Gadget Ogling: Note-Taker Triumphs, Classic Nokia Returns, and Audio Thrills
Mar 14, 2017 2:10 PM PT
Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that sometimes takes a break from figuring out why people are investing in an ephemeral content company losing half a billion dollars a year and suffering slowing user growth to pore over the latest gadget announcements.
This time around, we take a look at an automated transcription device, the return of a classic cellphone, and Bang and Olufsen's latest wireless speaker.
As ever, these are not reviews -- a difficult prospect when I've yet to see any of these items in person, let alone rigorously test them. The ratings relate only to how much I'd like to use each with my somehow-still-frigid-in-March fingers.
Transcription Tedium Killer
As someone who deals with words for a living, there are countless occasions on which I have to transcribe speech. It's tedious, and until voice recognition truly can handle all manner of accents and verbal tics, it's a necessary evil. Hands up, everyone who thinks I wouldn't want a machine to take care of that for me. No one? Good.
Titan Note records and transcribes audio, with a particular trick up its sleeve: It can discern different speakers when it's transcribing. It can operate as a speaker as well -- and if you're in a pinch, it can charge your mobile device.
That sounds great. It's hard to tell how successful the Titan Note will prove in practice, given that even the most intelligent AI tools, like Siri and Google's Assistant, struggle to transcribe accurately.
Yet if it can do the bulk of my transcription work, letting me drop in at the end to clean up any mistakes, I can't see any reason why I wouldn't want this in my toolbag.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Eye Think It Will Be Fairly Accurates
Nokia's classic 3310 mobile phone is back with a twist. The hugely successful phone made its bow in 2000, selling more than 126 million units.
Nokia discontinued the sturdy handset in 2005, but 12 years later, HMD Global has revived the 3310 under the Nokia banner as a feature phone for a new generation.
The modern incarnation, which uses the Nokia S30+ operating system, includes an FM radio, a basic Web browser and a voice recorder. Though the 3310 carries only 16 MB of onboard storage, that's expandable up to 32 GB with a microSD card. You'll need that for the 2-MP rear camera, which can capture video.
You won't have to worry about shelling out for ringtones or composing them yourself: This version can play MP3 ringtones.
Most importantly, the 3310 includes a version of Snake, the game that's synonymous with the original phone. An infuriatingly simple game to play, I'd wager Snake was a key harbinger for the success of mobile gaming in its current state.
The most attractive aspect of the 3310 for your humble, clumsy columnist is the hope it'll prove as rigid as the original device. I recently dropped my iPhone 6 one time too many, and I am forced either to overspend on a repair or tough it out with a spider-web screen until renewal time.
At 49 euros, the 3310 could prove a useful backup until then. Also, I could play Snake with physical buttons on a mobile device again, which would be nice.
Sadly, the 3310 apparently works only on 2.5G GSM networks, meaning it's impossible to use in many territories, including the U.S. and Canada.
It taps into the wave of nostalgia in the zeitgeist night now, with many yearning for glories gone by. If Stranger Things and the board game resurgence can do it for entertainment, why not the 3310 for technology?
Rating: 4 out of 5 Boxed Myself in Corners
Bang For Your Buck?
Good heavens, this is a pretty wireless speaker.
Bang & Olufsen's Beolit 17 offers 240 watts of power, a boost from the Beolit 15 from two years ago. The leather carrying strap should make it a cinch to transport the Beolit 17, which has an aluminum speaker grill and a polymer material on the top and bottom for protection.
The top of the device has a non-slip tray that's designed to house your phone while you're streaming music without having to worry that you'll scratch any surface. Critically, the Beolit apparently offers 24 hours of battery life.
There's a connection button that links to one of four modes in the Beoplay app: Alarm with snooze; Connect, which continues music from when you stopped; Remote; and ToneTouch, which employs your preferred audio preset.
I'm not completely sure that I'm willing to spend US$499 on something I don't absolutely need in my life right now. Still, I keep looking at the images, knowing the audio quality is bound to be at least good, and I yearn.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Mournful Melodies