back to article Palmtop nostalgia is tinny music to my elephantine ears

Up and down, I’m up the wall, I’m up the bloody tree. Yup, this week finds me back on the trail in an unnecessary hunt for inessential portable kit I probably won’t use. It was triggered, as these things usually are, by something I read here on The Register. I should know better than to allow myself to be so easily influenced …

  1. Dr Scrum Master

    Belt and Braces

    they insist on wriggling their way out of my apparently gigantic earholes, sometimes with an audible pop, within seconds of being thrust forcibly in there

    Which is why I insist on over-ear earbuds. If they pop out then they are at least still hanging next to my ear hole.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Belt and Braces

      Unfortunately over ear earbuds look like a My First Hearing Aid.

  2. Dr Scrum Master

    “My beloved, your effulgent beauty brings me back to life and swells my heart!”

    As my wife points out, no man talks to a woman in this way.

    They do in Nigeria: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38827888

    (Unless that's fake news.)

  3. Alister Silver badge

    So Dabbsy, are you Living on the Ceiling this week?

  4. Google

    Buyer beware

    I too almost pre ordered one (a gemini) but then a number of things dawned on me

    The ceo has a bad reputation among indigogo's public for failing to deliver https://mobile.twitter.com/thezxkingpin/status/837554886250135553

    Their release date of november seems rather unrealistic - we've not seen a working keyboard or software and they're not answering technical questions on indigogo. For the form factor to work the software needs to match and vanilla android or a plain linux distro won't do without a stylus or mouse.

    Android and apps are made for portait mode unless you're watching netflix, which negates the keyboard need. When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode? I tried using my nexus in landscape orientation last night and it was horrible.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Buyer beware

      I also love the idea of a Gemini, but backed away from the whole indiegogo thing having had a good think about it.

      I'm hoping it will appear in John Lewis in a couple of years costing £200 more but covered by a genuine warranty and free of import taxes and other worries.

      1. Google

        Re: Buyer beware

        My approach exactly.

        It's hard not to fall in love with the concept when your inner geek is still alive. Then I realize the horrible screen estate efficiency of Android and the inner skeptic wins over. Is android ready to be used almost exclusively by keyboard and shortcuts or will users keep smudging and wiping their screens, ad nauseum.

        In the mean time we're waiting on a n950, e7 form factor replacement.

        Nokia should have released a remake of their n950 or communicator series instead of their 3310.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Buyer beware

          Nokia should have released a remake of their n950 or communicator series instead of their 3310.

          s/instead of/as well as/

        2. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Buyer beware

          "Nokia should have released a remake of their n950 or communicator series instead of their 3310."

          That's the one I'm waiting for. My wallet cowers in fear of the day that happens...

        3. David Haig

          Re: Buyer beware

          A new Communicator would be the thing, or a revisited Toshiba Libretto

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Buyer beware

        "a genuine warranty and free of import taxes and other worries."

        I've lost count of the numbers of friends and family whinging about their cheap tat bought from foreign websites and then discovering they courier won't actually deliver until they go to the depot and pay out the import duty and 20% VAT. It's about then they realise their cheap tat now costs nearly as much as if they'd bought it locally but they don't have a guarantee. And if it's electronic tat, they discover the shite software, the built-in malware and the backdoors (well, they don't, I do that bit for them as a free service)

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

      Only for eBook reading, which is inferior to eInk.

      I have a cheap USB keyboard cover (€8) with cheap Android Keyboard utility so I have the equivalent of Compose and AltGr. That is only usable in landscape. It's frightening how many BT & USB keyboard covers (and mini USB standalone USB) are useless for UK keyboard layout approximation and have too few special buttons either side of spacebar. The one I have is printed as USA but amazingly has the | \ key beside Z, and five non-character keys apart from Fn on bottom row with space.

      All the BT portable keyboards I've tried are useless

      I plan to make an 8 row, 96 key USB based keyboard to suit portrait mode to write notes. I've made custom keypads before using the PCB out of PC USB keyboard and figuring out the row/column, with "tact" switches. Faster than making up an 18F series PIC.

      I'd like four, five or six LED illuminated light pipes so a A á Á å Å etc light up as required.

      1. Grunchy

        Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

        Oh gosh, now is the time to mention this.

        What means "portrait" and "landscape" modes, every time I see or hear this I have to take a moment to figure it out.

