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Bragi Dash Smart Truly Wireless Earbuds Review

As we move further into the age of wireless audio with the iPhone 7 abandoning the ever-so-present headphone jack, a new category of “truly wireless” earbuds has been popping up. So you may be asking, what does “truly wireless” even mean? Well, as you may have seen, many earbuds that have claimed to be “wireless” actually have a wire in between the buds that generally goes around your neck. So, a few companies, such as Bragi, decided to do away with any and all wires, leaving us with Bragi’s first product, the Dash.

The Dash started as a Kickstarter project back in February of 2014, with an enormous amount of support, raising just under $3.4 million with the promise of earbuds completely free of wires and with loads of other features. These features included activity tracking, touch controls, on-board storage, water-resistance, and more. The campaign had initially intended to ship out the Dash units in October of 2014, but due to many setbacks, they started shipping out units in early- to mid-2016. With initial reports of problems with the microphone and Bluetooth connectivity, it seemed, at first, like the Dash could be just another Kickstarter flop. Instead, however, the company dedicated a lot of time into creating new updates to the firmware that drastically improved, if not completely solved these issues.

The Sound

DSC01138An earbud can’t be good without sounding good, of course. So, how does the Dash stack up to the competition? After all, the price for these is not cheap, coming in at around $300. Well, they’re actually pretty good! I wasn’t expecting amazing sound from a device so small, yet packed full of components. What I found was that the Dash produces a good, clear sound, though certainly preferring the mids over the lows and highs. That said, I am quite a bass-lover myself and I’m coming from using a V-Moda Crossfade M-100, so I’ve been spoiled, and for earbuds, the Dash does a good job producing the bass it does. If I had to compare it to some other earbuds, I’d compare the sound to something like the “wireless” (but not completely wireless) Jaybird Bluebuds, which are quite good themselves.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Now, a common issue with truly wireless earbuds is their often lacking performance in their ability to hold a strong Bluetooth connection. In the beginning, there were lots of complaints from users experiencing poor connection even if the phone was placed only as far as the user’s pockets. Obviously, that’s a huge issue, but also one Bragi appears to have fixed through their updates. I can confidently say that I have had virtually no issues whatsoever with the connectivity of these earbuds, other than maybe one or two micro drops in connection. I tested the Dash by walking around a room and was able to go as far as 10 to 15 feet away from the source without experiencing any connectivity issues. Additionally, just the process of using and connecting the earbuds is really simple. All you do is take them out of the case and put them in your ears. The buds sense when they’re in and automatically turn on, connect to each other, and connect to your phone or other device.

Comfort and Design

DSC01125Another historically common problem with this category of audio products is the ridiculous look of the product or their inability to stay in ears due to the sheer weight they carry. Luckily, this is not an issue with the Dash. While you may get some head turns while using this product, people often just don’t care, and the Dash really doesn’t look bad at all. Additionally, these earbuds were surprisingly comfortable to wear. They come with multiple sleeves to fit your ears (XS, S, M, and L), and once you find the right fit, the earbuds fit snuggly and quite comfortably. I haven’t had too many issues with the buds falling out, which has always been a problem for me, whether or not the earbuds I was using were wireless. Yet another check mark for the Dash.

Gestures/Controls

A neat feature of the Dash is the way you control them. There are multiple ways that you control the Dash, including through the app, touch sensors on the outside of each bud, and head gestures. For instance, if you receive a call while using the earbuds, just nod or shake your head to answer or deny the call. Playing and pausing is easy, with just a tap on the right earbud, or start tracking activities with a tap on the left. One of the issues I noticed is that the touch sensors aren’t only sensitive to your fingers, so putting on a winter hat caused the earbuds to do some unwanted actions. After looking around a bit, though, it looks like Bragi addressed this issue by including a touch lock that can be implemented by holding down on both the right and left touch sensors, which worked well and solved my problem.

Other Features

DSC01143The other features included with the Dash are a microphone, onboard storage, a heart-rate sensor, and a case that charges the buds 5 times on-the-go. To start off, the microphone had quite a few complaints in the early days, with users claiming it was unusable and that the person speaking sounded robotic over the phone. This is yet another area where Bragi has used its firmware updates to address an issue. When I was using the microphone for phone calls, some people said there were no problems at all, while others said it sounded a bit muddled, but they could still hear me and know what I was saying. As for the onboard storage, there’s not much to be said about it. Songs can be added through a computer and using it works as described. Next up is the heart-rate sensor, which seemed to be relatively accurate, though I didn’t have another device to compare it to at the time. This is a really nice feature for athletes looking to listen to music without an annoying wire and no need for a smartwatch. And lastly, the charging case. The case is built quite well, with an aluminum sleeve and a strong metal or plastic where the earbuds actually rest. The earbuds flash when they’ve been connected properly, and a magnet holds them in place. My only complaint is that I feel like I will drop the earbuds when trying to get them out of the case because you have to take the sleeve off, hold that, hold the battery part, and then fiddle with getting the buds out. That said, overall, the battery case is a nice feature, as the battery life on the buds isn’t spectacular at about 3 hours.

