Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Samsung Pay May Be Coming to Your Older Samsung Phone In 2016

This week saw some great news for Samsung phone owners that have been dying to try out the company's mobile payment service. Global co-general manager of Samsung Pay Thomas Ko told Reuters that the Samsung Pay service will be expanding beyond the company's flagship devices to likely include cheaper none flagship devices, which in turn means we will hopefully see it rolled out to older devices as well!

Lower-priced Samsung phones will likely start offering the mobile wallet "within the next year," Thomas Ko, global co-general manager of Samsung Pay, said in an interview. He went on to say it is a goal for Samsung to see wider adoption of the service and that "handset availability of Samsung Pay as well as online payment support is coming soon."

Samsung also plans to expand the service beyond just a mobile wallet and into the online payments arena. Ko says that the mobile wallet is accepted at far more locations than its rivals, due to its ability to work with older payment terminals and not just new NFC-equipped models. Online payments, meanwhile, will transform the service into a PayPal rival.

Samsung Pay is already the most widely accepted mobile wallet in the United States because it is compatible with new and older credit card terminals and does not require any special arrangements with retailers, Ko said. For instance, shoppers at Wal-Mart can pay by just waving their smartphones with the app. without the requirement of addition of the store's own third party app like their newly launched Walmart Pay.

Unlike the limitation of Android Pay and Apple Pay which both require NFC, or near-field communications, chips and terminals, Samsung Pay uses technology that Samsung acquired through their acquisition of payment service LoopPay.

LoopPay utilizes MST technology to generate changing magnetic fields over a very short period of time. This is accomplished by putting alternating current through an inductive loop, which can then be received by the magnetic read head of the credit card reader. The signal received from the device emulates the same magnetic field change as a mag stripe card when swiped across the same read head. LoopPay works within a 3-inch distance from the read head. The field dissipates rapidly beyond that point, and only exists during a transmission initiated by the user.

Utilizing this technology Samsung Pay wirelessly sends credit or debit card information magnetically as if a customer's card was swiped at a payment terminal. That means merchants aren't required to install additional or specialized hardware to accept payments from a phone. Samsung Pay also works with NFC terminals but currently only on Samsung's four flagship devices such as the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. Expanding the technologies to lower priced phones will bring mobile payments to a larger swath of the population.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Got a New Drone or Hoverboard For Christmas? You Better Read This!

For new drone and hoverboard owners there are several key laws that you need to be aware of in order to keep yourselves and your children safe and out of trouble!

They are two of this year’s must-have holiday item, coveted by children and adults alike. Retailers are promoting them heavily online and on catalog covers, and they are an increasingly common sight. But before you take that shiny new drone out for your first flight or take that hoverboard for a spin around the block you had better know the laws related to usage or you may face heavy fines!

Register Your Drone And Know Your Responsibilities

We've covered a lot about the new drone registration laws and while many of us may not totally agree with it, it is a law that you should be aware of especially since it cares some major fines and penalties! The online process should only take about five minutes, and the $5 cost covers any number of drones you own for three years. Once registered, write or affix your registration number to your drone, and carry a physical or digital version of your registration card when you fly.

Just remember that anyone over the age of 13 must register their drone regardless of size. The actual min weight is only 1/2 a pound or so and a maximum of 55lbs. You are also limited to a flight ceiling of 400ft, and must maintain visual contact with your drone at all times.

For more regulations be sure to checkout some of the FAQ's so you are fully aware of what you can and can't do with your drone. If you still have questions the FAA is partnering with several industry associations to promote safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft. You can read more about the Know Before You Fly educational campaign.

Hoverboards: You Better Know Your Local Laws!

Many new hoverboard owners may be shocked to find out that there are in fact several law regarding usage and in many places — from New York State to individual schools, malls and stores — they are actually illegal to ride!

Anytime a new and popular mode of transportation hits the mainstream we see a great deal of confusion when it comes to laws and legality of use on the roadways. The public often isn't aware that there are laws that actually regulate when, where and by whom a new device can be operated. In the cases of device like hoverboards the powers that be struggle to keep up with a sudden rise in popularity and existing laws may not clearly point to the device in question.