        I wish to heck we had named these modes "tall" and "wide" instead.

        Is it too late to do this? Are we allowed to rescind old nomenclature?

        I use a cellphone "tall" and I use a tablet "wide" like any normal non-infuriating person is apt to do ! !

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

          Grunchy, you just single-handedly explained why 7 nines of photos uploaded to TehIntraWebTubes are crap.

        2. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

          >> What means "portrait" and "landscape

          These terms derive from photography. Some developers, including Adobe, also use the more sensible" vertical" and "horizontal".

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

            These terms derive from photography. Some developers, including Adobe, also use the more sensible" vertical" and "horizontal".

            Pretty sure the terminology comes from much, much earlier than photogeaphy. Go to an art gallery or stateley home and you'll see the difference between portraits and landscapes - as in portraits of people or landscape scenes.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

            Adobe, also use the more sensible" vertical" and "horizontal".

            FWIW, that's even less descriptive than portrait and landscape. At least tall and wide give a clearer mental image than vertical or horizontal.

        3. Patrician

          Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

          I always use my Nvidia K1 Shield and Amazon Fire HD8 in portrait mode; only turning to landscape for watching video content.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?

          I tend to agree however "tall" and "wide" mode have a distinctly American simpleton twang to them and makes no sense in a sentence.

          "Hold it wide for me"

          "Make sure you're holding it tall"

          Portrait and landscape are very specific terms that are unambiguous. Other possible terms "horizontal and vertical" are problematic too as they aren't explicit enough.

          "Ok its horizontal, ive put it flat on the table"

          See what I mean?

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Buyer beware

      Your Nexus in landscape mode is only horrible because the on-screen keyboard is in the way. Now imagine you kept full-screen graphics, then had a smooth slide-out keyboard of physical keys of a similar size to those on your laptop keyboard but closer together. Lovely.

      1. Google

        Re: Buyer beware

        If only it were so..

        Much as I'd like to join you in fantasizing about modern psions and n950's, I did have the foresight to attach a redundant bluetooth keyboard. Sure, reading and writing the odd email works fine despite the annoyance of seeing screen estate go to waste but don't think about a quick trip to tumblr or detour via other image heavy sites https://lostinmobile.com/2017/03/02/why-i-think-i-need-a-psion-style-device-but-wont-be-buying-the-gemini-pda/

        1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          Re: Buyer beware

          Why I think I need a Psion-style device, but won’t be buying the Gemini PDA

          The embedded video there offers a clue as to why a modern Psion might be lacking:

          What’s going on here?

          Some of your technology may be out of date, which means this video won’t play properly. Please upgrade your browser or install Flash.

          Oh Dear.

    4. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Buyer beware

      I tried using my nexus in landscape orientation last night and it was horrible.

      I use my 4.5" Moto G in landscape orientation probably 75% of the time. I find the on-screen keyboard much easier in that orientation, and web pages are much easier to navigate (Opera). Stick me a proper keyboard on that and I'd be ecstatic.

      M.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Buyer beware

      "When is the last time you decided to use your 7" or less phablet in portrait mode?"

      All the time. Apart from the odd exception of watching full screen video. Maybe it depends on your use case. I read and send emails, make phone calls, do my expenses on a spreadsheet and look up technical stuff on the browser, all of which work best in portrait mode for me with the odd time switching to landscape mode and zooming into a parts spec. diagram.

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    A man after my own heart

    My own headphone behaviour is uncannily similar to that of Mr Dabbs.

    I look at headphones in the shop when I don't need any new ones. My preference is for over-ear designs, except they are incompatible with my hat which I wear anytime it is raining or likely to rain... or sunny. I have preemptively reinforced the cable near the plug on various 'phones with Sugru, Sikaflex or heat-shrink tubing. Indeed, this cable issue is why I don't have a problem with a cheap dongle on the end - let an inexpensive doodad take the mechanical strain, be it 3.5mm > 3.5mm or otherwise. If I broke out the soldering iron now, I could repair at least four pairs of 'phones I have kicking around.

    I'm mildly upset at leaving my plastic over-ear Sennheisers in a pub the other week - I could fall asleep wearing them, and yet feel no discomfort on my ears when I woke. Still, I'd only taken them out of the house because I had lost or broken all the pairs of earbuds I've had.

