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2 years ago

Moto Surround vs LG Tone Infinim vs Samsung Gear Circle


Bluetooth headphones can be a life saver, as long as you know which one fits your needs.

It may hard be to take $100 Bluetooth headphones seriously when you know what $100 in wired headphones can get you these days, but there are plenty of folks out there today who need that portability in order to get their audio fix throughout the day.

Fortunately for these users, there are several options in this price range that both look nice and pack some interesting features. The somewhat unflattering name "neckbuds" stands out as the popular name for this category, due to the ability to hang the hardware around your neck all day and have Bluetooth headphones whenever you need them.

We're talking today about the Samsung Gear Circle, the LG Tone Infinim, and the recently released Moto Surround neckbuds, and while you can't go wrong with any of the three we're going to take a look feature for feature and see which one stands out in the crowd.

Moto Surround vs LG Tone Infinim vs Samsung Gear Circle

Comparing Neckbud Designs

The core of these neckbuds is the ability to stay on your neck all day, so you can just reach for the buds and put them in your ears when you want some music. To do that, the headphones need to be easily accessible when you want them and out of the way when you don't. As a secondary feature, being able to vibrate when you have an incoming call or an important notification is cool.

HBS-900 retractable earbudLG's design is by far the most practical. The Tone Infinim buds hide inside the casing when you need them, and the design allows you to retract them with a button press when you don't. This means the cables are never in your way, and you only have the pull the cable out as far as you need to reach your ear instead of having a bunch of cable to get caught on something when moving around a lot. Unfortunately, this also means the casing that hangs around your neck is a little on the chunky side when compared to Samsung and Motorola's offering. Still, retractable cables are a pretty big deal.

Samsung's Gear Circle looks like it would be the most lightweight, but there's something the promo pictures you see don't tell you about this design.

Motorola opted for a design that lays flat against your neck, with flat cables that magnetically connect to the ends of the plastic "U" shape around your neck. The magnets are more than enough to keep the buds in place in normal movement, but if the cables get caught on something the ends disconnect quickly. If the cables didn't stick straight up from their side mounting positions, this design would be subtle enough to keep under a button up shirt without anyone knowing you had neckbuds at the ready for a music fix, but they do so you can't. It's a great look, but the cables need some better management.

Samsung's Gear Circle looks like it would be the most lightweight with a design that is the easiest to hide under a shirt or something, but there's something the promo pictures you see don't tell you about this design. The block of plastic in the back of this circular design, which holds the battery, moves all over the place unless you use the clear plastic holster, which completes the rigid neckbud look Samsung was trying to avoid. The earbuds themselves magnetically connect to one another, with control buttons on the sides for playback and call answering. At first glance it looks like a clever design, but that tacky clear plastic piece is a requirement for long-term comfort and ruins the whole look.

Comparing Audio

Neckbuds Audio

One of the big things that helps these neckbuds stand out is the use of the APT-X audio codec, which compresses the audio in a way that can lead to better sound than your average Bluetooth audio connection. It means there's less quality loss in transmission, but the headphones themselves still have to have quality parts in them to take those bits and turn them into decent sounds. For our tests, each of the three neckbuds were connected to a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and an HTC Nexus 9 and subjected to identical samples of music, movies, and games.

Were it not for that background noise, Moto Surround would produce the most complete sound.

The Tone Infinim buds deliver a nice clean sound, with reasonable mids and highs and very little of the background noise so commonly associated with bluetooth audio. Lows aren't quite as good, and as you might expect with earbuds like these there's almost no bass at all. It's fantastic for spoken word or instrumental, but you'll notice something missing with most popular music.

Motorola nailed the bass with its Surround offering, but it comes at a price. There's background fuzz, that almost static-like sound so commonly associated with Bluetooth audio, in everything you listen to. It's not something most folks would notice when listening to music, but stands out clearly in spoken word and instrumental as something that doesn't belong. Were it not for that background noise, these headphones would produce the most complete sound of all the neckbuds used today.

