A Realistic Look At The Death Of A Standard

A bit ago I wrote an article called, “Death To The 3.5mm Audio Jack, Long Live Wireless.” A few readers were with me, a few were indifferent, many were vehemently against me, and there was a, not insubstantial, subset in a pure panic about the potential retirement of a beloved connector. Now I used a lot of opinionated language dispersed with subjectively evaluated facts to make a case that the connector is out. Not today maybe, but there is certainly a tomorrow not so far off where there are more wireless headsets at the electronics store than wired ones.

I think I saw a laserdisc player in operation exactly once.
I think I saw a Laserdisc player in operation exactly once.

So what happens when a standard dies? What happens when technology starts to move on? Let’s take a look at the CD-ROM. 

Two years ago I gave away my last stack of DVD-Rs. Of course, by gave away I mean, guiltily stashed in the hackerspace boneyard. Just in case there was a member with a stronger spirit who could actually throw them away.

I hadn’t needed a DVD-R in years. I maybe put one DVD or CD in my computer a year. Note, I had purchased a computer just a year earlier with a very strong feeling that a DVD reader was an absolutely necessity. I mean, my first computer, a 200MHz Pentium MMX, had a CD-ROM tray. To me, it just wasn’t a computer unless it had one. I was already loathe to give up my serial port and parallel port from my old laptop. How would I control the CNC machine I didn’t own anymore? USB? Please. They had changed the keyboard and ruined the mouse. Like hell I would compromise on this.

Dropbox happened. Cheap thumb drives happened. SD Cards happened. It’s not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with a DVD drive. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering and a world standard that can read a whole history of formats. I just don’t use it anymore. The technology caught up and then overtook it. My next laptop will not waste space, power, and weight on a disk drive. Why should it?

The Premise

Let’s assume that today is declared the death of the CD-ROM and optical disk format in the way that we know it. No longer will a printer come with a little envelope with an outdated driver. No longer will your IT guy carry around that disgustingly greasy cracked leather binder full of disks around. It’s dead today. Officially, It would be 58 years old.

What would this mean? Would this mean that aliens come down and take it all away? That I’ll wake up tomorrow and there will just be smooth plastic where my disk drive was today? No. There will still be a company somewhere making disks. There will still be an OEM jamming it into a crevice somewhere. It would still be around for the foreseeable future. Just no one would be expected to use it. It’s an oddity and a relic.

The fourth iteration is air.
The fourth iteration is air.

Standards die hard. Standards die slow. Some never entirely die. In 2002 it was still standard to put a floppy drive in a computer, in 2007 only 2% of the computers made had them, in 2016 Microsoft neglected to put a floppy disk driver into the standard install. There’s no reason to lament this development. It’s done. Even hobbyists emulate the drive now if they want it. 

As of today the 3.5 mm audio jack, in one form or another, has been around for nearly 138 years. That’s 80 years longer than our theoretical demise of the optical disk drive. What are the chances that it will be replaced overnight? What are the chances that next year there will not be a single device which offers the world’s most popular connector? Really really close to zero.

Not With a Bang

I honestly do think the audio jack is out. In thirty years most portable devices won’t have one. However, I’d be surprised if in thirty years it was anywhere near death. I mean, it’s the standard. It works. If we don’t blow ourselves up I wouldn’t be surprised if it stuck around for another hundred years before trickling off.

Behold! The Ericsson T36, the first phone to support bluetooth!
Behold! The Ericsson T36, the first phone to support Bluetooth!

So how will it die? Well, the same way every tech gets replaced. First there will be some technology that absolutely sucks initially but has potential to supersede the existing player. For example, the first mobile phone with Bluetooth support came out in 2000, a single Bluetooth enabled hands-free car speaker came out the next year. I pity the person that bought that first model. It must have been absolutely atrocious.

Now fast forward to today. It’s been 16 years since that first phone. We are on Bluetooth 4.0+ and every single phone has the ability to connect. Bluetooth 5.0 has just been announced and promises 50 Mbits of bandwidth, that’s an order of magnitude more bandwidth than CD quality audio needs. There are almost no laptops left where the technology is optional. There’s a small market that’s been building since 2000 around wireless headsets, car audio, and earphones.  What’s next?

Well, a company has to say, we are not putting a disk drive in our laptop. In this case it’s our favorite fruit-themed corporation to hate on. It makes sense for them to do it. It is not wrong to propose that they alone have the most impressive manufacturing capability in the world. They own more CNC machines than anyone else. If anyone can force a technology, it’s this one tech giant. If there’s anyone that can afford to make a bet, it’s them.

When a company does something like this the end has begun. It’s a slow end, but it’s started. It would not be a bet worth taking to see if Samsung has at least one exploratory phone model in their extensive 2017 line without a jack in it. It will be a good one and they’ll have a nearly equivalent model right beside it. Will consumers care? Will it matter? Will they make a boatload of money off Bluetooth headphones?

One day simba, everything you see before you will be truly obsolete. Except for the keyboard and mouse. I swear, if you take that from me I'm joining the grumps.
One day Simba, everything you see before you will be obsolete.

