Apple or Android – I’ve used both

The GERD loves a good discussion amongst those who disagree (read: argument), as long as it’s done with respect to all involved (that leaves out Politics!).  Few subjects inspire such a heated discussion as Apple versus Android.  “I have an iPhone, I have a Droid“, how about having a cool drink and sitting in the shade for a moment!

For the purpose of simplicity, let’s limit this discussion to media devices and phones. Having used the iPhone, the HTC EVO, iPads, and Ice Cream Sandwich-equipped tablets, allow me to say something very pithy, very wise, very GERD-like.  What’s the big deal? (sounds very Jeffersonian, doesn’t it?)  As is almost always the case, it comes down to what YOU like best.  Apple is a very mature system.  For phones and tablets the operating system (iOS 5, soon to be iOS 6) works very well.  Apple’s innovative App Store is a terrific place to find tested and approved applications that are low cost and, in most cases, very useful.  Updating the operating system is effortless, as is updating the apps.  iTunes is great – music and movies and TV shows (oh my!).  Apple set the standard that everyone else is trying to copy (sorry Samsung, didn’t mean to use the word “copy“).

I’ve used Apple products, iPods mostly, since 2003.  In the last few years I’ve graduated to iPads, iPhones, and my Apple Mini (a superb mid-level computer).  I like Apple products – some may call me a “fanboy” (term used to describe “a passionate advocate and promoter for Apple operating systems and hardware”), but I like things that work.

But wait, I also used the HTC EVO for 2 years, and liked it!  I have and use the Asus EEE Pad TF-101 (I love the optional docking keyboard – I wish Apple made one for the iPad).  I have a Samsung Galaxy Player (the big 5″ one), and it’s a great media device.

While Apple may be compared to a buttoned-down solid-colored shirt that looks great with a striped tie, Android is that comfortable pull over that looks really cool with jeans and an old pair of sneakers.  You have to work a little harder with Android devices – updating is not easy.  The Google Play Store has matured in look and content.  However, you can find, shall we say, suspicious-looking apps (“Pocket Girlfriend”? Really?).  If that’s what you want, oh well.

Bottom line: For media players and phones, the inexperienced user should stick with the Apple iPhone and iPods.  They are easier to use, update, and understand.  A drawback is that any song purchased on iTunes is in a protected format (AAC) that only works on Apple devices.  You can convert them to MP3 format, but not easily.  However, if you stick with those Apple devices, you’ll have no worries.  If you are more experienced, or more adventurous, you can be very happy with an Android phone and/or media device.  As I have already said, it comes down to what YOU like best.  After all, we still live in a semi-free country!

ImageNext Time: Why didn’t the GERD get the New iPad?

My Favorite Bluetooth Headsets

I love Bluetooth headsets!  There is just something so comfortable about listening to good music (thanks Pandora), a ballgame (thanks MLB.com) or a good audio book (OK, thanks Audible.com) without the annoyance of a cord that is too short, too long, or just too much in my way!  One look at the old GERD’s desk will prove that I have many Bluetooth headsets – I use them all (more or less), and I have discovered what I like the most and the least about them.  If you are considering buying a Bluetooth Headset you must consider three things.

(1) Mono or Stereo, (2) Ease of Use, and (3) Cost

(1) Mono or Stereo: Mono headsets, designed almost exclusively for use during cell phone calls, can also be used to listen to music.  There are advantages to using a mono headset; you can use them at home or the office and still be aware of what’s going on around you; it’s legal to use them while driving (just please be careful); you can use them while shopping or standing in line at the bank (I love to listen to a baseball game or an audio book while shopping).  The sound quality of these mono headsets have improved dramatically over the years.

(2) Ease of Use: The GERD is a patient man, but he has been known to fling an uncooperative piece of technology in the trash.  I want my toys to work without taking courses from the Home Office.  Also, recharging the headset should be easy – specialized adapters are fine until you lose them (trust me, I have).  Give me a standard Mini or Micro USB plug in my Bluetooth headset any day!

