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The art of the telephone and other communication devices

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What Makes AirPods So Great (Part I)?

Air Pods have become a hit at Apple, but what makes them so popular?

Debuted in 2016, Apple’s AirPods are highly regarded as one of the company’s best products in recent years. The AirPods provides portability, excellent battery life, simple charging, easy connectivity, and unparalleled Bluetooth range.

AirPods are so popular that Apple still has difficulty keeping them in stock at times. Even now, it’s not unusual to see AirPods everywhere, including in films, on the street, in TV shows, and everywhere else you look.

If you’re new to AirPods, thinking about buying a pair, or just want to pick up some new tips, this article is for you.

What are AirPods?

AirPods are Apple’s totally wire-free headphones, which look a bit like the Apple EarPods from older devices, but cable-free. AirPods have Apple-designed tech inside such as a special wireless chip called the W1 or H1 (based on the version), an accelerometer for gestures, dual optical sensors, dual beamforming microphones for Siri and phone calls, as well as a second accelerometer for speech detection.

AirPods come with the AirPods charging case, which is used for both storage and charging purposes so the AirPods don’t get lost. The charging case is around the size of a pack of dental floss, so it fits easily into a pocket. A lightning port at the bottom lets the AirPods and the case is charged with the lightning cables you already own. Also, the wireless charging case lets you charge with a Qi wireless charger.

How many versions of AirPods are there?

The AirPods were first up for sale in December 2016 and were refreshed in March 2019, so there are two versions of the AirPods: the original AirPods and the second-generation AirPods. Though both versions are referred to as “AirPods,” but there are some obvious differences between them.

The second-generation AirPods, or AirPods 2, have an enhanced H1 chip instead of a W1 chip. The H1 lets the AirPods switch between your devices twice as fast and connecting a phone call is 1.5x faster. The new AirPods have the same typical battery life, however three hours of talk time instead of two. You won’t see any design differences between AirPods 1 and AirPods 2 since they’re identical.

What’s New at Apple

Apple has some impressive products and you’ve come to the right place to discover what’s new.

In a typical year, Apple has around four events. There’s usually a spring event in March, the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, a September event that’s concerning the Apple Watch and iPhone, and sometimes an October event if there are new Macs or iPads debuting in the fall.

2019 iPhones

In 2019, you can expect three new iPhones, similar to the 2018 lineup. Rumors state there will be one LED model (XR successor) and two OLED models (XS and XS Max successors) with no serious design changes. However, there might be new colors and a new frosted glass back for the next-generation iPhone XR.

The iPhone XS and XS Max successors will have a new triple-lens camera that could provide ultra-wide-angle shots for the first time, while the iPhone XR will use a new dual-lens camera system. There are some rumors indicating Apple may use USB-C for the new iPhones, but it’s looking like the company plans to stick with lightning.

Also, you can expect an A13 chip along with quicker WiFi and LTE, bigger batteries, and a cute new bilateral wireless charging feature that will let the 2019 iPhones wirelessly charge other devices such as the AirPods with wireless charging case.

There is no information on what Apple is planning to call its 2019 iPhone lineup. Yet, given that there’s no clear follow-up to the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR names, most rumors refer to these devices as the “2019 iPhones.”

Apple Watch Series 5

Rumors suggest the Apple Watch Series 5 will have a new ceramic casing design, indicating a return of the Apple Watch Edition alongside the typical stainless steel and aluminum casing options. Besides this, we don’t have a good amount of information about what to expect from the Apple Watch in 2019.

Also, new health features have been talked about for years like non-invasive blood glucose monitoring. A micro-LED display is a possibility along with solid-state buttons.

The Best Bluetooth on the Market Today (Part IV)

If you like to talk, then you need a Bluetooth headset.

Plantronics M70

Big features, a small price

The Plantronics M70 is the successor to the popular M55, and similar its forbear, it is an affordable headset, but you get plenty for your money. While it doesn’t have a maximum build it’s quite comfy to wear, it supports voice commands for real hands-free use and the sound quality is excellent, especially when aided by the built-in noise-canceling tech. Also, the M70 has a DeepSleep mode which activates when it’s detached from a paired smartphone for 90 minutes and leaves it with up to five months of battery life, but just bring your phone within range and it will swiftly wake up again.