This is certainly true as it pertains things like motorized scooters and now hoverboards. Existing laws may not have mentioned them directly, therefore many new owners might not know that they are in fact covered by those laws.

In the case of the New York owners in areas like the Upper East Side and other parts of New York City, the state classifies them as motorized vehicles that cannot be registered, so riding them in public can incur a steep fine.

Such is also the case in California! Recently we saw a surge of people taking to Facebook to voice protest over what they think is 'a new way for the state to make money' when in fact the new law actually overturns old laws that had previously banned the usage of motorized skateboards.

The new law, which will take effect on January 1, 2016, was signed into legislation back in October. Filed as AB 604, the law defines “electrically motorized boards” as a new legal category (characterized by moving no faster than 20mph, carrying only one person, and being no bigger than 60 by 18 inches), and specifies that an operator must be at least 16 years of age to operate their hoverboard on any public street, highway, bikeway, or any other public bicycle path, sidewalk, or trail.

The bill would also require electrically motorized boards to be equipped with safety equipment, as specified, and restrict the operation speed of electrically motorized boards. Any violation of the new law carries a penalty of $275 and possible confiscation of the device.

As you can see from these two examples the laws vary widely. Regulations will also vary widely as local governments and both public and private entities implement their own restrictions. So you certainly want to check with your local government as well as private entities like your property management or HOA's, retailers and any entertainment venues you might want to take your drone or hoverboard to.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Last Minute Geeky Gift Ideas!!

While there may only be a few short days left in the holiday season there is still plenty of time to get your favorite geeks an affordable gift they won't want to return! Geeks can be a particularly difficult bunch to shop for, ok not really we just like techie gifts, but that doesn't mean you can't find something that every geek on your holiday shopping list will need. Below we've added a few great ideas that any geek can use, even if they already have one!

Power for your power hungry devices!
One thing that almost every tech device has in common is a major huger for more power! For geeks keeping our smartphones, tablets or other devices powered is a major area of concern, after all how are we going to stream videos or game without battery life?

Monster Mobile Powercard - This supper thin portable battery pack makes it easy to recharge your phone in an emergency. At just a quarter of an inch thick, and weighing less than 1.6 ounces, Monster Monster Mobile Powercards fit easily into a wallet, purse or backpack and pack a powerful punch for quick charge on the go.

PNY T6600 PowerPack - Featuring a slightly larger profile the PNY T6600 packs more power for your punch! The T6600 provides dual Universal USB ports with 1 amp & 2.4 amp outputs offering the ability to charge 2 devices simultaneously and packs enough power give you up to 4 charges for most of your mobile device when you need it most!

High Capacity Solar Panel Charger - Something every outdoors enthusiast and sports geek should own is a good high quality solar charger.Most these days come with prechargeable high capacity battery packs to replenish the charge on your devices even at night, but the key here is the solar charging. You never want to get caught in the back-county without one!

Portable durable sound on the go!
You just can't be a true geek if you can't rock out to your jams while you are on the go, and nothing ruins your day like a wimpy speaker that can't handle the rugged lifestyle, or a weak set of headphones.

Monster SuperStar Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - The BackFloat rugged Bluetooth speaker packs plenty of bang for the buck with great sound quality from an extremely portable device. It features 7hrs of playback, a speakerphone and did we mention this thing even floats. It has been tested to withstand both heat and cold so it will work not only in the pool or at the lake but in a Jacuzzi or bathtub and is rugged enough to withstand the snow, beach or night around the campfire!

Outdoor Technology Big Turtle Shell - Often given some of the best reviews as this biggest loudest portable speaker system out there the Big Turtle Shell is a must have for the geeky audiophile on your shopping list. They will love the high quality sound, that provides excellent 'boom' for that outdoor gaming party or large campground shindig. The speaker lasts for 16 hours of playing time and it can recharge your iPhone or Android four times over.

Monster Clarity HD Headphones - A good set of headphones is a must for any geek and these things are simply amazing. Check with your geeks and see if they prefer earbuds or over the ear style headphones, but either way you go they all make great stocking stuffers!