Samsung's offering with the Gear Circle is alright, but doesn't really do anything particularly well. These buds aren't particularly loud, but that also means there's practically no distortion at the highest volume, which is nice. It's a decent sound for Bluetooth earbuds, which means lows exist but are kind of muddy, and mids and highs are a little on the flat side. They get the job done, but compared to LG and Motorola it's hard to say the Gear Circle does anything special.

Companion Apps

Each of these neckbuds offer more than just audio. Communication with your phone or tablet is enhanced by an app, and each of these manufacturers opt for different features in their companion app.

LG Tone and Talk

LG's Tone and Talk app makes it easier to pair to the Tone Infinim, and gives you control over notification and call settings from within the app. You can choose what notifications are spoken aloud and which apps are allowed to use the service, but this mostly applies to messaging and social networking apps. It's nice to be able to have your messaged read to you when you're working out, or if you're in a position that limits how frequently you can check your phone. The degree of control you have over speech type and speed is impressive, but ultimately it's the kind of thing you'll either use all the time or never bother with.

Moto Coonect

Moto Connect gives you a faster way to pair with Moto Surround, and once you're connected you have access to battery percentage and basic connection information. The app also gives you the location of the last place the phone was connected to the neckbuds on Google Maps in case you misplace your hardware. You got some basic control over spoken notifications from the neckbuds, but only for connection information and battery information. It's a simple app with basic information, but it looks nice and could really come in handy if you've already got the app installed when you lose your Moto Surround.

Gear Manager

Samsung's Gear Manager app is used for all of the Gear accessories, but with a Gear Circle attached you gain access to battery level and some basic settings for audio quality and notification controls. You can adjust audio through an equalizer to change the audio coming from the Gear Circle, and the app will speak out notifications you have received, but often only the name of the app sending the notification. As nice as it is to know you've got an Amazon order ready for delivery, hearing "Gmail" and nothing else every few minutes is irritating. Fortunately the controls here are fairly granular. This setup is easily the best of the three, but being limited to Samsung phones and tablets only ruins that somewhat.

Measuring Battery Life


If your daily routine is such that having any music is more important than having the highest quality music, you may only be interested in the battery life of your neckbuds. That's a perfectly reasonable position to have, whether you're out hiking for a weekend or the daily grind includes a loud environment that you'd like to tune out by any means necessary.

The LG Tone Infinim promises 17 hours of talk time, 23 days of standby, or 14 hours of continuous music playback. In our tests, 10 hours of media playback got us to a low battery warning. That low battery warning continued for just over an hour before powering down.

The Moto Surround promises 15 hours of talk time, 30 days of standby, or 12 hours of continuous music playback. In our tests, 11 hours of media playback got us to a low battery warning. That low battery warning continued for two hours, but increased in frequency during the last 30 minutes and made listening to anything essentially pointless.

The Samsung Gear Circle promises 11 hours of talk time, or 9 hours of play time. In our tests, the Gear Circle loses 11 percent of battery every hour, with low battery warnings happening at 15 percent remaining.

And the winner is...

LG Tone Infinim

It's clear that you couldn't go wrong with any of these headphones, but if you're looking for the best overall experience the LG Tone Infinim are the way to go. Retractable cables more than make up for the added bulk, and the design is comfortable enough to be worn all day without issue. The audio quality is good enough, especially for Bluetooth, and you're going to enjoy the battery life these neckbuds provide.

Buy: LG Tone Infinim

If you're not sold on the Tone Infinim design or you care about slightly better audio, the Moto Surround should be your next stop. Not only are they cheaper than the LG Tone Infinim, but as long as you like the one color they come in these neckbuds have some style to them.

Buy: Moto Surround

As for the Gear Circle, not only are these neckbuds the worst in battery and overall design, the sound just isn't that great. Considering these are also the most expensive of the three we're looking at today, it's hard to justify choosing these over the other two.

Buy: Samsung Gear Circle

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2 years ago

Samsung S-View Clear Flip Cover for Galaxy Note 5


The S-View Clear Flip Cover grants an easy peek at the basics, but doesn't make anything else much easier.