    I would never buy anything akin to Apple Airpods- far too easy to be loose if you're me. Might be tempted by the 'neck bud' form factor.

    Keep hearing of cheap but very cheerful Chinese ear buds... think I'll consider them to be consumable items like drill bits or knives.

    1. DocJames

      Re: A man after my own heart

      If I broke out the soldering iron now, I could

      When I write this kind of comment, I inevitably break out the tools. Have you fixed everything in your neighbourhood now?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: A man after my own heart

        I can see the the soldering iron now as I type. The issue is that my small stash of leaded solder, no doubt hidden under piles of broken or redundant gadgets, is harder to find! Oh, and if I'm to fix em, I'll want to fit my choice of 3.5mm jack to them (the low profile 90° type) which I'll need to order. :)

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: A man after my own heart

          Hmm, it's just struck me that the part of the headphones that disagrees with my hat is the headband, yet this component is redundant since the hat itself could be a stable platform for supporting the cans. Okay, not cans because there would be no force pushing them against my ears, but the battery and receiver for some earbuds could be stowed in the crown of the hat, as could the buds themselves when not in use. With magnets. Hmm...

          Bugger fixing something, I'm going to cannibalise and improve!

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: A man after my own heart

            "I'm going to cannibalise and improve!"

            Pictures or it didn't happen.

          2. deathOfRats

            Re: A man after my own heart

            "Bugger fixing something, I'm going to cannibalise and improve!"

            That's the spirit!

            And you'll notice the rest of your gadgets will behave or even improve once you start with the cannibalising.

        2. Slartybardfast

          Re: A man after my own heart

          The last two pairs I've mended I've use this type of Neutrik connector.

          http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Neutrik-Stereo-3-5mm-Mini-Jack-Plug-NTP3RC-B-Gold-Plated-1-8-Angled-Connector-/150550012640?hash=item230d7ae2e0

          The connector is very good but it's metal so it does add extra weight.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: A man after my own heart

            Neutrik - they're the boyos! A stage lighting company I worked for would only use Neutrik DMX plugs when making up cables.

            For my use though, I fancy something lower profile. I guess the downside of the 90° is that whilst they protect the socket against knocks to the plug, they relay more stress if the cable is yanked.

          2. Franco Silver badge

            Re: A man after my own heart

            I make my own guitar cables and will only use Neutrik jack plugs along with Klotz cable. Cheaper and more reliable than any brand of pre-made cable I have tried.

            My preference is always to try and fix things, however my niece broke a pair of Skull Candy headphones a while back and their cable is so thin and flimsy that it just melts when you try to resolder it into a new jack, at least with my soldering iron.

        3. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: A man after my own heart

          my small stash of leaded solder

          It's not difficult to find 60/40 even these days:

          CPC sells... loads of the stuff

          As does RS

          Even Maplin sells the stuff (at a price)

          M.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A man after my own heart

      Sennheisers either last for years or fall apart after a week.

      1. cyclical

        Re: A man after my own heart

        My own experience of Sennheisers is that the earpads will disintegrate in short order, shedding little black dandruffy flakes everywhere for the next 8 years (which is how long my sennheiser PCX headphones have lasted for).

        As for the sturdiest pair I own, AKG 271 headphones seem pretty indestructible - in 10 years owning my pair I've had a little bit of plastic break off (which I fixed in 2 seconds with a paperclip) and they've been bulletproof through plenty of dropping on the ground and heavy usage. Mine came with spare earpads and cables in different styles as well, although I've not needed to swap.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: A man after my own heart

          As for the sturdiest pair I own, AKG 271 headphones seem pretty indestructible - in 10 years owning my pair I've had a little bit of plastic break off (which I fixed in 2 seconds with a paperclip) and they've been bulletproof through plenty of dropping on the ground and heavy usage.

          But you need AKG K701's if you want to look as cool as Mio Akiyama...

          http://animeconsumerism.tumblr.com/post/101828141740/series-k-on-headphones-akg-k701

      2. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: A man after my own heart

        My folding Sennheisers bought 20 years ago (to replace the cassette Sony Walkman ones) are still fine and still sound excellent. The Walkman's rubber-band rotted away years ago unfortunately.

        My Psion 3a was still working in 2012 when I abandoned it as there was nothing left that it could talk to.

        Unlike some (cough *Dabbsy* cough) I learnt not to be heavy handed with delicate kit.

