Exclusive: Motorola Moto X Software Update Cures Its Wired Headset Headaches

Moto X lead small

The affordable, yet sophisticated Motorola Moto X succeeds in making life with a smartphone as simple, colorful and touch-free as possible, but until recently it stumbled with one of the most basic of all cell phone accessories: wired headsets with microphones.

Fortunately, a new Moto X system software update cleans up the glitch, allowing these headsets to work as they should. The free update is now being pushed out to AT&T and T-Mobile handsets. Moto X owners can wait for the notification screen to pop up or scroll through the phone’s settings to the “About Phone” section, where they can manually initiate the update.

When a Moto X with the original system software was tested with apps such as Skype and voice recorders, it often failed to recognize wired headsets with built-in mics. The earpieces would go silent and the mics wouldn’t transmit audio.

To see if your Moto X still has the original system software, download Skype and try this: Plug a wired headset with a mic to your Moto X and make a voice call to the “Echo/Sound Test Service” entry that’s preinstalled as a contact in Skype. Once connected, try to listen to the automated recording and try to record your voice when prompted.

If you have the original system software, you won’t hear and thing and won’t be able to make the recording. Try the call again without the headset–Skype should work fine. Skype and Motorola public relations representatives were contacted for comment about the wired headset problems; neither responded.

Screenshot_2013-10-04-17-49-17

A Moto X which once failed the Skype test now works perfectly after the five-minute software, which also cures other Moto X issues, was installed.

The wired headsets used for testing included Audiofly AF45 and Lenovo 57Y4488 earbuds and a Native Union Pop Phone handset. The above problems were limited to wired headsets with mics–they did not occur with wired headsets without mics or with wireless Bluetooth headsets.

The wired headset problems were ironic since the Moto X, which has three built-in microphones, actually works very well with voice-activated apps such as Google Now since one of the mics is used for noise cancellation. With the new software update, the Moto X becomes an even better value.

Moto X headset 1

Overall, the Moto X is a remarkable smartphone with good looks–which can be customized–and quality high-end features like a sharp, 4.7-inch display and a 10-megapixel camera. (Click here for full review).

Text and photos Copyright 2013, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

Motorola Moto X: Fun, Friendly & Fast Enough

Motorola Moto X

Motorola Moto X

Motorola’s Moto X smartphone is an admirable balance of style and usability. It doesn’t try to outdo Samsung, Apple and others in the race to squeeze in as many high-tech features as possible but instead aims to please with its hand-shaped curves, cool voice-activated features and touch-friendly camera.

The Moto X succeeds as a sophisticated mainstream smartphone but is no speed demon. Its user-friendliness and simplicity are apparent from the start: Instead of a cluttered home screen, the Moto X offers pretty much a plain vanilla Android home screen that allows the new owner do the customizing. And that’s not surprising since Motorola Mobility is now a division of Google, the maker of Android software.

To start the camera, you pick up the phone and twist your wrist twice–that’s it; the Moto X immediately switches to camera mode. To take a photo you can touch any part of the screen–there’s no need to hunt for a shutter button. The Moto X’s 10-megapixel camera uses Motorola’s ClearPixel technology, which allows each sensor to gather 75 percent more light, thus making it possible to get clear photos even in low-light situations. according to Motorola.

The Moto X can be customized with numerous color combinations for its keys and shell (including an all wood case available later this year) by ordering the unit via the Moto X website, which only offers AT&T units at the moment. Since the Moto X is manufactured in Fort Worth, Texas instead of somewhere overseas, online buyers can expect to see their new phones–already initialized with their Google accounts–in four days or less, according to Motorola.

Motorola's Moto X can be ordered in a variety of color combinations.

Motorola’s Moto X can be ordered in a variety of color combinations.

“We think this represents a very interesting future,” said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president for product development at Motorola during a press event in New York. He said the Moto X is aimed at “the mainstream user,” not the feature-frenzied geek.

Rear of Motorola Moto X.

Rear of Motorola Moto X.