Store all those files, photos and holiday memories!
Almost every geek gadget these takes needs more storage space and you can never go wring with giving the gift of micro sd cards, portable hard drives or flash drives!

Samsung EVO+ microSDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card - I use Samsung memory exclusively in all of my devices and highly recommend them to everyone and just about every geek on your list has at least one device out there that can use more memory! The Samsung Samsung EVO+ line-up is some of the best dollar for dollar memory I think you can get right now and since it has been on-sale it can be had at a great price. The cards feature read & write speeds of up to 80MB/s & 20MB/sfor faster loading times and transfer speeds.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive - This cool portable drive tucks away nicely in a stocking and can be carried by just about any geek on your list. The portable drive allows you to save videos, photos or music from up to five smartphones and tablets without the hassle of wires, cables, or internet availability. You can even use the media card slot to share files from your media card directly to each device. It makes sharing photos during the holidays a breeze!

LaCie Rugged Portable Hard Drive - A must have for any outdoors enthusiast on your holiday shopping list. Built to withstand some of the most rugged conditions LaCie Rugged Drives make great gifts for avid sportsmen, a college student that is always on the go, or that average user that might be prone to dropping other portable drives.

These are just a few ideas that some might consider out of the box. Geeks really do love just about any tech gadgets, movies, games or music you can throw at them, we just want you to think more broadly about some of the options available. Things like power packs, memory and headphones are pretty universal to everyone out there and even if they don't need them right away having back-ups is always a positive! Be creative this holiday season, buy something bold!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review: TrackR Bravo When Excitement Turned To Remorse

We have been looking for the best options for keeping track of our numerous gadgets around the office and personal devices for some time now. We've had our eye on a few different options, but until now we have had a very limited opportunity to actually get hands on any of the more popular devices like the Linquet, TrackR and others. So when the opportunity arose to purchase a new TrackR Bravo at a discounted price we jumped for joy (yes sadly we didn't get a free tester unit).

TrackR is one of just a few crowdfunded project we've actively been tracking (no pun intended) for some time now. The overall design of the device as well as promised capabilities always sparked our interest . Having recently lost a few sets of keys, among the many thing we occasionally lose, we decide to take advantage of a promotional offer of $10 off to buy a TrackR Bravo for the office which also netted us a TrackR Sticker for our home use (thanks to their referral program).

Our TrackR Sticker arrived fairly quickly as it seems they had plenty on hand. Unfortunately the TrackR Bravo took about 6 weeks to be delivered (something they didn't tell us), which may have been due to our order of custom engraving.We'll get into that a bit later as well!

The TrackR Sticker and TrackR Bravo both offer the same fundamental features. They connect via Bluetooth to your compatible device to allow for two way tracking and separation alerts. They also use Bluetooth to utilize the device's GPS system for TrackR's crowd based location tracking. The only major difference between the two devices comes down to deign, as the Bravo is thinner and lighter and the materials used. The Sticker is made of plastic while the Bravo features a much more stylish design with a very thin anodized aluminum shell.

Pairing and using your device is pretty straightforward. Turn on BT, open the app and select add a new device, then press the small blue led button to enable BT on the TrackR and it should pair right up. The TrackR App itself is pretty basic with a few features you can setup. You have things like device separation, so the TrackR will beep when the phone is out of range, or vice versa and the phone will alarm when the TrackR is gone. You also have your crowd based GPS map that shows you a last known location.

As mentioned with our TrackR Bravo we were also able to order custom engraving which offers the very useful option of adding a phone number or other details so you can be contacted if your device (and hopefully keys, wallet or whatever you are tracking) are found. We chose to add our phone number to one of ours, unfortunately the size of the engraving is very small and very easily overlooked! So we aren't sure how helpful that really will be.

Our Disappointment Begins!!

We started running into problems right away and from the app reviews on Google Play it sounds like everyone else had pretty much the same issues! First we started our testing by trying out the device separation alerts. We figured this might be something we'd use more often than not to locate our keys around the office or in the house or just to make sure we don't walk off without something.

