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.


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

Samsung Galaxy Tab Does Adobe Flash

During a press conference last week for the newly announced Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kevin Lynch, chief technology officer at Adobe, showed off how the Android-based tablet can do something Apple’s iPad can’t: Play videos, games, web tools and other online content created with Adobe Flash.

The Galaxy Tab comes with the Android 2.2 operating system–the same used on popular Android smartphones–and comes with support for Adobe Flash 10.1.

During the Samsung press event in New York, Lynch showed how the tablet handled the video-heavy Major League Baseball website and a couple of Harry Potter online games.

The Galaxy Tab will debut with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon and a Wi-Fi-only version will be available later. The unit weighs well under a pound, has a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 16GB of internal memory (expandable with memory cards), and a 7-inch screen.

Want to see more? My video of the Galaxy Tab in action is available at PC World.

Video and text Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

Samsung Galaxy S: Shining Star on Smartphone Horizon

With the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone at a lavish launch event in New York this week, Samsung claims the lead in smartphone display technology. So how nice is the 4-inch, Super AMOLED display? Very nice indeed, even in bright sunlight.

Not only is the display bright and rich, but video playback is more than impressive, rendering even action movies with a jitter. Combined with a 1GHz processor, the Galaxy S handles high-definition videos very well. Take a look at how nice the movie “Avatar” comes across on the small screen. The entire movie comes with the phone on a removable memory card.

The Galaxy S is known as the T-Mobile Vibrant, the Verizon Wireless Fascinate, the AT&T Captivate and the Sprint Epic 4G, which, unlike the other three, has a slide-out QWERTY keypad.

What else do I think? See my first impressions at PC World.

Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

T-Mobile myTouch 3G: Google Android Take 2

Make it work, make it mine, make it easy: Those are the three customer wishes T-Mobile aims to fulfill with its new flagship smartphone: the myTouch 3G .
The touchscreen smartphone, manufactured by HTC and based on the same Google Android operating system software as the T-Mobile G1, offers a slimmer profile than the G1 thanks to its lack of a slide-out keyboard.
Highlights of the new unit include its large library of Android applications and the multitude of ways in which it can be personalized.
“It’s a very sleek device,” said T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Denny Marie Post (above, left), who readily admitted that her 15-year-old son was instrumental in helping her set up her phone. “You feel very bold to experiment with it…. It becomes 100% you.”
“This is our first, and our real big bet for 2009,” said Cole Brodman, T-Mobile’s chief technology and innovation officer (above, right) at the July 8 press event in New York. “The myTouch 3G is unique through and through.”

Brodman said there were already 5,000 Android applications available for the myTouch 3G and the G1, including many location-aware utilities that take advantage of the GPS receivers built into the phones.

For example, Sherpa, from Geodelic Systems, can locate points of interest close to you as you move around. Clicking a restaurant button will generate icons for the closest eateries, complete with the addresses and the distances from where you are. Click on an icon and the phone searches for relevant information on the restaurant, such as menus, travel directions, cuisine and reviews.
Rahul Sonnad, founder and CEO of Geodelic, said Sherpa was first developed for PCs, but was ported to Android as the software platform gained traction.

Brodman described Sherpa as a “really unique recommendation and discovery engine. He noted that it remembers the user’s preferences as it processes requests. “The more you use it, the smarter it becomes,” he said.

Brodman said T-Mobile’s sales force had been trained to help users set up and personalize their myTouch 3G phones. “Make it work, make it mine and make it easy,” said Brodman, taking the role of a prospective customer.

Current T-Mobile customers can pre-order the myTouch 3G for $199 with a 2-year service plan. Those who order by July 28 will receive their units by Aug. 3. The unit will be available in T-Mobile stores Aug. 5. The myTouch 3G offers a 3.2-inch touchscreen, aWiFi adapter, a 3.2-megapixel digital camera, a digital music player with a preinstalled four-gigabyte microSD memory card and support for T-Mobile’s fast 3G data network.

After few minutes of testing, the phone worked well. The touchscreen was responsive and the Web browser rendered pages fairly quickly. The on-screen keyboard, which can be set up to give tactile feedback when a key is touched, flips over to the side when the phone is held in landscape orientation.

Post said the myTouch 3G was poised to be a viable challenger to Apple’s iPhone to date. Time will tell.

Text and photos Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features

Palm Pre: Preview to a Palm comeback?

The 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing in Las Vegas right now (I’m not there this year) and so is the inescapable blizzard of press releases, Twitter tweets and other flashes from the show floor.

