Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Counterfeit Beats in-ear Tour headphones.

Genuine Box, book and case on the left.
I'm going to use this next post to help identify the difference between a set of genuine Monster Beats headphones, and a counterfeit set that we've obtained. Before we start, it's important that you know, in isolation, without a set to compare, and without this previous knowledge, you'll most likely be duped into thinking that the fake set, are genuine. We asked a couple of team members to examine the headphones and asked if they could find a reason why a customer would return them (we didn't let on that they were fake) and they couldn't. We made up a story about the logo being not quite straight (which it isn't) and, more worryingly, they said they'd exchange them, although they'd think the customer was being pretty picky. Then, to their surprise we told them they were fake, and they were pretty shocked. Until we showed them next to a real pair. What I intend to do now, is to highlight, just how close they are as copies, and how you need to keep your wits about you to recognise them apart from the real ones. We won't be doing a sound comparison, that's not the reason for the post. These are illegal copies and shouldn't be on the market. Real Monster products sound exceptional, insist on the genuine product from an authorised reseller.
Genuine zipper on top.

Lets start with the box. Side by side, this is the weakest part of the copies. The money thats gone into replicating the headphones has been saved on the box. Seriously, the two couldn't be more different. Monster headphones are packaged in Apple-esque hinged solid boxes, that magnetically close when sealed properly. The counterfeit box is poorly made and flimsy by comparison, although it too, does close magnetically. These headphones aren't totally identical, the genuine set we have also include the 'control talk' button (for use with mobile phones), but you can see there is a significant difference in the two boxes. The user guide has also seen the criminals save a few pennies. The Monster book, is Monster by comparison to the 4 page effort that resides in the fakes. The same is true of the accompanying accessory leaflet. It isn't even folded properly in the fake set, yet the genuine copy folds out nicely. The pouches have their differences too, but again, in isolation, you'd be hard pushed to tell one from the other. The embossed 'b' is slightly shallower on the originals.
 One side of the zipper tag is damn near perfect, yet the font on the opposite side is ever so slightly thinner. Otherwise the pouch is one of the more accurate parts of the set.

The headphones, are harder to tell apart. Much harder. As mentioned earlier, two members of our team, couldn't tell them apart until they had both sets side by side to compare. But there are differences. Firstly, the cable is slightly different. Obviously
Genuine book folded properly on the left.
Monster are one of the market leaders for high quality cables. The anti-tangle cables for the beats headphones feel high quality and they have slightly rounded edges. The red on the two is ever so slightly different, but more than that, the cable on the copies feels a bit more like strawberry lace material. It's also has much more of a pronounced 'edge' to it (it would be more rectangular in cross section). But they are very, very similar. The gold plated plugs at the end of the cable are also slightly different. All of the monster cables we have here have L shaped plugs, The Beats Studio headphones do have straight 3.5mm plugs, but they go into the headphones, not the audio output socket. Moreover, every Monster plug has the monster name branded somewhere on it (at each end). The fakes do not. The Y splitter halfway down the cables is also significantly different. The quality of the Beats again coming into play. The fakes are rubberised and have a pretty poor representation of the word 'MONSTER' on them.
The font appears to go up at the end, and the S seems fatter than other letters in the word. The genuine Y splitter is nothing like. It has Beats written on it, is plastic and has chrome trim, the picture shows the significant difference between the two. As I said earlier, these aren't quite the same headphones and I don't have genuine headphones without 'Control talk' on, but this isn't the piece with the button/mic in it, so I see no reason why on these almost identical headphones, Monster wouldn't use a shared part for the Y splitter. Internet research hasn't helped either, but what we can definitely say is, this set of genuine headphones looks like the picture.
Genuine Y splitter Top


Telling the fake set from the real set apart from the earpieces is far more challenging. This is clearly where the effort has gone from the contraband creators. The earpieces are from a distance, almost identical. But again, after examing them for a while we spotted some significant differences. Firstly, when you lay them side by side, with the L or R pointing up, the direction that the fakes point is completely wrong. The part that slides in your inner ear is angled. The real one's seem to point inwards and up, the fakes point down and in. If this direction is wrong, this could be very uncomfortable over a prolonged period of time.
Grooves on the copies (left)

The section that has the L or R on it is grooved like an LP on the circumference. On the fakes (left in the picture), it's significantly grooved. On the real set, it's much much finer.  The b's on the outside, perhaps not surprisingly, are pretty much identical. While this picture which is a close up Macro shot does seem to suggest that the b is noticeably more raised, in reality, the difference between the two is less noticeable the b is recessed in both. There does appear to be a bit more of a manufacturing 'edge' around the copies. The genuines being more moulded, although there is a ridge in the same place. On the removable rubberised earplug part, the back (behind the identical seams) was slightly shinier on the fakes. The seam is less obvious on the genuine article, and the surface all over, is much more uniform. The fakes (on the bottom again, below) don't look like the b is perfectly central. To the casual observer however, the back of these pointing out of someone's ear's will make it look like they have invested in one of the best sets of in ear headphones on the market.... only they won't have done. Finally, one more safeguard. The fakes boast on the side that they come with 3 sets of comfortable earbud sizes for the most comfortable and secure fit. The genuine tour headphones come with a whopping 6....two of which are Etymotic in style, and a shirt clip, as well as (hidden in the pouch) over the top bright red 'n' shaped ear clips. Replica's they may call them, real and legal, they are not.
They look like a pair, but the unit on top is real. The bottom one is counterfeit.

Monster beats counterfeit information.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Motocast

Motocast is Motorola's alternative to Slingbox. The difference is that Slingbox uses a signal from a TV or a broadcast. Motocast streams your media, music and video, from a computer connected to the internet and running the motocast software. In a nutshell, Motocast will allow you to browse through the content on an internet connected PC, then stream the content to your motorola device no matter where you are. Both sling box and Motocast allow you to view content whilst out on the move. Services such as tvcatchup have rendered services such as sling box pretty much redundant. Although if you MUST see a TV only event, only available through a subscribed channel. Slingbox is your only option. We tested Motocast earlier this afternoon and over a slow internet connection, with a weak signal, it worked pretty well. With a good signal, it had no problems at all. Obviously using a service like this over 3G is going to incur hefty data charges or use significant portions of your data allowance. It's not perfect, but thats primarily down to the speed and quality of the data connection. We had more success with MP3 streaming than video, but, the interface is clean and easy to navigate (using the Motocast software on a Xoom2) the service on the Mac indexed several thousand audio tracks in a short period of time (I'm still trying to index my google music library) and it worked adequately well. A nearby geek advised that the same results could be achieved via VLC, then proceeded to show how easy it wasn't. Trust me, it's no alternative. For the man on the street, Motocast just works really well and gives Motorola tablet devices a pretty neat USP. Assuming that you have a PC, that you can leave on, at home, all the time, as a media server.

Perhaps cloud services are the future?

Simple laptop buying advice.