Opinions

The Foldable Phone Revolution is here

Back in 2008 when Apple launched the App Store, it revolutionized the way we use mobile technology to interact with […]

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Back in 2008 when Apple launched the App Store, it revolutionized the way we use mobile technology to interact with the world. Apps for all sorts of function and purpose exist today, accessible from the palm of our hands. Take a moment to appreciate just how amazing that is. Fast forward to today, we are on the cusp of another revolution in mobile technology: the foldable phone.

Driven by our desire to do more

App Stores changed the way we interacted with our phones and the world. Daily tasks that used to be only possible on a stationary computer have gained mobility. From ordering food to reserving a hotel room, all of that can be done purely from a pocketable device.

Our desire to do more on the go made smartphone screens bigger. However, phones can only get so big before they are no longer pocketable.

iPhone screen size over the generations

Companies created the tablet to solve this issue. For a while, this form factor was popular. You would even, and still do, see people taking these out on the go and taking pictures with them. Soon, we realized the larger device had trade-offs. Tablets still required you to carry an additional device and bag to carry them. Using them outdoors was a clunky experience and having a seamless workflow between your phone, tablet, and the computer was challenging.

Present Day: The first foldable phones

Huawei Mate X

Fast forward to today, the first foldable phones have been introduced. The Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold are essentially a phone + tablet in one. Providing flexible between portability and function.

Early reviewers point out how enjoyable the Galaxy Fold is to use, despite its many problems and durability issues. The seamless switching from a small screen to a larger screen for more productivity and multi-tasking has real-world benefits. Want to compose an email and need to pull up a PDF to reference information? This would have been painful on a 5.8-inch screen. But on a 10-inch screen that can fold in half, that changes things.

Yes, we have issues with durability today but foldable screens will get better with time, just as they have been for 45 years (the first flexible display was developed in 1974 by Xerox). One day soon these screens will be as durable enough as smartphones are today.

Future: One device for all

Fuchsia OS logo

With the merging of tablets and smartphones into one device, the next revolution will combine all three devices: the phone, the tablet, and the laptop. We are already seeing companies experiment with this. Samsung’s DeX and Microsoft Continuum are two examples of this that are already on the market. Google’s upcoming OS is also designed to unite their assets into one operating system, creating a single OS for all form factors.

In the future, we may use smartphones folded on the go, unfolded stationary on the bus or a cafe, and docked with a monitor and keyboard. Our entire life may revolve around a single device, from our work life to our personal life even more so than today.

Are you excited for this future?

Reviews

Samsung Gear IconX 2018 Review: Not quite there yet

In 2018, Samsung released the Gear IconX 2018 as a direct successor to the poorly reviewed IconX 2016. The previous […]

In 2018, Samsung released the Gear IconX 2018 as a direct successor to the poorly reviewed IconX 2016. The previous version was plagued with poor battery life and a host of other issues. Although significant improvements have been made in the Gear IconX 2018 version, it is still not enough to justify the high price tag Samsung is asking for.

The Basics

The Samsung Gear IconX 2018 earbuds are truly wireless earbuds that come with a USB-C charging case. They come in three different colors: black, white and pink. Below are some detailed specifications:

  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 82 mAh battery in the earbuds
  • 340 mAh battery in the case
  • 5 hours of battery life in the earbuds
  • Charging case
  • 3.4 GB of built-in memory
  • Compatible with both Android and iOS
  • S, M, L wing and ear tips
  • Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor

What I enjoyed

Auto pausing should be everywhere

One of the features I enjoyed the most was the ability to pause my music automatically the minute I removed my earbuds. After using these earbuds, I wish all my headphone had this feature. Although this feature isn’t game-changing, I was surprised on how much I enjoyed it.

Built in memory is great for workouts

Samsung built in 3.4 GB of storage into these earbuds. This allows users to transfer music directly onto the earbuds so that you can listen without having to have a phone or any other device with you. For those who dislike having to carry your phone on runs and jogs, this feature works great.

Being able to share music/videos again

One great advantage of having truly wireless earbuds is the ability to share the music/video you are listening to with a friend or significant other. Being able to hand over one of the earbuds to someone so that they can also hear is something I missed from the days of wired earphones. I am glad that truly wireless earbuds allow me to do this once again.