Arguably one of the more popular cases from Samsung is this clear flip cover that's designed to present simple features such as time, incoming/missed calls, and preview notifications without having to flip it open. The Samsung ID chip embedded in the front cover is what makes the magic possible, however, its features are rather limited when compared to the likes of the HTC Dot View Case. Basically, you have to really like the style of this case to make it your day-to-day guardian for the Galaxy Note 5.

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2 years ago

BB-8 by Sphero won't support voice commands on Android at launch


$149 Buy now

We've been messing with BB-8 by Sphero for a few hours now, and having a ton of fun patrolling the office and racing with the other Sphero robots we have in the office. If you're a fan of Star Wars, particularly the upcoming Force Awakens movie, this is undoubtedly going to be the toy to buy this year. Unfortunately, those of us running Android are going to have to wait a little while for one of the coolest things this rolling orange robot can do.

In the promo video for BB-8 by Sphero, you see a demonstration of voice commands for the little robot. They work great, you can have BB-8 look around and patrol an area, move forwards and backwards, and even shout "it's a trap!" and have the little droid scurry off at max speed in whatever direction it is currently facing. Unfortunately, none of these voice commands work on Android just yet. In fact, the button to enable the feature isn't in the app settings at all, which is weird when you can see mention of voice actions in the BB-8 app description on the Play Store before the app was pulled (currently the APK is available on the Sphero website ).

While this is a bummer to anyone who plans on rushing out to pick one of these robots up tomorrow, there's no need to worry. Orbotix will be releasing an update to the BB-8 app for Android once the feature is ready. In the mean time, start picking out where you want the charging dock to live. It needs to be somewhere you can see when the little docked robot has something to say.

Buy Sphero BB-8 now from Best Buy

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2 years ago

Labor Day Sale: 20% off accessories at ShopAndroid!

We're slashing prices this entire week on Android accessories, so getcha some while they're on the cheap.

Some of us will be enjoying our long Labor Day weekend by grilling up some BBQ with friends and family or getting our splash on at the beach. No matter how you spend your day off, starting today you can save 20% on everything from ShopAndroid through midnight, September 9. There's plenty to choose from for the latest devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy S6, and more.

Use coupon code: LD2015 at checkout to apply the 20% discount to your entire order, and remember that we offer free shipping on orders over $50 within the continental US.

Let's shop!

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2 years ago

BB-8 by Sphero is every Star Wars fan's dream robot


When the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was revealed to the world, a whole lot of people had the same thought about one of the little robots in the trailer. It looked suspiciously like a giant Sphero robot with a little floating head on top, so naturally a ton of people asked Orbotix if they would be able to make a version of their popular Sphero robot to look like this thing from the trailer. Not long after, the world learned that not only was Orbotix capable of making a small version of that BB-8 droid, but was the company responsible for making the big one being used in the movie.

Today, BB-8 by Sphero is finally a real product you'll soon be able to buy for yourself, and it's shaping up to be the toy every Star Wars fan is going to want to own.

On the surface, this little droid closely resembles a Sphero orb with a little head on top, but the overall feature set blows away anything we've come to expect from the folks at Orbotix. BB-8 by Sphero pairs to your phone or tablet and lets you control movement, and as you'd expect it's the same kinds of movement we've seen from the larger BB-8 appearing in The Force Awakens.

$149 Buy now

The BB-8 app includes several control methods, including voice controls tuned to the owner, sentry mode between pre-determined areas, and even autonomous behavior if you just want the droid to roam around and play.

Sphero describes BB-8 as having an adaptive personality, and claims its behavior will change based on interaction with you. A line you'll see repeated in marketing material is how this droid is more than a toy, it's your companion.

The BB-8 app also includes a communication mode, allowing you to record messages from your phone and have them play back in an Augmented Reality field that looks as though your message is being played through a holo-projector baked into BB-8. If you've got friends who also have BB-8 droids, you'll be able to send holographic messages back and forth to one another through the app.

As you'd expect from a Sphero-like toy, the wireless docking cradle lets you drop BB-8 in when you're done playing and pick it back up when you're ready to go. Like the robot itself, the cradle is sporting heavy Star Wars theming, and when BB-8 is placed in its cradle the head adjust automatically to face forward, acknowledging that charging has started and just plain looking cool.

