My trusty Jaybird JB200 bluetooth headset did not survive a recent surprise encounter with a washing machine…while I was perfectly happy with the headset, I decided to give wired headphones another shot. As Apple’s headphones were reasonably cheap and included a microphone, I wanted to give them a shot.

Plugging them in required an unnatural amount of force, and getting them back out of my device turned out to be impossible due to the soft and rubbery finish of both plug and cable. But they were detected as headset at the least.

Unfortunately, this recognition did not mean much. Audio was tinny all the time except when I kept the center button of the remote firmly pressed…the moment I let go of the button, tracks once again sounded like they were being played back through a thick wall of fog.

From my point of view, the 30 Euros invested turned out to be a major waste – 5 Euro headsets will likely deliver better audio quality than these when paired up with an X1 or similar non-Apple handset. Apple: this pair of headphones goes straight back to the shop where I bought them. In case anyone of you is in a similar situation: stay far away from Apple’s Earphones with Remote and Mic.

The Palm Treo 600 – like most other phones, to be fair – has a 2’5 inch headphone jack instead of the 3’5 inch one found on most media players and PDA’s. Brando offers a converter cable that allows you to use classic headphones on the Treo – lets see how that works!

Brando’s products ship from Hong Kong in rather small envelopes via standard mail. Customs seem to leave them alone, and stuff always arrived in good condition so far:
packfront Brando headphone jack adaptor inpack Brando headphone jack adaptor
The headphone adaptor itself ships in a small bag – doesn’t look cool, but reduced packaging costs:
blister Brando headphone jack adaptor
The adaptor is about 10 cm long and plugs into the connector at the bottom of the Treo. You then plug in the headphones into the bottom end:
inuse Brando headphone jack adaptor
I used my Icemat headset for testing the sound quality – and cant complain at all. Music sounds loud and clear with PocketTunes Deluxe, and the output definitely sounds like true stereo(you can make out a left and a right channel).

Overall, Brando’s 7$ adaptor does all that it promises – it allows your Treo to use classic 3’5 inch headphones without quality or volume loss(not audible to me, at least). I can’t find anything negative here…Brando did it again!

Headphones are a very popular topic of discussion in the Palm OS scene. Everyone has their favourite style and brand. Boxwave is a newcomer to the scene, but their MiniBuds pack a punch nevertheless.

BoxWave’s MiniBuds are a very interesting kind of headphones, as they can roll up themselves. This simplifies storage and transportaton in your jacket pocket(no need for the Tetran Cable Winder):
ext The BoxWave MiniBuds review un The BoxWave MiniBuds review
The sound quality of the in-ear headphones is really, really good. DJ Shadow’s epic organ donor sounds next to perfect, techno and classical music don’t pose any problems either.

MiniBuds ship with two sets of ‘ear pads’. This is a great idea, as I always tend to loose the ear pads over time. But the MiniBuds fit in so well that I didn’t even need the ear pads in everyday use:
phon The BoxWave MiniBuds review
The only issue that I had with the MiniBuds are the rollup mechanics; they don’t always roll the headphones up perfectly. This is no real problem, but is annoying for a perfectionist like me.
mis The BoxWave MiniBuds review
Overall, congratulations to BoxWave. Most well-sounding head phones cost at least 100$, Boxwave’s MiniBuds cost less than 25$. The sound quality is great, and the rollup system makes headphone transportation easy. If you need good in-ear headphones, Boxwave’s MiniBuds are the way to go!

People who use in-ear headphones know the problem for sure: over time, the cables break at the connector because of mechanical stress that occurs in transportation. You “roll up” the cables somehow, and this definitely isn’t good for them. ThinkGeek’s Tetran Cable Winder finally lets you do something to protect your headphones.