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    My main memory of using an Asus netbook was that the letterbox landscape screen made reading websites a chore - too much scrolling! Whilst a higher Res screen would have helped a bit, the issue was the aspect ratio.

    Tablets are easier to read websites on because the can be rotated to suit, and because they are held closer to the eyes than netbooks were.

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Buy Koss

    Dabbsy, buy a Koss. Most comfortable pair of headphones we have ever had in the house.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005I497X4/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I bought a pair for the daughter at LHR (so that she stops annoying the whole plane playing Leo's Fortune), which ended up with the ladies in the family fighting for them. I caught the SWMBO "privatizing" them 3 times, so I had to buy another pair for her. After that I discovered junior trying to pinch them all the time so he will probably get a pair too. One day. If he deserves them (until then he will suffer from an el-cheapo Phillips).

    The sound is not tinny either - they are on par with my old studio headphones and the high end Panasonic I am using myself (unfortunately not sold in the UK - I bought it on an off-chance in Vancouver many years ago). It is definitely better than most Sennheisers in terms of both sound quality and comfort. It does not brutally vandalize sound like Beats. It also folds down to a very reasonable size for a pair of cups.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Buy Koss

      Concur on Koss. The last set of decent, inexpensive cans I bought is a couple pairs of DR9s ... nearly 40 years later, they are still going strong.

      Mind you, I only use them for studio work, I never really understood the "must have tunes 24/7" mentality. When I do want music, I use real speakers. Wharfedales and Boston Acoustic studio monitors, all from roughly 1981 ... I still haven't found anything that sounds better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wharfedales?

        That's a very barky Whippet-Airedale mix?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Wharfedales?

          Last time I saw that combination in a dawg was during a cricket match at Blubberhouses, summer of 1983ish.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Bad Beaver
      Stop

      Re: Buy Koss -> please do not.

      Please, do the responsible thing and do not get the Koss Porta Pro. For the money, they are really good, fun-sounding phones and Koss provides a great warranty. They are also as open as the arms of a seamstress on duty and leak more to the public than the most proficient whistleblowers. So if you use them on any sort of shared transport, other people will hate you. A lot.

  8. Brenda McViking
    Coat

    I've nothing of value to contribute

    But the bit about headphones resonated with me,

    Yes,

    Okay,

    No need to shove, I'm going already

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: I've nothing of value to contribute

      Diddo, although after many set which work once, get stuffed in a pocket, and then emerge in kit form the next time they are retrieve, my latest, a set of Sennheisers, are just approaching their one year anniversary of public transport use.

      Oh bugger, why did I say that, I'm getting on a plane next week. They're going to disintegrate mid-flight and stab me with bits of frayed copper aren't they.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I've nothing of value to contribute

        For noisy environments, I like using earplugs in conjunction with some good value over-ear Sennheisers. Cheap but effective, and whilst the ear plugs are biased against high frequencies this is only conducive to snoozing.

  9. psychonaut

    Dragons den earbuds

    Dabbsy.... ..what about those custom made earbuds off of dd....snuggs. plus you could also ask them to make custom plugs for other orafices and have the option to go fully airtight at your (p)leisure

    1. Cameron Colley

      Re: Dragons den earbuds

      They only make them for selected models though. I inquired about them and they politely told me that they don't make them for my ATH-E70s but would happily sell me some cheapo earphones instead.

  10. gskr

    Although headphones don't interest me, I do have other tech vices. Bought a 1st gen Moto 360 smartwatch, and found it great. However after 2 years the battery had degraded from providing maybe a day and a half of use, down to dead before leaving the office. Apart from the battery it was still working fine, and fulfilling its original purpose, but the battery is kind of important!

    iFixit guide to replacing the battery made it look nigh-on impossible for fat-fingered me.

    Saw a Sony Smartwatch3 going for £70 in Currys, so just bought that instead!

    Now I find its not going to be updated to Android Wear 2.0, (which is a shame as the built in NFC would have made it a prime candidate for android pay)

    So do I buy an NFC/Android wear 2.0 compatible watch (of which the only one is the new LG watch sport) for £350 - no way, but doesn't stop me wanting it...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The point at which the cable emerges from the moulding around the stereo jack is always the first bit to go."