BB-8 by Sphero is launching on Force Friday, September 4th for those who haven't been paying attention to every little thing in the Star Wars Universe, for $149. Everything you need to know about grabbing one of these for yourself can be found over at the Sphero site.

Buy Sphero BB-8 now from Best Buy

Sphero BB-8

Amazon Best Buy

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2 years ago

Pelican Voyager Case for Samsung Galaxy Note 5


When regular cases just don't cut it, the Pelican Voyager stays true to protecting the Galaxy Note 5.

Similar in build quality to that of OtterBox and Lifeproof, the Voyager Case focuses on the needs of the rugged Note 5 user. That means serious impact protection that's going to hold up when your device hits the turf. It includes a 2-piece snap on cover, separate screen protector, and a belt holster for quick draw access at your side.

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2 years ago

This smart LED bulb packs a 3W speaker for easy listening with custom lighting


The PLAYBULB Color can be controlled straight from your smartphone for unique lighting that goes great with your favorite playlists.

Taking smart lighting to the next level is the PLAYBULB Color, similar to its sibling the PLAYBULB Rainbow, only with a 3W speaker added around the bulb that provides easy listening anywhere you decide to twist it in. Compatible with standard E26 and E27 screw base light sockets, this light connects to your Android or iOS device over Bluetooth, but requires the free PLAYBULB X app to control colors, effects, and set up special groups for managing multiple bulbs simultaneously.

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2 years ago

Gadgets of the week: Philips hue dimmer, SmartThings Hub V2 and more!


You guys like technology, right?

We're putting together another week's worth of the best in connected accessories, including wearables, smart home gadgets, Bluetooth speakers, and whatever else talks to your Android phone or tablet. Philips has a simple but handy dimmer switch for their connected lightbulbs, and SmartThings is updating their connected home hub with additional offline measures. Find more of the week's coolest new Android-friendly doohickeys inside!

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2 years ago

Top 5 heavy duty cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5


Putting your size concerns aside, a rugged case for your Galaxy Note 5 can extend the lifespan of your device quite a bit. Extra layers, built-in screen protectors and textured grip all play a role in keeping your Note 5 in your hand and off the concrete. Big names like OtterBox, Trident, and Urban Armor Gear are all making their return with the newly announced Galaxy Note 5 — and we're highlighting our top 5 that are up for grabs right now.

Read now: Top 5 heavy duty cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Check out the top 10 best cases for Galaxy Note 5

OtterBox Defender Series Case

The OtterBox Defender Case for Galaxy Note 5 doesn't skimp on its multi-layer design, providing maximum protection against both scratches and impacts from front to back. This hybrid cover features a durable polycarbonate inner shell with foam padding, finished with a synthetic rubber slipcover. The built-in screen protector helps to keep the display clean, and the Defender's port plugs block liquids, dirt, and other debris from getting into the Note 5's openings. The OtterBox Defender Case is $69.90, but if you want the classic holster to match it, it's an extra $14.95.

Buy from OtterBox

Urban Armor Gear Case

Sporting a rugged design that's excellent for enhancing grip, the Urban Armor Gear Case for Galaxy Note 5 is actually quite slim for the level of protection it provides. All four corners feature an extra thick TPU for handling impacts, with easy-grip edges that feel great in your hand. Since both its armored shell and TPU core have been fused together, installation is quick and simple, keeping things exceptionally lightweight. This case comes in solid colors including black, white, and orange. For a transparent look, take your pick from clear, gray, or red for $39.95.

Buy from Amazon

i-Blason Prime Dual Layer Case & Holster

For superior protection without with ridiculous price tag, the i-Blason Prime Dual Layer Case and Holster for Galaxy Note 5 is an option that looks as tough as it protects. This hybrid cover rocks a dual-layer design that packs a fold-out kickstand on its textured polycarbonate shell — great for convenient viewing on the go. Bundled with the rugged case is a matching swivel clip holster that works great on most belts or even your pocket. Snag this heavy duty combo in black, blue, or red for only $11.95.

