Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

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I’ve never been very interested in Bose audio equipment. I certainly don’t think the gear isn’t good; I just don’t think the cost is justified. Regardless, last year I actually purchased an expensive pair of Bose headphones.

Why?

At the time I was originally looking for something that could work with my (then new) Xbox One. My preference was for something wireless, rechargeable and that would work with other devices in the home.

I never did find anything that hit all of these marks well and migrated away from looking for something to use with the console and instead for something that I could use with my phone, laptops and TV.

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones is not a typical purchase that I would make. I’ve certainly purchased expensive gadgets before but investing this much into a single piece of gear that, let’s face it, doesn’t really do very much is not what I would typically do (yeah, I’m sure some would disagree). I purchased them from Best Buy but they are available from Amazon.com.

I do enjoy listening to music, and good quality does make a difference, though I wouldn’t have spent this much on a pair of headphones, no matter how good they sound, without the wireless Bluetooth support and built-in rechargeable battery. In addition, when the internal battery dies one can still use these with a regular audio cable.

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From time to time I do use them with my phone, laptops and to watch TV at night (without disturbing my wife). I did all of these activities more frequently, before the arrival of our son, but late-night TV watching is a rare habit these days.

The headphones are recharged via a standard micro-USB connector. A carrying case is included, which the headphones fold into very easily. A regular audio connector is also included though I’ve only used it once or twice as the battery does a good job of maintaining a charge while not in use.

The quality sounds great to me but I’m not an audiophile so if you’re picky about your headphones then don’t use this post to make a decision.

The headphones also have a built-in microphone so they can be used to answer phone calls. It’s a nice feature as it doesn’t require removing the headphones to speak on the phone but most of the time I’d prefer to simply use my stock Apple earbuds for managing phone calls.

What’s the verdict? Do I think they’re worth the cost?

I suppose it’s fair to declare that I think they are overpriced but at the same time I also don’t feel like I was cheated. If you have some extra cash (which I did then but usually don’t any more) they’re not a bad pair of headphones but if you’re on a budget you might be able to find something suitable for far less.

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TaoTronics Bluetooth Transmitter

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Several months ago I decided to purchase a set of Bluetooth headphones so I could, on occasion, watch TV in the bedroom late at night without disturbing my wife. At one time I had a wireless headphones set that worked well for this purpose but they were simply very bulky (both the charging unit and the headphones themselves). I attempted to use a jail-broken iPod as well but I wasn’t satisfied with that either.


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The TV itself doesn’t support Bluetooth so I decided to purchasing a Bluetooth audio transmitter. In this case, one manufactured by TaoTronics, which is small and reliable. Overall the device is very good but there is a slight delay in the audio that is noticeable relative to the action on TV, especially with dialog, though I grew accustomed to it rather quickly.

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First Impression: Amazon Fire TV Stick

My wife and I decided to pre-order an Amazon Fire TV Stick for her parents, which we gave to them for Christmas. While visiting with them I had the opportunity to setup the device and use it for an extended period. Overall, I’m impressed. The cost is relatively low, performance and stability seemed good (at least during the time I was using it) and the interface was easy to use.

We were both impressed enough that we decided to order one for ourselves, though they’re currently on back-order so it may not be until the end of January before ours ships to us. I was able to pre-order the Stick for my in-laws for $19, but it regularly retails for only $39.

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2014 Year-End Review of Enduring Tech

Over the years I’ve published several posts about various devices. Frequently, I’ll return to the original posts and add notes describing my experiences with those gadgets that include details such as whether or not I still use them or if they turned out to be as useful as advertised.

For this post I’ve chosen to highlight the devices that I still use, at least a few times each year, that have endured and remain useful. Though I’ve acquired some excellent gadgets in 2014 I’ve chosen to exclude those here as those items have not yet been used for an extended period.

Unfortunately this won’t include every device worthy of this recognition – only those that I’ve previously highlighted in this blog. In addition, I chose not to write about all of the devices that have since failed, or failed to live up to expectations – those experiences are typically available in the older posts.

But my search for technology that works well, and meets or exceeds expectations, is the reason that I maintain this blog. Over the years I’ve chosen to share several experiences in the hopes that they’ll either serve as good recommendations or, unfortunately, as suggestions to avoid certain products (or at least know what to expect from them).

I’ll begin with the oldest item first.

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My Experience with Google Chromecast

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A few months ago I picked up a Google Chromecast from Best Buy. I was curious about them for a while and at $35 I wasn’t going to be out very much cash if I didn’t find it useful.

It turns out that $35 is an excellent price point for this product and, compared to most similar devices, I think you may actually get a bit more than you paid for. In some cases it can be very convenient. If you already have a device such as a Roku or Apple TV this may not be very impressive, but that all boils down to how each person chooses to use it.

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Airplay Wireless Headphones (Apple TV & Jailbroken iPod Touch 4th Gen)

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I’ve had a wireless headphone set for a couple of years, which I use to listen to TV late at night in our bedroom. The set has worked great but we recently rearranged some areas of our house and though I like the headset the charging base took up a lot of space on the mantel and its cables added to some additional clutter.

Rather than put the wireless set back in place I decided to go a different route and instead use a relatively-unused iPod touch as an Airplay speaker for the Apple TV in the bedroom.

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Philips Sound Bar (CSS2123)

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In additional to a new Blu-ray player, last weekend I also purchased a Philips Sound Bar (CSS2123) for our living room HDTV. The speakers included with the 32″ HDTV are OK. They’re not the worst. The ones in my smaller HDTVs are so bad they must be connected to external speakers to be tolerable.

Still, we like to watch movies in the living room. I didn’t want to deal with full-surround sound. That would require a heavier investment of money and space. Instead, I decided to add a relatively inexpensive sound bar.

Audiophiles may not care for this set but we both have enjoyed it. Music, movies, and television sound really good though movies that I have ripped from DVD to an Apple TV format do not (This was done using Handbrake. I’m not sure why – the quality may have not been good before but it’s only become apparent with the use of better speakers – my next test is to rip to a slightly different format or to try movies purchased through iTunes).

The set cost $99 at Wal-Mart. It includes the sound bar itself, a wired sub-woofer, and a remote. During the first movie that we watched I had to turn the sub-woofer down. It was actually much deeper than I was expecting and I didn’t want to annoy any of our neighbors.

I haven’t experienced any major problems though when I tried to use a coaxial digital connection only the sound effects from the Apple TV came through. None of the audio for Netflix, or from our Tivo, worked. I suspect this has more to do with the different audio formats (stereo versus true surround) and for now I only have it connected to the TV via the headphone jack, which is split out to RCA adapters that go into the sound bar inputs (stereo only).

Updated 05/22/2013: So far so good. We haven’t had any problems with the sound bar.

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