Our Tetran Cable Winder shipped in a blister, which was packed up in a small box. The winder is available in different versions, we were given a green one:
inbox Tetran Cable Winder review bfront Tetran Cable Winder review bback Tetran Cable Winder review

When unpacked, you immediately note that the Tetran Cable Winder is very similar to the massage balls that were popular in Austria a few years ago-the manufacturer claims that it can be used as a massage ball, but this isn’t subject of this review. The thing is perfectly round(except for the spikes)-here are a few images:
front Tetran Cable Winder review back Tetran Cable Winder review sizecomp Tetran Cable Winder review

One spike contains a removable keychain btw-you could theoretically attach the Tetran to your keychain, although I wouldn’t do that because the keys would probably damage the headphone cables.

Storing headphones in the winder is simple-you stick the ‘buds’ into the “Mouth” of the winder, and then roll the cables across the spikes:
step1 Tetran Cable Winder review step2 Tetran Cable Winder review

Overall, investing 11.99$(the ThinkGeek price, the manufacturer TuneWear charges you 12.99) to protect the 5$ headphones that came with your micro radio definitely doesn’t pay out. However, when using expensive(or very good) headphones, every bit of protection directly pays out in terms of longer usage times-if you have Shure buds, this thingy is a must have. This cable winder looks pretty funky and does its job very well-little to add here!

Sora has debuted passive micro speakers that can be attached to the headphone jack. They exist in blue and pink color-Brando provided us with the pink edition that sells for 10$. You can find the speakers at their web site:
http://shop.brando.com.hk/hornlordspeaker.php

Brando ships its products in envelopes via regular mail. Austrian customs seem to leave them alone most of the time(see ther FM transmitter review for a photo of the envelope). The speakers themselves are contained in a small triangular blister:
 Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review  Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review  Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review
Here you see a T3 and a TE2 next to the speakers:
 Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review  Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review
The two speakers can supply you with stereo sound. Little bubbles at the bottom indicate which speaker is attached to which channel:
 Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review
When separated, the speakers can be moved independently. The mechanics that keep the speakers together work well:
 Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review  Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review
Little rotatable clips on the back allow you to attach the speakers to your cloths:
 Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review
The xyz cm long 3.5′ headphone cable is soldered to the side of each speaker. The connection looks o.k., although I am not sure if it will live very long:
 Sora Horn Lord micro speaker review

The sound quality is difficult to rate. When powered by an E2, they sound much better and also quite a bit louder than its integrated speaker. However, a T3′s internal speaker sounds much better and also is louder than the speakers on the headphone jack. A T5 is in the middle between the two, but the internal speaker still sounds a tiny bit better actually.

Overall, this is a funky accessoire! The mechanics are fine, and the speakers feel sturdily built. Their sound is better than the sound of a Tungsten E2s speaker-but it is not on par with good headphones, active speakers or the T3. If you own a TE2 or something similar and want to free yourself from your headphones, this is a good solution. But if you look for something loud, active speakers will suit you better!

Skype owns-face it. Altough Skype still doesn’t exist for Palm OS, a Windows 2000 box makes a nice phone for talking with Palm OS users and developers! Icemat(IceMat Black second edition review on TamsPalm-the Palm OS Blog) sent us their Siberia Headset!

The headset arrives in a huge, impressive box. There is a USB soundcard included in my bundle, it will be tested some other day:
 The IceMat Siberia PC headset  The IceMat Siberia PC headset
IceMat’s headphones are pretty big-here is a picture of them next to a few handhelds. Using them is very comfortable:
 The IceMat Siberia PC headset
The microphone is rather small. It has a on-off switch to disable it in situations where you want to be alone. A small “clamp” allows you to attach it to your shirt-or to the stylus of your T3:
 The IceMat Siberia PC headset
The headphones can be connected to a “control unit”. It allows you to set up the volume remotely. All jacks involved in this process are standard 3.5, so you can omit the control unit if you don’t feel like using it:
 The IceMat Siberia PC headset
All parts of the headset have very long cables-more than long enough to reach the back of any PC. The headset’s cord is about 95Cm long, the control unit’s cable is about 205CM long. The microphone hangs on a 290cm cord-this is an insane length when compared to most regular headphones.

Recording quality is insane. The microphone has no problems picking up my workstation which stands up about two meters away from it. Here is a short demonstration file(1MB MP3).

Music sounds very well with the headset. I popped the headset into a Tungsten T3 and a Tungsten E2-the music is very loud and sounds well. Bass is audible, and there is no distortion of any kind.