Conclusion

So, what are my overall thoughts of the Dash? Well, I like them. I don’t know if I, personally, would quite want to spend the $300 for them, but I could understand why some would. The features work well and the sound quality is pretty good, considering everything that’s built into them. I think Bragi’s next product, the Headphone, could also allow a lot more people to purchase their products, with reportedly better sound quality and a much lower price of $149. However, that new product does strip the Dash of many of its capabilities, including the water-resistance, touch controls, onboard storage, and heart rate sensor. So it really comes down to what you want. If you want the smart capabilities, there really is no other product out there that offers all of the Dash’s capabilities, but if that does interest you, the Headphone is probably the way to go.

Are The New Apple AirPods Worth Getting?

Everyone seems to be talking more about Apple’s announcement of the AirPods than the iPhone 7 and that comes with no surprise. The design of the iPhone 7 has been leaked for months while Apple did a pretty good job of hiding what the AirPods were going to look like and what features they were going to have. At $159.00 the AirPods are certainly not cheap but they are also not expensive when compared to the competition. Right now we have 3 competitors to the AirPods: Bragi, Earin, and the Samsung Gear Icon X. All of them are different in their own way but the prices range from ~$100 to ~$300 so Apple’s offering is right in the middle.

So far I have only tried the Earin wireless earbuds which were good but had connection issues, stuck a bit too much out of the ear for my liking, and I didn’t feel they were worth the $250.

The Samsung Gear Icon X and Bragi’s offerings are smart and have a bunch of features that allow the buds to track your runs. Both of these are specifically designed for fitness which is something we don’t see Apple marketing so it’s safe to assume those won’t be ideal for working out. Interestingly enough, Bragi recently announced non-smart wireless earbuds that will retail for $120 which are much more affordable than their $300 smart buds. Unfortunately, Bragis less expensive option won’t ship until November.

Apple’s AirPods have one thing going for them from what I’ve seen and that’s simplicity. They don’t have any buttons, any rubber inserts, pretty much nothing aside from the charging case. If the normal earpods fit your ear then these will fit just as well. Once you pair your main device with the earpods they will automatically pair to all of your other iCloud devices. Things just work without having to mess with any apps or change any settings and I think that’s one of the most important aspects of a product. Will the AirPods be the best wireless earbuds? Probably not but they will push all companies to come out with smarter and better wireless options. I’m not a big fan of the AirPods long design but if that’s what needs to happen for them to be reliable, thin, and light then I am all for it. I’m definitely getting them on day one and I will let you know how they are if you aren’t sure whether to get them or not. Do remember that Apple has a great return policy so if you don’t like them you can always return them!

How Does Pokémon Go’s ‘Nearby’ Pawprint Feature Work?

One of Pokémon Go’s most annoying aspects is the fact that you can’t tell in which direction or just how far away that Pokémon you are trying to catch is. The developers behind the app have been very vague regarding that feature but I believe there is reasoning behind it. If you came here looking for a representation of distance every Pawprint indicates then you’ll be happy to know that there is a number but it’s quite vague. I have been told that during the beta each Pawprint indicated 50 meters while serebii.net is reporting that the first Pawprint translates to 20 meters, 2 prints is 100 meters, and 3 prints is nearly 1 kilometer.

Pokemon Go Pawprint Disntance to Pokemon How It Works

Which is the more accurate? Well, from my experience it really varies but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Just the other day I was at a park and everybody in the park was helping each other out as to where each Pokémon was. In my opinion, this lack of information just makes each new Pokémon you catch feel far more satisfying. A direction indicator would definitely help in finding Pokémon but at the end of the day it’s the thrill of the hunt that makes it fun! If you are completely set out on catching all of the Pokémon on your radar then there is a way but it requires some time to exeggcute it. A redditor by the name of DJToaster has devised this elaborate plan:

How To Find Pokemon Go Pokemon in Radar Distance

Apple Opposes Government to Protect Customers

“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step, which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

 

On February 16, 2016 Apple CEO, Tim Cook, released a letter to their customers about the United States government’s demand to essentially build a backdoor to their iPhone. Apple believes that this would threaten the privacy and security of their customers, with further implications in the wrong hands.