(3) Cost: Despite what my daughters may think, the GERD is not a wealthy man (having two daughters is a major contributing factor).  I don’t want to have to get a loan to buy a Bluetooth headset.  However, you do usually get what you pay for, so expect to plunk down at least $50 for a good product.

Recommendations: As I said before, I have many different Bluetooth headsets.  Not everyone can win the Gold, so here are my personal favorites, both mono and stereo.

Best Mono Bluetooth Headset: The Motorola Elite Silver.  This headset has superb sound quality for both music and phone calls, it’s easy to use, light as a feather, and won’t kill your wallet.  At $129 (Best Buy, $89 at Amazon) it’s not cheap, but the results are worth it.  The Elite Silver fits over your ear and has a rotating ear bud that allows you to get just the right fit.  Unlike an ear bud, it won’t fall out during use, but I wouldn’t use it while exercising (the book says to keep it away from moisture).  It comes with an innovative recharging case that has it’s own battery.  I know, I said not to use a specialized power adapter, but the recharging case is small enough to fit in your pocket and uses a micro USB connector.  Take it out of the case and rotate the ear bud (left or right, depending on which ear you want to use) to turn it on.  Once synced to your phone/tablet/iPod, it reconnects better than any other Bluetooth device I’ve used (actually, it’s a tie with the Best Stereo Headset, read on!).  It gives you an audible confirmation of the connection and the battery status.  If I didn’t already have one, I’d buy one!  The Elite Silver is a superb product that I use everyday.

Image

Best Stereo Headset: The Rocketfish High-Definition (RF-MAB2).  Excellent sound, comfortable to wear, great battery life, and a steal at just $59.99.  This over the ear/behind the head design uses a mini USB connector to recharge and the battery life is rated at 14 hours by Rocketfish; I’d like to challenge that but I’ve never had the darn thing run out of life (I tend to recharge often, your experience may vary!).  Good for music and cell phone calls, I get the most out of mine while running on the treadmill.  I hate worrying about battery life while I’m worrying about a heart attack!  Volume and Forwards/Backwards buttons along with the Power/Pause/Call answer button that are very easy to locate and use, even while slogging along on the treadmill.   My Rocketfish has never let me down. Once synced, it reconnects to my iPhone/iPad everytime.

Honorable Mention: The Plantronics Back Beat.  Good sound, decent battery life (~3 hours); it uses ear buds that seems to fit well and in-line sound and pause controls that can be difficult to locate during use.  The Back Beat is light, unlike some others I’ve tried, and less likely to shift around during wear.  I’ve used them while running; take my advice – don’t.  The ear buds need constant attention (falling out).  I found it very distracting.  I always find reconnecting to my devices harder than it needs to be.  A little pricy at $99, but if you like ear buds, this will work for you.

Jaybird Freedom: Good ear bud headset for around $99.  The cord goes behind your head (or in front if you want – why would you?) and tends to lie against your neck.  This can be a bit uncomfortable.  The volume controls are on the right ear bud with the power switch/pause/call button.  The Jaybird uses a special power adapter.  Lose it (I did!) and you’re sunk.  It has decent battery life.  In my experience, the ear buds tend to slip out (maybe it’s just my ears, there are several bud types in the package).  If you use just one ear, the other ear bud pulls the cord down, pulls the other ear bud out, then you get mad, you start to frown, and everyone thinks you are a bad person!

Next Time: Apple or Android; I’ve Used Both.

A blogging I will go…

As I stand looking over the abyss known as blogdom, I will admit to a certain amount of apprehension. Who am I to discuss any topic, much less computers, gadgets, and other sundry geeky-ness to the assembled masses? With so many others doing the same? The answer is simple; why not? So as I type (poorly, thanks autocorrect!) on my iPad, let us begin this journey together. You may learn more about me (sorry about that), and I hope to learn more about those who may perchance stop by for a digital visit.

Next time: Just what exactly is a “GERD”?