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

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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

Paper PC Picks: Gifts for iPod Lovers

With the holiday gift season hard upon us and crowds of head-scratching consumers filling electronics stores, now is as good a time as any to start a series of cool gadget selections. The Paper PC Picks will be culled from newly announced products spotted at press events and from the interesting products I’ve had a chance to look over. So let’s get started, in no particular order, with the first set of Paper PC Picks.


Gifts for iPod Lovers
A strange gadget recently made an appearance in a New York subway car: An original, first-generation iPod. It had a tiny monochrome display and the now-legendary mechanical wheel for menu navigation. In a car full of modern iPods and iPhones, the sighting of a “classic” iPod proved one thing: iPod users really love their devices. As the holiday shopping season rushes to a close, here are some gift suggestions for your favorite iPod lover.

v-moda Crossfade LP
At the high end of the scale is the $200 Crossfade LP from v-moda, a studio-quality, over-the-ear headphone which doesn’t look the least bit like an iPod accessory. Aside from comfortable, well-padded earpieces and a choice of six colors, the unit offers two detachable, cloth-covered wires: one for audio only and the other with an inline iPod-compatible remote control and microphone.

Instead of multiple drivers per earpiece, the Crossfade LP uses single 50mm dual-diaphragm driver on each side, a design which, according to v-moda, allows the unit to provide deep basses and clean midrange sounds without the need for batteries. The stylish headphone, which also comes with a ruggedized hard carrying case, proved both comfortable and comforting since external noises were held at bay by the ample padding, thus allowing the pure sounds of digital music to stand alone.

Denon AH-C260R
If you damage or lose your original white iPod earbuds, you’ll find that there are many alternate headsets that offer equal or superior audio quality at lower prices than Apple’s replacement earbuds ($29 list) or dual-driver in-ear headset ($79 list). The $50 Denon AH-C260R in-the-ear headset is a good example.

The headset, part of Denon’s Mobile Elite series, has a three-button inline iPod-compatible remote control and an inline microphone. When tested with Skype telephony software and with and the voice recorder in a second-generation iPod touch, the clarity and fidelity of the unit’s inline microphone proved impressive. The earpiece shells are made of an aluminum alloy and a resin compound, a combination which, according to Denon, minimizes unwanted resonances.

Blue Microphones Mikey

Anyone who’s owned an iPod for more than a few minutes knows that it can do far more than just play back digital music. For students who want to record lectures or business workers who need to record meetings or conference panels, the Mikey microphone ($79 list) from Blue Microphones turns most iPods into fairly sophisticated voice and music recorders.

The square, hinged, second-generation Mikey fits neatly into the docking port of first- to third-generation iPod touches; second- to fifth-generation iPod nanos, iPod classics and fifth-generation iPods. The unit works best when used with the Blue iPod app, readily available at no cost in the iTunes Apps store.

When tested in a large New York hotel ballroom during a panel discussion, the Mikey, when adjusted for high sensitivity, clearly recorded the proceedings.

Philips Fidelio DS8500
Earlier this year Philips expanded its line of iPod-docking speakers with the rich-sounding Fidelio series of premium speakers. In the middle of the line is the curvy $200 Philips Fidelio DS8500. Unlike boxy, clock-radio-type iPod docks, the Fidelio DS8500 is designed to look classy even when an iPod isn’t docked to it. You can also connect other MP3 players and music accessories to it via a stereo input jack.

The unit comes with dual 3-inch, 15-watt speakers behind a fabric mesh, a remote control and its own iPod / iPhone app. The app, which can be downloaded at no cost from the iTunes App Store, includes an equalizer and other features that allow you to tune the sound of the unit to your ear. The app also includes an alarm clock which allows you to wake up to music from your iPod. And of course the speakers can be used for streaming music from Pandora and other Internet radio services when your iPod or iPhone has an Internet connection.

The Fidelio has a proximity sensor which illuminates the front-panel volume buttons as you approach and turns them off as you move away, thus providing more power for music and less for interference from the lights. The powered speakers come with an AC adapter and the Fidelio recharges your iPod as it sits in the dock. The unit is compatible with almost all iPods and yes, when tested with an iPod touch, the audio was warm and crisp.

An Ounce of Protection

If you think your iPod lover might like to personalize his unit, there are a number of services that let you design your own iPod case. For example, Coveroo has a deep selection of college and professional sports team logos, emblems, mascots and other images that can separate your iPod from the crowds.

Coveroo

The images are manufactured into the cases, so they won’t wear off, according to Coveroo.

Case-Mate also offers a large line of cases for iPods, iPads and some Android-based cell phones like the Samsung Galaxy S series, also allows you to design your own case. The do-it-yourself area of the Case-Mate website allows you to upload your own design or photo and have it manufactured into a phone or iPod case. Here again the design or photo is embedded into the final product and doesn’t wear off, according to Case-Mate.

And one last word here: Happy Holidays.

Text Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features
Photos courtesy of v-moda, Denon, Blue Microphones, Philips, Coveroo and Case-Mate