Unfortunately as you can see from many of the complaints the audible alarm on the TrackR devices, yes we had issues with both, is not loud enough to be heard further than a few feet away in even a quiet location. The sound is also very high pitched so some people will automatically have issues right there. TackR told many reviewers that they had fixed this issue and had louder devices, but this doesn't seem to be the case since we just ordered ours and they have the same flaw. Unfortunately not being able to hear your device when it is in the same room means you are going to have issues pin-pointing it.

Our second issue was with range. TrackR claims an impressive Bluetooth range of 100 ft., however we were never able to get more than a few feet from our device without it setting off the phone alarm. On the occasions we did, range was limited to a line of sight of approx. 10-15ft at best. We also had several issues with the connection dropping and the alarm going off while the two devices were in close proximity. This got annoying and resulted in the need to shut down the feature all together.

Both of these issues are major disappointments! If you can't hear your device or rely on the alerts then it almost makes them worthless! You may ask if the app has any sort of reliable tracking that helps to pin-point location. Unfortunately no it doesn't. It does give you a very poor - close or far - indicator, but there is nothing that aids you in actual direction of the device or even how close or far it might be.

It Wasn't All Bad And We Did See An Upside!

The one and only upside that we can say we had was using TrackR's Crowd GPS system. It wasn't without flaws, but we were able to see the devices connected and located in a few locations while we were out on the move. This gives us hope that had we actually lost or misplaced one of our devices at one of the locations we were at that we might be able to find them. It would likely have to rely upon a stranger actually turning them in, but at least it would give us some sort of hope for a return.

In short while we started off pretty excited to test out our TrackR's and hopefully have something that would help us keep track of our devices at the end of the day we just ended up with a great deal of disappointment. Some people might be able to use them under totally ideal conditions and in completely ideal situations. However, that really isn't realistic and certainly not good enough to warrant us recommending buying them. Maybe down the road TrackR will be able to fix the sound issues and fine tune the tracking, until then I'll be looking for another option.

Monday, December 14, 2015

FAA Drone Registration Is Here, $5 Fee Waived For Early Registration

With the newly announced drone registration regulations now in full effect the FAA will officially start accepting applications from drone users wanting to be in compliance with the law. The registration website has been launched and includes frequently asked questions about the process. Actual online registrations won't begin until next Monday, December 21.

Registration will be legally required by February 19, 2016 for anyone age 13 and older who owns or operates a small UAS (drone)  weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. The rule applies retroactively, so even someone who operated an unmanned aircraft prior to December 21 must register by the deadline. Anyone purchasing a drone after December 21 must register before the first outdoor flight.

You'll need to provide your name, home address, and email address. After you complete the registration, you'll get a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique ID number, which you must affix to your drone or drones.

Registration will be free for the first 30 days, until Jan. 20. After that, you'll need to pay $5 to register, or risk civil and criminal penalties if you're caught flying an unregistered drone after Feb. 19. Failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

"Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release explaining the process. "Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation."

The full set of regulations covering drones and drone registration can be viewed here: www.faa.gov/news/updates/media/20151213_IFR.pdf

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Walmart Just Introduced Walmart Pay Another Mobile Payment System You'll Likely Never Use!

The mobile payment arena is quickly becoming the hottest new thing in tech these days. However, and very unfortunate for customers, we aren't seeing any sort of cross functionality or standardization and just about everyone out there is joining the game with their own 'ways to do things'!

Today retail giant Walmart has thrown their hat into the arena with yet another option, the retailer introduced Walmart Pay – what the company is calling a fast, easy and secure way for customers to pay with their smartphones in Walmart stores.

With this launch, Walmart becomes the only retailer to offer its own payment solution that works with any iOS or Android device, at any checkout lane, and with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card – all through the Walmart mobile app. The mobile payment feature will be introduced in select stores beginning this month, with a nationwide launch to be complete by the first half of next year.

