bluetooth

You don’t have to be a literal eardrum to know that built-in laptop speakers and cheap earbuds aren’t worth much more than the packaging they came in. If your headphones were purchased on an airplane and the bass sounds like a tin can full of bees, it might be time to start shopping for some audio equipment. To squeeze the best possible listening experience out of your music collection without getting swindled into paying for solid platinum connectors check out this list of budget-friendly audio accessories.

 This space age-looking Bluetooth speaker, aptly dubbed “the Cube,” pairs easily with your smartphone or other Bluetooth-compatible devices to deliver booming bass and zinging trebles. The LED lights look awesome, and give you the feeling that at any moment, Borg could start shooting out of it like a Borg geyser. Get “The Cube” bluetooth speaker for just $25.99

The Dispensary Is Alive With The Sound Of Music

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SPOTLIGHT: Happy Plugs Customizable Speakers

We’re completely obsessed with Swedish fashion and lifestyle brand Happy Plugs’ line of 100% customizable speakers. Offered in two different sizes (Sound Piece and Sound Piece Mini), the line comes with a full range of easily changeable grills in the dopest prints, vibrant colors, and textures to match your home decor or style.

With a 15 hour battery lifespan along with a built-in microphone, the Sound Piece also services as a conference speaker and speakerphone. Having tested out the Sound Piece Mini ourselves, we can attest to the incredible sound attributed to the speakers bass vent for max bass performance and its 2x2 W full range drivers. Even as the mini, the awesome sound quality could easily carry a house party in your largest room!

Shop Happy Plugs’ entire Sound Piece range at https://happyplugs.com

So, here’s the problem: headphones, as we have understood them for decades, were once terrifically simple. You could plug any headphones from virtually anywhere into virtually anything, and they would just work. Anyone could make headphones, anyone could sell them, and all of those people could address the entire market of people who wanted to listen to things.

As the headphone jack disappears, the obvious replacement isn’t another wire with a proprietary connector like Apple’s Lightning or the many incompatible and strange flavors of USB-C audio. It’s Bluetooth. And Bluetooth continues to suck, for a variety of reasons. Newer phones like the iPhone 8, Galaxy S8, and the Pixel 2 have Bluetooth 5, which promises to be better, but 1) there are literally no Bluetooth 5 headphones out yet, and 2) we have definitely heard that promise before. So we’ll see.

To improve Bluetooth, platform vendors like Apple and Google are riffing on top of it, and that means they’re building custom solutions. And building custom solutions means they’re taking the opportunity to prioritize their own products, because that is a fair and rational thing for platform vendors to do.

Unfortunately, what is fair and rational for platform vendors isn’t always great for markets, competition, or consumers. And at the end of this road, we will have taken a simple, universal thing that enabled a vibrant market with tons of options for every consumer, and turned it into yet another limited market defined by ecosystem lock-in.

TECHNOLOGY WIZARDRY

Okay, so here’s what happened today. 

I had a Samsung Galaxy S6. The phone was kind of limping along. Its battery life was terrible, its reception was iffy (especially in my house, which is SUPER-annoying), and it would sometimes just take random fits and not have certain apps work, etc. I decided to upgrade, thinking these issues might improve. I went for a Samsung Galaxy S8. 

The battery life and reception were much improved, and the apps worked fine…but the Bluetooth didn’t work. It claimed it was connected to my car, but it wouldn’t let me make any calls and it wouldn’t register a media connection at all. It literally would not let me highlight “use for media audio.” Like, the little toggle wouldn’t be moved over. People could call me and it would come over Bluetooth but I couldn’t call out. 

This was a non-starter for me. I exclusively use my phone for music in the car, plus I use it for GPS, plus I call people a lot. I love my Bluetooth capability. Plus, like, phones are EXPENSIVE. This phone was almost the same price as the last computer I bought. Sorry, but for hundreds and hundreds of dollars, I think that the phone should work the way it’s supposed to work. It’s supposed to have Bluetooth capability, so the Bluetooth should work. 

I Googled the problem and there were complaints dating back to April from people having the identical problem I was having, and the most recent complaints were dated this week, so clearly this is an ongoing problem that Samsung doesn’t seem like it’s fixing anytime soon. So I decided to take the phone back. Like, why am I paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a thing that doesn’t even work right?????

I get to Verizon and explain the issue and say that I want to try a Galaxy S7 instead. They say they can’t guarantee the Bluetooth will work (????? What is the issue with these phones? They are SO EXPENSIVE. What do you mean you can’t guarantee their features will work??????). I said that’s fine, if it doesn’t work, I’ll just return the S7 and have them reactivate my old S6, which I know works. They say, “Oh, no, you can only return one phone.” I was like, “…I can only return one phone, like, a year? Or in my lifetime? Or…?” And they were like, “We don’t know, we just know if the S7 doesn’t work, you can’t return it.” I was like, “Wait, so, if you sell me a phone that literally doesn’t work, I’m not allowed to return it?” I mean, I didn’t press these employees too hard, because that’s clearly company policy and not their fault, but what?

So I give up on the dream of a new phone. I would much rather have my Bluetooth capability back. I can work around the battery issues and the reception issues. So I reactivate my old phone. (After paying a $35 restocking fee. For being given a phone that didn’t work right.) And then I walk out to my car and…suddenly my old phone has THE SAME BLUETOOTH ISSUE. Okay, this was a phone that had ZERO Bluetooth issues the entire time I had it. So either its Bluetooth spontaneously broke today, OR my car spontaneously broke at the *exact* moment that I switched phones?????? I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF ANY OF THIS. 

I eventually got the car and phone to talk to each other for media purposes, which is important to me. The phone-calling Bluetooth thing doesn’t work properly but I’m not even going to attempt to fix it, because my attempts to fix things recently have only resulted in everything around me breaking worse. I feel like my car setup right now is precarious and fragile and if I breathe wrong then all Bluetooth will shut off and basically I might as well get a landline at this point…

The end.