Whether you are on a plane and trying to watch a movie on a tablet with no headphone jack or just trying to listen to the same song on the bus, these now allow you to do that again.

USB-C for charging

I am someone who has been trying to convert to having to bring one single USB-C charger for all my devices. The fact that the charging case charges through USB-C bring this one step closer to reality.

What I found frustrating

Ambient sound is close to useless

Ambient sound is a feature that has become popular over the ears where earbuds and headphones try to pipe through the sound from outside directly from the mic so that you don’t need to take off your earbuds and headphone to hear what is going on around you.

Now I have yet to find an implementation of ambient sound that I truly enjoy using. The Sony WH-1000XM3 comes close to the best implementation I have seen. The ones on the IconX 2018 are much worse. In one instance, I was able to hear the loud high pitch noise of a door closing 10 feet away rather than the person trying to talk next to me.

Fit and Comfort

Throughout my testing of the IconX 2018, I struggled with the fit and comfort. After about an hour of using them, my ears would start hurting even after trying the various different wing and ear tips provided in the box. The IconX would fall out of my ears when doing jumping jacks, making them unusable during workout sessions.

Flaky touch controls

The Samsung IconX 2018 has two touch controls on the surface of the earbuds. You are able to tap on them to play and pause music. A double tap allows you to skip tracks or answer and end calls. A triple tap plays the previous track. There are also swiping up and down to allow for volume controls as well as other combinations of taps and holds for functions like smart assistant and next playlist.

Unfortunately, the touch controls can be quite flaky and unresponsive at times. I have had the touch controls fail to respond while driving and trying to turn up the volume so I could hear the turn by turn navigation. Twice it randomly stopped responding to my fingers altogether. This sounds possibly like a software issue. Hopefully, with some future updates, this will be fixed.

High price tag

At $179.99 MSRP, the IconX 2018 is expensive. Wireless earbuds like the Jaybirds X4 or Sennheiser HD1 for nearly $50 cheaper. Although both are not truly wireless earbuds, they certainly do the basics better than the IconX 2018.

What I had mixed feelings about

Charging case only has a single charge

Given the size of the case, only being able to provide a single charge is short. At nearly the same size as the Pixel Buds case, the case should at least be providing two plus charges to the earbuds.

Sound quality

The sound quality on the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 are decent but nothing to rave home about. There are much better options in terms of sound quality and price if you are willing to forgo truly wireless for just wireless earbuds.

Would I recommend them?

With the price of $179.99, I would not recommend these to anyone. There are too many alternatives that do a better job of working reliably and having better sound quality. I would hold off on getting these and check out my upcoming Galaxy Buds review instead.

Reviews

Google Pixel Buds Review in 2019

When the Pixel Buds first came out two years ago, the reception from tech reviewers was pretty cold. Various reviews […]

When the Pixel Buds first came out two years ago, the reception from tech reviewers was pretty cold. Various reviews mentioned how the earbuds were half baked. In 2019, after using the RHA MA650 wireless, Samsung Gear IconX 2018, and the Google Pixel Buds. Are these as bad as some people have said? Lets find out.

The Basics

The Google Pixel Buds are Bluetooth earbuds that are not truly wireless. They cost $159 and come in two colors, “Just Black” and “Clearly White”. They have an earbud design as oppose to an in-ear design of most truly wireless earbuds these days. The device also comes with a carrying charging case and is rated at 5 hours on a single charge. Below are some detailed specifications:

  • Bluetooth
  • USB-C for charging
  • 120mAh battery for the Earbuds
  • 620mAh battery for the charging case
  • Microphone
  • Accelerometer
  • Capacitive touchpad

What I like

The Felt Fabric Case

The first time opening the Google Pixel Buds left a great impression on me. The tactile feel of the soft felt fabric case was not something that I expected to like as much as I did. Compared to the cold hard feel of metal or the slippery feel of new plastic, it brought a feeling of warmth. I would love to see other manufacturers experiment with this type of material.

