Betron B850i Headphones

 

I go through iPhone headphones within a year, it’s always the ‘Y’ connector that seems to go, I take the precaution of keeping it alltogether with a little heatshrink tubing. It looks awful, but does give me another 3-4 months before Siri seems to be initiated for no reason at all. So the hunt for a decent pair of headphones begins.

In the past I have purchased the Sony DREX12IPB headphones and occasionally they did not give the performance I would expect from Apple Headphones with the controls working intermittently. I was not looking for full control this time, due to using the Pebble SmartWatch, just the mic. The Betron B850i (currently £15 with microphone, £13 without –  from www.betrononline.com) has a number of features that appealed, not least the reviews by other users:

  • Stated as iPhone/iPod compatible
  • Flat Cable
  • Inline mic, that sits on the left ear
  • Attachable clip
  • 1cm longer than Apple earpods @ 1.2m
  • right angled 3.5mm jack
  • 7 earbuds
    • Small aperture buds in Small/Med/Large
    • Larger aperture buds in Small/Med/Large
    • Memory Foam earbuds
  • Soft black ‘velvet feel storage pouch’

The packaging is appropriate and offers an external view of the headphones and variety of earbuds (I hate those sealed packs you have to be a safe cracker to get into!). The left/right earbuds are clearly indicated on each earphone in white print. The cable feels neither plastic nor too rubbery and certainly drop out to tangle free once removed from the storage pouch which is a good size, neither to small or big.

The memory foam earbuds are fantastic, certainly are my choice of earbud choice, reducing that annoying fall-out that you often have with earbuds. The audio quality is great for budget headphones, I ordered mine directly from Betron UK for £15 taking two days to arrive, and I would say that if I rated the Apple earbuds at an average 5/10 I would give the B850i’s 7/10. With the buds having a louder and richer sound than the earpods. I have noticed a little bleed over from each headphone to the other side, the left channel plays ever-so-slightly in the right channel and vice-versa but this is only noticeable if you have a the incorrect headphone in and the opposite channel plays (utilised https://youtu.be/M05w0gIDQVM and the iOS app ‘Headphone Check by Citrus Apps’), I tested on an iPhone 6 plus, a Dell PC and an Acer PC.

Here are the specs:

  • Speaker Driver: 10mm
  • Nominal Impedence: 16Ohm
  • Frequency Respoince: 17Hz to 20kHz
  • Sound Pressure:Level (SPL): 112 dB/+-3db
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.1%

 

Andy

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Veescope Live Remote Control

The Veescope Green Screen app in a prior post has the ability to be remotely controlled, originally by another iOS device, more recently through the use of the Apple Watch (see screenshot above). I have access to three other iOS devices:

  1. Wifes iPhone (unfortunately with here most of the time!)
  2. iPad classic (does not like anything beyond iOS 5.5, and the Veescope app is iOS 6)
  3. iPad mini (from work and locked down tighter than Southend piers footings – but I am working on it)

I did however pinch the wife’s to have a go, first its a clear simple interface:

  • record
  • snapshot (Apple Watch does not seem to have this? – only going by screenshots seen)
  • next background
  • prior background

My first concern was that I needed to be on the same network and thought this may well cause issues at work (I could at least try out at home) – but fear not as it functions on Bluetooth connectivity, having enabled Bluetooth of both devices, and was a breeze. It may not look fancy or offer obscure options but it works an absolute dream.

I don’t think it’s likely but I would love the option of having this controlled from a Pebble Smartwatch!

 

Andy

Veescope Live App

 

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At the Betts Show earlier on in the year I saw the amazing Green Screen by Do Ink and liked the clean interface. However it is only available for the iPad , Do Ink have this on their development roadmap but they are a two person outfit and there is no deadline for it currently, I really wanted something for my iPhone 6+. Enter Veescope Live for iOS that is available in two flavours:

  1. Free  with watermark (in app purchase for removal)
  2. Full £2.29

The interface is not as pleasing on the eye but looking at the developers website www.dvdxdv.com it seems they have a wide range of products for Macs (including other Veescope products) and Final Cut. So what does it do? Well you can elect to have either movie clip backgrounds or photos that you can step through as you record (I imagine the holiday photo slideshow from hell!).

Now this is a fun app, practical and easy to use but its also another app that has made me spend money (after opinion and Pebble smartwatch apps) and it is money well spent! The app allows for not only green screening but also keying any background. My first attemt at using this app was to record against a pure white background and turn a 30 guided learning hour unit (50% already online) to fully online in about 90 minutes. A quite environment with good lighting and a clear background, allowing me to steady my iPhone, step in front of the camera at a bleep, and step away upon another bleep, tweak the “Key Fine Tuning” and I was good to go! A laptop (and remote presenter), a dry-wipe board in the background and a colleague to start/stop recording and I was a star in the making!

I have since found that using a real green screen (for under £40) is even easier, no having to steady the camera, hold a white sheet of paper in front, remove, bingo!

What I also like is the ability to apply “mattes” to the edges of your capture, say for if you have only a small green screen or recordable area you can reduce the overall recordable area. The ability to change your backgrounds (on the fly with a remote device or keyboard) and include recorded video clips really adds to this app and remote control (an upcoming post). It saves to your camera roll seamlessly.

There are even built-in tutorials from the app. I cannot recommend this app enough, especially if you are looking for a greens screen app on an iPhone.

Andy

 

 

Joby GripTight Mount XL Smartphone Holder

Joby Tight Grip XL

With recent recordings on my smartphone being propped up with less than ideal methods (blu-tack included) I have been looking for  a more stable and long-term solution, especially with some upcoming recordings that I really do want to record with the minimum of fuss and most of the decent mounts I had found were for using without cases (I always use a case and did not want to be peeling it off everytime I wanted the use of any stand!)

