Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss a robot delivery to the ISS, digital assistant vs remote controls, a Facebook unblocking bug, Microsoft’s second try with Hololens, Facebook and AI technology, and more.
Lance in Dearborn, Michigan listens on AM800 CKLW “The Information Station” and asked: “I just started a new job and one of my co-workers has a very small Alexa that he uses to listen to Music. I’m thinking of getting one for my office but I want a little better sound quality. So I was wondering if you could recommend a good Bluetooth or wireless speaker system like Alexa that will also play really good sound.”
Lance, if you want an Alexa speaker that sounds better you can buy… an Alexa speaker that sounds better.
Your co-worker probably has an Amazon Echo Dot, a small round speaker, roughly about an inch tall. The Dot was always meant to be connected to a better speaker for music, its own was only expected to be used for voice commands. So that’s one option you have, just connect it to any speaker you happen to have.
Having said that, Amazon offers speakers that actually sound good. Look at the Echo or the Echo plus for two options with the exact same digital assistant built in, but the hardware to play music that sounds good.
If you’re happy to stray from Alexa, Google Home also makes real speakers that tie into its Google Assistant. The one they market to audiophiles is the Google Home Max, but you can also downgrade to the regular Google Home for respectable sound that will probably fill your office without any issues. Just steer away from the Home Mini, which is the Dot’s direct competitor.
Liz in Windsor, Ontario Canada listens on AM800 CKLW – The Information Station asked: “Just over a year ago, I purchased a Garmin Vivo HR fitness tracker. I love it and wouldn’t change it for anything. But when I got it, I would get notifications or alerts when I got a text message as well as a phone call. I still get the phone call alerts, but the text messages don’t come through anymore. I have all my notifications on, I changed nothing but now my Garmin is not giving me that alert and I’m wondering if you can help.”
Liz, Garmin makes great exercise watches from the less expensive ones all the way to the ones that get close the $1000 mark, but they make awful companion apps.
Your first step would be to restart the watch, sometimes a reboot does still help.
Your problem is likely not with the watch itself though, but the app that you use to pair it to the phone.
You can try to delete the watch from the app and re-pair it as if it were a brand new device (frankly, it’s surprising that you haven’t had to do this already, since Garmin’s app has a way of forgetting you ever bothered to pair a device to it). Failing that, you may need to reinstall the app itself. Sometimes it’s the only way to get rid of persistent issues like the one you’re facing.
Scott in State College, Pennsylvania listens on Money Radio WP$E and asked: “I’m a motorcyclist and I’m getting interested in some of the Bluetooth ways of using my phone or my GPS. I was thinking of maybe using bluetooth “iBuds” or something to listen to my music and talk on my phone while I’m on my motorcycle. Not sure if you have any suggestions on something that might work better.”
Scott, music is easy enough, as long as your phone is close to your earbuds just about any inexpensive bluetooth set will do a decent enough job. You can find plenty of truly wireless sets for as little as $50 on Amazon.
The reason why you may be better off paying for something like the Apple Airbuds you mentioned or some other higher end set is that you plan to talk on the phone, and doing that while you’re riding a motorcycle is going to require some decent sound cancellation. The cheaper options won’t offer good enough ambient noise cancelling for you to have much success. For your particular case, you’re probably better off spending the money and getting something more high end.
The ones I use – and swear by – are the Jabra Elite 65t. I’ve never been a big fan of bluetooth earbuds, until I tried these out. These have given me excellent audio quality with noise cancellation and when you use them with it’s smartphone app, you can activate sort of a “talk through” mode that allows you to hear what’s going on around you and carry on a conversation without even taking them out of your ear. They are stored in a case with a built-in battery that will re-charge them up to 5 times before you simply recharge the case. You can find these – the Jabra Elite 65t – for about $170
David in Atlanta, Georgia listens on AM920 “The Answer” and asked: “I know this is a ridiculous question for your high tech show, but I have a 6S iPhone and want to know if it’s worth the money to go higher and where I should go. My guess is to an 8, but I need your advice on that.”
David, we’ve reached the stage where, frankly, if your phone is working fine there may not be any good reason for you to upgrade. Both the 8 and the X are far better, faster and more capable than your 6S, but… do you need them to be?
If your phone is doing the job, you may be happier with the money in your pocket than with the new device. And the reason we say that is because new devices feel newer and faster and better, but not in a mindblowing way anymore. They roughly do the same thing, they just do it a little bit faster or a little bit better, but the age of the killer new features is gone. Phones are the new computer in more ways than one, and one of the ways is that we’ve largely reached the stage where if it’s still meeting your needs, you probably don’t need an upgrade yet.
Depending on whether you’re a person that likes the latest technology or just looking to upgrade to a model that’s more up to date, you could either go with an iPhone 8 or the X; however, upgrading to a 7 or 8 model would be the way to go if you are looking to have a phone with stable software and for a better price than the latest model.
We have a staffer who said he was faced with the same question. He went with an older model iPhone 7 which he said still looks beautiful with or without a case, and he said he hasn’t experienced much hardware or software issues. While the animoji and camera features of the the iPhone X are attractive, an older model like the iPhone 8 would be just as effective and reliable while saving you a couple of bucks.
Bill in Mahaffey, Pennsylvania listens on 107.9 Connect FM and asked: “Question about Cell phone boosters – I live in a rural area and the cell signal is not very strong. What can I do to boost a signal – and throughout the house also.”
Bill, the best thing you can do if you have a solid internet connection is to just use WiFi calling.
You won’t be able to tell the difference, both your incoming and outgoing calls will work the same way, only they’ll be routed through a WiFi connection.
The problem with that is that you’re in a rural area and your internet may be as bad as your cell signal, so look into WeBoost or Surecall, the kind you want is the one with a big antenna that you mount outside your home where the signal is better and a repeated that you plug in inside like you would a WiFi router.
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