Some Thoughts On… The Sony TV & HiFi Over-Ear Wireless Headphones

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I don’t care who knows it; I still think wireless headphones are cool. Like bowties, or fezzes in that respect. Oh sure, there are drawbacks, sacrifices that must be made, but its still a total novelty to take a conference call whilst standing up and wandering around.

I don’t know about you, but I think better on my feet. That’s why I’m crap at job interviews, because I appear far more nervous than I actually am, due to all the squirming I do. In reality, if I could just stand up and pace around the room at will, well, you’d probably be reading this article as-written by someone with far greater knowledge and experience.

And get this, the Sony Over-Ear headphones have a 100m listening range. That means that it should be entirely possible for you to get up and make yourself a cup of tea whilst still listening to…Whatever it was you were listening to that was so riveting that it made you crave caffeine in the first place. Feasibly, you could even venture outside to yell at the local kids, or pick up the paper.

Also, with these headphones, you’ll get 28 hours out of a AAA battery, now you really can’t say fairer than that, can you? Especially if you charge it up when you’re not using it.

They are big though. Like, really big. Instead of being built for regular, Human-size heads, they appear to have been sculpted with Red Dwarf’s resident mechanoid Kryten in mind (two BBC Sci-Fi references in one article? Bonza!), the sheer size is ridiculous. They are adjustable, of course, but you might still have every cause to wish these headphones were smaller.

Another negative is the sound quality. I don’t want to say that it is bad (of course, there’s a ‘but’ coming…), but there is a low hiss that seems to permeate everything that you hear, as well as a loud cut-off noise if the signal is broken in any way. From a design perspective, this second feature makes a lot of sense, you don’t want to be outside, waffling away to your mate and not notice that the signal has dropped out (as happens so often with mobiles), but still, there simply has to be a better way, doesn’t there? The noise is loud, intrusive and actually rather scary at times.

However, apart from those minor, nagging problems, these headphones are actually quite nice. They sound OK, the wireless function works beautifully and the price is alright as well. Nice one, Sony.

Hytera Offers Digital Two-way Radio Solution to 62nd Macau Grand Prix

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The 4-day 62nd Macau Grand Prix was rounded off at Macau Guia Circuit on November 22nd with over 80,000 audiences entering into the circuit to experience the fast and furious brought by the world top drivers and cars. Since tentative collaboration with the event committee in 2013 and 2014, Hytera was finally chosen as the official radio supplier this year to replace the legacy system and terminals with up-to-date communication equipments which helps the event committee organize and manage the global renowned sporting event in Macau.

The Macau Grand Prix is a historical street racing and known as one of the most demanding circuits in the world due to the challenging nature of the track, which consists of fast straights, tight corners and uncompromising crash barriers. Accidents happen almost in every racing competition. This year is not an exception.

Considering the potential circumstances would happen during the race, a tailor-made DMR two-way radio solution to fulfill multiple synchronized calls were proposed by Hytera and adopted by the event committee and all the supporting staff scattered along the circuit. “I have to praise all the supporting staff this year, they have done a very good job in handling the emergencies on the track with really high efficiency,” the live broadcast presenter commented. The radio communication between committee and the execution teams has made indispensable contribution for the high efficiency.

“The adoption by Macau Grand Prix is a significant breakthrough and a great recognition for Hytera,” said Sam Cheung, the Sales Engineer of Unicom Technology, regional partner of Hytera in Hong Kong and Macau.

In addition to the massive use on the track, the Hytera radios can be also found in the pit lane by several racing teams which includes the one FIA F3 defending champion Felix Rosenqvist drives. The Swedish driver successfully retained his championship title in the Suncity Group Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 Intercontinental Cup this year. “The Hytera PD788 portable radios used by the racing teams are not part of the agreement but brought by the teams themselves,” said Kuan Weng Fai, the owner of Shun Tat Electronic Engineering, local partner of Hytera in Macau.

Besides the official collaboration with Grand Prix Macau, Hytera also facilitated Macau International Marathon for the first time; in addition, Hytera completed projects for Top 3 bus services operators in Macau including Transportes Urbanos de Macau, Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau and Macau Nova Era De Autocarros Publicos, which marks big breakthrough in the field of mass transit segment; in the meantime, Hytera also fulfilled a number of commercial projects such as FBC Centre, Macau Golf Country Club, Suncity Group and Galaxy Macau Phase II and Broadway Macau, a new landmark destination launched in May this year for Macau. “It is our honor to have the recognition from customers, we will carry on our work to satisfy more and more customers in Macau,” said Wilson Hu, Sales Director of Hytera.

The Macau Grand Prix is a motor racing event, surprisingly held in Macau, China. So it’s not a surprise that the biggest two way radio communication company, based in china, are suppliers of the communications. It’s known as a street circuit race for cars and bikes, the only one in the world. Held in November with one of the highlights a Formula 3 race with the winner being awarded the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinental Cup. We sourced this article from here 

ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

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We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

Do You Know What The Term 2 Way Radio Mean?

Basically, the name two-way radio means that the radio in question can both transmit and receive signals. The two-way part of the name refers to the sending and receiving of said messages.