Checkout using Walmart Pay happens in three steps:
  1. Open: Visit any register, open the Walmart app and choose Walmart Pay. Then you'll need to activate your phone's camera.
  2. Scan: At any time during checkout, simply scan the code displayed at the register. Walmart Pay is now connected.
  3. Done: Associate scans and bags the items… and it’s done. An eReceipt will be sent to the app and can be viewed at any time.
”The Walmart app was built to make shopping faster and easier,” said Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce. “Walmart Pay is the latest example – and a powerful addition – of how we are transforming the shopping experience by seamlessly connecting online, mobile and stores for the 140 million customers who shop with us weekly.”

Walmart's plan to launch their own stand alone app comes on the backbone of the company still refusing to accept other major mobile payment solutions through NFC like Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Along with other major retailers the company has been a major supporter of MCX and CurrentC - whose system uses QR codes displayed on a cashier’s screen and scanned by the consumer’s phone or vice versa to initiate and verify the transaction. The system is also designed to automatically apply discounts, use loyalty programs, and charge purchases to a variety of payment methods without passing sensitive financial data to the merchant.

By going it alone, and essentially shunning other mobile payment solutions, Walmart is taking a major gamble! For starters they are asking would be users to download yet another app that they may or may not being willing to use. For many users that might be a deal breaker especially when Samsung users can use Samsung Pay just about anywhere!

Secondly there are outside indeterminable factors like the variability in smartphones, camera quality, lens cleanliness, 3G/4G signal strength, and WiFi availability which all factor into the apps usability. Last but not least they are betting against and essentially shunning the casual shopper that likely won't already have the Walmart app and Walmart pay loaded to their phone, but might have Apple, Google or Samsung Pay. Ideally retailers should be willing and open to broad acceptance of all payment platforms, not just the ones they build and approve!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

From AI to Virtual Reality What Will Be The Hottest Tech Trends for 2016

Consumers are driving new technology and trends like never before. As the speed of technology adoption has increased, mass-market use becomes the norm much quicker than before. This means successful new products and services now reach the mass market in only a matter of years rather than the slower uptake of old. Engaged consumers are pushing the era of prosumption – consumers actively participating and engaging in the production process – often through online user reviews, opinion sharing, petitions and instant crowd activities such as crowd funding.

With the lightening fast changes in the tech world it is often difficult to predict what technology will evolve to become the next mainstream success. While many of the past predictions out there seemed overly futuristic, many of reached mass market adoptions faster than ever thought. This week Ericsson ConsumerLab released their 5th annual Hot Consumer Trends report for 2016, chalked full of some rather bold predictions for what hot new tech you may be seeing come to life in the next year.

The insights in the “10 Hot Consumer Trends for 2016 (PDF)” report come from Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research program and cover a range of consumer opinions. The broadest trend is representative of 1.1 billion people across 24 countries, whereas the narrowest represents 46 million urban smartphone users in 10 major cities.

These are the 10 trends for 2016 and beyond:
  1. The Lifestyle Network Effect. Four out of five people now experience an effect where the benefits gained from online services increases as more people use them. Globally, one in three consumers already participates in various forms of the sharing economy.
  2. Streaming Natives. Teenagers watch more YouTube video content daily than other age groups. Forty-six percent of 16-19 year-olds spend an hour or more on YouTube every day.
  3. AI Ends The Screen Age. Artificial intelligence will enable interaction with objects without the need for a smartphone screen. One in two smartphone users think smartphones will be a thing of the past within the next five years.
  4. Virtual Gets Real. Consumers want virtual technology for everyday activities such as watching sports and making video calls. Forty-four percent even want to print their own food.
  5. Sensing Homes. Fifty-five percent of smartphone owners believe bricks used to build homes could include sensors that monitor mold, leakage and electricity issues within the next five years. As a result, the concept of smart homes may need to be rethought from the ground up.
  6. Smart Commuters. Commuters want to use their time meaningfully and not feel like passive objects in transit. Eighty-six percent would use personalized commuting services if they were available.
  7. Emergency Chat. Social networks may become the preferred way to contact emergency services. Six out of 10 consumers are also interested in a disaster information app.
  8. Internables. Internal sensors that measure well-being in our bodies may become the new wearables. Eight out of 10 consumers would like to use technology to enhance sensory perceptions and cognitive abilities such as vision, memory and hearing.
  9. Everything Gets Hacked. Most smartphone users believe hacking and viruses will continue to be an issue. As a positive side-effect, one in five say they have greater trust in an organization that was hacked but then solved the problem.
  10. Netizen Journalists. Consumers share more information than ever and believe it increases their influence on society. More than a third believe blowing the whistle on a corrupt company online has greater impact than going to the police.