    You could always go for wireless ones. In my experience the non-Bluetooth ones work anywhere in the house - and even reach out to the garden. Unfortunately they have very few separate channels. It is disconcerting to find yourself listening to an unknown neighbour's pr0n video sound track.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Alternatively, a short 3.5mm male to 3.5mm female extension lead (about 2" long) will take the strain off your headphones' cable. The ones below are 99p for a two-pack. They look like ones originally sold for early gen iPhones (because 3.5mm with wider barrels above the rings physically would fit into the IPhone's recessed port).

      https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=3.5+male+to+3.5+female&noj=1&tbs=vw:l,ss:44&tbm=shop&srpd=8159865142164802484&prds=num:1,of:1,epd:8159865142164802484&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIydCPp7rSAhWmIcAKHWguD4MQgjYIngU

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        EDIT:

        >They look like ones originally sold for early gen iPhones (because 3.5mm with wider barrels above the rings physically would NOT fit into the IPhone's recessed port).

        Clearly you lot knew what I meant! :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately they have very few separate channels. It is disconcerting to find yourself listening to an unknown neighbour's pr0n video sound track.

      Yeah, it interferes with the enjoyment of the one *you're* watching...

  12. DrBobK

    Buy some HD25s

    Buy some Sennheiser HD25 or HD26Pro headphones. Made for broadcast use. Pretty much indestructible. If bits do break you can replace them easily. I know from experience that they can be treated with the utmost lack of care and they survive. Sound pretty good too.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Buy some HD25s

      There was a similar model of Sennheiser used on Concorde... quite a few were available on eBay a dozen years ago with 'British Airways' printed on the headband. One assumes that BA wouldn't have specified them if they weren't durable.

      1. Bad Beaver
        Thumb Up

        Re: Buy some HD25s

        IIRC, the Concorde had the HD25SP which now seem to go by "HD25 Light". Both models are from the "survive the apocalypse" school of design and tend not to break. If they do, all the parts are easily replaced. They also sound great (the SP a little less so) and, like many Sennheisers, scale very well if you like to throw money at them via ever-better and more powerful headphone-amps.

    2. Duffy Moon

      Re: Buy some HD25s

      I love my HD25 cans. Probably theft best all-round headphone I own. Comfortable, durable and accurate reproduction (hence used by sound recordists). I got a kit with little bits of lead sheet to 'upgrade' the sound (not sure how effective). I've bought a Zomo spiral cable and some Japanese memory foam earpads - bliss.

  13. DropBear Silver badge
    Trollface

    "To do otherwise is to send oneself into a very non-Buddhist frenzy of desire to acquire."

    There's nothing to be ashamed of - having an Inner Ferengi is perfectly normal, you should embrace it...

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      "It's a Buddhist meditation technique. Focuses your aggression."

      -- Otto (A Fish Called Wanda)

  14. Paul Wagenseil

    No more room down there

    "Living on the Ceiling"! Nice.

  15. Alastair Dodd 1
    Thumb Up

    In ear solution

    Shure 215s. Brilliant sound, replaceable cables. Simple.

    1. Grunchy

      Over ear solution

      Bose Quiet Comfort headset - lovely. I actually remove the audio source cable and just listen to my tinnitus :)

      Excellent for any travel greater than 1/2 hr for snooze or withdrawal from the reality surrounding one's self.

  16. Sir Sham Cad

    Mobile creation and submission - 2001 styl(us)

    Many years ago, after being made redundant and getting another job immediately I decided to spunk some of my now bunce redundo-dosh on some shiny palmtop kit. A Handspring Visor Platinum with an Omnisky GSM attachment and Targus folding keyboard.

    Perfect for emails/writing reports, scripts, HTML etc... from the airport, the pub, the bus, the pub, the pub and then through the magic of email or ftp and 9600 GSM data I was a fucking Sorceror! Until the batteries ran out. It was, essentially, the first smartphone I ever owned.

    Still got the lot, never use it.

  17. Floydian Slip
    Thumb Up

    Ah yes, the Psion 5. Sometime after production had ended I can remember working with quite a large legal practice, trying to bring their IT infrastructure up to "modern" standards.

    I interviewed all the key solicitors and barristers to ask what they wanted from the system and was confronted by one gentleman. He said "if you tell me that I have to stop using my Psion, then I'll have to remind you, young man, that I defend some quite nasty types of criminal".

