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Best Headphones of 2014

By Kristofer Wouk

best-headphones-10

It wasn’t long ago that if somebody was listening to music on their mobile device, they’d be doing so through a tiny pair of earbuds jammed into their ears. While earbuds do keep getting better, plenty of people would argue that nothing beats a good pair of full-size headphones, and it seems like a lot of people agree.

Picking a pair of headphones can be tough, considering there are so many variables included. What’s your price range? Do you want Bluetooth or not? What about noise cancellation? In assembling our list of the best headphones, we’ve tried to cover all the bases. Our first pick is a great example of that.

Audio Technica ATH-M50x

Somewhat similarly to how we started our list of the best Bluetooth speakers, the first item on our list was probably fairly easy to guess. Just because it’s an easy guess doesn’t make the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones less of a good choice.

This is name that you hear all the time, and for good reason. If you’re looking for precision sound that doesn’t sacrifice an enjoyable listening experience for the sake of accuracy, this is it. The lows thump and the highs shine, but they’re not going to hide mistakes in the music.

While some color choices run more expensive, the base models of the ATH-M50x clock in at under $200. We’ve reviewed great headphones that cost more than this, but beyond these you start to see diminishing returns. The combination of price, sound quality, and build quality come together in a pair of headphones that are more than the sum of their parts.

The base ATH-M50x models sell for $169 online, and while you can certainly spend less and get a great pair of headphones, you definitely get your money’s worth with these. That said, they’re fairly bare-bones. If you’re looking for more features and active noise cancellation, look no further than our next pick.

Buy from Amazon $169


Bose QuietComfort 25

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Until September of this year, it had been an unusually long time since Bose had released an update to its extremely well-regarded QuietComfort line. The line consists of a few models with both in-ear and over-ear varients, both of which feature active noise cancellation. When the Bose QuietComfort 25 came out, it was quickly apparent that these improved on their predecessors in nearly every way.

Active noise cancellation is a tricky thing: if it’s too heavy handed you end up with an annoying hiss, and if it is too subtle, it just plain doesn’t work. Bose hits their mark perfectly here, and the ability to block out the world around you at will is a big part of why we’re recommending these headphones. Other noise cancellation we’ve heard is good, but not this good. In terms of sound quality and comfort, the QuietComfort 25s are on par with other Bose headphones, which is to say their fairly well balanced, but they don’t go overboard on bass.

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One common complaint about Bose products is that they’re too expensive, and at $299, we’re sure some will that that about the QuietComfort 25s. While of course we’d like to see them sell for less, you’re definitely getting what you pay for here. For more info, check out the full review over at Sound Guys.

Buy from Amazon $169


Samsung Level Over

best-headphones-04

While Samsung has made plenty of audio products over the years—anyone who has bought a Samsung phone has used their earbuds—it wasn’t until 2014 that the company decided to move into the realm of higher-end audio gear. Over at Sound Guys, I reviewed the entire Level line, but the only one that really stood out was the Samsung Level Over.

Not only do the Samsung Level Overs offer Bluetooth connectivity and active noise cancellation, but they offer a novel control scheme. Instead of a bunch of buttons, the entire right ear cup actuals as a control surface, allowing you to raise and lower volume, skip forward and backward, and play and pause audio with a few simple gestures. It may sound odd at first, but it fairly quickly becomes second nature.

Battery life is fairly decent (10 hours with ANC on) and the sound quality is nice too. Noise cancellation isn’t quite as good as the QuietComfort 25 headphones, but comes pretty close. The price does too: at $349 the Level Overs will run you more than the QuietComfort 25s, but that’s understandable considering this pair is wireless.

best-headphones-03

Looking for a cheaper pair of Bluetooth headphones without sacrificing too much in the sound quality department? Check out our next pick.

Buy from Amazon $296


Photive BTH3

best-headphones-02

Before we reviewed them over at Sound Guys, I had never heard of the Photive BTH3 headphones. Taking a look at the Amazon reviews, I started to get my hopes up. When I did finally get the chance to check them out, I was still impressed.

While they don’t look very flashy, the Photive BTH3s make up for it with a combination of features and comfort. They’re light, pair quickly, and you can wear them for a few hours without them becoming uncomfortable. They’re also loaded with buttons, making playback and volume control easy even if you can’t get to your phone. Unlike Photive’s slightly more expensive BTX6 headphones, the Photive BTH3s are fairly balanced sounding, especially for the price.

best-headphones-01

You can find the Photive BTH3 headphones selling for just under $50 online, which is impressive considering the quality. If you’re still looking for something cheaper and don’t need Bluetooth, take a look at our next pick.

