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Apple Tech Support Trials Begets Better iPhone Headset + License Woes

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It’s been quite a while since my last post due in large part to my dead MacBook Pro. Perhaps, unstable would have been a better choice of words as my trusty 15″ developed a very nasty power issue where it would just randomly power off without warning. The instability made it impossible to do any serious work and the ensuing extended service call forced me to rely mostly on my iPhone for keeping up with the happenings of the internets. Our household has other systems but they were all taken up by end-of-school-year projects or dedicated for other uses…or were Windows-based. While Safari made the Windows work slightly bearable, I found living in an all-Windows world (for personal use) to be a less-than-stellar experience (and, I’m a very experienced 3.1 through Vista user & developer).

It took three visits to the local Apple Store – over the course of 8 days – to finally get my machine back. Two logic board swaps and keyboard + top cover replacement later and my MBPro feels like new again. I definitely want to give kudos to the team at the Alderwood Mall Apple Store for doing everything in their power to get me back up and running. While a loaner Air would have been nice, the techs did a good job giving me updates and making things happen as quickly as Apple processes would allow. If you haven’t had to deal with Apple support, they really do an excellent job between online scheduling, in-store attempts at problem resolution and speedy return of items in repair. Even though this fix took a while, they definitely showed they cared at every step of the way.

Service Generates Sales

During the course of those three visits I had a great deal of time to hang at the Apple Store waiting to be processed by a Genius (scheduled times can be off a bit as they do make every effort to fix problems right there). Staring at the walls of Apple-compatible products, it was difficult to resist the urge to buy…everything. I did manage to successfully leave twice without a single purchase, but one item caught my eye: the Monster® iSoniTalk™ Microphone Headphone Adapter for iPhone

From one of my earlier posts, you should know that I’m ever on the lookout for the best accessory for the job when it comes to my Mac’s, iPhone or iPod. While the Shure adapter reviewed in that post has done a great job, it is far from an optimal product. The headphone cable is extended way too much and the weight of the cable + mic is a bit much for the clip to support well.

While I generally find Monster products to be overpriced and not always better than their “normal” counterparts, the iSoniTalk has some definite merits (and a few detractions). First, you can find it online for close to $10.00 USD, which is significantly cheaper than the Shure counterpart. Second, because of the combination jack & extension you do not have to deal with a ton of extra cable to manage. Third, there are built-in clips along the adapter cable which make it very easy to manage the cable from your existing headphone sets.

Lastly, the mic + clip + button combo control attaches securely and works very well (not nearly as sensitive as the Shure, which for me is a good thing). I probably should mention that sound quality for music and calls is not impacted in any negative way by the adapter.

There are a few “gotchas”, however. The same jack + extension dongle combination can be a bit unwieldy, especially if you use any type of case with your iPhone. It just doesn’t hold in as well given the overall size of the unit. The actual cable itself could use a couple of inches as it comes up short to most headphones I own. One extra clip near the mic would also be nice in the event you just want to use it without talking.

I’d have to definitely recommend it over the Shure on price and convenience, but I’ve only had it a few days and would really like to hear from TAB readers on your experiences with the product.

Hardware-tied License Woes

While Apple managed to get some additional hard-earned cash out of me from my free repair (1-year warranty FTW!), my support saga continued with the annoyance of hardware-based software licenses. At least two products on my system – iTunes and launch2net tie themselves to data that is specific to the logic board of the system they are installed on. I had to burn an iTunes activation (no time to deal with Apple online support just now) and e-mail the customer service folks at nova media to deactivate my old launch2net code from their database. This should serve as a notice to consumers to ensure you deactivate your hardware-specific licenses prior to service (if possible) and a plea to developers to find an alternate mechanism to secure software purchases. nova media may have lost a future upgrade sale since Leopard works fine with my 3G modem without their software and I do not need the hassle of waiting 3 days for tech support to reset a license. I understand Apple’s constraints, but they should make it easier to manage authorizations online rather than the “reset all” feature once per year.

If you have had similar experiences with license woes post-repair or want to provide data on software that you use which ties itself to hardware, definitely drop a note in the comments.

6 Responses to “Apple Tech Support Trials Begets Better iPhone Headset + License Woes”

  1. Jeff Blundell

    If you use Time Capsule for backup/archive, be aware that the sparseimage file created is named based on your ethernet MAC address.

    On my iMac, a new logic board gave me a new MAC address and now I can not get the repaired iMac to use the old backup file on the Time Capsule.

    Mac Genius is waiting for instruction from Apple on what changes to make to the file on the Time Capsule to get it associated with the “new” iMac.

  2. macpug

    I actully love my Monster adapter. I’d also tried the one by Shure and didn’t care for it. I have several different headphones/earbuds that I use depending on the situation. The only ones that I’ve had an issue with are the V-Moda Vibes….they didn’t play nice with the Monster. My Shures, B&Os, and Bose phones/buds all work great! Yeah, it has a few flaws, but overall I have found it to be a very good solution for my iPhone without having to purchase all-new combination sets. Cheers!

  3. I’m sorry to say, but I seriously doubt you will be enjoying that Monster adapter for very long. I got it thinking it looked like the best mic’d headphone adapter solution for a reasonable price, but it only took a few minutes to realize that plug is way too big to be keeping in your pocket. And then the connections inside the headphone plug failed and I had to bend it slightly to the side for stereo sound. They sent me a second, and it did the same thing after only days of light use around the house.

    Also, I think the design is horribly flawed. I have a nice pair of sennheiser headphones I use for lounging around the house with a 1/4″ headphone plug. For iPods and such it has a 1/4″ -> 1/8″ adapter. The problem with the Monster iSoniTalk is that they were stupid enough to put the mic wire so close to the extended headphone port that anything larger than “just barely too big to fit in the recessed iphone port” won’t freaking fit! This includes my 1/4″ -> 1/8″ headphone adapter. i ended up shaving a good chunk of plastic around the adapter on one side so it barely squeezes in, but then i’m left with a giant 3″ stiff plug sticking out of the iphone. :(

  4. I was really not pleased with the Monster adapter. It works great in the car, where I have the iPhone sitting on the seat and then can use the extra cable for controlling it. Everywhere else, however, the plug is so huge and clunky that it’s practically useless. It didn’t take long for me to practically destroy it because of how far out the huge adapter plug sticks.

    I’m much happier with my inexpensive Rivet headphones.

  5. Galley

    My 24″ iMac arrived from with a bad SuperDrive. I boxed it up and dropped it off at the local Kinko’s/FedEx using the free shipping label supplied by Apple. A brand new iMac was delivered to my door within 24 hours. Wow!