    He was particularly attached to his Psion, and had a stack of broken ones, reckoning that he wore them out every 2 years or so

    The threat was really quite clever, and ominous, without really sounding like a threat. I told him that I had no intention of depriving him of the functionality of his Psion (he used it for creating documents, reading files and a little game playing whilst between cases in the corridors of the lands legal edifices)

    I'd actually spotted that the local John Lewis even had some on clearance for around £200 so advised him that he should pop down there and buy a couple before they ran out. He did - he bought 5 IIRC, so was sorted for the next 10 years.

    I sometime wonder what happened to the "new bloke" after he ran out of replacements.

  18. Fihart

    Modern life is rubbish (stuff).

    Somewhere I still have a pair of AKG headphones bought in the 1970s -- still worked when I last listened, though from the sound of them, technology has moved on.

    Still using Sony MDR 40 phones that came with a Walkman Pro in 1986 (though rewired several times)

    I have some very nice sounding Sennheiser PX 100s. And horrid sounding PX 200s, but I was even less impressed with some larger Sennheisers which disintegrated. The latter seems typical of current products from all brands (as you say) regardless of price.

  19. d3rrial

    $600?

    Can anybody explain it to me? The indiegogo page only says $400 for the Gemini? I'm confused.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: $600?

      $400 if you pay up-front for the non-existent model. 600 if you wait for a real one without manufacturing snags.

  20. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Indeed.

    The point at which the cable emerges from the moulding around the stereo jack is always the first bit to go.

    Which is why I've bitten the bullet, ditched my pride and put aside my technically-based hatred of any tooth flavoured blue and bought a (fairly reasonable) pair of Sony wireless headphones.

    It helped that they were in a half-price sale at Argos and I had a load of Nectar points to use up.

  21. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Feel the music

    I'm still waiting for a cellphone that can use its linear haptic feedback driver as a woofer.

  22. ecarlseen

    Another unsolicited earbud recommendation:

    V-MODA Forza. http://v-moda.com/forza/

    1) Angled headphone plug doesn't break as easily.

    2) The cables are strengthened to the point where they're reasonably difficult to break, but are still comfortable to use.

    3) They came up with these weird "fins" that go in the grooves of your earlobes to hold them in place, and they actually work very well for me - to the point where I can work out without them falling out.

    4) They have replaceable earpiece covers in different sizes to fit different ear canals - this also helps them stay in, and improves the quality of the sound when you use the right ones (experiment and you'll see what I mean).

    5) They sound bloody fantastic.

    65) If you do manage to kill them in a manner that's considered out of warranty, they'll give you 50% off another pair.

    To clarify one other issue: the "ear hooks" - at least the ones that V-MODA provides - are intended to reduce or eliminate cable noise, rather than holding them in place.

    I've been using V-MODA gear for awhile now - they've more or less pioneered the concept of "making mainstream headphones and earbuds with cables that are very durable" and having sound quality that's equal to products costing twice as much. I'm a fan.

  23. Snake

    Not understanding the nostalgia

    We'll start off with: if you want real headphones, just buy a Stax system and be done with it. £4000 into your Stax system you'll happily realize that this is the last audio system that you will ever own ((a), because nothing else sounds like it, and (b) because you spend so much time and money getting here!)

    Anyway, I do not understand the nostalgia that people think they are asking for. The world has moved way beyond the form factor and capabilities of the Psion series, and I think most of the buyers who get the Gemini will realize that truth soon enough (et tu, Apple Watch, et tu?) I think what you really asking for is an updated IBM PC110 or a Toshiba Libretto - real but miniaturized computers running standard CPU's and internal components, capable of running bog-standard desktop OS's (full Linux or Windows) yet carry in a jumbo pocket / small purse . Anything else will simply stall out and not be able to do the modern things that you hope, and expect it, to.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Not understanding the nostalgia

      "capable of running bog-standard desktop OS's (full Linux or Windows)"

      AIUI the intention is dual boot Android & Linux. So ignore the first & it matches your spec.

    2. Graham Dawson
      Pint

      Re: Not understanding the nostalgia

      The modern things I hope and elect it to do are: write documents, ssh, maybe tinker with some code, possibly play music.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Earbuds

    Best pair I had were the stock ones that came with the Samsung S3. I either lost the stupid things or they were "borrowed" by a family member. Decent sound, ugly white (Apple wannabe look) decent size for my ears (YMMV), volume and pause buttons worked. Not sure how well the mike worked, since I never used that.