Some radios, such as the AM or FM radio you might listen to in your car, can only receive incoming signals, whilst other radios can only transmit signals. A two-way radio, however, can both intercept incoming messages and relay outgoing messages, because of this; two-way radios are a type of transceiver.

At its most basic, a two-way radio is a device that receives radio waves through the air and transmits a return signal.

How it does this is actually rather ingenious. Let’s say a user receives a message on her radio. The antenna on the top of the radio houses a group of electrons, these electrons will respond to messages received on specific channels (different groups of electrons respond to different channels). The electrons will then translate the radio waves into electrical impulses, which are then fed to a small processor. The processor, in turn, converts the electrical impulses into a signal, which the radio’s speakers can then play aloud.

The process is reversed if our hypothetical user is replying to her message, in this instance, the vibrations that constitute her voice will rattle a small membrane inside the microphone. These vibrations are fed into the processor, which converts them into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is pushed out to the electrons in the antenna and the signal is broadcast to our other user.

So you see, the process is clearly working on a two-way basis, hence the name. Two radios, when set to the same channel, should never have any problem connecting with one another (even if they are manufactured by different brands). The communication is pretty much instant, which is a big reason why radios play such an integral part in many areas of our lives, such as travel, security, commerce, public safety and trade.

It is important to note, however, that a radio set to receive VHF (Very High Frequency) signals will be unable to communicate with a radio set to UHF (Ultra High Frequency) mode. There is virtually nothing at all that can be done about this.

Of course, the other name used for handheld transceivers in walkie-talkie, but we reckon that one’s pretty self-explanatory…

Motorola Solutions to buy UK’s Airwave for $1.24 billion

As this article shows, Motorola move closer to sealing the deal to supply the emergency services for the whole of the UK, this move seems to prove what we have been saying, as Airwave have a working relationship with the emergency services and a good majority of the equipment they use are Motorolas’ own products they are in an excellent position now.

Walkie-talkie and radio systems maker Motorola Solutions Inc said it would buy UK-based communications company Airwave Solutions Ltd for 817.5 million pounds ($1.24 billion) to beef up its services business.

Shares of Schaumburg, Illinois-based Motorola were up 3.4 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Airwave, owned by a fund of Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd, provides voice and data communications to more than 300 emergency and public service agencies in Great Britain.

Motorola’s sales have slipped as its major customers, which include police and fire departments as well as other government agencies, curtail budgets.

The company is trying to strengthen its services business – which provides communication services to governments, businesses and public safety agencies – to drive growth.

Activist investor ValueAct, Motorola’s largest shareholder, said last month the company’s shares were undervalued and that it would talk to its board about ways to enhance shareholder value.

Motorola Solutions said it plans to fund the purchase of Airwave, which has about 600 employees, with bank financing and cash on hand.

The deal is expected to add to adjusted earnings and free cash flow immediately after closing in the first quarter of 2016, Motorola said.

SwiftKey launches symbol-based communication app for people who are non-verbal

Any technology that can improve peoples lives is always a technology that will be championed by us here, and if it is helping people with learning or speech difficulties then that is more incentive for us to bring it to our readers. This is current available on the google store for android devices and we are stating now that this should be on apple devices as soon as possible, the original article can be found on the verge website.

SwiftKey, the predictive smartphone keyboard company, wants to help people who are non-verbal communicate with others. The company launched an experimental symbol-based assistive app today called SwiftKey Symbol, which it says can be used to build sentences using images. SwiftKey staff who have family members with autism spectrum disorder came up with the idea for the tool, according to the company’s blog.

The app, which is free and available on Android, makes use of SwiftKey’s predictive technology to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. Outside factors like the time of day or the day of the week will influence these predictions, the company says. Users can also add their own images and use audio playback to read out to sentence to others.

Symbol-based communication apps like this aren’t new. Apps like Proloqui2Go and TouchChat also rely on pictograms to build sentences. But these tools can be expensive, and SwitKey says that its own take on the assistive app will be able to form sentences faster than the competition. “A lot of the current communication tools on the market are often too slow to select a particular image a child might choose,” the company wrote on its blog. “We realized that SwiftKey’s core prediction and personalization technology — which learns from each individual as they use it — would be a natural fit for people on the autistic spectrum who respond particularly well to routine-based activity.”

In the US, about two in 100 children have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. People with autism have varied needs, so it’s possible that this app could enhance communication for some people. We haven’t tried the app yet — but we’re eager to see what it can do.

The 19th Century plug that’s still being used

The BBC are on of the most trusted news sources on the planet,  so when stories fly around about the next iphone dropping it’s 3.5mm jack plug and moving to using their own lightning port or bluetooth. We think this is one of the usual stories that flies around before they release any new apple product, but when the BBC picks it up we take note! and this brilliant article shows that the common 3.5mm jack plug has a more of a history than we knew.

After rumours that Apple was going to get rid of the headphone jack in its imminent iPhone 7, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking them to reconsider. This humble plug is a rare example of technology that has stood the test of time, writes Chris Stokel-Walker.

