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Plantronics Marquee 2 Bluetooth headset review

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Some years ago I wrote about the first version of this Bluetooth headset and it was great. Since then, Plantronics has launched a second version, the Marquee 2, model name is M165. It is not new, it’s been a few years already in the market, but the reason why I’m writing about it now is because it simply is the best Bluetooth headset out there.

The battery is great: it lasts 7 hours of talk time and about 14 (or more) of idle time. One time I dropped it while turned on at my wife’s car and found it a day and a half later with still about 2 hours of battery life!

On to the practicality of the device. It has voice commands to answer calls, so if you’re driving or washing the dishes, you don’t even have to touch a button. Now, there are other devices that have this too, but most of them are above the $50 USD price. The Plantronics Marquee 2 is only $35 USD.

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Another good feature is the physical switch to turn it on/off, a button for volume and a button for commands. This is very important for reliability. I have a Moto Hint, it’s a beautiful piece of hardware, but it is extremely unreliable. With the physical buttons you are sure that the device is on/off and that it does exactly what you want when you need it. No accidental presses, no battery drain surprises because you thought you turned it off and it wasn’t. Also every time you turn it on, a voice tells you how much battery time is left. No need for an app with an indicator or a special button press to get that info.

The hardware design is roughly the same as the previous M155 version. It now comes in white and black and it has a matte finish. It is very light and comfortable. It comes with several ear holder sizes to adjust it and also a loop if you feel more secure with that. It’s not long like the famous top quality Plantronics Voyager, which I wouldn’t feel comfortable using in the street. This one is very discreet and small, and you can put it safely in your jeans right side pocket (yeah, that small one that almost no one uses).

About the sound quality, for $35 USD it is surprisingly good. A decent high volume, loud enough to hear music or conversations in a busy street. Noise cancelling is not the best in the market but you get a clear sound across. I’ve done tests with the Jawbone Icon HD which is almost twice as expensive and every time my test subjects on the other side of the line tell me that when I’m on the M165 it sounds like I’m using the handset microphone and with the Jawbone Icon HD I sound very far away. Oh and you can also use it to listen to music, not only calls.

In general, I can’t stop recommending this device for price, sound quality and reliability. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth headset, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

If you would like to buy the Plantronics M165 you can get it for a good price at this link. Buying it from that link will also support this blog.

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Tell me your experience with this or with any other headset you recommend in the comments section. Also if you like this bluetooth headset review.

Say hi to me on Twitter: @gabrielsaldana or on Instagram: @gabrielsaldana.

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Interesting random stuff personal

Fish market in Mexico city

Mexico city is full of awesome little places here and there. It has so many places for so many things that I’m considering making it a hobby to explore the city. A few days ago, knowing that I love my fish tanks, my friend Luis Perez told me about the Fish Market where I could find anything I like for my fish tank.

We planned a visit on a Sunday and spent most of the day there. At the fish market you really can find anything you need or want for salt or fresh water tanks. The variety of species found is impressive and the prices are great too.

Fish in bags

Not only crowded by fish, but also by people. Very hard to walk in this tiny crowded aisles.

Mexico fish market

You can find exotic species like a fresh water ray, alligators and even a Mexican axolotl (endangered species by the way, but oh well…Mexico)

Fresh water ray

Alligators in a fish tank

Alligator sleeping in the tank

Mexican axolotl

There’s not only fish and tank gear, you can also find a few other pets around like dogs and birds.

Puppies in a box

Sleeping puppies

Bulldog puppy

Bird cages

Cardinal bird

I ended up buying some gear for my tank, a few neon tetras and a freshwater shrimp that looks awesome in the tank and will help clean it up too.

Freshwater shrimp

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Interesting random stuff

5 alternatives to Whatsapp

Now that Whatsapp is part of Facebook, some might feel a bit exposed using it. But I wouldn’t worry about Facebook doing something with their chat conversation data. I would worry more about the fact that it has been known to have very weak security.

Also last weekend, after the Facebook purchase, the service had a major fail. I had several friends going back to SMS messages to communicate.

So for those cases, here are 5 alternatives to Whatsapp in case you don’t like it, don’t trust it or when it fails:

### Line

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Besides normal chat like Whatsapp, Line offers free video and voice calls. It has emoji like Whatsapp plus stickers, and you can also send location, photos, videos and voice messages in the chat stream. Another plus with Line is that it has a desktop client, so you can reply and continue your conversations on your desktop while doing other things, instead of having to reach your phone every time.