Buy from Amazon

Trident Aegis Pro Case

Built for the rugged user in mind, the Trident Aegis Pro Case for Galaxy Note 5 features a hardened, bio-enhanced polycarbonate shell and shock absorbing TPE interior. Meeting military standards, this durable case has been drop tested 26 times at 4ft. There are port plugs to keep out dirt and debris, as well as a self-applicable screen protector to shield your Note 5's display from scuffs and scratches. Trident also uses degradable, compostable, and recyclable materials for this cover — making it an eco-friendly solution to protecting your Galaxy Note 5. The Aegis Pro Case is available in black, blue, or pink for $34.99.

Buy from Trident

Supcase Unicorn Beetle PRO Series

Last up is Supcase's Unicorn Beetle PRO Series Combo for Galaxy Note 5, providing a more subtle rugged appearance that leaves easy access to ports, buttons, and the S-Pen. Next to its flexible TPU core and polycarbonate exterior is a built-in screen protector to keep scratches at bay without compromising touchscreen sensitivity. A strong, swivel clip holster is bundled with the cover for good measure, too. The Supcase Combo starts at $15.99 and is available in black, blue, green, pink, and white.

Buy from Amazon

What's your favorite Galaxy Note 5 rugged case?

That's our top 5 heavy duty cases for the Galaxy Note 5 available right now. In the coming weeks we're keeping our eyes open for other popular brands like LifeProof and Pelican — both great manufacturers for rugged covers. Have a different case in mind you plan on picking up for your new Note? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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2 years ago

HTC RE wins design award at the 35th International Design Excellence awards ceremony


HTC's handheld camera, the RE Camera, has won a design award at the 35th International Design Excellence awards ceremony. The camera beat out more than 1,700 other entrants to come out on top, and will be featured in the fall edition of Innovation, the annual yearbook of International Design Excellence Award winners.

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2 years ago

Wren V5US Wireless Home Speaker System Review


The Wren V5US isn't your average portable wireless speaker. It's designed for multi-room audio with a handful of options for easy connectivity.

Sure, this speaker is portable, but it still takes two hands to safely tote it from place to place. It measures 16.75 x 4.25 x 6-inches, making it more ideal for entertainment centers, or elevated shelves for an optimal audio experience. It's mostly made of a ½-inch thick medium density fibreboard (MDF) that's been laminated and reinforced to eliminate resonance and discoloration.

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2 years ago

LG Rolly is a solid, rollable full-size keyboard for your smartphone and tablet


LG has announced the Rolly, a full-size rollable wireless keyboard designed to work with smartphones and tablets. The keyboard folds up along the four rows into a stick that's easy to carry around. Constructed out of "impact-resistant" polycarbonate and ABS plastic, LG's accessory gives you more tactile feedback when compared to silicone-based keyboards.

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2 years ago

Samsung's upcoming wireless speakers can be controlled by the Gear S2 smartwatch


Samsung will launch three new models in its lineup of Wireless Audio 360 speakers. The R5, R3 and R1 models, which will go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015, can be controlled by a smartphone app or via the upcoming Gear S2 smartwatch.

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2 years ago

TYLT's Y-Charge QUIK car charger adds Quick Charge to both ports


Finally. A car charger that provides Quick Charge 2.0 on not just one, but both USB outputs.

We've had our hands on a bunch of car chargers in the past, many of them supporting Quick Charge 2.0. The real drawback being that you're limited to a single port that provides the technology. TYLT's new Y-Charge QUIK Car Charger is making the change, cramming 4.8A (48W) inside its goofy build for a quick boost in battery life while you hit the road.

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2 years ago

Hands-on the Incipio OCTANE Case for HTC One M9


Incipio's OCTANE Case shows off the HTC One M9's original design while managing impacts like a champ.

This bumper case provides more than just simple protection around the edges; its co-molded construction adds a transparent polycarbonate shell to match its easy-grip border. Although the back shell is see-through, it's actually a bit cloudy compared to something similar like the HTC Clear Hard Shell Case. That said, the OCTANE Case adds more grip from edge to edge, reducing those accidental drops.

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