The Moto X uses what computing power it has fairly efficiently. It runs Android version 4.2.2 and has a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor. Other top-shelf smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 have quad-core processors, but they also have more sensors and higher-resolution screens, making the additional processor muscle necessary.

Moto X Active Display

The low-power Active Display mode on Motorola’s Moto X.

The Moto X is built with what’s called the Motorola X8 computing system. It’s a set of eight processor cores assigned to different tasks. Why is this important? By using different cores for different tasks, the entire processor doesn’t have to be awake all the time–each core wakes up as it’s needed. This design extends the life of the Moto X’s 2200 mAH battery to a full day of average use, according to Motorola.

Two of the processor cores are used for basic application processing (this is what makes the Moto X a “dual-core” smartphone) and four are used for graphics processing, thus speeding up video and photo functions. The other two cores take care of voice commands and sensors like the accelerometer and the ambient light sensor and help the Moto X detect how fast you’re moving and what you’re doing with the phone.

When tested with voice commands, the Moto X worked very well and was able to verbally answer questions about the time, the weather, directions, baseball scores and many other queries. The quality of the speech detection is aided by the phone’s three microphones, which work together to cancel stray noises and enhance voices.

A useful Active Display shows notifications in a simple, low-power mode, thus letting you know if you have incoming e-mail, text messages or other items even when the phone is in standby mode.

The Moto X lists for $199 (16GB of user memory) or $249 (32GB) with a two-year plan and is sold by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular and major retailers.

Do you have a Moto X? How do you like it so far? Comment or vote:

Text and photos Copyright 2013, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

Ten Pinterest tips from a user with 1.2 million followers: Me!

The number of followers on my Paper PC Picks hot products board on Pinterest now rivals that of Mashable and The Verge.

The number of followers on my Paper PC Picks hot products board on Pinterest now rivals that of major tech websites such as  Mashable and The Verge.

I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I’m quite proud of the CNET story on how I amassed 1.2 million followers on Pinterest.  My Paper PC Picks board on Pinterest has proven to be an excellent vehicle for quickly posting short stories on new gadgets that I see at press conferences and trade shows.

Journalist Robert Anthony, who has 1.2 million followers after less than a year on Pinterest, offers up some of the latest thinking on the platform.

According to Repinly, I’m now one of the most popular Pinterest pinners in the world. I only have you, the readers, to thank for that.

Me on Repinly

Click here to read the CNET piece. And thanks for your support.

Copyright 2013 Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

Victim of Bad Timing, Sol Republic Pulls ‘Headphone Shootout’ from 2013 CES

“In light of Friday’s tragic event, we are updating the venue for our CES press event.
We are deeply saddened and our thoughts remain with the families
of all those affected during this time.” — Sol Republic

* * *

The 2013 International CES, the nation’s largest consumer electronics trade show, doesn’t arrive in Las Vegas until next month, but the effects of the Dec. 14 grade-school mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., have already reached forward and caused headphone maker Sol Republic to cancel a press event which would have been staged at a gun range.

Sol Republic, maker of fashionable and customizable headphones, had scheduled a Jan. 6 media-only event in which the press would have been invited to The Range 702, which bills itself as “the largest indoor shooting facility in Nevada.”

Note: Original invite: Press event will NOT be held at the gun range.

Original invite to Sol Republic “headphone shootout” event. The press preview will no longer be held at the gun range out of respect for those affected by Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The event, booked long before the Dec. 14 mass shooting, would have included a preview of Sol Republic’s upcoming audio products and a chance for attendees to take target practice with the chance to win Sol Republic headphones.

Unfortunately the invite arrived in journalists’ email inboxes on Dec. 14 just as news was breaking that 26 people, including 20 children, had been shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. by a gunman who later committed suicide. Sol Republic soon decided that a gun range event even weeks after the mass shooting wouldn’t be appropriate.

In a short email circulated Dec. 17, Sol Republic’s press agency said the company would still hold a media event at CES, but at a different, yet undecided location.

