Klipsch Image ONE Preview

Klipsch released their first on ear headphones, the Image ONE, this fall. Klipsch entered the headphone market just three years ago and quickly shot to the top of nearly every gadget sites’ “Editor’s Choice” list. With the massive success of the Image S4i, their first iPhone optimized headphones, Klipsch is back with a new breed of headphone.

With a sound signature modeled after the Klipsch S4i, an iPhone/iPod/iPad remote control, carrying case and full-sized drivers, the Image ONE headphones are certainly ready to take on the competition.

Klipsch Image One Headphones with iPhoneI picked up my pair of Image ONE headphones yesterday and have only had a few hours of listening to them but here is what I can tell you so far.

  • The packaging is worthy of the Apple products these headphones are made for.
  • The carrying case is perfect.
  • The headphones are comfortable and incredibly light.
  • The headphones are so light they might feel cheaply made to some.
  • The sound isn’t cheap.
  • Isolation doesn’t compare to their in-ear headphones but works well enough.
  • The cabling is solid, best headphone cables I’ve had lately. Thick, well insulated and yet pliable.
  • Remote control is improved over the previous Klipsch iPhone headphones.
  • Headphones started out harsh but have warmed up after some time.
  • Similar sound signature to the Klipsch Image S4i, which was the goal.

I plan to post a review of these headphones after some more listening in different environments and after some tests with the microphone. Hopefully this will be done by tomorrow but no promises!

Hip to be Square

Twelve years ago the e-commerce world was turned upside down when PayPal was founded. It was the solution to money orders, checks in the mail and the still uncomfortable credit card purchase for goods on the web. PayPal came out and Internet buyers no longer had to worry whether their credit card was going to be intercepted by some nefarious hacker and sellers didn’t have to wait for checks to clear before shipping a product.

It was revolutionary for its convenience, safety and near immediate ubiquity. The 2002 purchase of PayPal by eBay seemed about as appropriate as any other acquisition, a much smarter decision than the Skype purchase in 2005. I’d wager that as much as half of eBay’s users already thought PayPal was owned by eBay, only once can I remember using another form of payment than PayPal.

PayPal’s reign on e-commerce lasted over a decade and managed to make it beyond eBay into the mainstream Internet marketplace. However, the problem they were once solving was under fire from other companies like Google and Amazon with their universal logins for making purchases all over the net and Visa’s Secure Pay authorization system.

Purchasing items over the Internet is no longer a risky, scary or cumbersome adventure. We do it more and more every year, much to the chagrin of state and local governments, it’s as natural as handing handing a credit card to the clerk at Target.

There was a new problem on the horizon, one that has existed longer than e-commerce but seemed to have no feasible solution. The problem? How does a consumer easily, quickly and securely pay someone for a product or service in person? We’re back to cash, checks and money orders. Credit card terminals are expensive and PayPal’s solutions aren’t proving to be the panacea they once were.

That’s where Square Inc. comes in. Early this year Square announced their intent to solve this problem by providing a free headphone jack dongle to iPhone/iPod Touch users to swipe credit cards. Instead of requiring both parties to be a member of the service, only the seller needs a Square account. Much like in an Apple Store, a seller is able to swipe a credit card for any amount of money, the buyer signs for it and a receipt is promptly emailed back to to both parties.

The seller can even take pictures of the purchased item and include it in the digital receipt.

The new Square dongle

That was quite the introduction, I know. It shouldn’t take 400 words to explain the principles behind such a tiny and simple device. Perhaps its complexity comes from its simplicity. How can something that small work and why do I need it? Shouldn’t there be a catch? Expensive iPhone attachment, monthly membership rates, minimum transactions per month or high transaction fees?

If Bank of America had created this device, sure. That would be the case. Luckily they didn’t. There are no membership fees, the dongle is free, no minimum monthly transactions and affordable transaction fees.

  • 2.75% + 15¢ for swiped transactions
  • 3.5% + 15¢ for keyed-in transactions

The Square dongle worked great on any iPhone/iPod Touch before expanding to the iPad, Nexus One, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC Evo, HTC Hero, HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S series, and the LG Ally.

When the iPhone 4 came out, with its metal exterior construction, users began reporting problems with swipes not registering and other bugs. The metal on the dongle was shorting out on the metal of the phone.

Edit c/o @Arclite

Looks good, one problem: “The metal on the dongle was shorting out on the metal of the phone.” is incorrect. It’s not technically a short—works fine on the metal rim of the iPad. The problem is that the metal is an antenna and the data passing through the antenna causes interference with the dongle, causing the data to be corrupt.

It took months for the original Square dongle to come out. Learning about this new problem with the iPhone 4 made many Square users wince. Luckily it didn’t take nearly as long to release the dongle as it took to create an all new dongle. It wasn’t long before Square sent out the new and improved dongles, as pictured above.

The new design is thinner, smoother and sleeker. It looks more polished, swipes more reliably and maintains its price point of free. It even includes a hoop for a small lanyard (see the front right in the picture above).

I haven’t had more than a dozen times that I have used my Square but I’m also not someone who sells a lot of stuff. This is huge, however, for street venders, artists, wedding photographers, garage sale people and more. No more cash only, no more prepaying and no more worry about checks clearing.

It’s a solution to an age-old problem that only ingenuity, smart devices and the cloud could solve.

I love my Square and tip my hat to the brilliant people who made it possible!

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Square isn’t the only company in the mobile purchasing game. Intuit recently teamed up with Mophie to create the Mophie Marketplace iPhone case.

