Dec 27, 2016
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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.

Amazon Announces Two New Alexa-Enabled Speakers

Amazon has announced two new Alexa-enabled speakers that connect to your Wi-Fi network and allow you to control smart devices in your as well as ask it a bunch of questions like you would with Google Now or Siri. Both new devices are complementary to the Amazon Echo and not replacing it. first we have the Echo Dot which is the tiny and least expensive version made to be put in numerous rooms. The Echo Tap has a very small speaker intended for using it as an Alarm Clock or something that doesn’t require much sound since it’s a device that will need an external speaker to really shine. Second we have Amazon Tap which is portable version of the Echo and is very reminiscent of some of Logitech’s speakers.

 

 

I had been contemplating the purchase of an Echo for some time now but I’m happy I waited. I already have many bluetooth speakers in my home so another one would be pointless. The Echo Tap is perfect for anyone wanting to turn their current speakers into a smart device that doesn’t need to connect to your phone to play music or tell you a joke which is just great. Both devices will be launching towards the end of March but are available for pre-order today, Amazon Tap ($129.99), Echo Dot($89.99).

 

  • Echo Dot

    • Uses the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, read the news, set alarms, control smart home devices, and more using just your voice
    • Connects speakers over Bluetooth or with the included audio cable to play music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
    • Includes a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled computer
    • Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
    • Controls smart home devices like lights, switches, thermostats, and more with compatible connected devices from WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, ecobee, and others
    • Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills

  • Amazon Tap

    • Just tap and ask for music from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn
    • Uses the Alexa Voice Service when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot to play music, read the news, provide weather reports, and even order a pizza
    • Streams all your music via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet
    • Delivers crisp sound powered by Dolby, with dual stereo speakers that provide 360º omni-directional audio
    • Provides up to 9 hours of playback
    • Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills
    • Includes Charging Cradle

 

Pre-Order: Amazon Tap ($129.99), Echo Dot($89.99)

Amazon Introduces the Dash Button for Prime Members

Amazon has just introduced the Amazon Dash Button, a physical button you can press to instantly order a product from Amazon. Running low on Coffee Beans? Click the button. Running low on cereal? Click the other button! Definitely an interesting idea that could come in handy in a number of scenarios. Check out the video below to see how it works:

https://youtu.be/NMacTuHPWFI


How It Works:

Dash Button is simple to set up. Use the Amazon app on your smartphone to easily connect to your home Wi-Fi network and select the product you want to reorder with Dash Button. Once connected, a single press automatically places your order. Amazon sends an order alert to your phone, so it’s easy to cancel if you change your mind. Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.

get amazon dash button

The button is free for Amazon Prime Members and are available for a bunch of popular brands (selection here). It‘s currently available by invitation only which you can sign up for at the link below.

Source: Amazon

Amazon’s New Echo Speaker and Assistant

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.26.31 PM

Amazon has been trying to figure out their future business plans, and creating consumer electronics products appears to be their biggest focus. With the Fire Phone not being successful, as they had thought, the Echo is their latest attempt to woo the tech industry. This time, Amazon is offering a product that will act as a wireless speaker and voice-activated assistant.

What is it?

The Echo is continuously listening for the wake word, which appears to be “Alexa”, though in the video below, the actor says it wakes to “the wake word we chose”, so it’s unclear at this point whether or not that is a set word. Nonetheless, once, it’s woken, you can say a slew of commands, including simple questions about weather, time, and general info like the height of Mount Everest. You can also have it play music from your Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio (and probably other services once the product has been out longer).

What’s in it?

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.16.06 PMAs far as the specs go, it’s got a 2.5″ woofer and 2″ tweeter, bluetooth, “fast Wi-Fi” (likely AC, though not specified at this point), seven microphones for “far-field voice recognition”, and is a total of 9.25″ tall with a diameter of 3.27″. These specs should give it a fairly clean sound with easy-to-use functionality without having to scream at it to get it to recognize when someone is talking.