The 2013 International CES (formerly called the International Consumer Electronics Show) officially runs from Jan. 8 to 11, but will be preceded by two press-only days. During a November press preview, Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the show, said the show would feature more than 3,000 exhibitors. He added that based on early registrations, attendance was “on track” to match last year’s 153,000 attendees.

Copyright 2012, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
http://www.paperpc.com, info@paperpc.com

Retro Tech: Gadget Gifts Go Back to the Future

VTech Cordless Answering System LS6195

VTech Cordless Answering System LS6195

Back when all phones were wired and controlled by the old AT&T, the standing joke was that you could get a phone in any color you wanted
—as long as you chose black.

Today the seemingly clunky handsets attached to those old phones have made a comeback as colorful cell phone accessories and other retro-looking gadgets are making significant inroads onto holiday gift-shopping lists.

Native Union Pop Phone wired handset.

Native Union Pop Phone wired handset.

For example, Native Union’s Pop Phone handsets resemble the ones that graced grandpa’s rotary-dial phone but Pop Phones come in an assortment of colors—including black. The $30 wired handsets plug into any cell phone or tablet with a standard 3.5mm headset/microphone jack.

Unlike today’s skinny cell phones, the Pop Phone handsets fit comfortably between the chin and shoulder. A single button picks up and drops cell phone calls or pauses and plays music on MP3 players. The Pop Phone is also available in special editions and wireless versions.

Everything ION Tourmaline Infused Silicone Retro Bluetooth Handset

Everything ION Tourmaline Infused Silicone Retro Bluetooth Handset

The Everything ION Tourmaline Infused Silicone Retro Bluetooth Handset ditches the wire, but easily links with most Bluetooth-enabled smartphones and tablets. In addition to a call pickup/end button, the $50 handset has a volume control rocker button and an LED to confirm the Bluetooth connection. According to the company, the use of a wireless handset keeps potentially harmful radiation away from your head and the tourmaline-infused silicone can “stimulate the healthy flow of vital energy throughout your body.”

The VTech Cordless Answering System LS6195 (pictured at top, starts at $60) is a modern landline phone with a distinctively retro feature: The keypad is arranged in a circle like an old-style rotary dial. The slim cordless handset, which uses DECT 6.0 digital wireless technology, has its own display and backlit keypad and can be used as a speakerphone.

The base, which can also be used a speakerphone, has a small display inside the circular keypad. The unit’s digital answering system can save up to 14 minutes of voice mail and the Caller ID memory can store up to 50 numbers.

palbtgb_angle

Tivoli Audio PAL BT Bluetooth portable radio

Tivoli Audio, best known for its venerable Model One table radio with its huge analog tuning wheel, now offers the $300 PAL BT, an innocent-looking, digital-display-free portable AM/FM radio with a modern feature: Bluetooth connectivity. The PAL BT can wirelessly stream music from the many cell phones and other mobile devices compatible with the Bluetooth 2.1+EDR standard.

The Tivoli Audio PAL BT has a single 2.5-inch speaker, three analog knobs, including the trademark large analog tuning wheel, a preinstalled rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery pack, a headphone jack and an audio-in jack for wired devices. Pairing the unit with a mobile device is no different that pairing a Bluetooth headset with a cell phone—it only has to be done once. A $260 Bluetooth version of the Model One (pictured below) is also available.

Tivoli Audio Model One Bluetooth Table Radio

Tivoli Audio Model One Bluetooth Table Radio

Radio Silenz cherry

Tivoli Audio Radio Silenz noise-cancelling headphones

Tivoli Audio also offers the $160 Radio Silenz noise-canceling headset, which exudes a retro look through its liberal use of wood. The 2.6-ounce headset uses two 40mm drivers with housings made of solid wood in walnut, cherry or black ash finishes.

According to Tivoli Audio, the unit’s noise-cancelling technology reduces extraneous noise by up to 85 per cent. A “defeat” button turns off the noise cancellation and reduces the volume so users can have conversations without taking the headset off.

So what will tomorrow’s hot gadgets look like? Look around your home and get a preview.

Text  Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

3M Streaming Projector Powered by Roku: Potent Palm-Size Entertainment Center

3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku.

