The Tech Miser: Another Bluetooth Headset And A Privacy Browser

Android / Audio / Mobile / Security / Tech

In the last miserly column, we talked about the Jarv Joggerz Pro. Today, let’s start with the Photive BTH3. These are not the small, lightweight earphones like the Joggerz Pro, nor are they tiny, unnoticed earbuds. They look more like the headphones used by studio engineers. You know, the big ones that are sometimes referred to as “cans,”  and you’re not likely to run with these, nor be able to hide the fact that you’re using them.

Photive BTH3

Photive-BTH3-headphonesThere is one similarity to the Jarv Joggerz Pro earphones.  Audio is good and you can comfortably adjust volume to allow or block out outside sounds… and that’s where the similarities end. The Photive BTH3 has more bass, obviously. While they might not be a choice for those into really heavy bass, they do have good balance if you listen a lot to music where you want all the instruments clear, without a heavy emphasis on the bass line. The BTH3s do that nicely.

You can feel the weight of the headset, but not drastically. It’s well padded over the ears and under the crossbar over the head.  So, it’s comfortable to wear for longer periods. Like all the other headsets designed to be used with a phone, it has all the controls you’d expect, plus a microphone to answer calls. It touts up to 12 hours of use, and I’ve done 6 with no loss of power.

The “included in the box” stuff are the headset, a hard travel case, a USB charging cord, and a 3.5 mm cable (male on both ends). That last allows physically connecting the headset. You can do that and shut off Bluetooth on your phone, saving your phone’s battery or use it to connect to a non-Bluetooth device. It doesn’t appear to change audio quality and since that’s already decent, it’s no surprise.

Yes, besides all the pros, there are a couple of cons. At $49.95, they’re getting close to the next tier in pricing. I said they’re comfortable and they are. But I have the headband fully extended. If you have a larger hairstyle or head, these may not fit as well as you’d like. I don’t think they’d be uncomfortable, however you may end up getting more outside noise than you want because they don’t fully sit over your ears.


My Google Now feed had mention that Samsung was introducing an ad blocking browser for its phones. If you’re as miserly as I am, you know that most ads use graphics and trackers, and those dip into your data bucket. Not good. Samsung’s browser adds a Secret Mode to that. That last equates to Chrome’s Incognito and Firefox’s private browsing features.  And the ad blocking requires a third party ad blocking app for blocking to work.

Samsung adds one feature I haven’t seen before. You can select webpages that will be encrypted to access them on your device, requiring a fingerprint or passcode to access them. Very handy if you need to keep certain information more private.The downside  is that Samsung’s browser is available only on newer versions of Android and newer models of Samsung devices. So does that mean you’re out of luck? Well only for that particular browser.

A few weeks ago, a friend told me about an ad blocking browser called Ghostery and I’ve been trying it on my Nexus 6 since then. From the description in the Play store, it’s more a tracker blocking browser. It’s labeled a privacy browser, although I haven’t seen any ads while using it.  But I do Facebook (one of the worst of the ad spewing sites) via app, so I really haven’t had a good test to be sure.

So, what’s my experience with Ghostery? Some sites seem to have no difference, but most are super fast compared to normal browsing. There are plenty of privacy settings, including being able to delete browser history. And there’s a beta “Ghost mode” that’s another Incognito/private browsing equivalent. It does require Android 4.03 or newer, which makes it similar to the Samsung browser in that. But there seem to be no device limitations that aren’t Android version related.

There are a few permissions that Ghostery (the company) feels may seem odd. So, they take the time to explain them. Whether you consider them odd or trust the descriptions is up to you. I’m comfortable with them. There’s also an “elephant in the room” kind of thing we can’t ignore.

Ghostery for Android and desktop browser extensions are free. There is an opt-in/opt-out option to share data with the company because Ghostery doesn’t make its money directly from the browser or extensions.  Ghostery’s customer is the business site owner. Ghostery aggregates and anonymizes data on speed of access and trackers found on a variety of websites. The idea is to assist them be more user friendly and prevent competitors from hijacking your browsing. Some of that involves data accumulated from browser and extension users, some from scanning the sites themselves. Again, that’s aggregated and anonymous data, but you have to decide for yourself how comfortable you are with the permissions and data collection.

If you decide to try the Ghostery browser, the first thing you want to do is open the “hamburger” menu (triple dots at the top right), then tap the settings gear icon. That will put you in the general settings tab, where you select what you do or don’t want to allow in your browsing. After you do that, go to the Ghostery tab. That’s where you can choose to opt into their Ghostrank program or not and share with them any new trackers or not.

Ghostery itself doesn’t seem to retain any login info, but it’s not obvious that some sites will leave you logged in unless you manually log out. All the banking sites I tried seemed to automatically log me out. And you can completely or selectively delete your history.

As I said, there are a couple of things that you’ll need to decide whether you like them or not. But I’m very likely going to make Ghostery my “go to” browser and try the desktop browser extensions.

  Source: Engadget  Get Ghostery from Google Play

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