Review six Harman/JBL Flips, two with new Bluetooth antenna design – KemptonTestLab

Wednesday, 23 January, 2013

KemptonTestLab: Only best products pass our tough tests!
Review Scores for Harman JBL Flip:

Sound alone: 9.5/10
1st generation Flip Bluetooth antenna: ranging from 1/10 to 4.5/10
2nd generation Flip Bluetooth antenna: 7/10

Review six Harman/JBL Flips, two with brand new Bluetooth antenna design

In this article I will focus on the two brand new Harman/JBL Flips with new enhanced antenna design (Flip #5 & #6 in my set of six Flips), freshly made from Harman/JBL factories in China and express couriered to me. I want to thank Andy, Global Product Line Manager of Harman Lifestyle in kindly arranging the new units to be shipped to me for testing. And special help from Chris, Senior Director of Brand Marketing of Harman International in connecting me with Andy. Without their help, I am sure my Harman/JBL Flip experiences would have been even worst!

So I won’t repeat many of the points I made in “Review: 4 JBL Flip #Fail Wireless Speaker (Bluetooth + Sound) using Logitech Mini Boombox as Benchmark“.For example, you can read what I wrote about the original antenna design and the new enhanced antenna designs for the JBL Flips (with pictures). Here are links to the raw FCC filings and a pix of the original and new antenna design in case you are very technical and want to go straight to the sources anyway.

– Harman/JBL Flip, Original Equipment filings (08/31/2012)
– Harman/JBL Flip, Class II Permissive Change filings (12/11/2012)

JBL Flip Antenna - Original and post-Class II Change

Video Clips & Flips’ Sound – They worth a thousand words

Have a watch of this video of my “review of six Harman/JBL Flips, two with brand new Bluetooth antenna design“.

My Thoughts

To be direct, I had fully expected the two new Harman/JBL Flips would be (should be) flawless. So I have been extremely disappointed again to see such a wide variation between two Flips! Watch the above review video again to see for yourself. Yes, Harman/JBL Flip #6 performed close to flawlessly, in fact very close to (but not quite as good) as the Bluetooth of the Logitech UE Mobile (see benchmark video). (updateI’ve performed additional tests on the Harman/JBL Flips #5 #6, and have discovered some additional problems. See my update at the end for a video of the test and some brief notes.)

The Flip #5’s performance was weaker in comparison to Flip #6. Why can’t I expect Harman/JBL to delivery better results simply be as good (not even “better than” but just “as good as“) as what others can do effortlessly?

I don’t want to draw conclusion from a sample of two Flips with the new antenna design because that will mean a defective rate of 50% on the production process. Was it workmanship, was it faulty Bluetooth chip, was it bad wiring, was it bad antenna component, did the wire come loose in the shipping process? I don’t know. But what I know is that any of these should not have happened.

Some people who left comments in my articles or YouTube videos attack or insult me personally, I just laughed them off. For one thing, there are some people will little expectations from their Bluetooth speakers. I, on the other hand, have seen how great distance with solid transmission that the magical Bluetooth speakers can perform if the manufacturers have done the right design, assembly, production jobs in their Bluetooth components (e.g. Logitech UE Mobile).

I don’t want to repeat what I said on camera in the concluding last bit of my review video, but I think it is fair to say Flip #5 (plus Flip #1, #2, #3, and #4) fell very very short of what I would expect from a major brand name like Harman/JBL that has a supposed track record built from years of excellent products and services. Since we are talking about brand reputation here, it is ultimately left in the hands of the like of Chris, Senior Director of Brand Marketing of Harman International, and other senior executives to decide how best to resolve these problems.

