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When products play hide-and-seek with serial numbers

I recently bought a set of PowerBeats Pro, which I generally love (more on the headphones in a future post), but today, while trying to register my product with Beats, I ran into a clear example of form trumping function.

To register your Beats, you need the serial number; Beats provides a graphic that shows you where to find it…

Seems simple enough, so I flip open the case…

Umm, where is that serial number?

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Review: Olala SG1 Bluetooth earbuds

Recently, Olala sent me a set of their SG1 Bluetooth wireless earbuds to review.1I received the SG1s for free, but my review is based solely on their performance and my impressions of their build quality. While I listen to music in a number of ways, none of them currently include wireless earbuds, so I was interested in seeing how the SG1s performed. These earbuds are also very reasonably priced—only $32 at Amazon as I write this today.

And for that $32, you get a very complete setup: The earbuds on about a two-foot cable, three sizes of ear cushions, a complete (though tiny) instruction manual, a shirt clip, a cable separator, and a leather-look carrying case.

(Also included, but not shown in the photo, is a USB charging cable.)

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Sony MDR-100ABN wireless noise cancelling headphones

Almost exactly two years ago, I bought my first pair of Bluetooth headphones—Sentey Bluetooth headphones which were amazingly cheap and worked quite well. They worked great, right up until the charging port broke and I could find no way to fix it—this was about two months ago. Not bad for $50.

When it came time to replace them, I wasn't quite sure what to get—I didn't want to spend a lot on headphones. But while browsing Costco, I came across the Sony MDR-100ABN noise canceling wireless headphones, set up in a "try before you buy" display.

I tried them on, and found them comfortable—and the sound was quite good to my ear. I also checked the Amazon reviews, which were quite positive. The Costco price (login required) was $200, anywhere from $29 to $148 cheaper than on Amazon. (Why the broad range? Costco only sells the black colored headphones; Amazon has all the colors Sony offers, and they range from $229 to $348.)

So I splurged and bought them. And I'm glad I did—these are not only great wireless headphones, they're great headphones in general. Here's why I really like these headphones…

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Semi-Review: Bruce Springsteen The River concert

First off, I'm calling this a semi-review, as I am not a big concertgoer, so I'm hardly qualified to be posting an actual concert review. This is especially true for big acts in larger venues, and even more so since the kids arrived (in 2003 and 2006).

In fact, before last night's Portland stop on Bruce Springsteen's The River tour, the last big show I saw was Bruce Springsteen on the E Street Band Reunion tour, back in the spring of 2000 (at this same venue, though in the Eucker seats). So yea, it'd been a while.

I am a long-time Springsteen fan, coming aboard with Born to Run, which was released when I was 11 years old (egads). While I own most of Springsteen's albums, I'd only seen him perform live three times prior to last night. But it was the memory of those performances that had us forking out $339.50 (plus the hassle/cost of finding a sitter for the kids) for two reasonably-decent seats to The River tour stop in Portland.

My memories of his prior concerts are of an eminent performer, able to connect with the audience even in a massive 75,000 seat football stadium, with boundless energy and the ability to make songs he'd played thousands of times seem fresh and new.

However, with Bruce now 66 years old, I wasn't really sure what to expect of last night—would it be the Bruce I remembered from years past, or would it be someone just trying to cash a paycheck by phoning it in?
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