Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset

So ladies and gentlemen, i’ve a different outstanding headset article for you to read, i know, you don’t have to thank me all, just add a social like to the piece to show your appreciation.

Jawbone may now be best known for its UP wireless activity trackers and its Jambox speakers, but before anything else the San Francisco company was a force in the world of Bluetooth headsets. The new ERA is Jawbone’s (mostly) triumphant return to the ears of busy businessmen worldwide.

 

What Is It?

The Jawbone ERA is a small, powerful Bluetooth headset. It’s only 47mm long, 22mm wide and 13mm deep, and weighs only 6g. It has an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery good for 4 hours of talk time or music playback, and a high quality noise cancelling microphone that promises clear and accurate voice calls even in loud environments.

For such a small device, the ERA is well-built. There’s no creaking plastic or microphonics when you’re wearing the wireless headset, and even at maximum volume on a bassy music track there’s no undue vibration or distortion from the ERA’s earpiece.

There are five main elements involved in the care and usage of the ERA. The first is the headset’s single visible switch — it’s on the inner face of the ERA, toggling from power off to hpower on — when you can see the blue half of the switch, the Bluetooth headset is turned on. Forwards from the power switch is a small, rubberised, cylindrical mole — this is a skin sensor that knows when you’re wearing the ERA and when you’re speaking, aiding the earpiece’s active noise cancellation.

Hidden away on the back of the Jawbone ERA is the headset’s sole multi-purpose button. The process for using said button is a little arcane — there’s a guide in the box, of course, but remembering just how many short or long presses to tap on the back of the ERA can sometimes be a little difficult.

To adjust the ERA’s audio output volume, for example, you press and hold the multi-purpose button as the headset cycles through various volume levels from minimum to maximum to minimum and so on; to answer or end a call is a single press, to skip audio tracks is a double press — it’s easy enough with practice, but slightly complex to initially learn.

At the end of the protuberance of the Jawbone ERA — the best word to describe the piece of the headset that juts forwards from its resting place in your ear — is its internal microphone. The microphone is hooked up to the rest of the ERA’s electronics package, and does an incredibly good job of clearly transmitting your voice to anyone you’re talking to.

The segment of the ERA that you’ll have the most interaction with, though, is its earpiece. It’s the misshapen lump protruding from the otherwise sleek body of the ERA, with a wide-band audio driver surrounded by a removable silicon eartip. Jawbone includes four different silicon eartip sizes in the ERA’s retail packaging — suitable for a small right ear, medium right ear, medium left, and large right. In practice we found both the small and medium right eartips to offer the best fit

The ERA is not a cheap headset. If you buy it without the charging case, you’re up for a full $149, while adding the charging case tacks another $30 onto the price tag. I genuinely think the charging case is a mandatory accessory — it does a great job of providing extra power to a headset that definitely needs it — but as an overall package the ERA is very expensive.

What Is It Good At?

Just using the Jawbone ERA is an enjoyable exercise straight out of the box. There’s that ever-present secret agent feel to pressing a button on your secret in-ear headset, and after you’ve learned the ropes, taking calls, playing and selecting music tracks is simple.

The active noise cancellation of Jawbone’s microphone — the company calls the entire package NoiseAssassin, now at version 3.0 in the new ERA — is excellent. For making voice calls, or talking to Siri or Google Now, it’s definitely the most capable Bluetooth microphone I’ve used, and is possibly the best headset microphone I’ve used full stop. Especially in noisy environments, the novel noise cancelling built into the body of the ERA works very well.

For the first few days of trialing the headset, everyone I talked to with the ERA noticed the difference in the clarity and quality of voice calls. When you’re talking, the ERA clearly transmits audio, and when you’re not, it doesn’t — simple as that. With the help of the skin sensor, the ERA’s noise cancellation removes one of the most annoying impediments to workday phone conversations in existence. If you and a friend both had Jawbone ERAs and smartphones hooked up to a mobile carrier that supported HD Voice, you’d be able to chat away in the middle of a hurricane.

Beyond transmitting voice and audio, the Jawbone ERA is equally good at playing it back. I haven’t heard previous Jawbone Bluetooth headsets to compare the ERA too, but Jawbone says its earphone driver is much improved, and I’m inclined to believe them — this is a tiny Bluetooth headset, but at maximum power it’s actually capable of outputting a decent amount of audio oopmh. Compare it to a good pair of earbuds or in-ear monitors (I sabotaged the ERA by trying it out against Logitech’s excellent UE 900 IEMs), and it isn’t great, but it beats out Apple’s iPhone earbuds any day.

