Headset

Google and Qualcomm launch a dev kit for building Assistant-enabled headphones

Posted by | Android, Assistant, Bluetooth, computing, Developer, Google, hardware, headphones, Headset, jaybird, Qualcomm, TC, technology | No Comments

Qualcomm today announced that it has partnered with Google to create a reference design and development kit for building Assistant-enabled Bluetooth headphones. Traditionally, building these headphones wasn’t exactly straightforward and involved building a lot of the hardware and software stack, something top-tier manufacturers could afford to do, but that kept second- or third-tier headphone developers from adding voice assistant capabilities to their devices.

“As wireless Bluetooth devices like headphones and earbuds become more popular, we need to make it easier to have the same great Assistant experience across many headsets,” Google’s Tomer Amarilio writes in today’s announcement.

The aptly named “Qualcomm Smart Headset Development Kit” is powered by a Qualcomm QCC5100-series Bluetooth audio chip and provides a full reference board for developing new headsets and interacting with the Assistant. What’s interesting — and somewhat unusual for Qualcomm — is that the company also built its own Bluetooth earbuds as a full reference design. These feature the ability to hold down a button to start an Assistant session, for example, as well as volume buttons. They are definitely not stylish headphones you’d want to use on your commute, given that they are bulky enough to feature a USB port. But they are meant to provide manufacturers with a design they can then use to build their own devices.

In addition to making it easier for developers to integrate the Assistant, the reference design also supports Google’s Fast Pair technology that makes connecting a new headset easier.

“Demand for voice control and assistance on-the-go is rapidly gaining traction across the consumer landscape,” said Chris Havell, senior director, product marketing, voice and music at Qualcomm. “Combined with our Smart Headset Platform, this reference design offers flexibility for manufacturers wanting to deliver highly differentiated user experiences that take advantage of the power and popularity of Google cloud-based services.”

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The SteelSeries Arctis Pro lineup is a new high-water mark in comfort and quality

Posted by | Bluetooth, Computer Hardware, computing, controller, dts, Gadgets, Gaming, Headset, mac, microsoft windows, oled, player, PlayStation 4, Reviews, sound cards, SteelSeries, TC, Turtle Beach, wireless, Xbox One | No Comments

SteelSeries has two new Arctis Pro gaming headsets out, and they pack a lot of tech and versatility into a comfortable, visually attractive package. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless and Arctis Pro + GameDAC are both incredibly capable headsets that deliver terrific sound, and depending on your system needs, should probably be your first choice when looking for new gaming audio gear.

The Arctis Pro Wireless is, true to its name, wire-free, but also promises lossless 2.4GHz transmission to ensure lag-free audio, too – a must for competitive gaming. The combination of the wireless functionality, the long-wearing comfort of the suspension system headband and the included transmitter base that can hold and charge a swappable battery as well as display all key information on an OLED readout makes this a standout choice.

There are some limitations, however – compatibility is limited to either PS4 or PC for this one, for instance. The wired Arctis Pro (without GameDAC) is compatible with the Xbox One, but both the wireless version and the version that connected to the wired DAC will only work with either Sony’s latest consoles or with a Windows or Mac-based gaming PC.

I’m a bit saddened by that since I’m a big fan of PUBG on Xbox, and also lately of Sea of Thieves, but I also do regularly play PS4 and PC games, and the Arctis Pro Wireless is my weapon of choice now when using either, either for multiplayer or single player games. The wearability and sound quality (which includes DTS X 7.1 surround on PC) is so good that I’ll often opt to use them in place of my actual 5.1 physical surround system, even when I don’t need to chat with anyone.

Other options, like the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Headset, offer different advantages including more easily accessible fine-tune control over soundscape, balance of chat and game audio and other features, but the SteelSeries offers a less complicated out-of-box experience, and better all-day wearability thanks to taking cues from athletic wear for its materials and design.

The GameDAC option additionally has Hi-Res Audio certificate, which is good if you’re looking to stream FLAC files or high-res audio from services like Tidal. The DAC itself also makes all audio sound better overall, and gives you more equalization options from the physical controller .

The main thing to consider with the Arctis Pro + DAC ($249.99) and the Arctis Pro Wireless ($329.99) is the cost. They’re both quite expensive relative to the overall SteelSeries lineup and those of competitors, too. But in this case, cost really is reflective of quality – channel separation and surround virtualization is excellent on these headsets, and the mic sounds great to other players I talked to as well. Plus, the Pro Wireless can connect to both Bluetooth and the 2.4GHz transmitter simultaneously, so you can use it with your phone as well as your console, and the retractable mic keeps things looking fairly stylish, too.