Serial Number Cutoff (SNC)

Quite a few readers and YouTube commenters have asked me what is the Serial Number cutoff (SNC) for the Flip with new antenna design so they can exchange for a “good” one without being frustrated more by needing to return/exchange/refund? I’ve asked Harman/JBL repeatedly for the SNC without any success. Read the rest of this entry »


“Chairs Are Like Facebook” #fail Wieden & Kennedy Ad for FB to honor users

Thursday, 4 October, 2012

"Chairs Are Like Facebook" #fail Wieden & Kennedy Ad for FB to honor users

Wieden & Kennedy is a great Ad company that bought us the exceptionally cool “Old Spice Man campaign” in 2010 but its lastest “Chairs Are Like Facebook” Ad to celebrate it had reached its billion-user milestone has left this reporter and many people scratching our collective heads. To many people, Facebook is a Lovemark to them but this ad isn’t one fit for a Lovemark.

Rebecca Van Dyck (FB), former exec for Apple and Levi’s and hired by Facebook in Feb 2012 as its head of consumer marketing, told AdAge, (emphasis added)

What we’re trying to articulate is that we as humans exist to connect, and we at Facebook to facilitate and enable that process.” “We make the tools and services that allow people to feel human, get together, open up. Even if it’s a small gesture, or a grand notion — we wanted to express that huge range of connectivity and how we interact with each other.

Ms Van Dyck continued, (emphasis added)

We started thinking about this a year ago and approached Wieden & Kennedy to help us craft a message that articulated our values and who we are. It wasn’t until recently that we realized we were close to reaching 1 billion, and we thought what an amazing way to honor our users, to create this piece for them.

For an ad that aspires to articulate “our values and who we are“, the least it should is to touch us emotionally, be meaningful, and may be have it stand the test of time. I’ve watched the Ad quite a few times now to make sure my comments express my feelings fairly. And I’ve also transcribed the words from the voiceover of “Chairs Are Like Facebook” so I can read it in full and you can see for yourself.

[red wood chair suspending in mid-air in a forest]

Chairs. Chairs are made so that people can sit down and take a break.

Anyone can sit on a chair and if the chair is a large enough they can sit down together and tell jokes or make up stories or just listen.

Chairs are for people and that’s why chairs are like Facebook.

Doorbells. Airplanes. Bridges. These are things people used to get together. So they can open up and connect about ideas and music.

Another things people share: Dance Floors. Basketball. A Great Nation.

A Great Nation is something people build so they can have a place where they belong.

The Universe. It is vast and dark. And makes us wonder if we are alone. So may be the reason we make all of these things is to remind ourselves that we are not.

in white appears on a black screen.

Reading the about FaceBook Ad copy, it just seems, to me, totally disposable and ready to be thrown away next week/month and ready to be replaced by something flashy, different and new. In stark contrast, Apple’s timeless “Think Different” Ad campaign is so impressive a copy that I’ve personally heard it read out loud in wedding ceremony! Yes, people love it that much! As this reporter wrote in 2011 when the Steve Jobs biography was published, the voice (someone has to read the copy) of the voice over deserves tremendous attention! And I don’t know what happened in the Facebook voice over casting?! Anyway, here is what Steve Jobs went through in his struggle to decide whose voice to use.

Jobs couldn’t decide whether to use the version with his voice or to stick with Dreyfuss. […] When morning came, Jobs called and told them to use the Dreyfuss version. “If we use my voice, when people find out they will say it’s about me,” he told Clow. “It’s not. It’s about Apple.”

Have a listen and watch of the following two versions of “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” videos.

Steve Jobs narrates The Crazy Ones (video, not often heard)

Richard Dreyfuss narrates The Crazy Ones (video, this is the official one many people have seen)

(note: By the way, I totally agree with Steve’s decision and rationale here.)

To this reporter, the normally cool Wieden & Kennedy has a big #fail in “Chairs Are Like Facebook” Ad. What do you think?

Cross posted by me at examiner.com


Teachable Moment in #Rogers1Number bashtag epic #fail – Tipping point? Will @RogersKeith and Rogers actually change or just listen and ignore?

