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.

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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.

Replacing My One+ One…a not-so-smart-phone

Nexus5 lock screenMy history with Android-based mobile phones isn’t really that long, at least not when expressed by what I’ve owned; T-Mobile G2 (aka HTC Desire Z), Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Nexus 4 and the One+ One. Transitioning away from a Blackberry 9700 in 2010, I liked the G2, adored the two Nexus models, but I regret the decision to buy the One+ One.

I bought it back in February. There were two motivating factors at play; my Nexus 4 had become unreliable, and I was taken-in by the One+ One’s combination of reasonable price, flagship specs and limited availability.

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The Passing Of A Legend & Related Fallout

For the past year and a half I’ve used a Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset. It was the evolution of the Voyager Pro UC that I reviewed in 2011. Not long ago I discovered just how many times such a device would survive a pass through the laundry…which is exactly once. A second pass through the laundry caused its’ demise.

The loss of the Voyager Legend left an obvious hole in my arsenal. Such matters I take as an opportunity to try something new, or at least re-evaluate my needs.

There was a time when I made a lot of use of a BT headset while travelling. In that application it’s role was in support of basic telecom use. More recently I have not been travelling at all. My primary use of a headset has been for listening to the local NPR stream while walking our dogs.

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A Simple Test For Verifying Mobile HDVoice

nexus-5-200pxT-Mobile has been supporting mobile HDVoice for over a year. However, my sense is that not very many people are actually experiencing HDVoice. If they are, they might not even know it.

For example, two of my associates have the Google/LG Nexus 5 handsets on T-Mobile’s network. Both are the sort of people who would hear and appreciate the difference that HDVoice makes. That said, both were initially of the impression that the Nexus 5 did not support HDVoice on T-Mobile!

This gave rise to the idea that we should devise a simple way to verify that a call was in HDVoice. If convenient, this would allow anyone interested to make a call between two handsets and know with certainty that the devices and call path was actually delivering HDVoice.

Devising such a test turns out to be very easy in a world of smart phones. All you need is a tone generator or a recording of a specific continuous tone.

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Mobile HDVoice; A Post In Three Acts

Act 1: The Future – Sprint To Offer HDVoice Nationwide in July

iPhone-SprintSprint,  the nation’s number #3 mobile carrier, has announced nationwide rollout of HDVoice in early July. At present they have just a few test markets HDVoice enabled. While some met the announcement with enthusiasm, HDVoice observer Doug Mohney has taken a justifiable wait-and-see approach to this news as Sprint has made such promises more than once in recent years.

Ever curious, I thought it worth looking into what kind of HD Voice-capable devices they would be offering. The list of twenty handsets seems quite comprehensive. That bodes well for customers someday actually getting to experience HDVoice.

Just as significantly, the HD Voice capable handsets was easy to identify. The company lists “HD Voice” as a key feature that can be used to search through the entirety of their handset offering. Thus new customers can easily reference this feature while in the process of selecting their new handset.

That brings me to…

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