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B&O’s Beoplay E8 totally wireless earbuds really are the total package

Posted by | airpod, Apple AirPods, Bang & Olufsen, Beoplay E8, Computer Hardware, electrical engineering, Gadgets, hardware, headphones, Headset, inductive charging, iphone accessories, Mobile, Reviews, TC, w1, wireless earbuds | No Comments

 Bang & Olufsen’s headphones tend to stand out from the crowd, and their new fully wireless mode, the Beoplay E8, is no exception. The E8 is easily the best totally wire-free headphone I’ve used thus far, with comfortable earbuds that should fit regardless of your ear shape, good battery life of around four hours per charge and the best sound quality of any true wireless buds… Read More

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Microsoft expands HoloLens headsets to 29 new markets, now up to 39

Posted by | AR, augmented reality, Computer Hardware, computing, Europe, Gadgets, head-mounted displays, Headset, Microsoft, Microsoft HoloLens, microsoft windows, mixed reality, TC, VR, Windows 10 | No Comments

 Nearly three years on from Microsoft unveiling its HoloLens augmented reality headsets, the company today announced a major expansion of its availability: 29 more markets in Europe, nearly tripling the total number of countries where you can buy the device up to 39. The news shows that while we don’t have a firm number of how many units have been sold, we do know that Microsoft is… Read More

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Jaybird’s Run totally wireless earbuds are wire-free wonders for everyone

Posted by | AirPods, Bluetooth, Computer Hardware, computing, Gadgets, hardware, headphones, Headset, iphone accessories, jaybird, Logitech, Reviews, TC, technology | No Comments

 The market for totally wireless earbuds is really maturing fast, with many entries from both new and established companies. Jaybird recently joined the crowd, with its own Run earbuds. The Logitech-owned company has long been a really solid competitor when it comes to Bluetooth headphones, and its Freedom and X-line, and in fact made some of the very first wireless sport earbuds that proved… Read More

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Samsung joins Microsoft’s VR parade with its new high-end headset for Windows 10

Posted by | Gadgets, hardware, Headset, Microsoft, mixed reality, Samsung, TC, Virtual reality, VR | No Comments

 Microsoft is getting ready to launch the next major update to Windows 10. Part of this update includes full support for Windows Mixed Reality. After lining up support and headsets from partners like Acer, Dell HP and Lenovo, Microsoft today announced that Samsung is bringing a virtual reality headset for room-scale VR to its platform. Read More

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Facebook shows commitment to video with new 360 video stabilization

Posted by | 360 video, Entertainment, Facebook, head-mounted displays, Headset, image stabilization, Media, Mobile, TC, Virtual reality | No Comments

04 New Facebook Stabilization Algorithm Steps With new 360 video cameras hitting the shelves — alongside matching headsets — in time for the holiday season, millions of new users will be looking to consume VR content. Facebook recognizes that one of the biggest impediments to the enjoyment of 360 video is excess motion.
The company released a demo today of its new 360 video stabilization technology. The new technology… Read More

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Play your Steam first-person shooters in full virtual reality with MyDream Swift

Posted by | Gaming, head-mounted displays, Headset, HTC, HTC Vive, Oculus, Oculus Rift, Steam, TC, Virtual reality, virtual reality headset, Vive | No Comments

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 3.31.32 PM As the launch dates of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive virtual reality headsets approach, so does the release of a ton of awesome VR gaming content. To gamers with full Steam libraries however, it’s kind of a shame that once they put the headset on, most of their favorite content is no longer available to enjoy. MyDream Swift is looking to bring old Steam content into the next… Read More

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Apple Watch Took Two-Thirds Of Smartwatch Market In 2015, Says Analyst

Posted by | apple inc, Apple Watch, canalys, fitbit, fitness bands, Gadgets, Garmin, Headset, smartwatches, TC, VR, wearable technology, Wearables, Xiaomi | No Comments

pebble-time-lg-g-watch-r-apple-watch Apple does not break out sales of its debut wearable, the Apple Watch, so it’s up to analysts to stump up the sales estimates — and the latest to do so, Canalys, reckons the Apple Watch accounted for two-thirds of the smartwatch market in 2015, with more than 12 million units shipped by its count in total — and more than five million of those in the holiday quarter. Read More

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