Buy from Amazon $49


Monoprice 8323

best-headphones-06

For most people, if you’ve heard about Monoprice at all, it was probably as a source of cheap but good AV cables or …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Moto X (2014) Pure Edition Lollipop OTA captured and available for download

By Eric McBride

new-moto-x-first-look-aa-19-of-21-710x399

If you happen to be the proud owner of a Moto X 2014 Pure Edition, then these two very recent developments might be of interest to you: 1. A member at XDA Developers has managed to capture the Moto X Android 5.0 OTA update (which you can download and install now), and 2. Motorola seems prepped to officially begin the Moto X soak test, meaning software rollouts could be hitting devices soon.

XDA member Patrick Hill (Graffixnyc) managed to capture and zip up the Lollipop update, meaning that owners of the Moto X 2014 Pure Edition can install the update right now if they wish to (link to XDA thread at the bottom of the page). But before you do, there are a few things to consider:

  • Graffixnyc has stated that this update can only be flashed on devices that were never rooted, meaning that the standard root and then unroot to stock procedure for receiving OTA’s doesn’t seem to be working for most users. I have read through the entire thread, and for the majority of users flashing on an unrooted device that was previously rooted, the update is failing. Please keep this in mind, as we certainly don’t want to see anyone with a bricked device.
  • A few users that were rooted have found a way to install the update, but it’s not working for everyone. It involves flashing a custom Motorola recovery and ADB sideloading, but again, it’s not confirmed to be working for everyone.
  • If your device has never been rooted, then you can install it by simply booting into stock recovery, and using ADB to sideload the app. Again, be careful if it’s your first time with ADB, as we don’t want to see any Moto X’s becoming paperweights.

Note that this OTA file is for the unlocked and unbranded Pure Edition of the Moto X (2014), so do not attempt to flash it on devices bought from carriers.

While it’s certainly great news that Moto X users do have the option of installing Android 5.0 right now, device owners that prefer to wait patiently for Motorola to officially push out the update might not have to wait long. Motorola recently unveiled the release notes for the Moto X Pure Edition soak test, but then quickly pulled them down. Combine that with the fact that a user released a shot of the update prompt, and it would appear that Motorola is about to make a move.

The update notes went into more detail in describing the huge amount of changes that arrive with Android L, including Material Design, notifications, downtime settings, multitasking, security, and more.

It’s great to see the Moto X 2014 getting so much attention as of late, and the addition of Lollipop will certainly boost it’s already growing popularity. Will you install the Android 5.0 update on your Moto X now, or will you wait for the official OTA? Let us know in the comments below!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Since-removed release notes hint at incoming Moto G (2014) Lollipop update

By Matthew Benson

Moto G 2014-11

Motorola has managed to become something of a novelty in the past couple of years. Whereas its smartphone origins were coated in MotoBlur, a thoroughly customized Android skin widely considered to be just as offensive, if not more so, than TouchWiz, the company is now making headlines for all the right reasons. Last year it was the announcement and release of the fantastic Moto X and budget-friendly Moto G, both of which received a substantial amount of praise from the media, even if the cameras left something to be desired. 2014 has seen the Moto X and Moto G refreshes, both of which seemingly had even more praise lavished upon them than their predecessors.

Moto-G-2nd-Gen-2014-Android-5.0-Lollipop-release-notes Phandroid

While hardware and unobtrusive software is all well and good, (the lack of) timely firmware updates are often a plague upon the mobile world. Motorola has managed to impress even here, and now it’s poised to take yet another leap: the Moto G 2014-edition may be about to get Android 5.0 Lollipop. Although no one knows when exactly, Motorola had posted the official release notes for all the world to see, however just like with those accidentally (?) posted for the Moto X, they have since been taken down.

Suffice to say, whether the rollout is in one day, one week, or even one month, it is fantastic this company has a clear interest in customer service, providing timely updates, supporting its products, and improving its brand image. If this pattern continues, Motorola may very well become a dominant player in the mobile market, especially now that is has Lenovo footing the bill.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

CM11S 44S update rolling out now for the OnePlus One with some major bug fixes

By Jonathan Feist

oneplus one unboxing (26 of 29)

Owners of the OnePlus One should be receiving an OTA to CyanogenMod’s CM11S build number 44S starting any time now. The update addresses a handful of major glitches and bugs that have been plaguing users, including touchscreen issue, screen artifacts and worse.

The 44S update will push out to your device over-the-air, but is being rolled out by region, so there could be a little delay before you see it on your OnePlus One.