Saturday, 17 March, 2012

TorStar, Globe and Mail, and Techvibes have all reported on the #Rogers1Number (live search) epic #fail promoted hashtag turned bashtag (a term coined in the #McDStories campaign).

I am going to dispense some advices (my brand of poison, borrowing a phrase from a friend) and try to turn this epic #fail into a potentially valuable teachable moment for Rogers and us all. Feel free to share your thoughts in the moderated comments.

1) Twitter promoted hashtag/bashtag

If the epic #fail #Rogers1Number and #McDStories campaigns have taught us anything, it is that these promoted hashtags can get out of control, can be risky, and can lead to destructive unintended consequences. You know what, the companies promoting the hashtag will also be paying for these bashtags!

Yes, the companies are literally paying to get bad press! The companies are paying to let the world know how dissatisfied their customers, ex-customers, potential customers feel about them.

NOTE 1: Not all hashtags are bad. I think the organically “grow” hashtag from some greatly loved companies can be possibly useful. But even then, company encouraged, sponsored, or paid hashtags can still become lightning rods for unhappy customers or people with complains. So use hashtags with extreme caution like holding a lightning rod in a stormy area.

2) Sample #Rogers1Number tweets:

I’ve spent some time to find some sample tweets and I try to check to ensure the tweets are not from troll accounts newly created just to bash Rogers.

– “The saddest part of the #Rogers1Number backlash is nothing will change, #Rogers will learn nothing and customer will still get poor service.” (via Twitter)

– “I’m really loving reading all the nasty backlash at#Rogers it’s making my night, keep it up guys they’re paying per tweet! #rogers1number” (via Twitter)

– “When I call Rogers to resolve an issue two more magically appear #rogers1number They can’t get one thing right” (via Twitter)

– “#Rogers1Number “We’re in social media to listen”. Right. Not to change. Just to listen. Hear this: Shitty PR stunts can kill a company fast” (via Twitter)

– “.@RogersKeith Rogers deems data so valuable u charge $2/GB when I go OVER. Why not get credit when I stay UNDER monthly max? #Rogers1Number” (via Twitter)

– “The #Rogers1Number fiasco. Let’s see if this even change something.” (via Twitter) Read the rest of this entry »


My royals #happy/#cool #sad #fail memories (blue vs purple wristbands) – The Will and Kate in Canada Special – Part 7/8

Friday, 8 July, 2011

Will and Kate at Calgary Stampede - pix 33c - Closeup of Will and Kate thanks to my powerful zoom lens

Will and Kate’s visit to Calgary and Canada has finished, now let me reflect on the memories that make me feel #happy/#cool, #sad, and #fail (in the sense that it could have been done better, much better).

My royals #happy/#cool memories

First of all, I want to say I had a great time seeing Will and Kate, a couple that is deeply in love, in Canada. I want to wish them all the happiness in the world. At the same time, I am not a “monarchist” as I stated here in G&M, and I am still impressed by Will’s character: “his ethics, his work as a coast guard rescuer and the couple’s request for charitable donations instead of wedding gifts“.

It was really #cool for the couple to spend their first moments in Canada at the National War Memorial, paying respect to our fallen soliders, retired soliders, and soliders on active duties.

And on Canada Day, it was thrilling and #cool to see them attend a Canadian Citizenship Ceremony at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. And seeing them had some fun on Canada Day at the Parliament Hill shows (afternoon, where they couldn’t see much of the stage (yikes), and may more so in the evening when they could actually see the stage much better).

Believe it or not, my 3+ hours lineup, reporting (with video clips) experiences to get our wristbands were one of the most positive experiences in all these. I got to see Calgarians/Canadians trying to have some fun together.

Here is video footage of Will & Kate @ Calgary Stampede – BMO Centre – as seen from the purple wristbands area.

Here are some official Canadian Heritage official footage where they were much closer than we ever were. (note: it also highlights my problem of people who lined up over-night in the beginning of the line but did not get the blue wristbands as they should.)