While there are plenty of nifty new devices that make good use of today’s technologies, there are not many product announcements that have made a major ripple so far.
One notable exception, however, is Palm Inc.’s new Palm Pre smartphone. Like Apple’s iPhone, the Pre has a touchscreen, but unlike the iPhone, it also has a slide-down QWERTY keyboard.
Palm has authored a new operating system for the new phone: Palm webOS. Like the Android software developed by Google for T-Mobile’s G1 smartphone, webOS is an open platform, which bodes well for seeing nifty applications for the Pre from independent software developers.
The Pre has a 3.1-inch touchscreen, a 3-megapixel digital camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a Web browser, e-mail and instant-messaging software, eight gigabytes of data space and some preinstalled applications. It will be available from Sprint later this year and support the carrier’s 3G high-speed data network. No pricing has been announced yet, however.

Like any Palm device, a lot of time has been put into developing the unit’s calendar and contact list applications. The phone merges data from different sources to make it easier to manage. For example, if you have the same person listed in the contact list on your computer and on your Gmail contact list, the phone will detect that it’s the same person and provide just one listing for that person on the phone. The Pre can run multiple applications at once and allows you to flip quickly between them.
It’s been a while since Palm has created this much buzz for a new product. The announcement of the Pre sparked a boost in Palm’s stock price. It remains to be seen if this unit will have the necessary level of user-friendliness and reliability to make a dent in a market dominated by Research in Motion’s Blackberry devices.
Is the Pre for you? Why or why not?
Text Copyright 2008 Stadium Circle Features
Images courtesy of Palm Inc.

T-Mobile G1: A promising disappointment

Apple’s iPhone has nothing to worry about from T-Mobile’s new G1. At least not at the moment.

After a week with the T-Mobile G1, the first with Google’s new Android operating system, I find myself both elated and disappointed. The G1 offers some nifty features and some of the first Android applications are impressive, but the unit has enough glitches and bugs to make me think twice about using it as my primary phone — for the moment.
A major irritation was the POP3 e-mail client, the one which allows you to add e-mail services other than Google’s own Gmail, which is handled separately — and smoothly. The e-mail software couldn’t open common attachments like Microsoft Word files (the Gmail client can) and it also pulled an irritating disappearing act. 
Three times I carefully entered the details of my Prodigy/Yahoo, AOL and AT&T e-mail accounts and three times the phone ate them all, leaving me with nothing but a friendly invitation to start the e-mail setup wizard again.
Fortunately the phone defaults to a setting in which mail is never actually deleted from the server, thus allowing you to download it again later. Word to the wise: Don’t change this setting. At the moment I’ve entered only two e-mail accounts and the G1’s memory seem to be holding for the moment.
Speaking of disappearing acts: While the keyboard on the brown version (white and black are also available) of the G1 is very easy to read in bright light or in low light (thanks to backlighting), in moderate light the letters actually disappear into the silver keys as the backlighting kicks in, forcing you to tilt the phone until you can read the characters.
The contacts list is very clear and readable, but sorts entries on a person’s first name. If you have a contact entry with a company name and a phone number, but no person, the entry shows up as a phone number. If your entry just has a company and an e-mail address, it shows up as “unknown.” 
To be fair, the phone handles the basics well. Sound quality is good, the touch screen is responsive, the Web browser is nice, and most menus are clear and easy to activate. With WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth wireless adapters built in, the phone could be a very productive tool for a busy traveler. 
For example, the GPS, when combined with the preinstalled Google Maps Web link, makes for a handy companion for walkers. On a recent trip to a New York suburb that I was not familiar with, I was able to map my location and find a local public library — where I wrote this blog post.
The G1’s link to Amazon’s digital music site was smooth and the link to YouTube worked well, except that the videos appear blocky and murky at times. The connection to T-Mobile’s new 3G high-speed data network worked well when it was available, but the phone frequently reported back with “connection error” when trying to download e-mail.
The good news is that many of the phone’s glitches could be resolved with software upgrades; which I hope are forthcoming. History will note that the iPhone endured a number of software updates before all of its functions stabilized.
With both a touch screen and a keyboard, the T-Mobile G1 is an impressive phone with the potential to be a true iPhone competitor. The potential is in the Android software, so keep an eye on new Android-compatible applications and tools and on how swiftly the phone’s software issues are addressed with updates.
The G1 will arrive at T-Mobile stores Oct. 22. The phone will be $179 with a two-year T-Mobile contract, and of course the phone is locked to the T-Mobile service for now.
So what do you think? Let me know.
Copyright 2008 Stadium Circle Features
Photo courtesy of T-Mobile