Download Line

### Viber

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Viber also supports emoji, stickers (and you can download extra ones if you need), and like Whatsapp it supports group messages with up to 100 members. Besides texts, Viber only supports voice calls. Like Line, it also has a desktop client. Oh, and they explicitly say they value your privacy.

Download Viber

### Telegram

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When Whatsapp went down, Telegram signed up 5 million new users. This app is getting more popular every day.

Telegram supports group chats with a maximum of 200 members. You can share photos and any other media, and videos up to 1Gb. The most unique feature of Telegram is Secure Chats. These chats have end-to-end encryption and they claim are not logged in the chat servers. Also you can set them to auto delete themselves after certain time on both ends.

They also claim to be concerned about your privacy and security and they show it with their features. They also claim to never disclose data to third parties.

The interface is very similar to Whatsapp if you’re migrating from that. The downside is that it doesn’t support voice or video chats. It supports emoji but no stickers like other clients and no desktop client either. Although you can install it on a tablet, it lacks a tablet design.

Download Telegram

### Skype

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Well, we all know Skype by now. It supports chats with very limited emoticons, no emoji or stickers. You can send files but not share pictures easily in the chat timeline. The advantage of Skype is its large user base and its voice and video chats. And if you have skypeout or similar you can have an additional phone number to receive calls on any device.

Download Skype

### Google Hangouts

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Hangouts is Google’s chat client replacing Google Talk. It supports voice and video chats, emoji, photos and location (no videos or voice messages for now). It has a desktop client (actually a Chrome extension) so you can continue your chats anytime your browser is open, or you can do it while having your Gmail or Google+ window open. Like Google+ in the social media landscape, Google Hangouts is a late-comer into the mobile messaging world and it has slowly been adopting features from its competitors. But since it has the Gmail user base behind it and every new Android phone seems to have Hangouts included, it is slowly gaining popularity and it is very likely that your friends already have it, ready to receive your messages in case other services are unavailable.

Download Hangouts

If your concerns are more into the privacy and security area, I recommend you to read my post about secure communication apps.

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Interesting random stuff

Google Currents as replacement for Google Reader

Google Currents logo

On December 2011 Google introduced Currents, an RSS reader app for mobile devices with a magazine-like user interface similar to Flipboard. The application is very good-looking, they have done a great design and user experience. But before that, there was the Google Reader web service and mobile app.

The Google Reader app looks old and outdated from current Android development design standards. The product seems abandoned since Gingerbread, with a minor update for tablet layouts while Honeycomb was the latest Android version. That was about two years ago. On the web application side it also felt abandoned. I’m sure there’s been incremental minor updates and maintenance tweaks on the project, but it clearly doesn’t have the attention and priority that Gmail or YouTube have, even though it’s probably the most used online RSS feed reader.

I always wondered why Google made Currents and not update the Reader app into what Currents is. Then it was weird that Google had two products doing basically the same thing in two different ways. The fact is that Google Currents is more than just a simple RSS reader, it is a publishing platform where publishers can control and customize their content presentation and also charge for subscriptions.

So that’s why it makes sense from a business point of view to kill Google Reader. I think that Currents will be the new Reader, and for that to happen, they will release a web version of Currents and migrate everyone’s data to it. The early announcement of killing Reader can also a strategy to generate nostalgia in the users and listen to the feedback generated by everyone who will miss it. Then choose to implement the most loved features into the web version of Currents. Maybe it will be announced during the Google I/O event, which is just in time before Google Reader goes dark on July 1st 2013.

Right now you can use Currents as your feed reader, if you don’t want to host your own alternative to Google Reader. It even has an easy way to import your feeds from Reader.

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GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source Interesting random stuff Programming & Web Development

Random links from my bookmarks

I’d like to share my bookmarks from time to time. I think sometimes random browsing can be very fruitful and sometimes even productive.

This week on my delicious bookmaks, I’d like to share:

I hope you find these links interesting or usefull as they’ve been for me.

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Interesting random stuff personal

My del.icio.us tags


A quick look at my del.icio.us tag cloud. I guess it really shows my trends.