The provided changelog includes a patch for a SSLv3 POODLE security issue, which is great news for your secure web browsing. The full provided changelog looks like this:

  • Fixed an issue with memory causing screen artifacts
  • Fixed the “black bar” issue
  • Fixed persist partition corruption
  • Fixed Filesystem
  • Fixed WiFi and modem crashes
  • Fixed for random reboots and instability
  • Fixed issue with AT&T VoLTE

All in all, the majority of these repairs are for issues that are fairly significant. Screen artifacts and black bars from misguided pixels are enough to cause any user a bit of frustration. Beyond that, the persist partition corruption, Filesystem and WiFi and modem crashes have been forcing reboots, hard resets and even devices to get stuck in a boot loop, not cool.

Luckily, we had already discussed fixes and workarounds for a few of these concerns, but an OTA update is certainly preferable. If the update is not coming soon enough for your liking, here is the direct link to the 44S OTA zip file.

This is a great list of repairs – once you have the update installed, let us know if this also fixes any issues with dropped calls on LTE that you may have been experiencing?

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Lenovo N20 Chromebook Review

By Lanh Nguyen

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-1

The Bottom Line

A Chromebook with a few tricks up its sleeve

PROS
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Great battery life
  • Smooth performance
  • Ease of use
CONS
  • Sub-par display
  • Poor touchscreen responsiveness
8.0

The Lenovo N20 is like most other Chromebooks out there, but boasts the additional benefit of a 300 degree rotating hinge and touchscreen capabilities, all at the relatively low price point that we’ve come to expect from such devices.

With steady and impressive growth, Chromebooks have certainly found some success over the past year or so. Functionality can be limited if you’re dependent on a lot of offline apps and programs that you are used to on a traditional Windows PC. But for those that are fine with a completely web-centric experience, Chromebooks offer a fantastic and cheap alternative. It’s not Android, but run Chrome OS, and are definitely Google, and so, we’ll be taking a closer look at one that released earlier this year. Here’s our in-depth review of the Lenovo N20 Chromebook!

Design

On the design front, the Lenovo N20 Chromebook does look a lot like any other run of the mill low-cost laptop. Made entirely of plastic, this device doesn’t have the flashiest or the most unique design, but what it does offer is a solid build quality, while being very thin, lightweight, and compact, making this a perfectly portable companion.

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-47

Looking around the laptop, on the left side is where you’ll find a proprietary charging port, a USB 3.0 port, a mini-HDMI port, and the headphone jack. On the right is a USB 2.0 port, the power button, and a SD card slot. On the bottom are some small rubber feet, that keep the device in place when resting on a table or any other flat surface. These rubber feet also keep the laptop slightly elevated, which is particularly useful when using the speakers. The speakers are also placed at the bottom, but do sound surprisingly decent, and don’t get muffled because of their unfortunate placement, because of the rubber feet.

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-4

What makes this Lenovo Chromebook stand out from the crowd is a feature that will be quite familiar to other Lenovo laptop users, and that is the hinge. The hinge on this device lets you put it in a couple of different positions, besides the normal “laptop” position. It’s not a 360 degree hinge, so you won’t be able to turn it into a tablet, but it can be propped up like a tent, or have it resting with the keyboard facing down. When in either of these positions, the physical keyboard is also deactivated, which helps avoid any accidental presses. Of course, these additional positions are ideally suited for media consumption, but nothing much else, and you’ll find yourself returning to the traditional setup more often than not.

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-10

Even though the Lenovo N20 is a compact laptop, you still get a full-sized keyboard with it. There is a nice amount of separation between the keys, and offer the right amount of tactile feedback, making this keyboard very comfortable to type on. The trackpad isn’t the largest, but is still more than enough to easily handle any clicking or scrolling you may be doing to navigate around the OS.

Display

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-5

The Lenovo N20 Chromebook comes with an 11.6-inch display, with a resolution of 1366 x 768. At slightly higher than 720p, it’s not the highest resolution display out there, but is more than decent for everyday usage. Colors look nice, with a good amount of saturation, and brightness isn’t a concern. Viewing angles are poor though, and the screen is prone to glare, making it a little difficult to see in harshly lit environments.

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-60

In order to take full advantage of the multiple positions afforded by the hinge, the display is a touchscreen. That said, Chrome OS isn’t yet optimized for the touch experience, and so, there aren’t many instances where you’d feel like using the touchscreen instead of the keyboard and touchpad. Scrolling through websites is easier and faster while using the keypad, and the on-screen keyboard is disappointingly laggy. As mentioned, the only reason to use the various other positions is to watch videos, and that’s not a time when you need a whole lot of touchscreen capabilities, apart from pausing or playing the media, and that shouldn’t be a problem.

