Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

I’m always looking for the “best” bluetooth headset. Until now the best one for me was the Jabra BT500. Why? Because it was the most comfortable and worked well with my Treo 650. Then I caught wind of this New Jawbone Headset and I was intrigued by the “military grade” noise reduction that it sports. So after doing a quick search on eBay and a “Buy It Now” link, the Jawbone was on the way. I must admit that I was also digging the modern cheese grater/Mac Pro design. I also liked that it doesn’t have any visible buttons. However, I was a little concerned about comfort. After all I’m not a fan of over-the-ear headsets.

I gave the Jawbone a workout this weekend and unlike other over-the-ear headsets, this one actually feels much better on my ear. However, the fit is not as snug as I would like (no headset is a perfect fit on me). Jawbone measures the ambient noise and adjusts the incoming and outgoing audio accordingly via its “noise shield.” The sound quality is better than average. I’ll have to continue testing it in noisy environments. I’m really curious as to how it will perform with the top down on a convertible on the highway which is one of my worse case scenarios.

Jawbone redThe Jawbone comes with a set of different sized ear buds and ear clips to attempt to fit most people. The default “round” ear bud was not a good fit for me at all. Luckily there was an elongated choice that fit much better. It also comes with an AC adapter for charging and the cable between the AC adapter and the headset has USB on one end. So you could just travel with the cable and headset to charge via the USB port on your laptop. I wish that it used a standard USB cable though. Although it’s USB on one end, it’s a proprietary connection on the other. This means that you have to use their cable. The Jawbone comes in Silver, Black or Red. I got the silver version as red was just going to clash too much with my wardrobe.

I can’t say that I Love the Jawbone just yet. I’ll have to use it more and take it on the road. However, my first impressions are better than any other headset I’ve tried so far. I need to give it a full day’s use to see if it is comfortable enough for all day use.

Jawbone offers 6 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time. It goes for about $110 on eBay. Cingular sells them too at a slightly higher price.

Contribute CS3 is an Excellent Blogging Tool

The New Adobe Contribute CS3 is an EXCELLENT way to update your blog! I’m now a believer. Although I’ve been doing this blog since February 2006, I still feel relatively new to blogging. I only started my blog because Apple had come out with iWeb and it seemed like an easy way to get started with a graphical tool (see my original iWeb blog here). However, after a few months I started to feel like iWeb just wasn’t powerful or flexible enough for some of the things I wanted to do. Even simple things like post dating a blog entry didn’t seem possible with iWeb. Sure you could change the post date and time, however the minute you posted the entry it was live on your site regardless of what time and date you set it for. It wouldn’t even allow me to chose a different template for my site without starting over again.

Then Adobe Photoshop product manager John Nack turned me on to Contribute and I kept it in the back of my mind until about a month ago. I started experimenting with Contribute also because my web hosting company made WordPress blogging available at no additional cost. Contribute is compatible with many of the popular blogging engines such as Blogger and WordPress. I like Contribute for blogging because it lets me create blog entries offline and post date them to appear at the exact time and day that I specify. It lets me work in a WYSIWYG environment. It also doesn’t restrict me to only use Contribute. I can still post entries if I’m out and about (away from my computer) from any web browser. I can much more easily use tables, insert images, add video including Flash Video, audio and format my text. Not to mention easy bullets, numbering and indents.

No software product is perfect and I do have a few wishes for the next version. I would like to have interactive spelling. While Contribute does have spell check, you run it after you’ve typed all your text. That seems so 1995. Grammar checking also would be nice. However, even with these minor omissions, Contribute CS3 is a solid tool for Blogging and for Web Designers to allow their clients to update their own web sites (it’s original mission). It even lets Mac users update their .Mac hosted web sites. Contribute CS3 is available as a stand alone product or as a part of the Web suites.

What the iPod hi-fi should have been

Apple made a lot of noise initially around the iPod hi-fi stereo system for the iPod. They clearly spent the majority of their time on sound quality for this product. I’m not knocking it as it is a great sounding system with lots of volume, but it entered a crowded market at the high end of the price range. At $350, there are lots of speaker system to choose from at that price and less. Even the Bose Sound Dock is only $299 (It’s hard to say Bose and "only" in the same sentence). I own both of these systems and they both have their advantages over each other. Even to my non-audiophile ear, the Bose SoundDock sounds a bit better in my unscientific side-by-side test in a big open room. It also doesn’t have that storm trooper look like the iPod hi-fi.

But like I said, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The SoundDock is smaller and takes up less space. The iPod hi-fi can run on batteries and has audio-in. Therefore it can be used as a speaker system for other sources such as streaming from your AirPort Express or directly connected to your notebook for presentations.

Now it’s 2007 and there is a new kid on the block. Check out the New Altec Lansing iMV712 (what a catchy name). The new iMV712 comes in at the same $350 price as the iPod hi-fi, but offers an 8" LCD screen so that you can actually watch content on your iPod video without having to hold it right up to your face (exaggeration alert). While 8" is not all that big, it’s big enough for comfortable personal viewing from a reasonable distance.