After a couple of months of using it, the case has held up well. I have not noticed any pilling on the case despite being rubbed against my jeans in both my front and back pocket very often. Overall I would say that the material is pretty durable.

Nice and Tidy

Now some reviewers have complained about the Pixel Buds being difficult to put back into its case. I have not found this to be the case. Sure, it definitely isn’t as straight forward as dropping them in any way you want. However, as long as you follow the exact way they want you to put it in, it becomes second nature after the third time. It also makes sure everything is nice and tidy, satisfying the slight OCD side of me.

Charges through USB-C

As someone who has wholeheartedly adopted USB-C, its great to see the Pixel Buds also using a USB-C connection to charge the case.

What I don’t like

Lack of noise isolation

As someone who takes public transportation to work, these are not good earbuds to use on the bus. The lack of good noise isolation makes these almost impossible to use in loud environments. The only saving grace is that the earbuds can get loud. However, I would not trade damaging my ears for being able to listen podcasts on my way to work.

The lack of noise isolation is not all bad though. In a quiet work environment, these allow me to hear my surroundings while listening to music. If a co-worker were to ask me a question while I was at my desk, I would be able to notice rather than having to rely on them tapping me on the shoulder.

This really comes down to personal preference and where you will be using these earbuds.

Strong Connection

The Pixel Buds have one of the strongest Bluetooth connections I have used in a Bluetooth earbud. After using an RHA MA650 wireless which would often stutter even if the phone was just in my back pocket, these are absolutely wonderful. I have been able to still have a connection even being on the other side of a 4500 sqft house.

Battery life

Battery life has been good for me. I consistently get 5 hours on a single charge. Being able to quickly charge back up also means that I can just pop these in the case in between meetings and not have to worry about it ever running out of battery.

I have yet to fully drain the charging case, but I usually connect it to a charger about every 4 – 5 days.

What I have mixed feeling about

Touchy Controls

Many reviews have mentioned very sensitive controls. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it is pretty annoying to accidentally pause or play music. By far the most annoying is when being connected to a Windows PC and accidentally triggering Cortana. On the other hand, the sensitive controls have made it super easy to change the volume as well as instantly trigger Google assistant. These are by far the fastest in triggering Google Assistant I have ever seen. Once you make contact with your right earbud you can immediately say a command and the assistant will pick it up perfectly. This instantaneous execution makes Google Assistant a joy to use on the Pixel Buds. Every device should have this degree of fluidity.

Live Translation Feature

When it first came out, this feature was a Pixel Buds exclusive. In 2019, the translation feature has been opened up to other devices. I have tested it a couple of times with French, Mandarin, and English. It works better than initial reviews have shown (most likely due to progress in the algorithm over the years). However, the translation and the speed of the processing are still sub-par. I would only ever use this if I were stuck trying to ask for directions in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. Other than that, it is just a cool feature that I have used only once. Given that this isn’t even a Pixel Bud only feature anymore, its doesn’t add any value to the device.

Price

At $159, these earbuds are pricey. A lot of truly wireless earbuds are around this price, if not cheaper, making the price tag hard to swollen.

Would I recommend them?

These are tough to recommend. There is not a lot the Google Pixel Buds does to justifies the premium price. A strong connection, premium tactile feel, and integration with Google products can’t make this a good value. Given the compromises with noise isolation and touchy controls, it is better to wait for Google to come out with version 2 or perhaps try out the newly announced Samsung Galaxy Buds.

Cool Tech

Cool Tech: CES 2019 Overview

CES 2019 has just ended and a lot of interesting devices have been announced this year. From TVs to Robots […]

CES 2019 has just ended and a lot of interesting devices have been announced this year. From TVs to Robots to IoT, there is quite a bit to talk about and see. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this year’s consumer electronics show.

LG Rollable TV

LG has integrated their flexible OLED technology into a TV that can be rolled up and seamlessly disappear into a piece of furniture. This is one of the coolest TVs I have ever seen and would go great with any minimalistic decor. I still have questions about the durability of a TV with moving parts, but I welcome the decluttering of the living room.

At the cost of $8000, this TV is expensive. However, I can see the price coming down in the next couple of years. If the durability holds up, these might just become the popular household style for TVs.

