Monster Ntune Headphones

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I had no interest in ever spending more than $100 on a pair of stereo headphones, which is why this particular purchase was a bit unusual for myself.

Personally, I don’t understand why folks are spending an average of $100-$200 for stereo headphones (such as the Beats brand). Perhaps it’s more of a status thing, like owning Apple stuff? It’s not that I think the headphones are bad but at the end of the day they’re just stereo headphones. I’d prefer to spend that kind of money on headphones that include digital, surround-sound support (I’m actually a bit frustrated that I have yet to find a pair of such headphones that don’t require a large, block attachment).

I was out to spend some spare cash one night and after browsing various sections of the electronics department at our local Wal-Mart I was unable to find anything that was remotely interesting. I just happen to pass by a display of these Monster Ntune Headphones. While in the store I started looking up the cost and reading reviews on Amazon. To my surprise, this particular style of headphones was slightly more expensive from Amazon at the time. After careful deliberation I decided to purchase a set at Wal-Mart, which cost about $80.

They are very good headphones. I suspect they’re not too dissimilar from the Beats line considering the interesting history between Monster and Beats. To be frank, this is probably the first time in my life I’ve ever purchased anything made by Monster.

I’m very happy with this purchase. They’re certainly better than any other pair of headphones I own except for my surround-sound headphones (unfortunately, those are not very portable). Are they worth $80? That’s a tough call because I haven’t spent a significant amount of cash on a pair of good headphones in several years though I don’t really care about the minor differences between this model of headphones and other models that cost more but are made by the same company.

Updated 02/22/2014: The headphones continue to work great and have held up just fine. I carry them around in my backpack almost every day, keeping them in the microfiber bag that it came with.

Mophie Juice Pack Air (iPhone 5)

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The quest for my ideal charging case seems to be an ongoing adventure. For a while I used a Mophie charging case with an iPhone 4. It worked fine until the micro-USB port broke. After that I sent the case off for repair and switched to a wireless charging case. Eventually I ended up with an iPhone 5. A short time after receiving it I ordered another wireless charging case (Duracell Powermat PowerSnap Kit). The newer version also included a snap-on battery pack (that itself could be charged wirelessly).

The case worked OK but it felt clunky and when the battery was attached it was also heavy. Most of my issues with the case were relatively minor but as a whole it was somewhat awkward even though it functioned as advertised. One major annoyance is that a small piece at the base of the case had to be snapped off in order to sync the phone or charge it directly. I also became increasingly concerned that this particular piece would eventually break, thus rendering the entire kit useless until it could be replaced.

Recently I decided to try a Mophie Juice Pack Air with the iPhone 5. So far, I’m happy with it. I can’t say that it’s any lighter than the Powermat kit but at least the battery is always available and, more importantly, I can sync and charge the phone via the built-in micro-USB connection. Unlike the Powermat case, the Mophie case is far more sturdy. It also has a bottom section that separates but it’s a well formed piece that is not likely to break easily.

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It’s a great device though it has one significant flaw. When the battery charges the phone it will not stop charging once the phone reaches a full charge. Instead, it will continue to charge the phone, which can result in one using up the Mophie battery sooner than expected (or necessary).

A nice touch was the addition of a headphone extension cable.

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It may seem like a small thing but I’m already using this. Though the iPhone earbuds plugin just fine, a pair of larger headphones I recently purchased would not work with the case without it.

Updated 02/22/2014: I haven’t been able to sync the phone via the micro-USB connection. I’m not sure if the device is supposed to support this function, if there’s a problem with the battery pack, or perhaps there’s an issue with the cables I’ve tried.

Updated 07/06/2014: The battery still holds a good charge and so far the charging port hasn’t broken off.

Updated 12/31/2014: I’ve stopped using this charging case but only because my work phone was replaced with an iPhone 6. Up to that point it continued to work well and I did not have problems with the USB charging port, as I did with a similar case for an iPhone 4.

Reducing Streaming Video Quality (Netflix and Hulu)

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A few weeks ago I adjusted our Netflix Instant Watch streaming quality to the medium setting. My ISP doesn’t have a data cap, at least not yet, but I figured it might not hurt to conserve bandwidth.

Today I logged in and changed it to the lowest quality setting. It’s possible that the Apple TV is ignoring the setting, but as far as I can tell the quality is actually still good. I’m going to try leaving this setting in place and wait to see how it works out. Going from the medium setting estimated to use about .7 GB/hour down to the low setting of .3 GB/hour may help keep our video streaming under our ISP’s radar, which is a greater concern now that we use video streaming in place of cable/satellite TV.

Last week I reduced the quality of video from Hulu, though it had less to do with conserving bandwidth and more to do with the fact that our Tivo seems to have trouble maintaining the Hulu stream from time-to-time.

Updated 10/09/2011: I’ve been using these settings for several months and have hardly even noticed a difference.