Follow ups…and downs

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View
Today's blog offers follow ups to three other recent blog entries and columns:

In search of headphones for my iPhone. In May's User Friendly View column, I detailed my search for a Bluetooth device to use with my iPhone when driving. I indicated that I would likely wind up getting a Bluetooth headset, such as the Aliph Jawbone or the Plantronics Discovery 925.

As it turns out, I went another route. I picked up a Virtual Reality Sound Labs' Bluetooth Speaker Car Kit VRBT200V at Costco for just $40! Although the device has received mixed reviews at Amazon.com, I have found it to be a satisfactory solution.

The device clips onto a car's visor and connects to an iPhone via Bluetooth. When a call comes in, you just press a button on the device and start talking. There's nothing to stick in your ear and, if there is more than one person in the car, they can participate in the conversation. The LCD display serves as a caller-ID, showing you the incoming phone number. The unit also maintains a log of all recent incoming and outgoing phone numbers, from which you can later select to dial — eliminating the need to use the iPhone itself to call back a number. I confess that the logging feature did not always seem to save a phone number as expected but, when it worked, it worked great. The sound quality could have been better, but it was good enough for me to easily maintain a conversation. The device comes with a DC charger that connects to your car's outlet.

Getting back to headsets:


    Regarding my complaint about the poor fit of the Etymotic's etyBLU headset, I made the surprising discovery that, when I shifted to the larger size plugs, the device fit better in my ear — even though the problem had appeared to be that the fit was already too snug. Go figure!

    Regarding wired stereo headsets, I advise getting a set that has a relatively thick cord. Etymotic Research's hf2, noted in my May column, is a good example of a thick cord headset. Eytmotic's 6i Isolator Earphones, in contrast, have a much thinner cord. I have found that, with models that have a thin cord, it is almost impossible to keep the cord from becoming tangled while in its case. No matter what I do and no matter how carefully I store the cord (short of tying up the cord with a rubber band or whatever), there is apparently some gremlin inside the case that tangles everything all up so that I have to spend five minutes undoing the damage the next time I take the headset out!


CableCARD Conspiracy? In my April blog entry, I complained that Sony televisions no longer include CableCARD slots, a turn of events that will force me to get a set-top box when I replace my existing Sony LCD model. It turns out that the problem isn't limited to Sony. It appears that CableCARD slots has been dropped from all 2008 televisions. At least that's what I was told at both Circuit City and Best Buy.

However, there is a glimmer of good news here. According to an SF Chronicle article, the set-top box may soon be extinct. The article reports that: "Sony Electronics Inc. and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association...{have}...signed an agreement that will allow viewers to rid themselves of set-top boxes yet still receive advanced two-way cable services, such as pay-per-view movies...Sony agreed to use the cable industry's technology in its sets as soon as possible."

I am guessing we will see these sets on shelves starting in 2009. I'll be there to buy one!

Apple’s unsupported support articles. Regarding my May blog entry, lamenting about how hard Apple makes it to locate recently added Knowledge Base articles: Check out the addendum I added to the entry three days after it was first posted. It notes that Apple has now addressed two of my main concerns: (1) modified dates are once again included with each KB article and (2) the special KB article that lists other recently modified articles is working again.

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