More important questions. Is the service rate lower? Does the phone have a higher customer satisfaction? They will look at this data and think. The next year a few other phone manufacturers will try it. People don’t really mind the dongle. It’s annoying but it’s okay. They don’t really like the charging.

Maybe Bose makes a set of premium headphones that can go two days on a charge. Practically everything still supports the 3.5 mm jack. A few years pass until a few users find themselves with a laptop that has Bluetooth, a car that has Bluetooth, and a phone that has Bluetooth. They already invested in the headphones, so they use their corded set a little less each year. The next time they lose a pair they buy another Bluetooth pair. They’re a small small segment of the market but they’ve bought their last pair of corded phones without even knowing it.

Fast forward ten years or so. Maybe 25% of the consumers out there have phased out of the corded headphone. There’s a real market for wireless and most manufacturers are putting out really nice pairs. With such a large market a lot of the niggling issues have been worked out. Pairing is fast. Cross talk and interference is low. Bluetooth 8.0 has more bandwidth than audio will ever require. Battery technology has moved along and the phones run quite a while. It’s officially nicer to have a Bluetooth headset than a wired one.

After that the standard begins to disappear. It’s not sudden. It’s not sad. It’s just that the wireless option will have shown itself to be better. No one will mind. Maybe twenty years later laptops don’t come with it anymore. Phones don’t have it, but expensive audio equipment might. Mission critical stuff like helicopter headsets will use the traditional jack (where they don’t use mil spec bayonet connectors). ATMs and museums will have it. Airplanes will offer them.

Maybe fifty years from now the headphone as we know it will be reduced to that weird bin at the thrift store, but it won’t be tomorrow. It won’t even be ten years from now. Standards die slow. Who knows, maybe the market will speak and the iPhone 8 will have the jack again. Regardless, I just bought wired headphones last year. I’ll be really upset if they don’t plug into my next phone!


239 thoughts on “A Realistic Look At The Death Of A Standard

  1. can’t even read it… sorry. Shizzle’s stupid. Sorry. Leave our simple-interfaces for us hackers to make use of. I still like Serial… yahknow, RS-232, or whatever 3.3V-equivalent it’s incarnated into these days. And, yahknow what…? So do all those Arduiners. Even if they don’t know it. So, yahknow, if we had serial ports on our systems, still, we wouldn’t need FT chips on our Arduinos to convert our USB ports back to something that requires *significantly* less hardware… And, dang-near everyone who uses micrcontrollers knows the same.
    So, now they want to do it with analog audio… Fercrhissakes.. Seriously.

    1. Seriously… It took a 9y/o to figure out how to attach a CD player to an old audio-cassette player with nothing more than a headphone cable, an old cassette case, some hot-glue, and a read-head from an old tape-player… The *entirety* of the system could’ve been understood with nothing more than a basic understanding of physics, and didn’t even *have to be*… just a little bit of intuition.
      This shit… This Black Box Shit… is not cool.
      Alright reading: “Let’s assume that today is declared the death of the CD-ROM and optical disk format in the way that we know it.” Yeah, let’s assume that one of us happened to want to supply a friend with a few gigs worth of data… just for the heck of it… Now, we could’ve done so for about $0.30… or we can buy a few-gig thumb-drive for $15. Yeah, it’s no hindrance whatsoever on communication. Now we have to actually think about whether we want to make that “mix-tape” for a friend, not because it takes *time* but because it costs a shitton of money. Coulda whipped out a dozen for less, or only one.

      Fsck It. I can’t read through this shizzle… “Standards die slow” My A$$. Standards *used* to last for DECADES… They used not only to die slowly, but they also managed to invent *new* standards that *worked within* the old ones. Now they just rip this shit apart, keep inventing new ones like there’s no tomorrow, and at that point, frankly, there won’t be. Because at one point there was the ability to tune in one’s TV to any station and receive an emergency-broadcast, but now you have to have *exactly* the right combination of hardware, decoders, and *nevermind* a *tremendously* precisely-tuned antenna to even get a *legible* message from that system. Nevermind the dozens of “crashes” invoked by merely a bird flying by in-between your reception when you could’ve gotten at least some audible message through the static… Nah, I ain’t diggin’ it.
      FSCK this new era.

          1. I’m sorry to hear you’re not making much out of Spotify. i wish there were a better pricing model, but…..

            For many years I was a subscriber to Live365 – ~USD$70/year for access to thousands of channels in hundreds of genres. Then the CRB put the rates up, and cancelled the small broadcaster subsidy, so because of that, and other reasons, Live365 went belly-up. I told them I’d be willing to pay twice as much, but it seems that wasn’t a realistic price point. Now I listen to some of my favourites via Radionomy, Radiojar, and Mixcloud – for free. They must have some sort of revenue/royalties scheme, but I haven’t heard any ads yet. I wish I’d been asked – “The royalty rates have gone up, we need to charge you $100/year. Are you happy to pay this?”

          2. Musicians like you should stop with the mindset that you’re entitled compensation per copy or per playthrough – that’s just insane.