Asus Zenbook S13: Near Bezeless

At 97% screen, the Asus S13 is the laptop with the smallest bezels I have ever seen. It runs the latest Whiskey lake CPU, comes with an Nvidia MX150 discrete graphics card as well the usual assortment of specifications you can expect from an 2019 ultrabook.

This year’s ultrabooks, whether it be this Asus S13 or other like the recently announced Dell XPS 13, have all been refinements to an already really good laptop. Nothing revolutionary has been announced in the ultrabook space this year at CES. The general trends seem to be laptops with thinner bezels, more performance, lighter, and better battery life.

Asus ROG Mothership

Ever wanted a semi-portable gaming system with a detachable keyboard and kickstand? Well, Asus has got you covered. The Mothership is a surface pro-like gaming device. It comes with a 17.3-inch screen, Intel® Core™ i9-8950HK, Nvidia RTX 2080, up to 64GB of DDR4, Thunderbolt 3, and a detachable RGB keyboard. At 4.7 kg, this monster of a gaming 2 in 1 is certainly a powerhouse and unique device at that.

I personally don’t see how or why I would want a gaming device in this form factor, but it is nice to see Asus experimenting and thinking outside of the box.

Wilkinson Baking Company’s BreadBot

A robot that makes a fresh loaf of bread from start to finish, all you need to do is add flour. This robot makes fresh bread every six minutes and sells them to consumers through a vending machine like interface. Consumers can even look at when a particular loaf of bread was made and what temperature it was baked at.

The Wilkinson Baking Company has not announced which grocery stores they are partnering with to put this in. Don’t be too surprised if you start seeing these at some grocery store.

Now I don’t understand why anyone would not just wait 6 minutes to buy the freshest bread in the rack, which makes me concerned that there will be a lot of already made loaves that get tossed out at the end of the day. Personally, I would rather have it make a fresh loaf every time I ask for one and I’ll just go shop for the rest of my grocery and pick it up after 6 minutes.

Foldimate Laundry Folding Robot

Hate folding laundry and got $1000 lying around? Well, you can now buy a robot to fold (most of) your laundry. It does handle intimates or anything that is too thick. But for the typical shirts and pants, it gets things done. I am not sure if this actually saves anyone time. It is nevertheless exciting to see this type of innovation happening. Perhaps this will be like the next dishwasher, where most households in the US owns one.

Apple TV and Airplay support on all smart TVs

Apple is pushing their iTunes ecosystem strong this year by partnering with TV manufacturers to support Apple TV and Airplay. Sony, Samsung, LG, and TLC have all announced new TVs that support both their existing smart TV OS along with support for Apple TV and Airplay. This means that you will soon see Apple TV and Airplay support on Android TV, Tizen OS, WebOS, and Roku box. This is certainly a different strategy that Apple is employing to increase usage of their ecosystem.

I have also heard reports that Apple is forbidding TV manufactures that integrate Apple TV into their systems from tracking your watching habits and selling them. I so far can’t confirm this, but if its true I am glad to see a company take on the privacy helm.

Announcements

Relaunching for 2019

Welcome to Mindful Gadgets. We are planning a relaunch in early 2019. In the next couple of weeks, you will […]

Welcome to Mindful Gadgets. We are planning a relaunch in early 2019. In the next couple of weeks, you will likely see our site change quite often. Below are some exciting new things that will be coming to Mindful Gadgets

Reviews

Starting in 2019, we will be focusing on more personal and in-depth reviews evaluates the value and how a particular consumer electronic benefits your life.

Opinions/Analysis

We will also be looking into some of the latest tech trends and how these trends will affect your life. Whether it is about if 5G will truly change the way we work and stay connected or if I should upgrade your phone this year or wait another year to switch.

Daily Drivers

Interested to know what device we use on a daily basis? There is now a list of the gadgets we use on a daily basis. Be sure to check in often to see reviews on those items and why we use chose that device as our daily.

Much more

2019 will be an exciting year for us. There are additional features planned for the year that are still in the planning phase. Be sure to bookmark and check back often on the latest update. Follow us on Twitter for the latest.

Happy 2019