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CES 2018: LIZN Wireless Hearpieces

Allison interviews Mads Rugholm from LIZN about their new wireless “hearpieces”. LIZN earphones make it easier to hear in a noisy environment by amplifying sound in the direction the wearer is pointed and by enhancing consonants in speech. These devices are not aimed at those who are hearing impaired but rather those who struggle to understand speech when there is a lot of ambient noise. LIZN hearpieces offer a Bluetooth connection to your mobile device so they also can be used to listen to music, make phone calls and access digital assistants. They are small, simplistic, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive at $199. The setting is CES Unveiled at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. Learn more at https://www.lizn.biz/

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Avantree Bluetooth Over-the-Ear Headset – by George from Tulsa

Avantree CaseHi, George reporting in from Tulsa with another episode in my ongoing struggle with Bluetooth.

Back in 2008 Steve Jobs called Blu-Ray a “bag of hurt.” A pretty good description of most of my experiences with Bluetooth. Had a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid that actually worked, though that car’s “Bluetooth Hands-Free” was phone only, no media. My 2017 RAV4 is a rolling Bluetooth disaster. Connections drop during calls, returning the call to the phone which may be in my pocket, and in handset not even speaker mode.. When starting the RAV if it was set for Bluetooth Media, it would randomly start playing random media. Daughter’s fairly recent Subaru shows some of the same behavior with iPhone Bluetooth.

I’m hoping there’s a software update for the RAV Entune system as the “tricks” Google suggested haven’t fixed it.

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Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Headphones by Helma

Sennheiser pxc 550 headphonesThis is a review from listener Helma from the Netherlands of the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless headphones. It’s my first review and my first audio contribution so please bear with me.

By the way, I’m not an audiophile so don’t expect this review to rant about the sound qualities. My qualifications simply go from ‘horrible’ to ‘nice’.

Anyway, Allison always asks us what’s the problem to be solved. Well, actually I had two problems to be solved. These are probably very first world problems, but here goes.

My husband likes to watch sports a lot, which I usually can stomach for about 5 minutes. I don’t want to move off to the bedroom or my computer every time I want to watch something else and watching something on my iPad with the TV blasting something different is very difficult. So I was looking for a way to sit in the living room but watch something other than what’s on TV.

While preparing for our overdue summer vacation I realised I’d love to have a noise cancelling headphone so I could watch some TV shows on my iPad during the plane trip. And it could double for blocking out the sports noise from the TV.

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NC #648 DTNS Live, Excel Replacements, Bluetooth Dropout Fixed, Previous Recipients

Fun with the Cool Blind Tech Podcast guys, My ScreenCasts Online tutorial is up about Parallels Toolbox. I was on DTNS Live and Steve captured some funny moments on video. I walk through all of the options for when you go to High Sierra and Office 2011 won’t work any more, centered around my love for Excel. I’ll explain my Bluetooth dropout problem and how I got it fixed. Then we’ll have a Tiny Tip about Previous Recipients in Mail.

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Bluetooth Dropout FIXED!

Magic keyboard trackpadI’ve been feeling like the unluckiest Apple fangirl of all time with all the problems I’ve had with my Apple gear in the last year. Most recently you might remember the saga back in August of my 2016 MacBook Pro going belly up (wouldn’t charge). It would only stand out in your memory because my 2013 backup MacBook Pro couldn’t connect to Apple’s services so I ended up asking executives at Apple to give me a hand.

Anyway, that all got resolved and I got my 2016 MacBook Pro back with a shiny new logic board. I haven’t wanted to mention it because I was hoping the problem would just go away on its own, but I’ve been having a problem with the Mac ever since I got it back. Do you do that too, go into denial and just wish these things away?

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NC #620 Apple Watch Swimming, Standard Mac Apps, BrainPort Visualization Through the Tongue, eSight Low Vision Glasses, Non-tech Podcasts, GhostReader, BeatsX

Allister here standing in for Allison this week. I have a miniature review of using the Apple Watch Series 2 for swim workouts, I’ll quickly review 26 Mac Apps you didn’t know you already had, Allison will pop by with two more videos from the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, I’ll make some recommendations for podcasts you might want to listen to that aren’t about technology, Terry delivers on his callout from Allison with a review of GhostReader text to speech software, and I’ll finish up with a review of the BeatsX Bluetooth earbuds with Apple W1 chip.