  25. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

    Beat it!

    'my second pair of Beats'

    Here's a piece of foolscap, the corner is over there, you know what to do.

    1. Martin
      Thumb Up

      Re: Beat it!

      Indeed.

      It amazes me the number of people I see who have spent £100+ on a pair of Beats headphones - presumably for "better" sound - and then wear them OVER their beanie or hoodie.

  26. Old Handle

    Oh man, you fell for one of his stories? Sorry to hear that.

  27. Thaumaturge

    Whoa... Major deja vu!

    Being older - and thus firmly entrenched in my ways - this all sounds way too familiar. Coming from a broadcast engineering stint when the Walkman era hit. I swam -bought- my way through mountains of "audiophile" headphones. Finally discovered that Sony MDR-80 drivers could be bought for a mere fraction of cost of the complete units... A bit of soldering -remember that?- and some magic tape to mount them on otherwise comfortable over the head springy frames. Had a thriving little business -e.g. didn't lose much- converting crap headphones into sonic delights! (The MDR-80's were awesome, just too damn expensive.) Cassettes were cut on my Nakamichi straight from -allegedly- virgin vinyl records. Played back on my Toshiba KT-AS1. (With the slip in FM stereo adapter... back whdn FM played things you might want to listen to.) Consumer hint: when listening to music while programming DO NOT set your Sumerium Cobalt magnet bearing headphones down ON TOP of nearby 5 1/4" floppies!

    Then the PDA wave hit. More in depth research! Just had to have IPAC 5555.... added gimmicky fold up keyboard. Try -just try!- to get it to talk over wifi under Windows CE 2002.... Had the headphones already dialed in though. Sony MPQ-25's sounded ALMOST as good as the MDR-80s (or at least to my badly toasted ears) and were almost too cheap! (Don't think there is such a thing just ask my ex wife!) Sadly, Sony discontinued the MPQ-25 because they made too much sense. They sat on your shoulders with a little bunjie cord when not comfortably sitting on your ears. But by then most floppies had gone away....

  28. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    what you needed dabsy...

    Was a HTC desire z. A smart with a nice keyboard to boot. Just a shame they stopped making them because they were too useful to make a new one for a niche market (same with just about all truly different android mobes).

    I've still got mine too but they batteries are shot so it lasts enough to start but that's about as good as it gets.

  29. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    My own favorites

    Motorola S11-HD (or the newer FLEX variant) works well for me for wireless. I hate trying to hang things in or off my ears; the S11s gently clamp to my head and don't fall off. You can get 'em on eBay for about $25. If you get the FLEX just don't try to use them in multipoint mode.

    I currently own several due to various circumstances and multiple devices. My first one broke at the back. The glue on the rubber padding deteriorates behind the ears due to body heat, I've had to cut them away and clean off the goo. A mixed experience but largely positive, and the only in-ear headset I like. About 5 hours of battery life, fast recharge. Controls are pretty good, my biggest problems: power button sometimes gets pressed while in my backpack. Power button may get worn, you may need a fingernail. And occasionally when I go to adjust the headset while on a call, I'll accidentally disconnect.

    I also own a pair of Ausdom M05 bluetooth headphones which are over-the-ear and very comfortable. Ridiculous (in a good way) battery time of 20+ hours. Also has a wired jack, which does not include the mic, but the mic is crap anyway. I found a cheap cord with a mic that works nicely but I mostly use these for streaming anyway, for me it's a minor failing. (Wired mode is unpowered. If you don't mind two cords and being nailed to one place, you can charge them while using them.) Biggest drawback is the controls are shite, tiny and hard to distinguish from each other by feel.

    I carry the sports headsets in my backpack and leave the Ausdoms at home.

    I wear glasses, which complicates the comfort factor. It's part of why I prefer over-the-ear to on-the-ear, they don't press my ears against the temples.

    Anyway, that's my personal lineup, YMMV.

  30. RexBowman

    Plantronics

    I'd never own a pair of wired headphones for exactly this reason, they break far too easily, and I've never been particularly careful with them.

    In terms of wireless Plantronics have got some of the best offerings going, these things just last and last.

    I've had the backbeat-pro for 3 years (ugly- but indestructible) & sense which dosn't feel quite as sturdy but have lasted a year so far.

    http://www.plantronics.com/uk/category/wireless-headsets/

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