Michael Björn, Head of Research, Ericsson ConsumerLab, says: “Some of these trends may seem futuristic. But consumer interest in new interaction paradigms such as AI and virtual reality (VR), as well as in embedding the internet in the walls of homes or even in our bodies, is quite strong. “This means we could soon see new consumer product categories appearing – and whole industries transforming – to accommodate this development.”

Monday, December 07, 2015

Worried About Stolen Mail? USPS May Soon Send You Images of What Is In Your Mailbox

We've all seen those nasty headlines, especially around the holiday season, that mail and package thefts are on the rise and while home security camera might catch that package thief in action it can be hard to see what they are stealing out of your mailbox. The United Postal Service (USPS) might soon have a solution!

The USPS is testing a new feature called Informed Delivery that will take and send up to 10 images a day of what's in your physical mailbox to your email inbox. The USPS will send black and white images of your actual letter-sized mail pieces, processed by USPS sorting equipment, each morning. You can then view the images which include things like sender information from any computer or a smart phone from just about anywhere in the world. For those with heavier mail loads, 10 pieces and above, you be able to view additional images on your online dashboard - in the same place you track your packages!

For now the service is only available to residential customers in Northern Virginia, NYC and Connecticut with further expansion "being considered" for 2016. In fact, the USPS says it has been testing the service in Virginia since 2014.

Once expansion begins the service will be free for all users with a My USPS account (also free) and it will be available to all residential customers in those geographic areas, sorry no business accounts. To see more information on Informed Delivery, geographic availability, and further enrollment questions, go to http://www.informeddelivery.com/learnmore .

Firefox’s Unpopular Sponsored Tiles Feature Discontinued

When it comes to free and open source projects developing revenue can be a tricky situation. Developers have to walk the fine line between what actually works best and generates the most revenue and what the community that supports them actually approves of. So it came as no surprise when Mozilla first announced the Tile Ads (or sponsored tiles) ad program it was met with a lot of  opposition from Firefox users, supporters and developers.

The feature, which basically injected ads inside blank tiles in Firefox's New Tab page, may have been opt-in only. However, users felt that the ads where overly intrusive since they are based on user habits, involving a fair amount of user tracking. And no matter how much or how well Mozilla tries to reassure users that the tracking and system are safe and private, users didn't buy and thought the whole thing was too much intrusion.

After shortly over 6mos of being released to the public, Mozilla has said the feature is being retired. Writing on the official Mozilla blog, vice president Darren Herman explains that while they believe that advertising in Firefox could be a great business, it isn’t the right business model for them at this time. He continues on stating that, "Our learnings show that users want content that is relevant, exciting and engaging. We want to deliver that type of content experience to our users, and we know that it will take focus and effort to do that right. We have therefore made the decision to stop advertising in Firefox through the Tiles experiment in order to focus on content discovery."

Sponsored tiles will continue to appear for the next few months while Mozilla "fulfills its commitments" (i.e. clears out ad inventory), but then they'll be gone entirely.

While it appears that we will soon see an end to some advertising in one of our all time favorite browsers, it does not completely mark the end for possible changes and ad inclusions down the road. According to Herman's blog post: "Mozilla will continue to explore ways to bring a better balance to the advertising ecosystem for everyone’s benefit, and to build successful products that respect user privacy and deliver experiences based upon transparency, choice and control."

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Upgrade Your Earbuds With Monster Clarity HD Headphones

Are you giving your favorite geeks a new smartphone or tablet this holiday season? If so don't overlook one of the most important updates you can add, and that is a set of great headphones! Whether they are music buffs, hard core gamers or movie fanatics adding a pair of high performance headphones is a must and is certain to make the holidays sound that much sweeter.