Jabra Wave

The top Bluetooth for chatterboxes

With a talk time of over eight hours, the Jabra Wave is a Bluetooth headset that just keeps going and going, making it the perfect choice if you’re going to be away from a charger for a long period of time. The fairly large size means it’s not the most discreet of headsets, but it’s a worthy trade-off for all that battery life. Also, it has strong audio quality and is good at muffling noise, especially wind. Add to that easy pairing and the capability to connect it to two devices at once and the Jabra Wave is a solid choice.

The era of the traditional Bluetooth headset is coming to an end. If you look at Amazon or any other big retailer, you see that the single-ear headsets of 10 years ago have quickly evolved into stereo Bluetooth headphones, practically all of which include microphones for you to make calls with. While there are still mono headsets on the market, many of them are either no-name products, several years old or no quality.

The Best Bluetooth on the Market Today (Part III)

These headsets have a sleek and comfortable design.

Jabra Stealth

Stylish and small

The Jabra Stealth is one of the nicest designed Bluetooth headsets on the list. Not only does it look good, but it also is comfortable to wear. It’s not quite as unnoticeable and small as its name suggests, but with such an incredible design, you won’t really care. Most importantly, the sound quality on this headset is fantastic and it does a fabulous job of limiting background noise picked up by its mic. This is definitely a Bluetooth headset worth investing in if you depend on voice-free calls.

Sennheiser Presence UC

Multi-connectivity headset

The Sennheiser Presence UC is a marvelous Bluetooth headset if you work in a fast-paced setting where you have to multitask. It has a multi-connectivity feature that connects to both your computer and phone, so you can swiftly alter between the two. It has excellent recording and sound quality, and talk time is also quite impressive. It’s not the most comfortable headset, though, so if you need something that you’re going to wear all day long, then consider the Jabra Motion to better satisfy your needs.

Jabra Steel

A robust headset for outdoor usage

If you work outside in noisy spaces and need a robust Bluetooth headset that can get rid of background sounds, then the Jabra Steel is the top Bluetooth headset for you. Resistant to water, dust, and dirt, it can also endure high drops, making it a great headset for outdoor use. It has a 5-year warranty too. It also has aggressive noise cancellation which will make your voice calls clear and clean, even if you work somewhere where there is lots of background noise. However, there are no physical volume control buttons on the actual headset, making it a little annoying if you want to adjust loudness.


The Best Bluetooths on the Market Today (Part II)

These Bluetooth’s will fit your every need.

Plantronics Voyager 5200

Solid for play and work

The Plantronics Voyager 5200 is one of the top Bluetooth headsets around from a brand name that is very respected when it comes to headsets. It’s crafted with comfort in mind, so you can wear it for long periods without it bothering you and it sits securely in place too, so it doesn’t fall off.

It’s also totally hands-free, as caller ID will tell you the name of whoever is calling you and you can just say “answer” to take the call. Its noise-canceling is efficient even in busy environments and several microphones guarantee good voice quality, for an excellent all-round Bluetooth headset. It also covered in sweat proof material which gives it a durability that other Bluetooth headsets lack.

Sony MBH22

Dependable, smart, and simple

The Sony MBH20 headset was an easy-to-use, simple headset with excellent battery life, but it’s since been replaced by the MBH22. Though they both have a simple, similar design, this latest model is offering some new features.

There are the same minimal buttons, though now there’s a USB Type-C connector in place of an older micro USB port. It’s still a comfortable, good fit though there is only just one earpiece.

You can link two phones at the same time to switch between calls if you’re that in demand. You also have smart access to Siri and Google Assistant.

Plantronics Explorer 500

Discrete and compact

Plantronics produces amazing Bluetooth headsets, which is why it isn’t any surprise that this isn’t the first Plantronics headset to make it on the list of the top Bluetooth headsets, and it most definitely won’t be the last.

