Monday, October 14, 2013

It's On Amazon: Sony MDR-1RBT Premium Bluetooth Over-The-Head Headphone Review

Although I chose the V-MODA M-100 headphones as my primary set, featuring it in a review about a year ago, I continued to be on the lookout for an equally solid set of Bluetooth headphones, I prefer to use wireless headsets with my tablet and smartphone.  My previous Bluetooth headphones, the Sony DR-BT50, featured superb battery life but middling audio quality and an on-the-ear style as opposed to the over-the-ear which I prefer.  I came across the MDR-1RBT in my search to update the DR-BT50s, and though it's priced in M-100 territory, it checked off several key features that made me think it'd be worth the investment.

First, it's an over-the-ear design with plenty of room inside its earcups.  This was important as the M-100s' cups are at the borderline of too small for my ears, resulting in some discomfort during longer listening sessions.  I'll be picking up and reviewing the newly released XL earcups for the M-100 shortly, but for my next Bluetooth headphones I wanted to be sure that the cups would provide for adequate comfort.  The MDR-1RBT cups don't disappoint, with plenty of space and angled drivers that provide additional room for your earlobes and better position the speakers for audio fidelity.

Second, I've always wondered whether it was possible to add a regular 2.5" audio input jack to a Bluetooth set, allowing it to be used as a traditional headphone when Bluetooth isn't available or in a contingency where its own battery has run down.  The MDR-1RBT says "yes."

Third, it charges via micro USB port, like many of the other portable devices I own (e.g., HTC One, Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Keyboard, etc.), meaning they can all share chargers when and if the need arises.  The battery life appears as good if not better than the DR-BT50, and the audio quality over Bluetooth is very solid.  On the wire, it comes in second to the punchier sound of the M-100, but unless and until the latter's XL earpads solve its sizing issues, the MDR-1RBT wins in the comfort department.

All in all, the MDR-1RBT is a solid contender for the only pair of headphones you'd ever need, as it basically does it all and checks all of the boxes in fine fashion.  In fact, its solid performance has left me a bit torn between keeping the M-100 for its sound and the sweet custom ear shields I designed for it, or adhering to my minimalist consumer aesthetic and sending it off to eBay, retaining the MDR-1RBT as my "only" pair of headphones.  I've decided to give the M-100 a chance to redeem itself with the XL earpads and the finally released gaming microphone attachment, the results of which will feature in an upcoming review.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Every Day Carry (EDC): October 2013

My EDC Roster (as of October 7, 2013)

Cellphone:  HTC One (Verizon)

With the One finally available on Verizon and my Thunderbolt growing slower and slower (taking almost a minute to actually make a call after the "call" button is pressed), I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade.  Solid construction with a lightning-fast 1.7 Ghz Quad-Core processor, incredible battery life, and fantastic 1920 by 1080 screen.

Flashlight:  Titanium Innovations IlluminaTi CA1 LED Flashlight

I'm a firm believer in carrying a small flashlight on your keychain, as it can be a lifesaver whenever light suddenly becomes a precious commodity (which can happen more often and unexpectedly that you'd think).  This titanium LED light runs on a single AAA and has high and low settings.

Keychain:  Pickpocket Alpha, by Pangea Designs

An elegant solution to keeping your keychain secure yet easily accessible, as well as keeping its contents both organized and separated. 

Pen:  PicoPen, by TEC Accessories

I always try to keep a pen at hand (even when paper or other writing surfaces may not be), and the most compact and efficient solution I've found is the PicoPen.  It's the perfect size for my (admittedly small) hand, and fits well on a keychain.  My only gripe is that the pen is attached by magnetic fastener, which can be a problem if you also keep sensitive electronics on your keychain, or if the notion of it sticking to other steel-based items on your chain irks you.  Pairing it with the titanium Pickpocket mentioned above, however, solves both problems.

USB Flash Drive:  SanDisk Cruzer Fit CZ33 32GB USB Flash Drive (SDCZ33-032G-B35)

Incredibly small and inexpensive, there's no reason not to keep vital files on a USB drive like this on your keychain as an extra layer of backup on top of whatever cloud service you might fancy.  Having a USB drive handy for file transfers is another thing that, once you've gotten used to it, you may find that you can't live without.

Wallet:  Big Skinny Taxicat (Olive Drab)

The one weakness of the Slimmy line of slim wallets by Koyono is that they don't have a coin pouch.  The Taxicat by Big Skinny eliminates that weakness in a form factor that isn't that much thicker, thanks to its ultra-thin nylon construction.

Watch:  Marathon TSAR (Tritium Search and Rescue) on U.S. Great Seal Bracelet

The newest of five watches that I use in rotation, this rugged diver watch fills in the rough-and-tumble role where its 300-meter water resistance, quartz accuracy, and always-illuminated tritium-marked dial and hands come in handy.  Requisitioned for U.S. and Canadian government use, this watch is the true benchmark for military-spec timekeeping.  The matching bracelet is sold separately, but it really makes the watch with its solid links and endlinks.  The U.S. Great Seal version adds nice symmetry to the "U.S. Government" printed on the dial.