Overall, what can I say? This headset really shoots the bird off the tree! The audio quality is insane, and so is the recording quality. Skype really is fun with this set of tools! A price of 70$(without the USB sound card) is more than justified imho-other headphones cost more without a microphone.

OS5 handhelds usually can play media files. Car audio systems usually don’t have a headphone plug. But since all car audio systems can handle FM radio, the transmission of such signals is a logical conclusion. And this is where a FM transmitter comes in.

Brando ships its stuff per regular mail. Customs left the pretty stuffed envelope alone:
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
The SongBird FM transmitter is packaged in a big blue box:
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review  The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
Inside, there is the transmitter, a car lighter plug(not reviewed) and a little english/chinese manual:
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
The transmitter is a bit thicker than a Palm. This image shows a Tungsten T3, a Tungsten E2 and a Palm IIIc:
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review  The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
Power can be supplied via a the car charger or another 5VDC supply(very small plug). Alternately, 2 (rechargeable) AAA batteries can be used. I can personally recommend AccuPowers digital power series because of the high capacity and quality.
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
A big button controls the power supply. You need to press it once to power on, and it then locks in this position. Powering off can not be done automatically-another press is needed. A red LED indicates powered on state, four LED’s inform you about the channel beeing used. It can be selected with a slider button:
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review  The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
The 3.5′ cable connects to the headphone jack of the handheld. The cable is just 14cm long, so you will need to keep the unit close to the sound source. BTW, the cable can dock into the top of the transmitter if it isn’t used.
 The Brando SongBird XP FM Transmitter review
The transmitter is said to support eight frequencies:

  • 87.7
  • 88.1
  • 88.5
  • 88.9
  • 106.7
  • 107.1
  • 107.5
  • 107.9

However, I could not tune into the lower four with the radio on my desk!

The sound quality on the upper channels(106-107) is ok. Bass,… comes over to the radio pretty well. Headphones beat the sound quality though. This has nothing to do with the transmitter. A local PCB design specialist told me that this is due to FM technology-it cannot beat MP3′s. A range of more than three meters leads to a small bit of distortion, but 5-10m are no real problems(you still hear o.k.).

When powered on, the power button is said to be disabled and a battery change circuit is said to be active. However, we could not test this due to lack of a usable charger.

Last but not least, using these devices is illegal in some countries.

To cut a long story short-this thing does a good job supplying your car with tunes. It is well designed and simply works. However, if given the choice between wire input and this transmitter, I would go for the wire because of less legal risks and higher quality(I am sensitive to scratching,…).

This week Tyler is interviewing Dan Marlin, the CEO of Corecodec, the makers of TCPMP. I havent finished listening yet, but I have the interview question list, and I know its going to be a great podcast. I won’t try to elaborate on it. Im not going to link to PalmAddict today, because there is nothing in the shownotes. I might as well give you the question list…

1. How did TCPMP and CoreCodec start? Where did you get the names?

2. TCPMP has been an amazing success for every platform you’ve released on so far. It’s literally been mentioned wherever anyone talks about handheld media. Was this something you expected or did the explosive popularity of your application come as a bit of a surprise to you?

3. Version 1.0 has been widely anticipated for the past year or so… how big a milestone is this for CoreCodec, and how would you describe this release?

4. The title of the post you made on the TCPMP forums concerning v1.0 is “TCPMP, set to change the way others think….” Want to elaborate a bit on that?

5. One of your main goals for v1 seems to be to create a software player that’s on par with hardware devices in terms of usability and media management. How are you planning on taking on this big task?

6. You mention briefly in your post that TCPMP will become a dual license software platform, consisting of a GPL piece (open-source) and a closed source piece for licensees. How will this affect the end-user?

7. Any hints on licensees? Is TCPMP something that will be shipping on smartphones and handhelds, or are you going to take a different approach?

8. What about operating systems? In addition to Symbian development, which obviously fits in well with the goal of making TCPMP a universal mobile media player, you also plan to support Linux and Windows. Will this be part of TCPMP, or TCP, your desktop program?