The Plantronics Explorer 500 is crafted to be discreet and compact, but there is a big amount of tech built into this small package like a boom arm and three microphones for stellar voice quality. Its little size does mean its battery life isn’t on the same level as some competitors, but at seven hours of talk time, it’s still quite good.

The Best Bluetooths on the Market Today (Part I)

If you’re into Bluetooth devices, we know where to find the best ones on the market.

Go fully hands-free with the best of the best Bluetooth headsets

If you’re looking for the best Bluetooth headsets, then read on. Below is a look at the top devices that let you easily make and receive hands-free phone calls. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re at work or behind the wheel of your vehicle, this article will help you purchase the ideal Bluetooth for your needs.

The best Bluetooth headsets are critical bits of kit for those who depend on their phones and make lots of calls each day. When putting together this list of the top Bluetooth headsets, the devices chosen can take calls safe, quick, and easy if you’re driving, typing on a keyboard, or using the equipment.

Bluetooth Features

Each headset presented delivers top audio quality. A headset is useless if you can’t hear what your caller is saying. Therefore, each entry on this top Bluetooth headset list provides both top-end audio quality from your callers, while also offering exceptional recording quality too. The best Bluetooth headsets will also provide noise cancellation, which is vital as it means regardless of how loud the spot you’re in, the person you’re talking to should be able to hear your voice without any problems.

Though a good Bluetooth headset can make your consistent cell-calling life much simpler, once you go out looking for a good headset, you’ll see that picking the best Bluetooth headsets among the myriad knockoffs and imitations can be a headache. Also, even if there are some Bluetooths that look the same, the actual features and functionality can differ drastically.

But no worries, you’ll find the very best Bluetooth headsets presently available, and we’ve used our price comparison tool to aid you in finding the best deals too.

Top Communication Trends in the Hospitality Industry 

A long time ago, hotels, motels and other hospitality businesses had a simple space in people’s lives. They were a place for guests to lay down away from home. But anyone who’s spent time in the hospitality industry in the last few years knows that the role of technology in hospitality businesses has expanded.

In many instances, they’re becoming hubs of activity unto themselves. Much of this activity depends directly or indirectly on technology, making IT more vital to hotel operations and the guest experience than ever before.

So, below are some top communication technology trends in hospitality today. Check them out.

Mobile Device as Door Key

At some hotels, you can open the door to your room using your smartphone. 

It’s amazing that something as simple as a door key could undergo so much change. But the tool that once began as a carefully shaped piece of metal rapidly turned into electronic key cards and is set to shed its physical form completely. The next chance of the hotel key transforms it into data on a guest’s mobile device. Some hotels have already begun using implementing this, whether it involves NFC technology or scanning a code like many airports now do with plane tickets.

Service Automation

Self-serve is in. Today, many guests like technology over human interaction for easy tasks. Remote check-in and check-out choices are popular, and some hotels are starting to work with apps that let guests order room service right from their mobile devices.

Fixed-Mobile Convergence

Remember room phones? Probably not. Today, mobile devices have relegated the conventional room phone to obsolete. However, the room phone of the future may serve as a hub for a bigger connected experience.

Tech Lounges

Airline check-ins. Local info guides. A place where people can get out of their rooms but still access the internet to relax or get work done. The need for technology in hospitality increases each year, and savvy hospitality businesses are changing these guest desires into stylish semi-public spaces where guests can use tech on their terms.

Classrooms of the Future

While educational standards might vary from school to school, there is one thing that is always the same: the classroom set up. Desks are arranged in rows and the teacher is at the front and teach. This set up has changed very little in years even with all the technological progressions that have been made.

Things need to change if classrooms are to meet the needs of the contemporary learner. Below are some ways to produce the classroom of the future

Create technologically smart spaces

The way classrooms are set up needs to change.

As education begins to encourage technology in the classroom, space itself must morph and become technology-friendly. This can be done by providing charging ports in desks or throughout the classroom. Students must not have to compete for three electrical ports. Classroom USB chargers let students charge devices while working. The hope is that if more students are using technology, they need to be able to sustain their learning devices’ battery life.