Performance

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-45

Apart from the lag issues with the on-screen keyboard, the Lenovo N20 performs quite well. This laptop features an Intel Celeron processor, 2 GB of RAM, and comes with 16 GB of storage on-board. In my usage, I found the laptop to be very responsive and quick. Granted, most Chromebooks aren’t exactly powerhouses, but for what Chrome OS requires and is capable of, this processing package is more than able to handle tasks with ease.

Battery Life

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-3

When it comes to the battery, you get a 38.4 Wh 6-cell battery, that idoes it very well. Lenovo states that the battery of the N20 Chromebook will last up to 8 hours, and I found this claim to hold true for the most part, so this laptop definitely has enough juice to pull through a full work day. If you use it only for a few hours a day, you can definitely go days before having to recharge it.

Software

Lenovo N20 Chromebook-8

Obviously, the Lenovo N20 Chromebook runs Chrome OS. If you’re not familiar with it, what you need to know is that the entire operating system basically revolves around the Google Chrome browser. Apps like Google+, Youtube, Netflix, and Gmail aren’t actually standalone applications, but just shortcuts to the webpage, with the exception of a few, like the calculator and Google Keep. Chrome OS is designed for people who don’t mind relying on the cloud, which also explains …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Moto X (2014) Android 5.0 update already undergoing testing

By Alex Wagner

motoxandroid5aam

Been wondering if Motorola will continue to offer prompt updates with Android 5.0 and beyond? Wonder no more, friends, because it looks like the speedy updates will continue.

Motorola is now pushing an Android 5.0 soak test to the Moto X (2014) Pure Edition. According to Moto, the Lollipop update will include the following new features and changes:

  • Material Design
  • Notifications UI & Priorities
  • New Interruptions & Downtime Settings
  • Recent Apps (Multitasking)
  • Moto Display and Ambient Display
  • Motorola Assist and Downtime
  • Flashlight
  • Share your Device
  • Pin a view/app
  • Battery
  • Smarter Internet Connections
  • Performance
  • Smart Lock (Trusted Devices)
  • Security

It’s worth noting that Motorola hasn’t offered any sort of timeframe in which we might start to see Android 5.0 updates begin rolling out to regular folks like us. Still, it’s good to see that Motorola is already testing its Lollipop update, less than a week after Android 5.0 hit AOSP.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Top 10 Android app updates this week: Pocket, Gmail

By Steve Raycraft

Inbox by Gmail

Welcome back to our weekly Top 10 Android App Updates column, where we take a look at the most frequently upgraded apps for the week. We’ve found that one of the best ways to discover useful apps is to find the ones that are actually being updated by the developers rather than selecting the apps with the most installs. As in the past, we’re going to filter out minor updates for the super-popular apps that have over 10 million installs, but we’ll make exceptions for apps that have had significant updates. We hope you enjoy this weekly feature and that you discover some apps that end up being useful.

Inbox by Gmail – Version 1.1.0

What’s new in this version:

  • Support for new Android Lollipop features
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

GMail – Version 5.0.0

Gmail

What’s new in this version:

  • All the features you love with a fresh new look and feel.
  • One app for all your email. Check and send email from Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com and all other email accounts right from the Gmail app.
  • Improved tablet layout that includes faster switching between inbox categories and accounts.
  • Additional improvements if you’re using Android Lollipop, like hiding sensitive lockscreen notifications.

RunKeeper – Version 5.0.0

RunKeeper

What’s new in this version:

  • Google Fit Integration: Added support to connect your RunKeeper account with Google Fit, this is an optional connection.

TeamViewer – Version 10.0.0

TeamViewer

What’s new in this version:

  • Improved zoom
  • Support for 4K monitors on remote side (remote side requires TeamViewer 10 too)
  • New app icon
  • Various other fixes and improvements

HBO GO – Version 2.7.05

HBO Go

What’s new in this version:

  • Support for Android Lollipop and higher resolution video playback.

Pocket – Version 5.7.0

Pocket

What’s new in this version:

  • New simple, modern, and bold visual design
    Support for Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
    Bug fixes and improvements

Pushbullet – Version 15.1.2

Pushbullet

What’s new in this version:

  • Send text messages (SMS) from your computer using our browser extensions!
  • File pushing fix

WhatsApp – Version 2.11.432

WhatsApp

What’s new in this version:

  • add captions to photos and videos
  • miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements

MAX GO – Version 2.7.05

Max GO

What’s new in this version:

  • Support for Android Lollipop and higher resolution video playback..

