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Friday
Apr082016

Podcast #734: Bragi Dash Review and HDR Explained

For more than a year now we have been talking about 4K TVs and how they are supposed to be the next big thing. But in actuality the increased resolution is only mildly better than equally spec’d 1080p HDTVs. We have pointed to case study after case study that says you need very large (100” or more) screen to see a difference between 1080p and 4K when sitting at normal viewing distances. This alone is not a good reason to upgrade.

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Bragi Dash Review

Shortly after CES we received an email from Steve asking us to take a look at the Bragi Dash Wireless Headphones ($299). We checked them out and immediately ordered a pair and after about six weeks we received our pair for review. The nice thing about these headphones is that it is completely wireless. There are no wires connecting the left and right channel. Simply insert the left and right speaker into your ear. Bragi includes four inserts to adjust for various ear sizes.

The Dash is more than just headphones. It is a music player, health tracker, and smartphone headset all in one. With all this capability we were extremely excited about using the headphones. Unfortunately, it's a product that still needs more time in the oven before it's ready.

There are some really cool features on paper but we have not been able to get them to work properly. We’ll go through these features and comment on their performance:

  • Tap and Play - The Dash has optical sensors that are supposed to make using the device easy. In actuality it makes using the Dash extremely frustrating. The right side controls audio levels, Play/Pause, and telephone functions. The sensors are on the bottom of the ear piece which makes it hard to use. You are supposed to be able to tap the dash to make it pause and play. Double tap skips to the next track. When we did this it would raise volume instead of pause the audio more than 50% of the time. We could get it to skip less than 10% of the time.  Raising volume seemed to work much better. We figured that the volume raising and lowering is a more pronounced motion. We finally determined that it's the orientation of the headphone in your ear that makes this difficult. The bottom of the headphone may not necessarily end up at the bottom of your ear and in fact it may be more towards the side. After adjusting for this we were able to make it work a little more reliably although still not 100%.
  • Activity Tracking - It seemed to work OK. The step count matched what was on our apple Watch but the heart rate was way off. Beyond that we really didn’t do much with it. But having the Audio Transparency was nice when we were out on the streets.
  • Music Player - Loading music on the Dash yielded the best results. No music dropouts at all.
  • Audio Transparency - We were really looking forward to this feature because there are times where you want to be able to listen to music or a podcast and also hear your surroundings. You turn this on by swiping the left earpiece forward and off by swiping backwards. It took us a while to get the motion down. This feature works and it really brings in the sound from outside. But if you are listening to loud music it will still be hard to hear your surroundings.

The other feature we were excited about was being able to accept and reject calls by shaking your head yes and no. We tried and tried and were not able to make this work.

Performance

Audio performance was OK. Nothing about it made us excited. It's a shame because for $300 we were expecting quite a bit more. Outgoing audio quality on calls is terrible. Anyone we spoke with said the we sounded funny and could barely make out what we were saying. In general, the Bragi Dash is a real disappointment. They are upgrading software and word on the street is that it will get better. Side note - it takes two hours to update firmware. Seriously! For now hold off on this device. We’ll report back if any of the updates improve this product.

 

What is HDR?

For more than a year now we have been talking about 4K TVs and how they are supposed to be the next big thing. But in actuality the increased resolution is only mildly better than equally spec’d 1080p HDTVs. We have pointed to case study after case study that says you need very large (100” or more) screen to see a difference between 1080p and 4K when sitting at normal viewing distances. This alone is not a good reason to upgrade.

What has us really excited is what is coming along with these new UHDTVs, HDR (High Dynamic Range) and that IS a good reason to go out and buy a new UHDTV. We have mentioned HDR on previous shows but we we never really talked about what HDR entails in any detail. We thought it would be a good idea to explain what HDR is and why you will want this on your next TV.

First we need to differentiate between HDR in photos and HDR in TVs. Photo HDR combines multiple images with different exposures to create a single image that mimics a greater dynamic range. TV HDR expands the TV's contrast ratio and color palette to offer a more realistic, natural image than what's possible with today's HDTVs. Photo HDR can make a picture look unrealistic whereas TV HDR actually makes the picture look more realistic. HDR capable TVs coupled with HDR content will display a more realistic color range, higher contrast ratio which in turn yields deeper blacks and brighter more vivid colors.

HDR is far more important to your next TV purchase than 4K but at this point in time it is unlikely that there will be a 1080p HDTV that supports HDR so you will end up with a 4K TV regardless. A TV’s ability to display a wider and richer range of colors, brighter whites, and deeper, darker blacks gives the TV picture a more ‘dynamic’ look, which is where the name comes from.

Format War

There are two HDR formats vying for your dollars, one from Dolby and one from Technicolor. However this format war is not like Blu-ray vs HDDVD. You will unlikely be stuck with an orphaned UHDTV. Both of these formats support the HDR-10 specification which is supported by UHD players. Streaming services will more than likely support the HDR-10 format although Netflix has some support for Dolby Vision on some of their original content.  

Some TVs manufacturers are supporting both so it's unlikely that you will be stuck with a TV that won’t support HDR content. If we had to choose between a TV that supported only one format we would pick the one that supports Dolby Vision. Dolby has always been out front with it's support at the point of content creation. They are at the studios working with sound mixers and video professionals to make sure their format looks and sounds best. We heard this with Dolby TrueHD and we expect the same with Dolby Vision.

How Do I Know Which TV to Buy?

At CES, the UHD Alliance, a 35-member consortium released a standard called “Ultra HD Premium” which is supposed to make it easy for consumers to identify UHDTVs that meet their specification. To be certified Ultra HD Premium a UHDTV must achieve a brightness of at least 1000 nits. There is no specific HDR specification but there are for black levels and color gamut which will guarantee a minimum level if HDR quality.

What about cables?

You won't need new cables for HDR. Current High-Speed HDMI cables can carry HDR content. The source device (a 4K Blu-Ray player, say) and TV must be HDMI 2.0a to transmit the metadata, however. If you have a receiver and want to use it for switching, it will need to be HDMI 2.0a as well.

HDR content (the key)

All these new features won’t really do anything to enhance your experience unless you have content that takes advantage of it. HDR content is starting to trickle out now and more is on the way. Amazon has a few titles in HDR (Mozart in the Jungle, Red Oaks, and a few others) and Vudu is offering HDR content in Dolby Vision. Netflix streams Marco Polo and Daredevil in HDR. There are also UHD discs that support HDR so if you have a UHD TV that supports HDR you should be able to find something to watch and show it off!

To Sum it Up

  • Getting the best picture from an HDR TV will require HDR content.
  • To guarantee your TV will support HDR look for the “Ultra HD Premium” label.
  • If you really want a UHD TV that does not have the “Ultra HD Premium” label buy a TV that has or comes close to 1000 nits brightness.
  • HDR from cable, satellite, and OTA are still a bit off.

 

 

Download Episode #734

Reader Comments (1)

To OLA
I my name is David from Mexico i have a Nvidia Shield (8 months) and i use it for Plex ,
i can tell the Nvidia Shield is the best option for plex , because the follow reason:

HDMI 2.0
DTS-HD, DD- MA and more
4K
HDR
On board H264 and H265 GPU, so you DONT need a powefull Computer not even for subtitles the Shield take care of the subtitle, the nvidia does all the work
The Remote have a mike and it works fine,

You dont need a powefull computer i use as a Plex server a Western Digital My Cloud EX4 , this Nas can not encode video or audio just make sure to eneable Direct play and Direct stream on the Shield

I been eable to stream a 4K movie from this plex serves to my Shield

I hope this information can help you.

April 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID GONZALEZ

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