9. You describe CoreTheque in the post as a large backend database… what functions does it serve in the overall life of TCPMP?

10. Media streaming is a very important component of v1. Why do you consider it to be such a big differentiating point, putting you in a group of world-class media players? Would you say it’s the most important advancement of v1.0?

11. With all these improvements in the works and the amazing progression of TCPMP in only two years, it would see like you must have an amazing coding team! Does picard handle it by himself?

12. With all that we’ve heard, I can hardly wait for the official first version release! Do you have an estimated release date?

13. Would you like to add anything about what’s been going on with TCPMP or in general at CoreCodec?

14. Finally, and I try to ask this of everyone I talk to, what Palm device do you use and why did you choose it?

I cant guarantee all of those are answered, but most are, so listen in. (Direct link)

A few years ago, there was a company caled ellula that marketed a nice set of inflatable speakers for portable use. The company has ceased to exist quite some time ago, but-luckily-TamsPalm was capable to find a cooperative distributor that had enough stock and wanted to have the boxen reviewed-its ThinkGeek.
Anyways, the boxen shipped from the US in a huge crate that contained a bit of ThinkGeek advertising:

thinkgeekbox Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) thinkgeekad Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)
The boxen themselves are packed up carefully:
packfront Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) packback Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)
inpack0 Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) inpack Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)
For sure a lot of packaging. However, there is more in the box then just the speakers. You get a nice little 5W/channel amplifier that is powered by either a power cord(120V AC to 9V DC with a standard plug, so useless for me as an Austrian) or 6 AA batteries(the battery box can be removed). However, one can also use the power cord that shipped with older Palm handhelds(the one that connects to the cradle). The little machine weighs approximately 100g(measured with a standard kitchen scale) without the battery box that can be removed from its bottom. It has little knobs on its bottom that hold it on its place, however, these go of pretty fast. BTW, the input is a standard 3.5″ headphone jack that worked with my Tungsten T3-the cable is approximately 140cm long:

amptop Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) ampside Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)

The speakers themselves are easy to inflate if you abide to the instructions provided. You need to squeeze the vent to open the air path. One of the boxen weighs approximately 200 grams and has a 140 cm long cable that ends in a 3.5 mono jack. BTW, the speaker is about 22cm high in inflated state:

boxfront Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) airintake Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)

boxtop Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) boxbottom Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)

boxsizetop Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) boxsizeside Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)

You can power the amplifier on the go using a battery box that can be mounted below it and uses 6 AA batteries. I can personally reccommend AccuPower rechargeable NiMH batteries as they are extremely reliable if charged properly and also allow for long operation times:

batbox Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)
There also is a carrying bag and a vinyl repair kit included.

bag Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct) vinylrepair Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)

The sound quality of the boxen, um… . They sound different(higher) than the Sigma AX6903 boxen shipped with my workstation. But-dont be fooled! My Quakesounds, telephone terrors, podcasts and music all sound enjoyable. The speakers offer stereo and are much louder than my T3. They may not be able to compete with Altec Lansing or Bang&Olufsen stuff, but the tones aren’t bad here. This image shows the boxen in action:

t3action Review: Inflatable speakers by Ellula (now defunct)

I have carried those boxen with me for quite some time and inflated/deflated them often. It looks as there are no reliability problems!

A little usage hint last: if you use RealOne on the handheld, set it up to about 50% of the maximal volume. RealOne seems to digitally enhance the sound if the volume is set above 50%-and this disturbs the amplifier. And, of course, volume boosts in other player software arent really helpful either!

So, to cut a long story short: this is a funky accessoire for handhelds that have a 3.5 stereo jack. The whole set weighs about 600 grams in its carrying bag and looks unconventional. The sound it emits is of decent quality and can be pretty loud. Long cables make positioning the speakers in a room an easy task. ThinkGeeks 39.99$ price isnt really expensive, because the set works fine for more than one handheld generation as it does not rely on proprietary connectors like some other audio solutions for T5/Treo 650 do. If you use your handheld at the same place for extended periods of time and want to boost your internal speaker, get these while supplies last…

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