Role of the Teacher

Teachers need to see that their role in the classroom is changing. Blended learning offers students control over their learning and teachers, while still critical aspects, need to be trained on how to teach and handle the classrooms of the future.  Teachers may not be up at the front and lecture but teach from the back and have an eye on student’s screens.

Constructing classrooms

Architects also need to be very aware of the needs of future students and construct classrooms accordingly. Classroom of The Future, an initiative in San Diego is encouraging educators and builders to think about what schools of the future have to allow better Wi-Fi and buildings need to be eco-green.

Communicating differently

Teachers, students, and parents can be more connected than ever. This will change the classroom. Via social networking, the classroom is a more open space and parents can view what happens each day. By sharing homework assignments, reminders and disciplinary emails the classroom of the future is now more seen by everyone involved.


Flip Phones Making a Comeback

Still yearning for your Motorola Razr flip phone? Good news. A newer version of the ultrathin phone, hugely popular upon its 2004 release, is going to hit the market soon. Lenovo-owned Motorola is currently doing tests on the $1,500 model to be released in an exclusive partnership with Verizon.

According to current news, CNET states the smartphone to be shown at Mobile World Congress. Samsung is expected to display its Galaxy X, also with a folding screen, at the same event.

According to The Verge, Microsoft is also creating foldable and dual-screen devices, which are often viewed as productivity tools. 2019 is gearing up to be the year of the foldable phone.

Those old flip phones are expected to make a comeback.

Motorola, responsible for over 27% of US mobile-phone shipments in 2004, sold over 125 million Razr phones before Apple moved to dominate the market with the release of the iPhone in 2007. The company redid the Razr as the Droid Razr, also with Verizon, in 2011, but with little success. As reported, the company’s share of US phone shipments was less than 5% in the third quarter of 2018.

Swapping Smart Phones for Flip Phones

According to numerous media outlets, the largest trend this year is the return of the humble flip phone. The Seattle Times stated that the flip phone is going to be the newest protest statement.

Most folks are trying to separate themselves from their social media addiction which appears to be a common thread among those turning to an unconnected handset. Also, most want to show their kids that a smartphone isn’t your best friend.

The one old flip phone that many are hoping to see a reappearance of is one of the top-selling phones of all time, the Motorola RAZR. Lenovo has hinted that we could see the return of Motorola’s beloved flip phone.

Cell Phones for the Visually Impaired (Part III) 

Help in Using Your Phone

Finding the right phone is crucial but often getting information and help in using it is also imperative, especially if you’re visually impaired. A visit to sites such as the American Foundation for the Blind, the Carroll Center, and similar sites can usually get you in the right direction.

Some of the Right Smartphones

There are several brands of smartphones that offer software that can help the visually impaired.

If you’re trying to find a smartphone with some of the right features built-in, you want to take a look at the LG phones (For instance, the V30, G5, Stylo, etc.)

  • LG phones typically have:
  • audible cues
  • Braille display support
  • screen magnification
  • a screen reader
  • high contrast mode
  • voice output of messages
  • caller ID
  • voice menus
  • audible key identification
  • audible/tactile key feedback

Truthfully, not too bad right out of the box for a user with low vision and a more limited budget.

You’ll want to be sure any phone you choose has as much RAM as possible to make the phone do all you need it to do.

Cellphone Options

There are both simple, large font smartphones and the basic flip phones available which might be the ideal choice for users who have low vision or blindness. Here are a few other ones to consider:

Snapfon is basic with big buttons, simple to read font and 8-speed dial functions.

Jitterbug’s FLIP phone has a big, bright screen, easy menus, big buttons, and it can even act as a reading magnifier and flashlight. It might be right for seniors or those with a milder vision loss. Their Smartphone also provides simple menus, larger font, voice typing, and a bright screen for those who want something a little more sophisticated.

If true accessibility and basic are what you need then Odin VI might be worth looking at. The phone is a basic slider design and has:

  • a good screen reader
  • announcing caller ID
  • audible text messages and phone status
  • an easy to read display which can easily be adjusted