Betron B650s Headphones


 

On the back of a recent post regarding Betron B850i I have the opportunity to review a pair of both the silver and gold versions of the B650s (currently £15 from www.betrononline.com), a similar specification to the B850i’s, and very similar traits:

  • Stated as iPhone/iPod compatible
  • Attachable clip
  • 1.2m cable
  • 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’ (‘gold’ look for the gold version)

Where they differ:

  • Metal Body
  • Metal ‘Y’ connector
  • Round cable, clear cover, with a braid look effect under the coatinge
  • Metal straight 3.5mm jack
  • No microphone option

The packaging is appropriate and offers an external view of the headphones and variety of earbuds (Identical to the b850i’s hate those sealed packs you have to be a safe cracker to get into!). The left/right earbuds unfortunately not clearly indicated, a hard to see molded L or R on the protective sleeve as the cable comes away from the headphones. The cable looks great and feels neither plastic nor too rubbery and the storage pouch which is a good size, neither to small or big, minimises tangles. Although not promoted as a tangle free cable I have not had those infuriating issues over the week.

The metal build of these makes for a great quality feel and the jack and earphone casing has a slight knurling effect that helps with gripping the jack and would reduce potential scratches on the earphones, making them look better for longer.

The memory foam earbuds are fantastic, certainly are my choice of earbud choice, reducing that annoying fall-out that you often have with earbuds. As with the B850i’s the audio quality is great for budget headphones and rating 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. But this was barely audible and less than the B850i’s (The fact the B850i’s had a mic may attribute to slightly more bleed-over).

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%

Although technically no difference between them I would purchase the metal B650s model over the plastic B850i, unless I required a mic, which the B650s does not seem to offer.

Betron has provided me with this product for purposes of providing a personal review.

Andy

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

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

Examinations and Tech

.       exam

 

OK, we are about to start, please put away all text books….
In the not to distant past (for some of us) there was the shift to ensure that mobile phones were not present in the near vicinity when taking examinations and as far as precautions for cheating go I don’t suppose that things have progressed much further. Invigilators are ever vigilant but are we moving with the times?

Enter wearable tech, I am not talking about the tech that is in the near future such as Google glasses, I am talking about the discreet and overlooked  – the smartwatch! Take my phone away from me, you can even have it on the desk in front of you, it won’t stop those preset reminders from appearing on my phone every few minutes through the exam to give me timely reminders of a fact that might be the tipping point between a less-than-successful mark and a pass. Given that you can purchase a smartwatch that need only display notifications for around £50.

In the US there is a shift to ask for watches but also awarding bodies are monitoring the social networking habits of those taking exams – not only during but before and after the event.

Know any learners with smartphones?

Andy

“Spring Forward” Apple Media Event – March 2015

Apple event logo

So the Apple Event “Spring Forward” is today  with the following expectations:

  • Apple Watch
    • Pricing – expectations starting at $349 for the aluminium (normally this equates to the same price in £’s in the UK), $499 for stainless steel and anything in the £1,000’s for the gold
    • Battery life –  working day+ or all day? with a quick charge (for example 20 mins will last the evening)
    • Shipping – next month?
  • Revamping of the Apple shops to take account of the fashion shopping experience?
  • Updated MacBooks
  • New Apple TV – long time coming!
How to Watch
Apple will provide a live stream of the event, which kicks off at 5pm 9th of March 2015 (10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern) suitable for viewing on a recent Mac, iOS device, or Apple TV.
AppleInsider will be on hand at the Yerba Buena Center and will bring live coverage from the venue.

 

Having just wrapped up at 6.35pm GMT the key points were:

  • Apple Pay accepted at 700,00 locations and growing
  • Apple TV now able to have HBO Now (US only?)
  • Apple TV now cheaper at $69
  • Medical research on the Health Kit on the iPhone (5 apps available today)
  • Macbook
    • space gray, silver, gold
    • 24% thinner than macbook air
    • 2lbs
    • New full size keyboards
    • 12″ Retina display
    • Force sensor touchpad (Taptic)
    • Fanless
    • All day battery life (9-10hrs)
    • Only 1 port – all wireless. Share with AirPlay, AirDrop. Most versatile power connector: USB, power & Display Port/VGA/HDMI, standard “USB-C” aka “USB 3.1 type C”
    • Shipping April 10th
  • 13″ Macbook Pro
  • Apple Watch
    • Watch Sport anodized aluminum (silver or space gray)
    • Watch Stainless Steel (Traditional and space black)
    • Watch Edition (Yellow or rose gold)
    • Every Notification that your iPhone gets so does your watch
    • Siri by touching the crown or by “Hey Siri”
    • Wireless Payments
    • Answer calls on watch
    • 18hr charge
    • Magnetic charger
    • Control music
    • Taptic engine
    • Will suggest more movement less sit
    • Apple Watch App is available with iOS 8.2 now!
    • two sizes 38mm/42mm
    • Aluminium anodized alloy is 60% stronger than normal aluminium
      • Sport: £299/42mm is £345 approx.
    • Stainless steel 80% harder
      • Steel: £479 (upto £949 depending on band choice)/42mm £525 approx.
    • Edition $10,000 (Limited quantities)
    • Available April 10th
    • The larger watch reportedly has a larger battery (but this may not mean longer life as it is likely to require more power)
    • 2.5hr charging
    • Will Sow time for upto 72hrs, once other functionality is turned off

No major surprised except for the MacBook

Andy

Pebble II (Pebble Time)

 