 

The San Bernardino Case

Apple received an order from a California court to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone by hacking. The iPhone belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, a couple which took 14 lives last December. Apple has no sympathy for terrorists and has worked hard to help the FBI solve this tragic crime in an attempt for justice. Apple has taken great measures to comply with the government and provide all possible information such as complying with valid subpoenas and search warrants, making Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and offering ideas on investigations. However, the US government is now asking for something that Apple does not currently have, and believes is dangerous to create – a backdoor for the iPhone.

 

What is the government asking for?

“Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

 

This backdoor to the iPhone would create a custom version of iOS that would ease the FBI’s attempts at unlocking the iPhone by “brute force,” i.e., trying millions of passcode combinations using a special peripheral, without the risk of deleting the data on the device.

 

Apple believes in encryption

Smartphones are an important part of our lives. A majority of the population now has a smartphone and “we use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going”.

 

This information should be and needs to be protected from criminals, hackers, and terrorists who wish to use it without our permission for corrupt purposes. Customers expect and rely on companies such as Apple to provide protection of their personal information; thus, invoking the need for encryption. “Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.”

 

Why should we be concerned?

This order not only raises the issue of data security, but also personal privacy. It would expose customers to a greater risk of attack due to weakened encryption. In the wrong hands it could also compromise our security. It is also a question of privacy. “Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture his or her data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.” This backdoor could allow the government to invade our privacy, and in a country promising freedom, this order seems to impose further restrictions on those liberties.

 

Apple has opened the debate to cellphone users everywhere. Personally, I stand with Apple’s decision to fight the order due to the implications it would have on our security and our privacy.

 

The letter from Apple can be viewed here: http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/

Apple TV Review – The Best Media Player of 2015?

The 2015 Apple TV is the best product if you want to give some new life to your old (or new) tv. The interface is beautiful and very simple to navigate through. The controller is small yet packed with features and the box itself is simple and minimal. Some people aren’t even considering getting the Apple TV due to its lack of 4K support but as an owner of a 4K tv I can tell you that this isn’t as big of a deal as it has been made out to be. My 4K tv is able to upscale the Apple TV’s interface, games, and videos to the point where everything looks like it is 4K content. If Apple had said that this had 4K support then I would not have doubted it since everything just looks amazing on a 4K TV.

The full video review of the Apple TV can be seen below but if you just want a rundown of what makes this better to the other boxes in the market, I will tell you straight away that it’s the UI and Apps. The iOS App Store is a testament of how good Apple is at getting developers to get apps on their platforms and the tvOS store is no different. Apps are being added all the time and will keep being added which is completely different to the competition right now. The UI of the Apple TV is also very modern and simple which gives your tv a breath of fresh air and it also makes it easy for all of your family members to be able to use it.

 

Subscribe to The Channel Here: DarGadgetZ

Apple to Use Drones to Revamp its Maps Application

You all remember the Apple Maps problem when it first came out, right? Like when it would direct users to drive across an airport runway? Well, Apple has since fixed a lot of these problems, but it still doesn’t come close to the accuracy and usefulness of other systems like Google Maps. So, Apple has a solution: drones.

Yes, that’s right, Apple intends to fix all of its Maps problems using the developing tech, and it may actually add some really neat functions. Specifically, Apple may use this method to keep Maps updated at a much quicker refresh rate than currently available, meaning you’ll know about the annoying closed exit earlier than you otherwise would.

The idea for the drones is that they will be able to analyze road signs and road conditions to update the maps in a more real-time sense. Current methods Apple has been using are vans with many cameras and sensors, but this just doesn’t cover all the needs of collecting such a large amount of data.

None of this is definite, but speculations have been running pretty high recently. Apple actually applied for exemption to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) law against commercial use of drones in 2015 before the more specific regulations from the FAA rolled out. Apple was later granted the exemption, stating Apple could “operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography.”

Additionally, to further develop Maps and compete with Google, Apple is said to be looking at adding more indoor maps functions, meaning users can more easily find stores in large malls or the correct hanger in an airport. These are functions that Google has been developing for a while, but with Apple’s acquisition of Indoor.io last year, it seems clear that Apple intends to join that innovation with their app as well.