There isn’t a great deal of bass extension from the Jawbone ERA’s earphone speaker driver, but both treble and mid-range detail is excellent — significantly better than I was expecting. Maximum volume isn’t exactly ear-splittingly loud, but it is good enough to hear the ERA in an otherwise noisy environment. Jawbone’s various audio cues — a sort of aural guide to the ERA’s various features as you select them — are presented in a pleasantly soothing female voice, although you can customise them usng Jawbone’s companion mobile app, which also adds some useful features to the ERA’s repertoire.

Jawbone’s ERA works well as part of the entire family of Jawbone products. The accompanying Jawbone app for both Android and iOS devices (tablets and smartphones alike, although you’re likely only using the ERA with a phone) will be updated in the near future to link various products together, although Jawbone isn’t sharing specifics just yet. You should be able to get updates on your UP24′s daily activity or sleep progress in your ERA headset, for example. It’s a minor software trigger, but one that adds value to the entire Jawbone ecosystem.

If you’ve bought the charging case for the ERA, you’re in for a treat — it’s both a convenient and sturdy place to store the headset when you’re not using it, and a portable recharging station. The ERA headset sits in the case with its rear microUSB port holding it securely, while the dock has its own microUSB port for recharging. There’s a small indicator on the side of the charging case that tells you how much charge it has remaining, and the flip-up connector makes getting the ERA out easy when you need it. It’s the smartest way to store the ERA, and it has a thin leather strap for attaching it to a keyring.

I kept the ERA on my keyring for a fortnight, and the charging case didn’t get more than a couple of scratches — it’s just as sturdy as the ERA itself. It holds a total of 10 hours worth of charge for the headset, it charges quickly, and it’s convenient storage. I did have one instance where the ERA’s silicone earpiece fell off while the headset was stored away in its case, but for the most part the eartips stay on securely.

What Is It Not Good At?

It’s not possible to talk aout Bluetooth headsets without talking about the cringe factor inherent in using one. Don’t get me wrong — the Jawbone ERA is a very cool Bluetooth headset, but at the end of the day, it isstill a Bluetooth headset. If you want one, this is the one to get, but you better really want to wear it.

What that means is that it’s a slightly dorky dongle hanging out of your left or right ear, and even as unobtrusive as it is it is noticeable, and if you wear it out in public you’ll get the odd sideways glance or cautious glare. I made the mistake of wearing the ERA between my morning train and the Gizmodo office, and ordered a coffee at a cafe on the way — only afterwards did I realise how much of an idiot I probably looked like to the barista.

Of course, there is absolutely a time and place where the ERA truly belongs. It’s invaluable on long car trips, where the one-touch button means you can answer a call and have a discussion almost entirely hands-free, without distracting yourself from the road. If you’re hard at work and don’t want too much of a distraction, it’s possible to talk on the phone without disrupting your flow.

Without its charging case, the Jawbone ERA will run out of power within 4 hours at moderate listening volume, if you’re listening to music or constantly making and receiving voice calls. This is not enough for an entire workday of listening to music on the ERA, for example, and if you have a particularly busy string of phone meetings you might quickly run the ERA to the end of its battery life.

It’s possible to eke a day’s power out of the ERA with light usage, but as a general rule, it won’t last a full eight hour stretch — and it’s this that makes the extra cost of the battery charging case worthwhile. You’ll have to shell out a few more dollars, though, and this factors into our overall view of the ERA as a particularly expensive Bluetooth headset.

Should You Buy It?

Jawbone’s ERA is, as Bluetooth headsets go, very fashionable. You can buy the ERA in any one of four colours, and all four will be available in Australia. As it stands, the ERA is being sold exclusively in Apple Stores around the country, so if you want one to complement your Android phone you’ll have to step into the heart of darkness for at least a few minutes.

The ERA is a great headset, there’s no denying that. It sounds great, has the added features offered by Jawbone’s bespoke app, and it’s both attractive and versatile. All this brilliance does come at a price, though. The high asking price does restrict the appeal of the Jawbone ERA significantly; it’s likely to only appear on the ears of well-heeled businessmen and ultra-fashionable advertising and marketing and PR types.

If you want the best Bluetooth headset at any price, our money goes towards the Jawbone ERA. Before you buy it, though, I’d suggest you give careful consideration to its utility and how often you’ll be using it — an alternative might be more appropriate. Anyone deciding that the $179 ERA is right for them won’t be disappointed with how it performs. It’s on sale around Australia from the end of this month.

How do I remove the wax from my hearing aid?

Asked by Colin from Leicester

Hi Colin, Before we start, can I ask if you have false teeth at all?

I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, just because I have a hearing aid, I must have dentures as well! Bloody cheek!”

Well stop. I assure you, I’m not thinking that. The reason I ask is that you will need some denture cleaning tablets for the procedure I’m sharing with you, that’s all.

