10+, Spotify works faster and offers better integration with Google Assistant than even Apple did with Siri. When I actually download music from Spotify, the speed is faster than Apple Music.

I also think Spotify is more fun to use. I love the dark and light colors, the navigation, and the fact that Spotify is easier to look at lyrics while you’re playing the song. I like the custom equalizer, which I admit could be a problem with people who aren’t familiar with audio sound properties.  I also think my Spotify playlists are far easier to share than they are on Apple Music. Most importantly, Spotify chooses songs for an automatic playlist far more accurate to my tastes than Apple does.

All this may change as Apple Music keeps improving. For now, Spotify remains the winner. Apple Music may have proven its relevancy over the past few years, but Spotify, the original streaming service, is still tops.

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Life Without The Apple And Samsung Galaxy Watches

Samsung Galaxy Watch

I did it folks. I sold my 46mm Samsung Galaxy Watch this past weekend. Not only could I use the money, but I didn’t find myself even using the watch that much. Don’t get me wrong — the Galaxy Watch is a really good device that compares with the Apple Watch Series 4. I sold my Watch 4 last March since I moved back to the Samsung ecosystem.

I’ve always defended smartwatches for their convenience. Whenever I got a message, it was easier to turn my wrist and look at it on my smartwatch rather than dig my phone out. I loved tracking my exercise on the watches (though both Apple and Samsung differ widely in that aspect) and could even do it while I was under water.

Apple Watch Series 4

However, is the convenience really necessary? I wrestled with that question after I misplaced my Galaxy Watch (it actually fell under the car seat cover) and lived without it. As a matter of fact, it felt so good not worrying if yet another device of mine was charged or not. And it was great carrying one less wire and charge port in my bag. I did have to take my phone out more to read messages, but my eyes appreciated not having to squint at the small screen of a smartwatch.

I also thought about other things as my Samsung Galaxy Watch went (temporarily) missing. Did having an exercise tracker really ever help me lose weight? NO! Was the exercise tracker on both watches accurate? NO! Come on, exercise fanatics — when did any smartwatch accurately track exercise? Some are getting better, but they have a long way to go.

Exercise trackers still have a way to go.

I also realized that I didn’t need to measure my heart rate constantly, didn’t need to use my watch as a flashlight, and certainly didn’t need to pay $10 a month for 4G LTE service on a watch when my phone is always around. Then, I searched again desperately for my watch — not because I needed it, but because I needed to sell it. I’m sure the Samsung watch is very useful to its new owner.

I’m not trying to discourage anybody from getting a smartwatch. They are more helpful than hurtful. They look nice and offer a lot more than regular watches. But before you let another device take over your digital dependence, you have to ask if it is really worth it. After four years, I found out the answer by mistake, and I don’t miss my smartwatch one single bit.

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