Overall, Apple seems to be looking to make major changes to their app to make it more usable not just for its customers’ navigation needs, but also for developers. Probably the largest problem Apple had when they still had all of their major issues in the Maps app was the lack of accurate data for developers to use. This made apps like Uber and Lyft less usable, and potentially discouraged devs from using Apple’s platform until it was fixed.

I, for one, am excited to see what updates Apple will come out with and find out if these changes will be significant or just a slight improvement.

What’s New on The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus?

On Wednesday September 7th, Apple announced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Both devices have similar designs to the iPhone 6s but include lots of changes inside the hood. Along with the iPhone 7 announcement we also got the announcement of the Apple Watch Series 2 and Apple AirPods. Below is a video detailing all of the announcements from Apple’s September 2016 Keynote.

Timestamps

Overview: 0:01
Mario on iOS: 1:16
iWork Collaboration: 2:05
Apple Watch Series 2: 3:08
Nike Apple Watch: 4:43
iPhone 7 vs 7 Plus: 5:08
iPhone 7 Colors: 6:00
iPhone 7 New Features: 6:40
iPhone 7 No Headphone Jack: 9:56
AirPods, Wireless Earbuds: 10:33

Non-YouTube Link: Vessel DarGadgetZ

What Will The iPhone 7 & 7 Plus Look Like?

This years iPhone won’t be getting any huge re-design but it will be getting enough changes that it might tempt you to upgrade. The iPhone 7 has been rumored to not have a headphone jack, sport a simpler antenna design, and an improved camera that, unfortunately, still protrudes from the phone. Below are a few 3D renderings by Martin Hajek of what the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will probably look like. You’ll notice the larger camera on the iPhone 7 Plus which will purportedly feature two lenses as opposed to just a single one on the iPhone 7.

Source: Martin Hajek

UO Smart Beam Laser Projector Review

If you’ve been paying attention to the trends in tech, you may have noticed that projectors have been making a push in the market. Specifically, many companies have been coming out with pico projectors, which are very small, portable, battery-powered projectors for on-the-go use. One of the options out now is the United Objects Smart Beam Laser projector, which is a small cube-shaped projector that packs a punch.

DSC00792First of all, let’s take a look at the design of the UO Smart Beam. The projector has been built very well, and feels really solid in the hand, with what appears to be an aluminum body encasing the internals. It can probably take a beating, which will be great for on-the-go use. The projector measure in at 2.2 inches cubed, meaning it’s incredibly small and portable. It also weighs just under a 0.5 lbs, making it very light. In addition, the projector looks very modern and professional, allowing business professionals to use the projector in meetings without it being an eyesore.

Now for the features. For such a small size, it’s pretty amazing what the company was able to fit inside. The projector boasts a minimum of 60 lumens, 1280 x 720 resolution, a laser-driven light source, 4200mAh battery, and wireless streaming from some Android, iOS and Windows devices. Now, 60 lumens may not seem like much when compared to other full-size projectors, but it is easily visible in low-light to completely dark settings. The battery is enough to last about 2 hours according to the company, which is about right based on my testing, meaning a full-length movie can be watched just with the battery.

DSC00803Setup is incredibly easy. Plug in the projector to a power source (or if it’s already charged, just turn it on), plug in a video source via the DLNA/MHL/mini-HDMI port or stream from a PC, Android, or iOS device, and that’s it! The projector has built-in speakers, which are alright and good for on-the-go use, but I would recommend using a different audio device by plugging your video source into a different speaker for better sound if possible. Focusing is done automatically, thanks to the laser-driven light source, so you don’t need to worry about that. The only drawback I found with the setup is the lack of any keystone adjustment from a laptop or Android device, meaning the projector has to be at the right height to get a rectangular image. However, if you are streaming from your iOS device, you can adjust the keystone in the SmartBeamLaser app. The best solution to the keystone issue (if you’re using a laptop or Android device) and one I highly recommend is the tripod with projector mount you can purchase from UO for $20.

DSC00826As for the picture, I was truly surprised at how good it looks. The image above shows about a 40″ image with overcast daylight coming through a large window on the side (the camera makes it seem darker than it actually was), and everything could easily be seen. I also tested projecting about a 120″ screen, and movies look pretty good, though dark scenes are a bit difficult to see.

All in all, if you want to save some space with a small projector, or you want to bring one with you on a trip for presentations or entertainment, the UO Smart Beam Laser is a fantastic option! It’s a bit pricey at $379.99, but it can be used in many different scenarios, and I would definitely recommend it if you are considering a pico projector. The projector can be purchased from KDCUSA’s website, and I do recommend purchasing the tripod as well.