Internet video in your living room without the TV or the Internet box? That’s what 3M and Roku announced Friday as the companies introduced the 3M Streaming Projector Powered by Roku, a tiny, but potent portable projector which wirelessly streams Internet video content at projection sizes up to 120 inches. The battery-powered unit pulls in content from Roku’s 600-plus channels without the need for a TV or one of Roku’s standalone devices.

Mark Colin, vice president and general manager of the 3M Mobile Interactive Solutions Division, shows off the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku.

The $299 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku comes with a removable Roku Streaming Stick, a USB-flash-drive-size device with a built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking adapter, Roku software and an MHL (mobile high-definition link) port. The Roku Streaming Stick allows the projector to access content from online services such as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix.

“It’s everything you expect from a Roku platform,” said Chas Smith, Roku’s senior vice president and general manager of its platform OEM business. “The big thing about Roku is the simplicity.”

The one-pound unit has a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides up to two hours and 45 minutes of video playback, thus making it possible to show videos wherever you can find a Wi-Fi connection–even outdoors.

The device comes with a small infrared remote control, but for about $20 you can purchase the Roku Game Remote, an enhanced Wi-Fi remote with an accelerometer, which allows you to play interactive games such as Angry Birds on the big screen. By utilizing a Wi-Fi Direct connection, the unit can also stream images and videos from compatible cell phone and other mobile devices. Of course you can use the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku as a standard projector and connect it to a laptop or other device via an HDMI cable.

At a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels and with a 60-lumen brightness rating, the image from the unit, although clear and sharp, doesn’t compare to that of much more expensive plasma or LCD HDTVs. The unit’s performance is best in low-light situations such as a darkened basement as opposed to a brightly sunlit room. The unit has an internal speaker, but a headphone jack is included for external speakers.

Mark Colin of 3M (left) and Roku’s Chas Smith explain the features of the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku at New York press conference.

The 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku is now available for pre-order exclusively from Amazon. The first units will be delivered to customers on or about Oct. 22.

Text and photos Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

Starbucks Verismo Coffee System: Hot, Steamy Technology with a Little Milk

Starbucks Director of Research and Development Paul Camera makes a cup of espresso with the $200 Verismo 580.

It’s rare when you hear the words “milk” and “technology” uttered in the same sentence, but that’s what Paul Camera, director of research and development for Starbucks, did as the company rolled out the Verismo System, its new line of premium one-cup-at-a-time home coffee and espresso brewers. At a launch event in New York, Camera and other Starbucks representatives showed off the $200 Verismo 580 and the larger $400 Verismo 585, which adds an LED readout, temperature control and other features. Both units can brew a cup of coffee in about 15 seconds.

The Verismo brewers use small coffee, espresso and milk pods that insert neatly into a slot at the top. Making coffee is as simple as adding water to the tank at the back of the Verismo units, inserting the pod into the Verismo, lowering a large lever and pushing a button. In practice the brewing process was quick and fairly quiet.

The $400 Starbucks Verismo 585.

Verismo System espresso pods.

Aside from developing systems that could deliver the right amount of water at the right temperature and pressure, a lot of the high-tech work in developing the Verismo System went into the milk, said Camera. He said the perfecting a dry milk pod with pure milk that could survive a year on the shelf took a bit of research and experimentation. He said the Verismo units are designed to rehydrate and heat milk without scalding it, thus ensuring a good-tasting latte.

Verismo 580 with coffee, espresso and milk pods.

The Verismo-compatible pods will sell for $12 per 12-pack, a Caffe Latte box including eight espresso pods and eight milk pods will sell for $13 while a 12-pack of milk pods will be priced at $10. The coffee selection includes Veranda, House Blend, Pike Place Roast and Caffe Verona while the espresso choices include Espresso Guatemala, Espresso Roast and Decaf Espresso Roast.

The Verismo units will be sold at stores such as Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma and will be sold at Starbucks stores starting Oct. 16.

Text, images and video Copyright 2012 Robert S. Anthony,

Stadium Circle Features, info@paperpc.com