For what remains an unconfirmed rumour, a lot of people are upset about the new iPhone. It’s alleged that Apple will be scrapping the 3.5mm socket, instead leaving headphones to be plugged into the “Lightning” port – the company’s own design of socket.

Cynics have pointed out that while this might enable iPhones to be slightly thinner, it will render many headphones useless and force manufacturers to pay Apple a fee to use their Lightning plugs on products.

The petition says Apple’s purported move would “singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste”.

Two stereo audio jacksImage copyrightiStock

It will also be a blow for a piece of technology that has been remarkably resilient. The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

Both sizes of plug have a nubbin of metal that nips in before flaring out just before the tip. “It needed to be something that could be inserted and removed very easily, but still make a secure connection,” says Charlie Slee, a member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Initially the quarter-inch jack was used by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. “The standard has always been quarter-inch jacks,” says Dr Simon Hall, head of music technology at Birmingham City University.

1st November 1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard oft the House of Commons, London.Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard of the House of Commons, London

“Professional headphones in studios, guitar leads – they all run off quarter-inch jacks.”

Of course, as miniaturisation changed audio equipment, so the plug had to have a smaller alternative.

The 3.5mm version quickly became popular, spread by the use of personal headsets on transistor radios in the middle of the 20th Century.

The jack is known as a tip, ring, sleeve – or TRS – connection. The “tip” transfers audio into the left-hand earplug of a stereo headphone set, and the “ring” the right. The “sleeve” is the ground or “shield”. This set-up is stereo – the original mono plugs had only tip and sleeve. Certain modern plugs have a second ring to allow control of a headset microphone or volume.

Annotated photograph showing sleeve, ring and tip of TRS jackImage copyrightiStock/BBC

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bad design,” Slee says of the utilitarian, adaptable design. “If the parts are made cheaply they can break and lose contact, but ultimately it does the job it was designed to do.”

And yet, if the rumours – which Apple is not commenting on – are true, it bodes ill for the 3.5mm jack.

Apple has a track record of being early to abolish things which then start to disappear from rival products too. It killed the 3.5 inch floppy disk early. It also was among the first to remove optical drives.

But those signing the petition on the Sum of Us site and social media users have suggested that Apple’s motive is greed.

Apple lightning cableImage copyrightAlamy

The potential grief in a switch to Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is obvious.

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

If you’re using £1,000 headphones with your iPhone at the moment, you’re going to be slightly cross.

And Charlie Slee thinks consumers are also concerned about ceding control to Apple. “People are mainly upset because they like to think they’re in control of their technology,” he says.

But this sense of the consumer in control is misplaced, Slee says. “Actually, the contrary is true: The big technology companies have always been in control of how you listen to music and watch videos.”

The headphones in history

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) American scientist, inventor and industrialist, after spending 5 continuous days and nights perfecting the phonograph, listening through a primitive headphone.Image copyrightGetty Images
Image captionScientist Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) listens to his phonograph through a primitive headphone

The “primitive headphones” (as above) used for listening to early phonographs were simple acoustic tubes.

Headphones are really just ordinary telephone receivers adapted to fit a headset, says John Liffen, Curator of Communications at the Science Museum. The headset usually had just one receiver for a single ear.

The first headsets with a receiver for each ear were just called “telephones”. The name was supplanted by “headphones” by the beginning of the 1920s when they were being widely used to listen to broadcasting via crystal sets.

For many years headphone receivers were the simple “Bell” type with permanent magnet, coil and diaphragm. Today’s high-end ‘phones are considerably more sophisticated, similar to miniature loudspeakers.

Source: John Liffen, The Science Museum


“I think it’s a storm in a teacup,” adds Simon Hall. His reasoning? Having a standardised headphone jack on mobile phones and MP3 players is only a relatively recent luxury.

“If you look at the previous generation of phones, things like Nokia phones, you had to have an adapter,” he reasons. “If you want to connect headphones to professional equipment, you also need a professional adapter.”

As recently as 2010, Samsung phones came equipped with a proprietary headphone port not dissimilar to Apple’s rumoured replacement for the 3.5mm socket, the “Lightning” port.

This isn’t the first time Apple has aroused ire. Way back in 2007, with the first iPhone, it received complaints that the headphone jack was sunk into the casing.

One technology wag called it “a great business plan – break an important device function, and sell the solution for fun and profit.” The problem was fixed when Apple released its second iPhone model in 2008.

But Apple is known for evolving technology: “They got rid of DVDs, they got rid of the floppy disk drive; they got rid of parallel ports, they’re eventually getting rid of USB. This is how they move,” says Dediu, the Apple-watcher. He reckons the switch to Apple’s proprietary connection augurs a planned move to headphones that are akin to the Apple Watch.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968Image copyrightGetty Images
Image captionMick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968

Owners of “old” headphones may find themselves having to buy adapters.

Dediu forecasts a rapid change. “What Apple does is catalyse transitions,” he says. “It would have happened anyway, but if it wasn’t for Apple it’d have taken 10-15 years, but now it’ll happen in 5-7 years.”

That the time may have come for the 3.5mm jack to be replaced shouldn’t come as such a shock, believes Dediu. “Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”