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A Series of Mental Snapshots

Posts Tagged ‘review’

Review of Jawbone Prime vs. Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth Headsets: A Real World Test

Posted by Steve on November 15, 2009

I recently was in need of a new bluetooth headset, the first one was far too loud on the receiving end up to the point that I was told to just go on mute on a conference call as others could not hear what I was saying at all. The first thing that I did, as often in testing, was to define what my desired end result was. For me what mattered most, above anything else, was the call quality on the receiving end. The other important factors were comfort, and a mute function (as my phone did not have one, and to mute with the conference call system, you had to press *1, something that is not easy while driving).

With the desired qualities in mind, I proceeded to do some research to try and figure out what device what meet my requirements. I found it was easy to narrow down the pool to a couple devices, the Jawbone Prime and the Plantronics Voyager Pro based mainly on editor and personal reviews. Both units were similarly priced, at the time the Jawbone prime was 120$ and the Plantronics Pro was 100$, so they were both upper end devices. This is where I ran into some difficulties; once I was down to the two devices, it was impossible to tell, from reading at least, which device would have the superior call quality. In words it is almost impossible to quantify call quality, often reviewers would say the quality was a four stars, or that it was better than its predecessor. I even found articles comparing the two devices, but I was surprised to discover none of them had any sound clips of what the receiving call sounded like. To me it seemed the only real way to get a feel for how good the call quality was.

This is when I decided move forward and do some testing of my own. I purchased both the Jawbone Prime and the Plantronics Voyager Pro headsets, and I then decided to leave myself a message on my phone, that way I could do a straight comparison of the receiving call quality. I actually ended up leaving messages twice for each device, as the first time I did not have a good idea of what I wanted to test, this was a good example of the importance of having various testing scenarios in mind. I wanted to hear the call quality in a variety of scenarios including, music playing, windows down, air conditioning pointed at face and different voice volume levels. (Unfortunately to hear the tests, you will need to actually download the .wav file, hopefully I can post them on another site that will stream them)

The Plantronics Voyager Pro:
http://www.mediafire.com/file/zuyznjijldm/Plantronics.WAV

The Jawbone Prime:
http://www.mediafire.com/?m5mgwtn3xny

After listening to both clips it was clear that the Plantronics Voyager pro had superior receiving call quality. The Jawbone Prime, was almost perfect when I was not talking, but when I was the background noise started to leak through. Overall comfort was about equivalent for both devices, and the Plantronics Pro had mute functionality where as the Jawbone Prime does not.

I would therefore state that the Plantronics Voyager Pro is the superior device based on my criteria, but both devices performed quite well (especially in comparison to some of the cheaper products). I have had the voyager pro for about 4 months now, and it has continued to perform well. To tie this back to testing, it was interesting because I got to test a product in a non traditional manner and in a realistic setting as a customer. It also reinforced the importance of knowing the needs of the customer when testing, because had my criteria been different a different headset could have come out on top.

–Steve

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Book Review and Thoughts: “Don’t Make Me Think!” by Steve Krug

Posted by Steve on October 13, 2008

Don’t Make me Think is a book on web usability; it is mainly about how to improve the design of web sites and web applications so that they are more usable. This is one book that practices what it preeches in the respect that it is very readable and very nicely presented rendering it what I would classify a nice read. That being said, I do agree with some other reviews of the book, the content does tend to be a bit ‘fluffy’ (for lack of a better term). A lot of the information presented is more common sense than anything else. Now with that being said, there is no harm in hearing some good common sense, and it is always good to here from another source.

There were a few parts in particular that I thought were very important, the thing that I saw as being the most important was the section on testing (surprise, surprise). It happens to be one of the last chapters of the book, but I would say by far the most important.

It discusses the simplicity in how web usability testing can be done, for example, the importance of NOT figuring out your target user (at least in too much detail. Instead it is suggested to go out and offer a small stipend to someone (anyone!) to come in to do an hour or so of usability testing. I think this is excellent advice, it takes a lot of the overhead away from the testing and realistically being able to pin down and then find your target user is not the easiest of tasks.

Another point on usability testing that is extremely important is to do it EARLY. I know first hand how difficult it is to have people test things early, your projects, sometimes you think things just are not ready. But the reality is that if you have some usability testing done early, it can provide a lot value, as at the time the changes suggested will be much easier to fix than later on in the designs life. Therefore do smaller amounts of usability testing earlier, than large scale later!

Overall it was a good read and confirms some of those ‘common sense’ kind of feelings that you may have towards web design. If you have anything to do with any web page or application I would suggest giving it a read.

–Steve

Posted in Product Review, Testing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Review of Keybreeze – Making your daily life a little easier

Posted by Steve on May 21, 2008

I have not dabbled into writing about products and programs that I use, but this one, Keybreeze, has completely blown me away.

I have always been a big fan of using global hotkeys for as many things as possible, and had started using them pretty extensively over the last couple of months. Since I had gotten used to them on my personal Laptop I decided to set them up on my work computer. I first tried the generic global hotkey program where you have to assign your hotkeys manually, this was getting tedious considering the magnitude of programs that I open at work, so I did some in depth searching, and thats when I ran into keybreeze. Keybreeze is a simple program with incredible power, it gives you access to practically anything with a couple keystrokes.

When keybreeze is installed it goes and automatically assigns a ‘keyword’ to almost everyone of your installed programs and it also comes with a set of useful generic ‘keywords’. The first step after the install is to setup a hotkey that calls up the search bar, its best to pick something that never would be used but is still simple, mine is “ctrl;”. This brings up the search bar seen in the first picture, this is where the magic happens and what makes keybreeze differently. In the search bar you can type in any program you wish to open and keybreeze will give you exact and partial matches of the keywords that match what you have entered. For example I type in the letters ‘se’ and the following options show up:

Service network Utility
Service Manger
Set Window on Top
Configure your server
Close Window

Any of which can be selected. All of the keywords that have been indexed are displayed in an easy to read alphabetically sorted command list. Furthermore it is possible to assign a keyword to practically anything, and anything that you would like auto keyworded that is not done by default can be done automatically.

Now if this wasnt cool enough, there is also a set of features called one letter features. These one letter features can easily start a web search for anything, here are a few defaults (and of course your own custom ones can be setup!)

Google Search: s notepad++
Dictionary Search: d glucose
Wikipedia Search: w Porsche

Also one of the best ones, in my opinion, is the MP3 search. All you have to do is set what media player you use, and the folders to search for MP3s in, and then type ‘p musicfilename’ and that mp3 file will be played. It can also find partial matches really well, for example I have a file called “Sugar Ray – I_Just_Wanna_Fly” all I have to do is type in ‘p fly’ and the file gets played!

There are also a few other interesting features that I haven’t toyed with too much. The first is macros, which are pretty much self explanatory. The second is Text Function which allows you to set a keyword that will paste your specified text into any text box, so for example e-mail signature, date/time etc…

So to sum things up, this may be one of the best Open-Source programs I have ever used. Of course there is room for improvement, but it is pretty amazing as is; I highly recommend that everyone use this program, especially if you are like me and perfer to use the mouse as little as possible! Check it out at http://www.keybreeze.com .

–Steve

The Keybreeze Search Bar

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