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Review: Harman Kardon Esquire Mini is the best iPhone speakerphone you can fit in your pocket

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini - Lifestyle (2)not me

I reviewed two portable Bluetooth speakerphone options earlier this year: The Philips WeCall ($145) vs. Logitech P710e ($125) . Both are square and have internal batteries and make conference calling easy. But for their ~$150 price tag, I wondered if you could get more portability and style without sacrificing sound quality.

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The answer to those questions is the Harman Kardon Esquire line of portable speakerphones. Below, I take a look at the Esquire Mini which retails for $149.99 and can be found as low as $145 at Amazon or $135 at World Wide Stereo

Harman Kardon products are always packaged nicely and the Esquire Mini is no exception. The unit itself is slightly bigger than an iPhone 6 and about twice as thick. Around the edges is a beveled metal band which connects the softer black underside with the Kevlar-like front speaker grill. On the back is a big stainless steel kickstand which looks classy for portable electronics.

Around the edges you’ll find a 5 LED battery indicator and mic/grill on one side and USB/MicroUSB AUX input and a leather strap (included) base on the other. On the top/front is a metal volume rocker and power/Bluetooth/Phone buttons. The box comes with a MicroUSB charger cable (5V/1A) and a leather strap.

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Powering the device up for the first time it automatically goes into pairing mode and in a few seconds you are paired with iOS(Settings/Bluetooth). If you want to pair a second, third and so on devices, you’ll need to press the bluetooth button for a few seconds to manually enter pairing mode.

Immediately all sound in and out will go through the speaker and you’ll notice that everything becomes very crisp and clear. People on the other end of the phone will also notice a crisper and clearer sound than using the iPhone like a push to talk device. The noise canceling works just like the iPhone and in my tests worked well all but one time.

The device itself purports to have 8 hours of continuous use and I think that’s fair though you’ll get a shorter life if you are using it hard. Those 8 hours also go down if you use it as a iPhone charger which might be one of the Esquire Mini’s best features. In a pinch you can get a full iPhone charge from it as well (and we’ve all been there).

The downsides of the Esquire mini are few but notable. You can certainly use this as a Bluetooth speaker and for most music it is perfectly reasonable. However, if you are looking for bass, you are going to still be looking after you crank this one to 11. You just can’t get the kind of movement you need to make deep lows in a package this thin. As for range, this is a few notches above what Apple puts into the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro.

I’m not design snob but I can’t help but wonder if this design matches up more with the iPhone 5/5s. The beveled stainless steel edging definitely matches up there better. The color options here are also not to my liking. I would stick with the black or white version if you must and skip over the brown and gold versions (though obviously if you have a gold iPhone, you might as well).

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Everyday Usage:

Usage is where the Esquire Mini shines. It fits anywhere an iPhone 6 fits though it gets tight quick in skinny pants. Put it in a purse or jacket pocket or in your briefcase/bag however and you are in great shape. Pull it out at your desk or in a car or in a conference room and you are immediately hearing great sound and able to speak clearly to people on the other end. I often use the Esquire mini to answer phone calls while leaving the phone in my pocket. Having an extra iPhone charge in your pocket is also a big bonus. You can now chuck that battery which was likely close to the same size as the Esquire Mini. The Aux port works exactly like it should.

Wrap up:

This is a fantastic product for portable speakerphone usage and is simply the best looking product in this range at any price. The only downside I can think of as a speakerphone or speaker is the lack of bass which is mostly a factor of its thin, light size. If you want a great portable speaker that also does mic calls, head over to the cylindrical JBL Charge 2 which also retails for $149.  However, if you need a speakerphone that gets loud and fits in your pocket, the Esquire Mini which retails for $149.99 is a great product/gift and can be found as low as $145 at Amazon or $135 at World Wide Stereo. Oh, and yes it works with Android, Windows or BlackBerry as well.

 

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Filed under: AAPL Company, Reviews Tagged: Android (operating system), App Store (iOS), Apple Inc, Australia, Battery (electricity), Bluetooth, Esquire, Esquire Mini, Harman, Harman kardon, Harman Kardon Esquire Mini, iOS, iPhone, Kardon, Mini, Mobile phone, Stainless steel

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Apple Pay already works abroad on supported NFC terminals w/ US-based cards

Apple-Pay-Australia Apple-Pay-Setup

Following yesterday’s launch of Apple Pay through participating card issuers, banks and retailers in the US, some users have discovered that the payment service is also already being accepted through some retailers abroad. 9to5Mac readers report using Apple Pay loaded with a US-based credit card at retailers in Australia and Canada…

Reader Beau Giles reports, Apple Pay works anywhere there’s existing PayPass or payWave terminals – and in Australia we’ve got plenty of them…While Apple restricts cards to US issued cards, they do work with Apple Pay just fine elsewhere.”