Anyway, if you don’t have any tablets, go out and buy some (they are usually quite affordable, in fact, I think I saw some in the Pound Shop once).

Once you have the tablets, read this next bit (see, here I’m assuming that you DON’T have any false teeth, happy now?).

OK, first of all, you need to detach the earpiece and the tube from any electronic components.

Once you’ve done that, make a small ‘bath’ big enough to fit your hearing aid earpiece into. It is imperative to use a clean glass, in order to avoid infections (“Oh, I see, now my cups are dirty!?” he says. Maybe). Add the denture-cleaning tablet to the glass and let it effervesce (which is a lovely word that I don’t get to use nearly enough, so thank you for that).

Next, soak the earpiece and the tube in the water. DO NOT add any electrical components to the water – I’m sure you won’t, but I have to make sure that other people – stupid people, if I’m honest – don’t ruin their hearing aids and them blame me for it.

Finally, take the earpiece and/or tube and allow them to dry on a clean surface. It is best not to try and manually dry the earpiece because you’re likely to miss a bit (“Oh, I see! I can’t dry off a little bit of plastic now, is that it!?” – I imagine you saying). I say this because a wet hearing aid can damage your device and also cause ear infections.

Finally, when all is dry, simply put your hearing aid back together and start living your wax-free life.

I hope that helped (and that you didn’t mind my good-natured ribbing!)

Putting Down The Poison: Is The Computer Mouse Finished?

In the era of touch-screens, styluses and those weird little Nokia plectrum dealies (what is up with those exactly?) we have to ask questions about the future of the humble mouse. Is he now considered vermin? Do we cast him aside, banishing him to the world of grammar phones, 8-track tapes and pet rocks?

 

The other night, I watched Star Trek IV (yeah, the one with the whales) and apart from the fact that it had aged considerably better than the vast majority of mid 80’s movies, I noticed one thing in particular. Mr. Scott, when faced with a 20th Century computer, had no idea what a mouse was. At first, he considers it to be some sort of audio device and talks into it.  Have we always considered the mouse a means to an end? A necessary device that will be outmoded by progress? Considering this, I thought about more science fiction (increasingly where we draw our designs for contemporary technology from) and realized that appearances by any sort of hand-held computer interfaces were limited almost exclusively to communications devices and those wrist-things (even then they talked into them more than they pushed buttons) So, are the little mouse’s days numbered?

 

Laptops tend to use those funny little black pads (though many people attach mice to them for convenience) and whilst I doubt this idea will spread to PC, the current crop of hi-tech gadgets and gizmos are effectively cutting out our ‘mousefied middle men’ and moving steadily into the realm of touch screens and direct Human contact. How long before voice recognition? I can’t say, but I am excited about the idea of a holodeck.

 

The thing is; the keyboard and mouse pretty much have to be separate from the computer unit itself. Even if I had a touch screen computer, I can’t imagine sitting here and writing this article by tapping on the glass. If the computer were upright and touch-operated (not unlike those in the movie Avatar) it would still not allow me to type words for any length of time (and voice recording would be no substitute for typing anyway). So we’ve surmised that the keyboard has got to stay. What would happen if we had a touch screen and a keyboard but no mouse? Would civilisation decline? Actually, I doubt it, but I do think it would be inconvenient and take a lot of getting used to.

 

So is the computer mouse a dead technology? Not as far as I can see. But are the tides of progress threatening to wash over its shores? Quite possibly, however, this would involve a fairly drastic re-design of the home computer set up and such a venture always carries risks, so I think its safe the say the mouse is safe for a few years yet. Now when are they going to get around to that holodeck? 

Yahoo! Becomes ‘Yikes!’ as Recycled Accounts Relay Sensitive Information to the Wrong People

Yahoo!’s policy of recycling inactive email accounts has backfired on them, as new account owners are receiving personal emails that aren’t meant for them. 

The policy, active since June, means that Yahoo IDs and addresses are reassigned to a new user if left inactive for a year or more. But obviously both Yahoo! and some of its users got more than they bargained for.

The emails have been reported to contain highly sensitive information. As a result, privacy experts have been called in, in order to solve the problem quickly and without further incident.

According to a Yahoo! Spokesperson, “Before recycling inactive accounts we attempted to reach the account owners [in] multiple ways to notify them that they needed to log in to their account or it would be subject to recycling,” The spokesperson went on to say that, “We took many precautions to ensure this was done safely – including deleting any private data from the previous account owner, sending bounce-backs to the senders for at least 30-60 days letting them know the account no longer existed and unsubscribing the accounts from commercial mail.”

Interviewed by BBC News, Tom Jenkins, an IT security professional and recipient of such an account, revealed just how damaging this malfunction could potentially be, “I can gain access to their Pandora account, but I won’t. I can gain access to their Facebook account, but I won’t. I know their name, address and phone number. I know where their child goes to school. I know the last four digits of their social security number. I know they had an eye doctor’s appointment last week and I was just invited to their friend’s wedding.”