Will & Kate at University of Calgary

By the way, University of Calgary put together this cool video to show Will & Kate’s visit to Ward of the 21st Century (W21C).

In addition to the cool U of C video, here are some nice footage from Canadian Heritage.

I won’t list and comment on all of their other activities, but I want to single out the way their Slave Lake visit was handled, it was superb. I think Will and Kate really care, and I also think they are well served by their close advisors.

By the way, I’ve saved a few #happy memories to share after my #sad memories, you will understand the “why” later.

(note: For my fellow Canadians that think Will and Kate’s visit to Canada wasted our tax dollars, I will write another article to deal with the money side of the monarchy business entitled “Will you hire them as your king and queen?” Stay tune.)

My royals #sad memories

My #sad memories are personal. You may feel differently. You see, even my better half doesn’t share the same impression as she was with me most of the time (except when I lined up for hours for the wristband and when I was reporting at the line up to the purple wristband area).

My #sad and painful memories happened yesterday afternoon at the beginning of the lineup into the purple wristband area. I don’t have the full story so I won’t try judge who are “right” and who are “wrong” but simply stay what and how I feel. It was #sad and painful for me to see my fellow Calgarians/Canadians screaming, yelling, and being extremely rude to each other at the start of the lineup. Read the rest of this entry »


Business Strategy: Apple, with its Final Cut Pro X, lets Adobe & Avid refight their Battles of Waterloo #fail

Friday, 1 July, 2011

Apple Adobe Avid refight Battles of Waterloo - pix 1

People don’t usually win by betting against Apple as Apple has shown the world so many great products in recent years. But I am going to join a critical Oscar editor and take my chance and bet my $1 against Apple. I say Apple may have materially damaged its Final Cut Pro brand/lovemark by giving Adobe and Avid some meaningful chances into retake some of the long lost market share. Assuming Adobe and Avid have good products and execute their plans well.

In fact, I am willing to go out on a limb and say Apple is giving “losers” Adobe and Avid new chances to refight their Battles of Waterloo in the field of video editing software. In the battlefield, your opponents are usually not too kind in letting you fight again and learn from your previous mistakes.

I think Apple has very much underestimated the influence of professional editors on prosumers and new beginning editors. For me, I remember years ago one of the reasons I took Final Cut Pro seriously and bought into it was because of FCP was being highly regarded and used by the professionals.

OK, NBA players have been locked out, but imagine if a brand of basketball shoes have been founded to restrict certain shots/moves by NBA players thus making them unable play their best games, will you still buy the shoes?

As my friend like to say, the following is my brand of poison/observations. Readers beware.

1) Adobe SWITCH Campaign

Apple Adobe Avid refight Battles of Waterloo - pix 2

Adobe is smart and quick to launch a Premiere SWITCH campaign (note: press release here50% off Production Premium or Adobe Premiere Pro “if you own Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer with offer code SWITCH. Offer ends September 30, 2011”) making its Production Premium software costing $850 and Adobe Premiere Pro software costing $400 respectively after discount. [HT Apple Insider] Update: See also PC World review of software.

2) Full function Production Premium group of softwares at significant discount

The Production Premium software has quite a number of useful & powerful softwares and can be a good fit for professional/prosumer FCP7 users. Given Apple‘s willingness to give up its professional users, it makes sense for professional to buy and learn it for risk mitigation/management purpose. Of course, at $850, it is a bit out of reach for people who can only afford the FCPX $299 prices.

3) Adobe Premiere Pro on SWITCH discount at $400. Why $400?

Now moving on to Adobe Premiere Pro, if Adobe is smarter, they should just lower its price to $299 to match the FCPX price for new purchase!

We are talking about business strategy to regain long lost market share! A market that has been dominated by Apple Final Cut Pro for a long time. I don’t understand why Adobe Read the rest of this entry »


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