Unexpected Friends: Pixel & Sennheiser DW Pro 2 Headset

Being in the conferencing business, I’m on the phone a lot during the course of my working life. Most of my phone calling happens via a pair of dear friends; my Polycom VVX-600 and a Sennheiser DW Pro 2 DECT headset. This pair has proven itself in literally years of office use. They’re simply tremendous.

vvx-600 & DW Pro headset

In fact, they’re so good together that my mobile phone was something of an afterthought. I only used it after hours, or when someone called me at that number. That someone was most typically my wife. Stella always calls my mobile. She never calls my desk.

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The nVidia Shield K1 Tablet

Let me be clear, I was a big fan of Google’s Nexus series. It started with the Galaxy Nexus, which impressed me so that I later bought a Nexus 4. In 2012 Google also released the first generation of the Nexus 7, which I also purchased.

The Nexus experience continued, so favorable that I didn’t even hesitate when they released a second generation Nexus 7 in 2013. I ordered one immediately.

The Nexus 7 saw heavy use around the house. I loved the Nexus 4 for a device on-the-go. It was the perfect size IMHO. Around the house, where fitting into my pocket was less of an issue, the Nexus 7’s larger screen made it my go-to device.

I’ve actually had three Nexus 7s over the years, replacing one with a shattered display, and later buying a spare when Google stopped offering them. I still have the Asus dock with micro-USB and HDMI ports that lets the tablet run on external power, even as you use it to feed a monitor or HDTV.

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The Pixel Tells Me About HD Calls

Google Pixel In-callThroughout 2016 I carried a Nexus 5 mobile phone. So did my wife. Hers is the red one. She loves it.

My Nexus 5 suffered a crack in the display the very week that I bought it. In fact, that happened the very day that the screen protector was to arrive from Amazon. In frustration, I merely applied the tempered glass screen protector and kept using the phone for a year!

Over that time, although the phone worked perfectly, the crack grew. By the end of the year it was something of an embarrassment, so I broke down and bought a Pixel from Google.

Some have heard me rant that the move from Nexus to Pixel was disappointing. I maintain that the Nexus phones were an outstanding value, whereas the Pixel, while a fine instrument, is just another costly device.

My experience with the Pixel has been great. It’s a big step up in performance. Nougat is nice. I really like the fingerprint unlock feature. Battery life is exemplary, at least in my use case. USB C fast-charging is ok, although I do miss wireless charging.

One of the things I liked about the Nexus 5 on T-Mobile was that I enjoyed HDVoice calling to the few people I call most often. They are also T-Mobile customers, with suitably capable handsets.

This morning, for the very first time, I noticed that the Pixel indicates when it’s connected in HDVoice. I’m not sure if this indication is a new thing, or I simply never noted previously.

There aren’t too many people who get excited about HDVoice. I still do. It’ll be great we can pass HDVoice between carriers. Some say that’s happening now, but I see no evidence of it.

Ooohhh! This looks cool: USB Charger with a Built-in Ethernet Adapter!

USB-OTG is very handy. It allows someone to connect a variety of different USB devices to a tablet or mobile phone. Most often I’ve made use of a simple USB OTG cable to connect a flash drive or USB headset to one of my devices.

You can also use a USB hub to connect multiple devices, all while keeping the tablet powered. I have on occasion connected a USB headset or Blue Yeti microphone. These I use in conjunction with Audio Tool.

Today I discovered that Google offers a USB charger that has a built-in Ethernet adapter. Called the Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast, it’s just $15 from the play store!

Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast

This is fantastic since it eliminates reliance upon WiFi as the primary means of connectivity! That could make many things, admittedly obtuse things, that I might wish to try more reliable. As I’ve stated previously, wherever possible I prefer to leverage Ethernet over WiFi.

I simply had to have one of these for use with my new nVidia Shield K1 tablet! There’s an open question as to whether it will work with the K1, It only delivers 850 mA, which may not be enough for some devices. At just $15 it’s a risk I’m willing to take. More news to follow once the goody arrives.

A Lament for the 3.5mm Mini Jack

It seems that Apple has pressed the world into abandoning one of the oldest standard connectors still in use, the 3.5mm mini-jack. Apple, Samsung and others are now offering mobile phones sans mini-jack, much to the delight of the Bluetooth Consortium and those who make adapter dongles.

I’m not going to waste any more ink, digital or otherwise, with respect to the logic of abandoning the ubiquitous little connector. Enough has been wasted on that already, and it changed no one’s mind.

Nexus 5 top

That said, I am able to comment on the shoddy state of the 3.5mm jack in the past generation of mobile phones. The mini-jack on two of my last three my last mobile phones became defective. Both of those phones, a Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, were made by LG, so perhaps the problem is specific to them.

I have other devices that don’t seem to suffer this fault routinely. Of course, it’s also possible that I don’t used a wired headset as much with those devices. Still, over the years I can’t recall as many simple mechanical failures of the mini-jack as I’ve seen with recent mobile phones.

My suspicion is that the lowly mini-jack simply doesn’t get much respect. In the drive to pack more junk into ever thinner handsets, the elderly connector gets squeezed to the point where it’s mechanical integrity can’t be sustained. It’s not a complicated thing. I suspect it’s just gets ignored. Even under-engineered.

It’s a pity since there very reason that the mini-jack has survived this long is the fact that it can be both robust and cost effective. Not to mention that fact that there are millions of existing headsets that use the little devil.

If someone should decide to not include a mini-jack, I get that. I may not agree, but I understand the decision. To include a poor implementation is another matter entirely.

Undecided: Replacing a Nexus 7 Tablet

Nexus-7-2013 360pxUntil very recently I was seriously committed to Google’s Nexus line of devices. From the Galaxy Nexus onward, with just one exception, I carried a Nexus Series mobile phone.

I was so happy with the Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus 4 after it, that I jumped on the first generation of the Nexus 7 tablet in 2012. Similarly, my experience with that tablet was good enough that I bought the Nexus 7 2013 edition immediately upon it’s launch.

Later, when Google stopped offering them, I even bought a spare! I regret not purchasing the HSPA+ capable version when I saw it offered by Expansys at a discount.

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