The minute the iPod hi-fi came out, people (critics) started saying it should have had this and that. One of those things that people said it should have is a screen. Sure not everyone has an iPod video. However, since it would have come from Apple the screen could have had the iTunes visualizer built-in. It could have displayed the Album art nice and big while you were just listening to music whether it was an iPod video or not.

I don’t have the new iMV712 and have no plans to buy one. I’m pretty set between the speakers I already have and my Apple TV’s. However, if I were in the market for a higher end speaker system, this is the one that I would start my research with.

AirBase is just what I needed

Griffin Technologies AirBase

It may seem like I’m a sales agent for Griffin Technologies these days, trust me I’m not. I don’t get a single dime from them. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know if they know about my blog and have never even met anyone who works for Griffin. However, they seem to be making a lot of little gadgets that I need these days. I must admit that when I first saw the AirBase a few months back, I thought it was goofy and unnecessary. I dismissed it and moved on. Then I learned about just how important “placement” of wireless access points is. Placement is everything when it comes to range and performance. I had an AirPort Express in my living room behind a book case connected to my stereo for streaming iTunes music. Reception to that base station was so so. Then I got the idea to put it on top of the book case (about 5′ from the floor). That made all the difference in the world. I got a white extension cord and just kind of wedged it in between two other gadgets and prayed that it wouldn’t fall over. Of course that didn’t work so I remembered the AirBase. I went to Griffin’s site and saw that they still sold it. I ordered one.

The AirBase is a sturdy plastic weighted stand for your AirPort Express Base Station. It provides a way to elevate your base station and put it on a flat surface. It comes with a long power cable to run back to your outlet. It worked out well. My only complaint with it, is that the connectors are very snug. Even plugging in the power cable was harder than it should have been, to the point that I thought I was breaking the socket. Otherwise it was $25 well spent.

Last chance to save $100 on Lightroom

After a very successful public beta (over 500,000 downloads), Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 was released in February 2007 with an introductory price of $199 (as a thank you to the community and to those who help test and build it). That’s $100 off the retail price of $299. That introductory deal is over after 4/30/07. So if you have a remote interest in Lightroom, you should probably go ahead and buy it now to save $100.

Also check out this recent review. Scott Kelby has also started his nationwide Lightroom Live Tour. Find out the details here.

Is Comcast Getting Faster?

As I was helping a friend yesterday diagnose his sudden slow down on his DSL line, I pointed him to the SpeakEasy test that I like to run to check internet connection speeds. However, when I checked my own speed I couldn’t help but notice the sudden bump in my upload speed. It normally averages around 768Kbps, but now it’s up over 1,400-1,500Kbps. I’m not complaining and I’ll take it. However, I’m just wondering will it continue to stay this fast? Upload speeds have always been slower than they should be on Cable Modem Services. It’s about time the cable companies started bumping up this speed. I upload a lot of content via FTP and other services. This could always be improved!

Once AT&T rolls out a fiberoptic service (like Verizon’s Fios service in NY/NJ), Comcast will be put on notice to either catch up or buh-bye.

Griffin Technologies Does It Again

Dock Adapter for iPod shuffle

Although I don’t really have a need for the new “Dock Adapter for iPod shuffle“, I still think it’s a cool product. This little adapter goes into a standard Apple iPod dock, say the one on top of the iPod Hi-Fi and let’s your 2nd Generation iPod shuffle be a full fledged citizen on your iPod speaker system. It not only allows you to enjoy your music, but it also allows the shuffle to be charged as well.

It’s $19.99 and is available online or at your local Apple store.

Adobe After Effects & Premiere Pro CS3 Now in Public Beta: CS3 Design and Web Suites are now shipping

Adobe is really getting into this whole Public Beta thing. Now you can download the NEW After Effects CS3 and Premiere Pro CS3 as a public beta. This is great especially for intel Mac users who want to check out the apps before they buy (the Windows version is there too). Also you can give your feedback to help make the app better. These apps are due to ship next quarter, but you don’t have to wait to start playing.
Just head over to labs.adobe.com and download them.

Also note that the Creative Suite Design and Web Suites are now shipping!

New Photoshop Lightroom Book

My buddy Scott Kelby has just released his New “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers.” This new title is 394 pages and covers Lightroom from A-Z. I’m a big Lightroom fan and while I know the program quite well, I can always learn something new. The way Scott walks you through Lightroom is by doing it the context of a photo shoot. He shows you everything from bring the shots in, adjusting them, adding metadata and output to print, web and slideshows. Scott teaches you Lightroom in a fun way as he does with most of his classes, books and videos. If you use Lightroom, you’ll want this book!

Well worth the cost of admission! $26.39 ($39.99 list) at Amazon.com.

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