Mophie Marketplace iPhone Credit Card Reader

Their case is much more professional in appearance, sturdier and perhaps more user-friendly. This comes at a cost however, each case will set you back $180. Intuit also charges $13 each month for access to the service, thought their transaction fees are lower than Square.

  • 1.7% + 30¢ for swiped transactions
  • 2.7% +30¢ for keyed-in transactions

Which device is the right one for you really depends on how often you will use it. I for one am happy with my Square!

iPad, the First Real iPhone Killer?

Today Steve Jobs and Company announced iPhone 4.0, the future operating system for their iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad devices (don’t like the iPhone moniker throw you off.  While the actual announcement came as much a surprise as did the huge number of sales for the first generation of the iPad (450,000 as of today), the predictions from John Gruber were spot on.

Here’s the short list.  Multi-tasking, unified inbox, custom wallpapers, better enterprise data encryption, multiple Exchange accounts, background tasking (uploading photos to Flickr, running Pandora, Skype SMS/calls etc) as well as nearly 100 other major and minor improvements.  I recommend reading this post from TUAW for all the details.

Gruber said multi-tasking and used Pandora as his example.  So did Jobs today.  Gruber also predicted a unified inbox.  Jobs showed that off today.

But what really caught my attention, and the attention of many others I’m sure, was the Skype news.  Still no Google Voice here but get this.  You will soon be able to run Skype in the background, all the time.  If someone calls your Skype number you simply slide to answer, just as you do now with regular calls to your iPhone.

Obviously we’re all seeing how cool this can be.  We’re on the same level with the possibilities here.  But what about this.  What if you are like me and love your iPhone and have an iPad 3G on the way.  What does this 4.0 update mean for me?  It means, for the first time in my iPhone life, I might dump my iPhone!

Do the math.  If you dump the iPhone for the iPad 32gb WiFi + 3G, you will make a saving of $590 in your first year, including the cost of the iPad!  The second year, and every year after that, you save $1,020!  How does this happen?  Simple.

Get the iPad 32 WiFi + 3G, pay $30/m for AT&T unlimited 3G coverage, pay $30 for unlimited Skype in/out calls within Canada/USA for a year (it’s on sale right now, 15% off), pay $30 for a Skype in/out number (it’s on sale for 50% off right now from its normal $60) and you’re done.

I made a handy chart that explains the savings.

My good friend Ryan @rzhale pointed out how cumbersome it would be to answer phone calls on an iPad.  Remember all the jokes about people carrying around iPads as a phone? Holding them up to their faces as they would an iPhone?  Well get that out of your head because the iPad allows A2DP stereo, two way bluetooth.  That means the stereo headsets with microphones, the bluetooth in-car systems, or simply bluetooth headsets you’re already using with your iPhone to do handsfree phone calls will seamlessly be integrated into the iPad.

With Skype you will have unlimited calls within the USA and Canada (not offered on AT&T at this price) and unlimited SMS for $60 a year.  That’s less than one month of access from AT&T.

Will I be giving up my iPhone once this comes to my iPad in the fall? Maybe, who knows.  But the possibility here is pretty awesome.  I can see the iPad replacing desktop office phones while you’re at work on WiFi, a nice dock and Skype interface for that.  When you head out, slide the iPad in your bag, briefcase, backpack and continue your call over 3G as you drive to lunch.  As long as you are within thirty feet of your iPad, you’re good to go.

For the travelling entrepreneur, you’ve just gained a new level of freedom.  iPad’s 4.0 operating system will allow you to make and take calls and sms while reading email, while writing a Pages or Numbers document, or updating your Twitter status.  You will no longer need your iPod, your Blackberry, your laptop.  You just need your iPad.  Lighter than your laptop, more powerful than your Blackberry or iPod and more functional than an iPhone.

Yeah I know, there are use cases where you need a laptop but for someone like my brother, sister-in-law, mother, father and grandmother, all professionals with corporate-type jobs that travel a lot, the iPad is all they need and something they’d all love to have.  Especially if it means not having to carry so many other devices on their person.

Don’t forget, airlines are even thinking about charging for carry-on luggage, not just your checked bags.  Spirit Airlines is the first to do this.  Yet another reason to decrease all that gadget bloat.

Are you excited about this prospect?  Would this get you to drop your iPhone and contract? Would this get you to get an iPad now or in the fall?

UPDATE: So how about this?  You don’t want the iPad but still want to take advantage of some sort of savings with this iPhone OS 4.0 release.  Check this out.  Did you know AT&T has a Data for the Deaf plan?  Unlimited data and SMS for $40/m.  Now, this might not be as ethical as the above option but it is certainly an option for the penny pincher who wants all the latest gadgets!

How would that break down for you?  Pretty sweet actually.  Here’s the chart.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

iTunes 7.7 – Installed

iTunes 7.7 in Software Update, adds iPhone/iPod Touch App Store

So far I haven’t noticed any differences, however, the changes will most likely show themselves as iPhone 2.0 is released with the iPhone/iPod Touch Applications Store.

Am I missing anything, were there other changes?  And why is MobileMe still down?  Bah humbug.

UPDATE:

I found some updates.  Now you can control iTunes through your iPhone and iPod Touch.  This is amazing and wow, am I glad I didn’t pay for the software to do that called Signal.

Control iTunes 7.7 with your iPhone and iPod Touch

Control iTunes 7.7 with your iPhone and iPod Touch

Other changes?  Just a little downloading deal, not exactly sure what it does though, thoughts?

Download as available

Would this be for application updates?

Zemanta Pixie