Archives For Gadgets


August 22, 2015

One of the things I love about this outlet is it combines my love of gadgetry, photography, chemistry, culinary, engineering, and FIRE. Bring them all together and you have an intense combination.

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Bluetooth Settings in GDR3 via WPCentral

Bluetooth Settings in Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (via WPCentral)

Yesterday on the Windows Phone Blog Microsoft announced details on the new update for Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (aka General Distribution Release or GDR3), now available in preview to developers.  The new features include support for quad-core processors, larger screens, and customizable ringtones among a slew of others. Butthe feature I’m enjoying the most however is the improved Bluetooth in-car experience, a feature my current car helped to develop.

My GDR3 story begins when my car, a 2010 BMW exhibited some quirks with Windows Phone 8’s unique hands-free features.  Windows Phone 8 has the ability to do voice search and even read and reply to text messages via voice by convincing your car’s Bluetooth system you’re in a call.  It’s actually a very cool feature but the problem I had was that it didn’t always work in my car, but was flawless in others.  I reported it to a friend in Windows Phone and within hours I had a tester in the garage at my office.  We were unable to reproduce the drop after many attempts.  Then it happened.  The test lead took video of the experience and brought it back to the team.  A day later, with my permission my car was whisked away by the Bluetooth devteam to test a potential fix.   The WP team didn’t stop at just one adhoc test.  On two future occasions they borrowed my car and used as a test unit.

If you’re a member of the Windows Phone 8 Developer Program, you can download GDR3 preview and take advantage of the improved Bluetooth features.  Of note is a new setting, “Connect in a different way to use Speech with Bluetooth in my Car”.  While I can’t be certain, I’m pretty sure my car was a contributor to this feature.  You can check out a video walk-through of the new features for GDR3 on WPCentral or via YouTube link below.

There are few consumer electronics devices that have elicited delight from me like Sonos.  I’m fortunate enough to have worked with the company in the past, to help test their products over the past six years.  As a result, I’ve become a customer over and again Sonos powers the outdoor patio remodel we did a few years ago, our multizone home audio in the main living areas and recently the addition of a Playbar and Sonos Sub to our main family room have met with universal approval.

Enter the Sonos PLAY:1.  Priced similarly to Jawbone or other products, the newest and most affordable product in Sonos’ lineup is sure to bring in a whole new category of enthusiast.

The PLAY:1 solves another challenge – 5.1 surround sound in the family room.  The TV sits at a 45deg angle to the rest of the room, walls at odd angles with load bearing beams making it highly impractical to use in-wall or mounted rear channels.  I can get power to the appropriate locations but the home-run for speaker cable would be a major undertaking.  I thought that latency would be a concern but having recently tested a Sonos Playbar and Sonos Sub configuration I’m no longer concerned.  The latency was negligible to me and could not be perceived by the family.

Sonos PLAY:1The Sonos PLAY:1 comes with two class-D amplifiers, one 3.5″ mid-woofer and one tweeter.  The design is typical Sonos – high attention to detail and meticulous design.  Available in white or black, the PLAY:1 is even humidity resistant so you can use it in the bathroom.  Just don’t put it in the shower or tub.

If you’ve been considering Sonos, I highly recommend the new Sonos PLAY:1 as an entry-level option or to round out a Sonos-based home theater system.  Just in time for the holidays.

Source: PLAY:1 Wireless Speakers | The Wireless HiFi System from Sonos.