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BeatsX In-ear Bluetooth Earbuds with Apple W1

BeatsX Bluetooth earbudsI have long preferred in-ear earphones for two very important reasons. First, it’s just not possible to get a decent bass sound from lightweight earphones without creating a seal in the ear canal, and as my hearing is more sensitive to high frequencies, I need all the bass I can get, otherwise they sound feeble. Second, my typical listening environment is “out in the world.” I listen to podcasts or music on my 40 minute commute. This involves riding a train with other (sometimes noisy) commuters, and walking in a city with people and cars and buses and construction and wind. I tried EarPods for one day of commuting and confirmed that these two reasons are very good ones not to invest in AirPods, as cool as they are.

When Phil Schiller announced the AirPods, he also announced a few other products which would use the same W1 chip technology. The Beats Solo3 on-ear earphones would be an interesting proposition, but not for commuting –they’d be too bulky for me. The Powerbeats3 are a sport-style in-ear earphone solution. I’m not a fan of the over-ear hooks which secure these, and with their “sports” features, such as water resistance and an incredible 12 hour battery life (which I wouldn’t need), the price goes up, making them the most expensive of the in-ear products. That just leaves the cheapest product which includes the W1 chip – BeatsX. These are in-ear, designed for comfort, and last 8 hours on a charge. Continue reading “BeatsX In-ear Bluetooth Earbuds with Apple W1”

CES 2017: iDevices Wireless Instant Switch

Allison interviews Sierra Coughlin from iDevices about their range of new home automation products. Sierra focuses on the Instant Switch which is a bluetooth remote light switch. The Instant Switch wirelessly controls any existing iDevices switched product and is HomeKit compatible. The setting is the CES Unveiled show floor.

Learn more at http://idevicesinc.com

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Apple AirPods – Bluetooth With Less Fiddling?

Al airpods christmas hatI’ve mentioned many times that I got really lucky in the husband department. Last week highlights that. Steve gets up pretty early (especially for a retired guy) and when the AirPods went on sale early one morning, he immediately ordered me a set before the ship dates moved out to January. They arrived a day early, on the 20th and he didn’t make me wait till Christmas to open them.

The promise of the AirPods is many fold. One aspect is that they’re supposed to make pairing much easier. Let’s see if Apple really got rid of this major annoyance. We’ll start with the first experience of opening them up.

Packaging and Setup

People seem to be getting disenchanted with Apple in some ways but it’s indisputable that they do packaging like no one else. The AirPods come in a very small plastic case that acts as the charger. I was really surprised at how small it is, It’s about 2 x 1.5 x .75 inches. It looked a lot bigger in the photos I saw ahead of time. Remember the case itself charges the AirPods, so It has a Lightning port on the bottom.

The top of the case flips open and closed with the most delightful magnetic click. Seriously, you’ll find yourself opening and closing this obsessively. Continue reading “Apple AirPods – Bluetooth With Less Fiddling?”

Apple CarPlay Gives a Useful Interface in Volkswagen Jetta – by Dorothy R

Guest Post by Dorothy R (aka @maclurker)

Carplay main screenAs soon as Allison heard I had a new car that included CarPlay, she had to know more. All the details, in their technical glory. Specifically a NosillaCast review. So before I could even get started, I had to define …

The problem to be solved: how to make better use of my phone while driving when my car only has an Aux connection and no BlueTooth.

Solution: Buy a new car with CarPlay.

I am now the owner of a new Volkswagen. While I am sorry to leave my Civic behind, I love all the new technology. Especially Apple CarPlay, which promises to marry my phone and car, leaving me with a smooth uninterrupted experience. I should point out that Hubs has a new car too. A Ford with CarPlay. So we’ve been able to exchange notes on what’s the same and what isn’t. But, it seems pretty consistent. CarPlay is CarPlay, no matter which car it runs on.

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