Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx Announced With Huge Battery

Motorola yesterday announced the Droid Razr Maxx, an Android Gingerbread phone on Verizon, very similar to the Droid Razr released at the back end of last year, with the biggest difference between the two being the massive 3300 mAh battery. There's no word on a GSM variant yet, but the original Droid Razr made the transition so fingers crossed the Maxx will do the same. The previous biggest battery in an Android phone in the UK was 1930 mAh in the Atrix, unless you count the Samsung Galaxy Note as a phone in which case it was 2500 mAh. The first generation of LTE phones in the US have been known for poor battery life, similar to the first generation of 3G phones which we also saw in the UK, so if Motorola are quoting 21 hours talk time on Verizon LTE, the figure would presumably be even higher on a potential GSM/HSPA variant.

Whilst it's slightly disappointing that the device will launch with Gingerbread, one would suspect ICS will make it to the Droid Razr Maxx (and the Droid Razr) and despite the large battery, the handset is 145g, which for comparison is slightly heavier than the LG Optimus 2X but lighter than all the HTC Sensation line.

Seemingly there are no new wonder battery technologies around the corner, and if you listen to the 361 Degrees podcast or heard my spot in Phones Show Chat 118, you'll know that we all share the same belief as many other commentators that we'd rather sacrifice a millimetre or two in device thickness to gain a few hundred extra mAh to get us through the day! Happily this is the first manufacturer to really go for the idea, and the Droid Razr Maxx is still only 9mm thick, where the original Droid Razr was 7.1mm (at it's thinnest point!).

Whilst there are after market extended batteries for some phones, they have generally either been third party and hence somewhat unreliable, or have added bulges to the handset to ruin it's design. Having the larger battery in the phone from the start has to be the way forward for today's "always connected" smart phones. Good work Motorola, hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit.

Source: Motorola

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Avantalk Jogger Review

The Avantalk Jogger Bluetooth Stereo Headset was released early in 2010, but I only came across it a few months ago whilst searching for a headset to use in the gym. I've been using it for 4 months now and felt I could give it a review, based on a good amount of usage. I have the black version, but various colours are available, as shown on the Avantalk website.

My use of the Jogger headset has been paired to various mobile phones, for listening to music and podcasts, primarily in the gym. There are many, many Bluetooth headsets out there, but the Jogger sets itself apart from the rest by being very light and being water resistant, which for gym use translates into sweat resistant! The headset comes with a selection of rubber ear bud rings, a USB charging cable, and a pouch to keep all the above together.

For tech spec chasers, the headset supports Bluetooth version 2.1 with the Headset, Handsfree, A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth profiles, which means most phones will pair with it and be able to play audio output from the phone such as notifications and music, and make/receive phone calls as well.

Photos of the Jogger show it has quite a different design to many headsets; two circular pieces house the ear buds and control buttons, with a rounded band to connect them and also hold the headset in place on your head. Once the earbuds are placed in the ear, the band effectively hugs your head and keep the buds and the whole headset in place. Like me, you may find that when you first put the headset on, it doesn't immediately feel totally secure, but having spent many hours running, cycling and rowing, I can confirm that it has not once felt like slipping, let alone falling off! This is a quite a feat, but then the headset only comes in at 23g, and it's clearly a lot easier to keep a lighter headset in place around your head than a heavier one.

A lightweight headset does lead to worries about lack of battery, but again I've been surprised. Listening time is quoted by Avantalk as 8 hours, but I've been getting more like 10 hours from mine, which for me lasts through several gym sessions without needing to recharge. Advance warning of battery depletion is given through beeps and the notification light on the right side earpiece. The 170 mA battery is rechargable, via the included USB cable. As a small aside, the charging port (shown below) is the same size as the 2mm Nokia charging port from circa 2006 to 2009, and I was able to charge a Nokia 6300 with the Jogger's USB cable!

As shown below, the notification light on the right side earpiece uses blue and red colours for various means; blue when turning on, red for low battery and turning off, and blue/red cycling for pairing mode. The light is positioned next to the multi-function button; long press for power on and off and single press for play/pause or to answer an incoming call. Next door are the next/previous buttons, and on the left earpiece you'll find volume up and down buttons. I found the buttons to be easy to find and use whilst the headset was on, and even before I'd committed the "play/pause on the right, volume on the left" combination to memory, I found I instantly knew which buttons were under my fingers just by touch.

Sound quality has been very good, and the volume has been enough to hear spoken word podcasts above the very significant background noise of not only treadmills and cross-trainers, but the gym's own (usually awful) music. This alone surprised me the most about the headset, although the caveat is that this was at full volume on both the headset and phone, although even then there was no noticeable distortion. My headset has had a fair amount of sweat thrown at it too, and in 4 months of running, rowing and cycling they have so far lived up to their water (and sweat!) resistant claim.

The Avantalk website has an RRP of $49.99 (at time of writing that's £32) but I got them for a sale bargain £21.45; right now MobileFun and Play have them in stock for around £30, which is still a good price considering many other heavier and less comfortable headsets sell for a lot more.

Anyone looking for more volume or audio quality, whilst not needing the water resistance, will no doubt look elsewhere. However, anyone looking for a headset for the gym or any other sporting activity need look no further in my opinion, as long as you don't mind having all the volume dials cranked up to "max" in noisy environments.