As much as Yahoo

! has responded swiftly to this scandal, critics who have slated the initiative from the beginning are now finding themselves vindicated. Mike Rispoli of Privacy International said, “These problems were flagged by security and privacy experts a few months ago when Yahoo announced their intention to recycle old emails, and cautioned that Yahoo’s plan created significant security and privacy risks. Yahoo downplayed these risks, and ignored critics, but now we see these concerns were legitimate,”

Mr. Rispoli went on to say that, “This email recycling scheme, an effort to re-engage old users and attract new ones, is resulting in some of our most intimate data being accessed by someone we don’t know and without our knowledge (…) We’re talking about account passwords, contacts for friends and families, medical records – this issue needs to be addressed immediately by Yahoo if they care about the privacy of their users and want them to trust the company with sensitive information.”

Our experts say that the best way to avoid this fate is actually to cancel any email account that is not currently in at least semi-regular use, having first deleted all content from the account.

SOURCE:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24283179

What are the best platforms to experience cooking games on

Nigella Lawson, Jaimie Oliver and Ainsley Harriott may not be your idea of video game heroes or heroines, but nonetheless cooking games are a steadily mounting phenomenon. Enduring the present fascination with video games based on real-life (The Sims, Tennis, Bowling etc) all baking games are about is, well, cooking.

 

That could seem useless, given that the real-life equivalent of cooking games (actually baking) are a few things you basically ought to do every day or else starve, consider the level of enjoyment you would get with cooking games. These games will teach recipes, quantities, methods and even some subtleties that pro chefs have to understand the hard way.

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Tech We’d Like To See: The Dermal Regenerator

A prop oft mentioned and seen in ‘Star Trek’ from ‘The Next Generation’ onwards, the dermal regenerator is a wonderful little slice of 24th century medicine.

Usually depicted as a small, handheld device that emits a miniature laser beam, the Regenerator is used to heal minor flesh wounds, fix scars and repair trauma that would otherwise require stitches.

As far as I know, the theoretical underpinnings of this amazing device are never discussed, so I have no idea how it is supposed to work (unlike warp drive, which is powered by a matter/anti matter reaction, just in case you wondered).

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Are PS4 games getting better or is it just me?

Where do the latest PS4 games sit on the Pantheon of the PS4? Let’s have a look-see.

 

old chum.

“Well, with a little trepidation I’ve finally done it” the update read “I’ve bought my own detached house. It has all appliances I could need and a beautiful thatched roof”

Not much older than me. I was surprised by how much success he’d had. I was pleased for him. Was employed as a street sweeper, which meant he got to see his friends all day. Lunch breaks.  He moved away and we didn’t really talk until I randomly met him on a train some years later. Working as writers. I was about to post a long message congratulating Bob on his newfound success when I noticed the final two words to his status. Dork.

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Tech We’d Like To See: The Universal Translator

Originally conceived by science fiction writer Murray Leinster and utilized in his 1945 novella ‘First Contact’, the universal translator is a device that translates any language into a language known to the device’s user.

 

Most people reading this article will be infinitely more familiar with the universal translator as featured in ‘Star Trek’ and its various incarnations. Star Trek’s version of the translator is actually an extremely effective plot device, allowing aliens from anywhere in the universe to speak perfect English, even if they have never met a Human being a day in their lives (and thus allowing the writers of ‘Star Trek’ the freedom to not have to explain why each alien race speaks English so well in every other episode). In reality, alien linguistics would likely be so alien that they could take generations to decipher and even prove to be impossible for Human vocal chords to mimic.

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Prosthesis-Controlling App Comes in Handy

A new bionic hand has been unveiled that can be remote controlled via a smartphone app.

The app’s developer, Touch Bionics, unveiled the groundbreaking application, along with their latest prosthetic hand, in April of this year.

The hand’s artificial thumb is controlled by signals from the users arm muscles, which are interpreted by the hand’s internal systems. However, in a world first, it can also be controlled, very simply, via the use of the new app.

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CCFC award the ipotty as 2013’s worst toy

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has officially selected the ‘iPotty’ (from CTA Digital) as the worst toy of 2013.

In case you’re wondering, the iPotty consists of a basic potty setup, but with the added innovation of a stand for holding an iPad (apparently an aid to toilet training). I’m also assuming that there is an app. There’s always an app.

Once the infant is placed on the potty, the iPad can be rotated 360 degrees around the seat on its stand, meaning that the device can be switched between vertical and horizontal views. The iPotty even has a protective touchscreen for use in case of…Well, you get the idea.

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