BeyondPod – Version 2.5.0.32

BeyondPod

What’s new in this version:

  • Simple and faster navigation using a new, modern user interface. (Make sure to read our upgrade guide at: http://bit.ly/bpod3to4 ).
  • All feeds are neatly organized in categories and available form the new left navigation drawer.
  • Your playlist and smart plays are easily accessible by swiping from the right screen edge (right drawer).
  • Support for multiple SmartPlays.
  • BeyondPod is now available as a single version that scales beautifully between phones to tablets.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Civilization Revolution 2 makes its way to Android

By Jimmy Westenberg

civilization revolution 2

Android users have been missing out on Civilization games for quite some time now. When Civilization Revolution 2, the first mobile-optimized game in the Civilization series, first came out, it was unfortunately an iOS exclusive. Now Android fans can play the game on their mobile devices as well.

If you aren’t already familiar, Civilization Revolution 2 is a turn-based multiplayer game that allows you to build an empire that will outlast the others. This second iteration brings a slew of new features and extras, including a new civilization, along with new leaders, units, technology, buildings, and wonders. 2K Games has also largely enhanced the graphics, and added a Scenario Mode, that allows users to reenact historical events and battles.

This is one of the more pricey games on the Play Store, coming in at $14.99. On the bright side, there are no in-app purchases. The game’s creator, Sid Meier, explains, “[Freemium games] are about designing unhappiness. You have to design a game so not fun that people will pay to make it fun. That kind of goes against the grain of game design.” Whether you agree with Meier’s opinion or not, the price tag is still much higher than many users feel comfortable paying. Still, this is a huge game with tons of replay value, so fans of the Civilization Revolution series may not have a hard time paying it after all.

If you’re interested, pick up the game from the Play Store today! Have you played any of the Civilization Revolution games yet? How do you like them? Let us know if you’re thinking of buying it!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

AT&T agrees to acquire Mexican carrier Iusacell for $2.5 billion

By Alex Wagner

After completing its acquisition of Cricket Wireless earlier this year, AT&T has announced that it’s entered into an agreement to buy another carrier.

AT&T will acquire Mexican carrier Iusacell for $2.5 billion. The deal will see AT&T getting all of Iusacell’s licenses, network assets, stores and 8.6 million subscribers.

Iusacell operates a 3G GSM network in Mexico that’s made up of around 20 and 25MHz of 800MHz spectrum and an average of 39MHz of PCS airwaves. Iusacell’s network covers around 70 percent of Mexico’s 120 million people. Once the deal is done, AT&T plans to expand that existing coverage with the hope of covering a total of 400 million people in the U.S. and Mexico.

AT&T’s acquisition of Iusacell is subject to regulatory review, including once-overs from Mexican telecom regulator IFC and Mexico’s National Foreign Investments Commission.

U.S. carriers have been pushing tablets and wearables more lately in an effort to continue growing as smartphone adoption gets closer to saturation. AT&T’s acquisition of Iusacell appears to be another shot at AT&T growing its customer base by expanding Iusacell’s wireless footprint.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Samsung Gear S now landing on US carriers

By Nick Sarafolean

Samsung’s Tizen-powered Gear S smartwatch is now hitting US carriers with pricing for both the watch and the plans revealed. The Gear S is Samsung’s latest smartwatch that features a 2-inch 480×360 curved AMOLED display, dual-core 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, 300mAh battery, IP67 water and dust rating and most importantly, the ability to connect to cellular networks, which gives it an advantage over many other smartwatches. The Gear S will be available on all four major carriers.

  • Verizon is offering the Samsung Gear S for $349 on a two-year contract or $399 full retail. You can add the Gear S to a More Everything plan for an extra $5/month.
  • AT&T is selling the Gear S for $199 on a two-year contract or $299 without. The Gear S can be added to a Mobile Share plan for an extra $10/month.
  • Sprint is pricing the Gear S at $384 off-contract or 24 payments of $16. You can add the Gear S to a Family Share plan for $10/month, but if your plan has 20GB data or higher, Sprint will waive that fee through December 2015.
  • T-Mobile will sell the Gear S for $349 or 24 payments of $14.58. T-Mobile will let you add the Gear S to any plan that offers unlimited talk, text, and at least 500MB data for an additional $5/month.

The Samsung Gear S is notable primarily because of its ability to connect to a cellular network, which hasn’t been found in other smartwatches. This allows you to make calls, send and receive texts, and receive and interact with other notifications that you have, all without a phone being connected to it. It should be noted, however, that you’ll need a Samsung phone in order to initially get the Gear S started and also to receive updates.

Are any of you planning to purchase a Gear S?

Sources: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile
Via: PhoneDog

…read more

Source:: androidandme