I love this gadget, I have been looking for a mount solution for the iPhone and in particular the iPhone 6 +, and its not an expensive purchase and so well build. Fitting to any standard camera mount (it does look elegant with its own companion “Micro 250” stand – which I did not purchase)  the GripTight folds flat for storage, has a small cord eyelet (cord not supplied) and is tensioned so that you open it out, position over phone and release to grip. In two sizes  that open up between 2.1-2.8 in | 54-72 mm wide for GripTight Regular and 2.7-3.9 in | 69-99 mm for GripTight XL.

Watch a Vimeo video here

 

Andy

Plantronics M55 Bluetooth Headset

This is an absolute gem of a device, especially at around £20, this has become my new best bit of kit. I haven’t used bluetooth headsets for ages, mainly because I used to do short journies that did not need them but as of late these are getting less frequent. There is a lot to like about this headset:

  • Great method for holding in ear, very quick to fit and stays in all the time! – very sceptical but found that I love it! (there is an over the ear adapter if you don’t get on with it – its clear so keep an eye out for it when opening the packaging)
  • Lightweight and small
  • About an hours charging gives 11 hours use time (comes with a 4″ micro USB lead and a Car USB adapter!)
  • Deep sleep mode has the battery lasting for 5 months! (not that I have used it that little!)
  • Voice commands – “Incoming call, [say] answer or ignore?” (not had opportunity to test yet, this can be switched off)
  • It gives you a battery indicator next to the bluetooth symbol (iPhone)
  • There is an App (Plantronics Hub) that you can refer to on how to use as well as button and light identification
  • Multi-point pairing capability, quickly switch active connections between two phones (have not tried this one yet)

I’m an insomniac and often spend silly hours on the PC being productive until the kids came along and I needed sleep, I often listen to podcasts that let me drift off rather than getting up (that does not mean they are boring!) and have often found headphones wrapped round my neck or under my back, this is where this device comes into its own. It includes the A2DP Bluetooth profile that allows audio streaming so I can listen to music, podcasts, radio stations and even GPS directions from your smartphone (no more having to hush the family when trying to listen to sat nav). So I am finding that I don’t take my headphones everywhere with me, so they should last a bit longer, in fact I haven’t used them at all.

The downsides – my wife reckons I look daft with it sticking out the side of my head when I’m pottering around the house!

Andy

Changing Phone Provider to Three

I have for the past two years had a 1gb data limit for my phone and although I never go over this limit I do get very close. When I was looking to get the iPhone 6 Plus I wanted to move to 4G and have a healthy data limit, I had been hearing no complaints regarding three and plenty from all the other providers and thought that it would be worthy of a further look into….

  • everyone I knew on three had no complaints
  • it was eat all you could data on 4G (although as yet nobody seemed to be using 4G in my local area of M25 to Southend-on-Sea)
  • great price – £15/month for 12 months (my wife’s contract is 12 months behind mine so this would put us at the same time for renewal)
  • 4GB of free tethering a month (a previous blog entry outlines my frustrations with prior provider) and in light of MS Surface RT effectively dead in the water without a WiFi connection this was a definite positive

I signed up and have no regrets at all, in fact there were further benefits (in part to the new iPhone)

  • A 5 minute dead-spot on my commute is no longer dead
  • Southend has 4G
  • where I live, a rural spot, has 4G as well (in fact it is often twice as fast as my home broadband)
  • due to the “eat all you can data” plan I am finding myself changing settings to update my phone as I roam (hopefully taking the burden of my heavily utilised home broadband to some degree)

Great job Three!

 

Andy

iPhone 6 Plus

I recently purchased the iPhone 6 Plus. The reasons for purchase are my own, and I am a firm believer that no phone is best just that there are ideal phones for each person, and reasons that seem proven. I dont purchase things on a whim and try to read a lot of reviews and opinions first. I certainly don’t get pulled into hype for “bent” iPhones, other larger scale phones have bent, it’s something for the “haters” to cling onto and if Apple reoport are anything to go by only nine bent phone reported out of ten million initial sales!

I wanted something that allowed me to make notes when I have no other tech with me as I have been often finding myself in ad-hoc meetings. I also know that whatever the phone had to offer I would utilise it with the exception of games I think I have covered my bases with my smartphones:

  • Podcasts and Radio (loving the Doctor Who audio books on Radio 4 extra)
  • Music
  • Social networking
  • Network utilities
  • Photos and videos (an awful lot of photos of my young children)
  • eBooks (Cooking)
  • TV & Video apps (avid film buff here!)
  • Weather and travel apps
  • Shoppping (I am obsessed by ebay and amazon)
  • Productivity apps (current fav is trello)
  • Chromecast (I know Apple is not the most loved, but more than Windows)
  • Sat NAv (Waze for the win!)
  • Cloud Services (Pogoplug a personal Fav)
  • Fitness apps (OK this is a deglected area but i keep them with the best intentions)

Real estate did initially bother me but on reading a number of reviews that states that after a week the 6 plus felt right I decided to stick with my initial choice and I am glad that I did, picking up my old iPhone 5 yesterday felt like a toy and woefully undersized. Battery life is excellent, currently I am writing this blog with 53% at 9pm and I have not charged the phones since yesterday. I have yet to see the benefits of camera stabilisation, but certainly appreciate the upgrade to 64gb whereby I can store a wide range of media , not just audio, and all my apps without better by selective.

I am looking to see what the Apple watch will bring  to the device

Andy