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.

App Review: Fieldrunners 2 for iOS [VIDEO]

Fieldrunners was one of the first tower defense games that came out once Apple launched the App Store and since has been one of my favorite strategy games until now due to the fact that Fieldrunners 2 is now available in the App Store for $2.99. If your hesitant on wether or not the game is worth it then check out our video review after the break.

Game Features:

  • 25 unique, hand painted levels spanning 4 distinct zones across Fieldrunners Island
  • Over 20 weapons to choose from at the start of each level
  • Face waves of fieldrunners that navigate the battlefield with unparalleled realistic swarming behavior
  • Multi-storied maps route enemies over bridges, under tunnels, and into trenches
  • Revolutionary “Hybrid Maps” combine the fun of designing mazes with the challenges of fixed path layouts
  • Sudden Death maps pit players against never ending hordes of enemies in an all new, action packed levels
  • Puzzle Maps are bonus levels that put players’ understanding of enemy behaviors to the test
  • Over 30 different enemy types, including elite enemy units with special attacks and rewards
  • Powerful items allow players to perform precision based attacks like never before

Source: App Store

Nintendo announces Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and YouTube as Wii U content partners

During todays Nintendo E3 keynote, Reggie Fils Aime announced that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and YouTube will be providing content to Wii U owners. Nintendo mainly focused on games and didn’t really show any of the Wii U’s software or hardware nevertheless Reggie did mention that “In the future, we’ll show you how the Wii U will integrate and elevate entertainment in your living room,”. We will just have to wait and see but in the meantime Nintendo has a lot more information on the Wii U which you can check out here.

‘Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation’ coming to PS Vita on Oct 30, along with a ‘crystal white’ Vita bundle

Last night at Sony’s E3 Press Conference Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed III Liberation which is a new chapter in the Assassin’s Creed saga and was designed exclusively for the PlayStation Vita. Unlike other Assassin’s Creed titles this game will feature the first playable female assassin in the series history. The game will launch this year on October 30th. For those that have been waiting for a white PS Vita, Sony is launching a special bundle alongside the game featuring a brand-new “crystal white” PS Vita which includes a 4GB SD card and the new game. Check out the reveal trailer after the break.

‘Watch Dogs’ and ‘The Last Of Us’ Demonstrate Stunning Graphics and Gameplay at E3

Last night at E3 there were two games that really stole the show. Sony showed off some gameplay of ‘The Last Of Us’ for PS3 and it caused a lot of buzz because of the great post-apocalyptic visuals. There was also a gameplay video  of ‘Watch Dogs’ by Ubisoft which showed off next-gen-level graphics. ‘Watch Dogs’ revolves around the premise of the ctOS, a digital network that forms the basis of an internal war for information. There was no information on what platforms’Watch Dogs’ will be released on or when we can expect it to hit the shelves. Both games look great and wether you like one game more than the other is just a matter of preference but keep in mind that ‘The Last Of Us’ is a PS3 exclusive while Ubisoft has yet to announce what platforms ‘Watch Dogs’ will be coming for. Check out the gameplay trailers for both after the break.

Microsoft announces Xbox SmartGlass, an app for tablets and mobile devices

At E3 Microsoft announced Xbox SmartGlass, which is sort of their approach to what Nintendo is doing with the Wii U. SmartGlass is an app for tablets and mobile devices that will let users interact and view different content from the videos and games on their console. The app serves as a remote control which lets users to start video content on one SmartGlass device, and seamlessly pick it up on another. The most important feature is how SmartGlass will serve as a secondary screen which will provide additional content related to whatever video or game is playing on the Xbox 360. Microsoft demonstrated the app with a Halo 4 concept which allows players to view their stats, get notified of different waypoints, and initiate multiplayer gaming sessions from the app. It also looks like Microsoft will make the app available for Windows Phone devices as well as  iOS and Android. Although, the extended game functionality was specifically noted as being for Windows 8 tablets and Windows Phone devices. No availability date has been given for the app yet.

 

Nintendo shows final Wii U Gamepad, Pro Controller, and TV remote app (With Video)

Almost a year ago Nintendo introduced their next generation console which they named the Wii U. Back then everything was still in the process of being designed and finalized but now that its time for E3 again Nintendo decided to give us a bit of news before their official E3 presentation. In todays preview Nintendo decided to show us the finished version of the Wii U controller, now known as the Gamepad, as well as a TV remote app and a Pro Controller for those who prefer a more traditional control method. The Gamepad is now wider and the buttons have been shifted a bit to give the user an overall more comfortable feel. If you want the full details and what we can expect from the Wii U then we will have to wait until Tuesday but for now you can check out the Pre E3 Nintendo Direct video after the break!

 

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