As you can see in the very cheesy introduction video below, it appears to be very easy to use (though so does everything else in a video):

 

 

 

Amazon’s Plan

Amazon has been offering more and more devices that allow customers to easily order products from Amazon, including the Amazon Dash and barcode scanner app for phones. This new product will allow customers to add more to their shopping list by just telling Echo they want it added. With Amazon Fresh, people will even be able to get groceries without even having to pick up their device and go to the store.

The cost of the device is set at $199 for non-Prime members and $99 for Prime members. This is fairly comparable to other wireless speakers, so it should theoretically be a successful device.

Amazon has been attempting to change the tech landscape for quite some time now, and this is yet another try. With it being invite-only at the moment, they will be able to see if it’s successful or not, and decide where to go from there. Amazon really needs to figure something out, as they continue to lose money, or they will eventually go under, which isn’t something most people want to see.

Amazon Fire Phone Unboxing & Overview [Video]

Amazon’s latest device is now available for purchase at AT&T and on Amazon for $650 off-contract and $200 on a 2-year contract. In this video we unbox the Amazon Fire Phone for AT&T and do a overview of the device’s look, specs, and major features. Check out the video below…

Spec Highlights

4.7-inch screen
1280px x 720px
aspect ratio 16:9
139.2 x 66.5 x 8,9 mm
160g
Speakers 2 (stereo in landscape)
2400 mAh (9Wh)

More info on the Fire Phone: Amazon

Disclaimer: DarGadgetZ received the unit from AT&T to review. AT&T’s involvement had no impact on the reviewers opinion.

 

Watch This: Amazon Fire Phone Announcement Press Conference

Earlier today, Amazon announced the Fire Phone during a press conference in Seattle, WA. The conference was not live streamed to the public but you can now watch the whole press conference on YouTube. The video is embedded above, skip to 14:00 for the phone’s announcement.

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, introduces Fire, the first smartphone designed by Amazon, on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. Fire is available exclusively on AT&T and you can pre-order yours today.

Source: Amazon (YouTube)

Amazon Announces the Fire Phone

Amazon has unveiled the Fire Phone which is Amazon’s first entry into the smartphone market. The phone has mid-range specs but also many features that other devices do not have.  Most notably, it has Dynamic Perspective which gives one a whole new experience when using the phone and opens up many possibilities for applications. The phone will come in 32GB and 64GB variants, the 32GB phone will retail for $200 on a two-year contract or $650 without while the 64GB will be $100 extra. The phone is set to ship on July 25th and will be available exclusively on AT&T, the device is already available for pre-order from Amazon.

fire phone specs 

Fire Phone puts everything you love about Amazon in the palm of your hand—instant access to Amazon’s vast contentecosystem and exclusive features like the Mayday button, ASAP, Second Screen, X-Ray, free unlimited photo storage, and more,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products—and take action in seconds. We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device—we use it to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that actually work. And this is only the beginning—the most powerful inventions are the ones that empower others to unleash their creativity—that’s why today we are launching the Dynamic Perspective SDK and the Firefly SDK—we can’t wait to see how developers surprise us.”

Dynamic Perspective—Immersive Smartphone Experience

Dynamic Perspective uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the front face of Fire, a dedicated custom processor, sophisticated real-time computer vision algorithms, and a new high-performing and power-efficient graphics rendering engine. Dynamic Perspective features include:

One-handed gestures: Auto-scroll, tilt, swivel and peek for quicker, easier navigation and a better media and entertainment experience. For example, with auto-scroll, customers can read a long web page or a book without ever having to touch the screen; tilt in Amazon Music shows song lyrics; swivel instantly reveals quick actions; peek in Maps shows layered information like Yelp ratings and reviews.
Immersive apps and games: Dynamic Perspective enables a new class of apps and games that are more immersive, and make it quicker and easier for the user to access information. For example, peek to instantly see close-up front and back views of a dress in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire. In games like Lili, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.
Enhanced Carousel: Stay productive with real-time updates and take action right from the home screen—triage email, find recent photos, access most visited websites, return missed calls, view appointments, and more. Developers can customize the contents of their dynamic app and how it responds to user actions. For example, Zillow’s app in the carousel shows property information based on the location, so customers can access search results on nearby homes from the carousel without having to launch the Zillow app. USA TODAY shows headlines most relevant to customer’s interest—someone who frequents football in the Sports section will see those related headlines appear in the carousel.
Starting today, Amazon is introducing the Dynamic Perspective SDK that enables developers to build new experiences with this groundbreaking technology. Learn more about the SDK at http://developer.amazon.com/firephone.

Firefly Technology–Illuminate Your World

Firefly combines Amazon’s deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. Simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover helpful information and take action in seconds.

Printed phone numbers, email, web addresses, QR, and bar codes: Firefly identifies printed text on signs, posters, magazines and business cards—make a call, send an email, save as a contact, or go to the website without typing out long URLs or email addresses.
245,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels: Firefly recognizes movies and TV episodes, and uses IMDb for X-Ray to show actors, plot synopses, and related content—add titles to Watch List or download and start watching immediately.
35 million songs: Firefly recognizes music and uses Amazon Music’s rich catalog to show information about the artist—play more songs, add them to your Wish List, or download instantly to your Fire. Developers, such as iHeartRadio and StubHub, used the SDK to build Firefly-enabled apps, so customers can create a new radio station based on the song or find concert tickets for the artist.
70 million products, including household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more: Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on Amazon.com.
The Firefly SDK is available starting today so developers can invent new ways to use this advanced technology. Later this year, Firefly will include artwork recognition, foreign language translation, and wine label recognition powered by Vivino. Learn more about the SDK at http://developer.amazon.com/firephone.

Amazon Exclusive Features and Vast Digital Ecosystem—All Deeply Integrated

Fire seamlessly integrates Amazon’s vast digital ecosystem for instant access to over 33 million songs, apps, games, movies, TV shows, books, audiobooks, and magazines, including thousands of exclusives. Plus, Prime members get unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost with Prime Instant Video, over 500,000 books to borrow with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and the all-new Prime Music—unlimited streaming and download of more than a million songs and hundreds of expert-programmed playlists—all at no additional cost.

Fire deeply integrates Amazon exclusive services:

Mayday is now available over 3G and 4G, in addition to Wi-Fi—simply hit the Mayday button in quick actions and an Amazon expert will appear via live video to co-pilot you through any feature on the device. Amazon experts are able to draw on the screen, talk you through how to do a task, or do it for you—whatever works best. Mayday is available 24×7, 365 days a year, and it’s free. Amazon’s response time goal for Mayday is 15 seconds or less—since launch, the average response time has been 9.75 seconds.
ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) predicts which movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and prepares them for instant playback before you even hit play.
X-Ray helps you get more from books, music, movies, and TV shows. Explore the bones of a book, including characters, ideas and background with a single tap on the screen; bring the power of IMDb right to Fire for trivia on movies and TV shows; plus, with X-Ray for Music, see synchronized lyrics display while you listen to your favorite song.
Second Screen lets you fling TV shows and movies from Fire phone to your Fire TV, PlayStation or any other Miracast-enabled device. Second Screen turns your TV into the primary screen and frees up Fire phone to provide playback controls and a customized display for X-Ray, all without leaving the TV show or movie you’re watching.
Free unlimited cloud storage of photos taken with Fire, automatically backed-up wirelessly and available across Amazon devices and Cloud Drive apps so you have access anywhere.
Beautiful Industrial Design & Powerful Hardware

Built using premium materials, including Gorilla Glass 3 for the rear and front, aluminum buttons, stainless steel details and a rubberized polyurethane grip area, Fire is optimized for beauty, hand comfort and powerful performance:

Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor and 2GB RAM for excellent fluidity and image rendering.
4.7-inch HD display with an ambient light sensor and Dynamic Image Contrast that delivers better outdoor viewing.
Global LTE and connectivity with nine bands of LTE, four bands of GSM, five bands of UMTS for better voice coverage and faster data speeds, 802.11ac support, Wi-Fi channel bonding, NFC, and Bluetooth.
Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience.
Advanced imaging system with custom-tuned 13MP rear-facing camera with backside illumination, LED flash, 5-element f/2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities for beautiful, crisp photos, even in low-light conditions. Fire also includes a 2.1MP front-facing camera. Both front and rear-facing cameras record smooth 1080p HD videos.
Reliable backup and restore leveraging the experience and operational excellence of Amazon Web Services and its cloud technology. Fire customers can automatically back up device settings, notes, bookmarks, messages, and installed applications—no need to manually configure or connect to a computer.
Availability & Exclusive Network Partner

Fire ships on July 25 and is available exclusively on AT&T—the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network. Starting today, customers can pre-order Fire at www.amazon.com/Fire-Phone, www.att.com and in AT&T retail locations nationwide. Fire with 32GB is available for $199 with a two-year contract—that’s an extra 16GB of memory for the same price as many other premium smartphones—or zero money down for as little as $27.09 a month from AT&T on Next 18. Fire is also available with 64GB for $299 with a two-year contract or starting at $31.25/month from AT&T on Next 18.

Limited Time, Introductory Offer

Starting today, customers can take advantage of an introductory, limited time offer—buy Fire and get 12 months of Amazon Prime included—FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, unlimited, ad-free streaming and downloading of over a million songs and hundreds of playlists, and over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Existing Prime members get an additional 12 months added to their account.

Source: Amazon

Amazon Launches Prime Music, A Music Streaming Service

Amazon’s Prime Music streaming service is now live and it gives Amazon Prime members free access to over a million songs along with hundreds of playlists. Starting today, Prime members can go to the Prime Music website or on the Amazon Music app and get unlimited/ad-free access to all of the songs the streaming service has to offer.

Amazon Music Streaming Service

A million songs isn’t really much compared to a service like Spotify which has nearly twenty times that, but these million songs might be enough to get people hooked to the service. One big setback is that Amazon is still in talks with Universal Music Group to get top artists like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z onto the service but those are just a few of the many artists that Prime Music doesn’t have yet. For me the Universal Music Group deal isn’t a deal breaker since I am currently not subscribed to any music streaming service and do have an Amazon Prime membership, it’s just great to hear that this service is included in the membership. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can sign up for a 30 day free trial to try out the service beforehand.

Prime music launch free

There is no doubt people will use the service, what we don’t know is if Amazon is heading in a the path to compete with other services like Rdio and Spotify or if it just wants to get to people that have yet to jump on the music streaming bandwagon. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

The Amazon Music app comes as an update to the existing Amazon music player apps and it is in part of putting all of Amazon’s current music services under one app. The app is currently available on the App Store (iOS) and will be coming soon to Google Play (Android).

Amazon Fire TV Unboxing, Setup, & Gameplay! [Videos]

Amazon announced the Fire TV just a few days ago so I made some videos to show you the software and hardware of the latest sreaming box to hit the market.

Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box that connects your HDTV to a world of online entertainment. With a huge selection of TV episodes and movies, voice search that actually works, plus exclusive features like ASAP and Amazon FreeTime, it’s the easiest way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, low-cost movie rentals, live and on demand sports, music, photos, games, and more. (Source: Amazon)

Check out the videos below…
 
Amazon Fire TV Unboxing & Comparison

 

Amazon Fire TV Gaming Controller Unboxing/Overview

 

Amazon Fire TV Setup Process & User Interface

 

Gaming on Amazon Fire TV: Minecraft, Asphalt 8, Sev Zero, Minion Rush, and Riptide GP2!

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