Let's face it, when it comes to picking out headphones or earbuds most of us stick with those crappy  free earbuds that come with our phone or tablet, that is if we even got any! Unfortunately we all know that those aren't even close to high quality and generally offer sub-par comfort and sound quality. For me they fall under the category of something you use to make do. Still most of us either don't upgrade or when we do we opt for another solution that isn't much better.

This is where Monster Products steps in, likely best known to many for their work in audio and video cables, the company has begun branching out to things like speakers, headphones, power packs and surge protectors. Believing that consumers deserve better, Monster has created an affordable (SRP: $49.95 wired/$89.95 wireless) line of high performance earbud headphones that offer consumers better comfort, build, sound, calls, and noise isolation, along with better wireless performance on the Bluetooth models. 
“The free earbuds you get with phones and portable devices break easily, fail on sound, and are uncomfortable with poor isolation. Still, we’ve found that many consumers that settle for these inferior earbuds pay to replace them, often multiple times, with the exact same models, despite their dissatisfaction! There’s a better way – and it’s Monster ClarityHD earbuds,” says Head Monster, Noel Lee. “Whether you prefer the wireless freedom of Bluetooth or wired, ClarityHD gives you step-up quality, step-up sound, step-up build materials and craftsmanship, better isolation, and better comfort with crystal clear calls at an incredible value. We’re giving everyone the opportunity to say goodbye to those generic commodity earbuds forever. The consumer deserves better.”

Better Fit For Better Comfort Which Creates Better Noise Isolation and Sound

Personal preference is a major factor when it comes to selecting earbuds or headphones. Most people either really like earbuds and hate headphones or vice versa. Generally this is due to bad experiences with one or the other. For me personally I never cared much for earbuds, mainly due to the fact that they never fit right and always irritate my ears!

Monster has done something to help alleviate that with the ClarityHD earbuds. They feature a patent applied oblique cone shaped front housing and three different soft-tip sizes that conform to almost any ear shape for a perfectly snug, comfortable fit that stays put and won’t slip out during activity. No more hard and wobbly earbuds that are constantly falling out while you are running or exercising or hard over-sized earbud tips that are rubbing your ears the wrong way.

This much better fit also offers much better sound isolation which in turn gives you much better sound quality. The tighter fit around the ear helps seal out some of the noise while the Monster CalrityHD's high-performance balanced acoustic chambers further sound damping for even better noise isolation. Combined the two eliminate much of the ambient background noise that is present while listening to music or taking calls offering you a much clearer crisper listening experience.

Better Build Means Longer Life

One problem that is universal to almost all earbuds and headphones is a relatively short lifespan. As most anyone out there know it doesn't take much to damage those thin wires, especially at the stress points like the jack. ClarityHD earbuds feature careful reinforcement at critical stress points to ensure protection from the fraying and tearing associated with generic earbuds. The wired ClarityHD models have flat, tangle-resistant cables and low-profile right angle connectors that stay out of the way and ensure a secure fit. Wireless models use the finest technology and build materials for a durable, long-lasting headphone that stands up to rigorous use.

The ClarityHD Bluetooth sets feature a dual battery design for double the life and all day listening. A USB charging port on the control box allows users to easily charge and the microelectronics are situated in line for better Bluetooth reception. The in-line mic is strategically placed at the ideal incidental angle for superior voice pick-up.

Monster ClarityHD wired earbuds are now available in Black, White, Green and Pink and the Monster ClarityHD Bluetooth earbuds are now available in Black and at monsterproducts.com and select retail stores such as Staples and Amazon.

Want a chance to win a free pair of your own? @MonsterProducts will be giving away 50 pairs of the all new Monster ClarityHD WIRELESS headphones to those of you that can come up with the best break-up stories. To get started, watch and share this hilarious video (http://bit.ly/claritybuds) then post your worst break up story followed by hashtag #YouDeserveBetter on Twitter or Instagram and you'll automatically be entered to win. Be sure to add a photo or video to enhance your story. The better the story, the higher the chances of winning!