Pebble, looking to not lose pace with other smart watches, have returned to Kickstarter ( click here ) to crowd fund the Pebble II – Titled the Pebble Time – which is already near to completion unlike when the first Pebble needed funds to develop. with Projected shipping May 2015. New features to include:

  • 64 Colour screen
  • Microphone lets you send voice replies to incoming notifications or take short voice notes.
  • Pebble Time is 20% thinner than the original Pebble at just 9.5mm.
  • Ergonomic, curved design fits comfortably on either wrist.
  • Scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass with a bezel made of stainless steel.
  • Like our previous watches, it’s water resistant – perfect for a run in the rain, water-balloon battle or a swim.
  • All new Pebble watch bands include a quick-release pin, letting you swap bands in under 10 seconds.
  • Publishing the 3D data you’ll need to create amazing straps, covers and docks.
  • Pebble Time also has a smart accessory port, enabling hardware developers to build sensors and smart straps that connect directly to the watch.
  • Pebble Time comes in three colours: Black, Red, White
  • New timeline interface interaction – your notifications, news, reminders and events are laid out chronologically instead of being trapped inside separate apps.
  • £199 TBC

And the best bit? Timeline will work on Pebble and Pebble Steel (exact date TBD) so my watch gets an awesome update in the near future!

Andy

 

Living with the Pebble Smart Watch

Pebble App

cdn.slashgear.com

I have learnt that the pebble is a great watch, its a winner due to its cost, battery lifespan, notifications / caller identity and the ability (albeit limited) to control music or streaming apps such as radio or tv players. The complex apps are not winning me over as they need to be constantly on to use or have you reaching for the phone.

I am certainly missing less calls/notifications and think I would miss it if I reverted to a normal watch (imagine leaving without the internet, sky/cable or even you mobile). There are thinks I would like from it – more seamless integration (but this is not a specific IOS watch), better quality screen that was in colour. Despite the better looking metal Pebble I am glad I did not spend more for it just for a few more app installs (that I would not really need).

So will I purchase the Apple Watch when it comes out, well I am impressed with what it is hyped to deliver and I am more convinced I am the right geek for the watch. But maybe I will have on to my pebble a bit longer until the hype from initial release dies down. I think you would call me an intended early-ish adopter of the pending Apple Watch!

Oh, one final word to the wise. Turn of your notifications from Facebook before you hit your birthday, otherwise it is pointless trying to write anything as it ends up looking like a four year olds scrawl with the amount of vibrations going off.

Andy

Smartwatch Pro / Smartwatch+ (and other Pebble Apps)

App Logo's

There are a range of apps for the Pebble (and certainly far more on android) and a number of them are free, such as:

  • Watch faces
  • yelp – places of interest locator
  • movable (step counter)
  • cards for pebble (a placeholder for user defined text)
  • Battery status
  • Speed warning (avoid those speeding tickets)
  • GPS (poor)
  • Weather

To get the most out of your pebble your going to need to pay for a few apps, some claim a lot and don’t deliver very much:

  • camera controllers/previewers
  • music controllers (beyond the basic default features, such as volume control)
  • locate smartphone
  • GPS (not so poor)
  • Calender/reminder alerts
  • Twitter feeds

And finally there are those apps that do a number of the above functions and a bit more:

  • Smartwatch+ some smarter watch faces require this for full functionality – such as the “smartstatus” watch face
  • Smartwatch Pro which is required by Morpheuz (previous post) a favourite app of mine (currently the new version of Smartwatch Pro is awaiting release and needed by Morpheuz)

So they don’t cost much but there is a downside, the multifunction apps have to be running to work. Meaning you cannot “ping” your smartphone if the associated app is not running on your smartphone. grrrrrr! This includes any camera or gps related app (these work with there own camera and gps facilities and not your preferred apps)

Andy

Morpheus Sleep Monitor for the Pebble Smart Watch

Morphuez Sleep Monitor

http://www.morpheuz.net

Have I mentioned I am an insomniac? or so I thought. With the Pebble Smart Watch App Morpheuz I am sure of it! Its a great little app that effectively monitors the accelerometer in the watch, gathering data throughout your sleep period that upon waking you can export to your smartphone whereby you are presented with an analysis of your sleep pattern.

Your sleep is split in to fours categories, and will give you line and pie charts along with breakdown of statistics:

  1. Awake?
  2. Light
  3. Deep
  4. Ignore

The app will only cache the last monitored sleep, but you can export CSV data, you will need the Smartwatch Pro app (post coming soon) to pass the data to Apples Health App so that you can monitor overall trends.

IMG_9209

 

Disclaimer: My sleep pattern is not normally as bad as above.
My two year old decided he had recovered from his illness and did not want to be alone or sleep!

Additional benefits include:

  • Repeat settings – use the app once and and it will reactivate automatically the following night
  • Set a 10 minute “ignore” period – should you not want a cup-of-tea making break monitored
  • Setting a preferred wake period whereby the watch will wake you at you lightest sleep point
  • weekend lay-in or power-nap modes

 

Andy

Design Your Own Pebble Watch Face

techlec

One of the fun things to do with the Pebble is to design your own watch face at www.watchface-generator.de for free [we like free!]. It is extremely easy to do and allows you to manipulate:

  • Background image
  • Analog[ue] or digital watch face
  • Date
  • Free Text
  • Extras such as battery and connection indicators (such as vibrate and invert watch face colours on loss of Bluetooth connectivity)

The resultant generated watch face is given to you as a link or QR Code that you can scan, allowing you to download a your-watchface-name.pbw file that you can then open in your pebble app.

watchface

Note: this will take up one of your 8/16 app allocation spaces.

My lad particularly likes the spider-man watch faces!