Beau notes that Apple Pay appears to be based on the region set on a user’s device and is not necessarily tied to an iTunes account (although it does offer the option to use a card on file through an Apple ID). Users abroad can make Apple Pay settings appear by changing their region to United States in Settings>General>Language & Region>Region.

Apple Pay doesn’t yet support Australian cards issued by local banks, but reportedly works with supported US-based cards through MasterCard’s PayPass, Visa’s payWave or American Express’ ExpressPay terminals. It’s still unclear exactly what is required for a retailer to support the service (for instance a geo-location parameter could be enforced by Apple), and whether or not Apple Pay will work with all NFC payment terminals from supported partners, but it appears at least some terminals are already up and running with US-based cards abroad. That’s a good sign for those that plan to use Apple Pay abroad even before support is rolled out internationally.

Another reader in Canada sent over the video below showing Apple Pay working with NFC-equipped vending machine in Canada:

We’ve reached out to Visa, Mastercard, and American Express for more information on supported terminals abroad.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: American Express, Apple pay, Australia, Canada, Credit card, how to, MasterCard, NFC, Paywave, Setup, terminals, Visa

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AppleCare+ finally coming soon to Australia

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AppleCare+ is coming for the first time to Australia in the coming weeks, according to a source. Apple will begin training Apple Store employees in Australia on how to sell the premium protection plan in the coming days. MacRumors is also reporting that the service is inbound to Down Under. iPhone and iPad users in Australia can currently only buy the less-expensive standard AppleCare plan. Apple revamped AppleCare+ for many countries earlier this year with an extended purchase window and by making the plan the standard. Apple typically adds a few new countries to its list of AppleCare countries with new iPhone launches, and with the iPhone 6 upon us, it makes sense that Australia (and potentially some other yet-to-be-supported countries) will get AppleCare+.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, Apple Store, AppleCare, Australia, iOS, iPad, iPhone, MacRumors

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Helpful shift scheduler for Apple Store employees turning into App Store app for all

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A couple of years ago, Australia-based former Apple Retail Store employee Josh Hunt realized that he (and his colleagues) had a major problem: even with Apple’s cloud technologies, viewing his Apple Store work schedule was a pain. Apple’s internal network allows Apple Store employees to view their hours each day, but this information is not easily accessible from the Calendar application on the iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Hunt created a tool called Roster Genius that is a web extension to convert Apple’s internal calendaring system into a file that is compatible with the iOS and Mac calendar applications.

Roster Genius was a hit inside the Apple Retail world, and Hunt tells us that the service amassed 8,000 users in 14 countries. But Hunt shut down Roster Genius in favor of building something, alongside co-founder Sam Elliott, with larger implications: an App Store app with similar shift management functionality that could be used by all sorts of users, not just Apple Retail Store employees. The new app, launching in the coming months, is called Shifts, and as the developers tell us, “it is a calendar app, but made specifically for casual/part-time employees – that is, people who work different shifts every day.”

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The application can connect to the schedules of others so that “you’ll be able to see when your days off align with your friends, and share your roster with a group of friends and coordinate for things to do on days off, organize the carpool or plan after-work drinks,” according to the developers. The interface for the app is very slick, and it boldly does not use the date picker as it instead relies on the numbered keypad for quickly entering in work times. As for the Apple Retail Store-optimized version, that’s coming back too.


Filed under: iOS Tagged: App Store, Apple, Apple Store, Australia, iOS, iPhone, iTunes, Josh Hunt

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Sony’s discounted ‘Album of the day’ app goes international, up to 70 percent off popular artists

sony

Sony’s Album of the Day app for iPhone and iPod Touch, which provides a daily discount of up to 70 percent on albums by popular artists, has gone international. Originally launched in Germany in March, it is now available in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Every 24 hours, Album of the Day offers you one album from the artists you know and love at a special limited time promotional price. All deals live on your iPhone and are purchased safely through iTunes and saved to your iTunes library.

If you allow push notifications, you’ll receive a notification of each day’s deal, which is available for just 24 hours. You can download the free app from iTunes.

(via TNW)


Filed under: Apps Tagged: albums, Australia, Canada, Germany, iPhone, IPod Touch, Ireland, iTunes, Music, Sony, Sony Music

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