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.

How To: Download The Battlefield 1 Open Beta for Xbox One Right Now

Lots of people are having trouble locating the Battlefield 1 Open Beta in the Xbox One Store. This seems due to the fact that Microsoft hasn’t updated the store to feature nor show the beta in the search results. Thankfully, the is a very simple way to download it!

  1. Go to the community tab
  2. Click on “Trending on Xbox”
  3. Find someone who played the BF1 Beta
  4. Click “Options”
  5. Click “Go to Battlefield 1 Open Beta game hub”
  6. Click “Launch game”
  7. You can now download it from there, enjoy!

 

Microsoft Spreads Message of Harmony and Peace Outside an Apple Store

Microsoft has posted a new ad to its YouTube Channel in which Microsoft Employees and a New York City children’s youth choir sing a song outside of Apple’s most iconic Apple Store. Check out the video below…

 

A special thanks to the voices of our Microsoft Store employees and a local NYC children’s youth choir. To celebrate the holidays, Microsoft employees, who were selected from across the country, gathered together, meeting each other for the first time, at the new Microsoft 5th Ave Store to spread some holiday wishes. Joined by a local NYC children’s youth choir, they share a message of peace and harmony with their neighbor down the street.

Source: Microsoft (YouTube)

Check Out Microsoft’s HoloLens in Action

Earlier today, Microsoft announced a headset that allows the wearer to augment their world with information, apps, and even games. Microsoft posted a few videos of the HoloLens on YouTube which show off Microsoft’s vision for this project.

 

After watching the Introduction and Possibilities video of the HoloLens, it is obvious that this is an incredibly ambitious product and we are probably years away from getting a product that works well enough to be in homes but I am definitely looking forward to see how Microsoft further develops this platform!

 

Source: Microsoft (YouTube)

Microsoft in China May Be in Trouble

microsoft-china

Recently, China has been seen visiting many international companies, with investigations into possibly monopolies. About a week ago, Microsoft was visited by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which is China’s “anti-monopoly” group. This was the start of an investigation into “monopolistic behaviors” from the company. Yesterday, four for Microsoft’s offices were raided with government officials leaving with computers and documents. This is quite a step up from the small visit a few days earlier.

USChamberMany think the idea here is to target non-Chinese companies to get money from them and boost the local companies. In fact, the United States Chamber of Commerce wrote that:

“the Chinese government has seized on using the [antimonopoly law] to promote Chinese producer welfare and to advance industrial policies that nurture domestic enterprises”

Of course, this is certainly a possibility. However, I think it’s important to remember not to start pointing fingers too soon, as that can overcomplicate issues. Microsoft has been known to receive anti-trust probes in the past from the EU, Japan, and even the United States. In fact, the European Union fined them 561 million euros for the same type of thing. On top of that, Microsoft’s Windows operating system is widely used in China, and completely dominates the market there, so there is a good reason for at least investigating the issue.

Microsoft has said they plan to completely cooperate with the Chinese government throughout the investigation. If they’re found guilty, up to 10% of their revenue could be collected by the government, so I can see why they’d want to not cause any more problems.

Play Games Through Your Xbox One’s Internet Browser

If you have an Xbox One and have been urging to play games like Cut The Rope, Pong, Contre Jour, and Pac Man through your Xbox’s browser, this is for you. xboxie.com is a website that has a list of games that are playable from an Xbox One with the Xbox One controller. Some of the games don’t run perfectly and the Xbox One controller isn’t the best option but this is the best alternative until the Xbox One gets an Xbox Live Arcade of its own. Head over to xboxie.com from your Xbox One to try out the games!

How To: Play the Same Game on 2 Xbox One’s Without Paying Twice

Back when Microsoft announced the Xbox One, digital game sharing sounded promising but, shortly after, Microsoft retracted their plans and switched focus back to physical media. If you happen to have two consoles in your home or know somebody who you want to share your games with, Microsoft made it so you could. Check out the video below and written out instructions below that…

 

How To:

  1. Console 1 has Profile 1 (Profile which you purchased the game with)
  2. Console 2 has Profile 1 & 2
  3. On Console 2 with Profile 1, go to settings -> My home Xbox -> Click on “Make this my home Xbox”
  4. You can now re-download (with Profile 1) the games that had been purchased. Once they download, you can switch to profile two and use the game as if it was yours!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us here.

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