            The real value of your music is in the making of it, in the actual performance and work that goes into it – not in how many times one can copy the result. Copyrights are a rip-off, because they’re fundamentally an attempt to do the work once and then cash in forever without providing any new value.

            In economics that’s called rent-seeking, such as pulling a chain across a road and demanding money to travel it. You may have built the road, but it’s unreasonable that you should be compensated too much beyond the actual value of the road. In the case of an actual road though, which needs to be rebuilt every now and then, a toll booth can be reasonable – in the case of a music record which doesn’t need to be remade, royalties and copyrights are just bullshit.

            The whole deal is also an attempt to abuse the ignorance of the public, because no single buyer can know how many other buyers there are and how much they’ve paid in total, so they can’t even begin to assess whether what they’re paying is reasonable.

          3. Not sure that it is the Spotify users, or even Spotify themselves who aren’t paying fair. The leaked Sony email’s from 2015 turned up the contract which Sony Music held with Spotify at the time (nicely pulled apart by The Verge http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/19/8621581/sony-music-spotify-contract) which shows that the bulk of the money Spotify paid Sony was for access to the Sony library, the cost per play of each song was tiny and was added on top. What wasn’t clear was if Sony paid any of this advance money to artists ($25M over 2 years for acces to the library) or only shared the money generated by per play of each song ($0.00225 per stream), but we can make a guess.

      1. Bluetooth A2DP isn’t black box, it’s a documented standard, but the protocol is a convoluted morass so it might as well be. I have a feeling that PCM Audio isn’t going away, it’ll just be tucked behind other interfaces the way Serial is. We’ll get to crack open electronics and look for the PCM headers.

          1. Pretty much an irrelevant question. I would say the number of people I have seen DIYing the their own Bluetooth transceiver is equal to the number of people I have seen DIYing audio plugs and/or receptacles. DIYers generally use purchased components if they can use salvaged components.

          2. when I was still in elementary school, I ran cable from the VCR downstairs in the living room to a little commodore 1702 monitor in my bedroom upstairs using strands of old ribbon printer cable, and a combination of tin foil and paper clips to form the pins of RCA cables. Not quite 3.5mm, but conceptually similar. I’m sure with enough patience I could come up with a jury rigged 3.5mm cable if I really needed to.

          3. The bigger problem with black boxing shit is you’ve now added yet another layer for the next generation to learn.

            We’re producing way too many kids who have no clue how any component actually works. Not because they have no interest (that’s part of it) but current shit is so complicated that it’s frustrating to have to learn a shit ton of black box functionality to create something new.

            I started my learning tearing apart bone simple Atari 2600 controllers. In short order I was adapting flight and steering controllers from my Dad’s junkyard.

            Then Sega came out with their identical, yet multiplexed, interface which required a trip to the public library to figure out how it worked. A small well documented IC was all that it required.

            Now the current generation of game controllers are hidden behind a range of proprietary crap that custom controllers can only be done by carefull soldering to canibalized controllers or by paying a shit ton of money for all the licensing and signing NDA agreements. Want to tap into the wireless side of things? Forget it.

            Now take that and apply it to just about anything. How about your car that now requires a gaggle of electronics, many proprietary, just to make simple repairs. Hell, whenever anything electronic goes wonky, my garage just replaces the whole damn board. Every try fixing your radio or swapping it on some models? Good luck with that.

            I just installed a light fixture that requires a full on controller hidden in the light switch. This replaced a similar model that *didn’t* require such nonsense. (Why I replaced is another matter entirely)

            Point is, there’s a sort of gap from basic “LED blinky” type projects to more interesting projects. That gap keeps growing wider and wider and requires greater breadth of knowledge just to get across it. A lot of people today don’t have the same attention span to stay focused on projects long enough to acquire that breadth of knowledge.

    2. Those if us that do real work in the field…. still use RS232 daily. Sadly laptops are for kids surfing youtube now and not for professionals. Even Apple has decided that professional laptops are only really used for surfing the internet.

      1. I’m a 30 year old electrical engineer. Yeah, I use RS232 out in the field on a regular basis, but I goddamn hate it. Baud rate! Parity! Stop bits! Non-standard wiriing! Just put a goddamn USB chip on the device and solve this problem, fighting with parameters was from DOS when I was 8. I didn’t think I’d still have to be doing it 22 years later.

        Some manufacturers implement serial-to-USB perfectly and it just works and it is wonderful. Some others (surprisingly large companies!) do it wrong, stomp all over the computer’s drivers, and make me put apps in VMs to sort them out.

        Sure, simple might be “cheap”, but do you really want to go back to setting IRQs with jumpers? Screw that. I’ll keep my OS-mapped resource allocation that’s essentially a “black box”.

        1. “but do you really want to go back to setting IRQs with jumpers?”

          Yes actually, then it will be where I set it. If the concept of making sure 2 numbers didn’t match was too hard for you, you must have lost a lot at “snap” when you were a kid.

          1. “Yes actually, then it will be where I set it. If the concept of making sure 2 numbers didn’t match was too hard for you, you must have lost a lot at “snap” when you were a kid.”

            So you’re basically describing much of the world. Manually setting IRQ’s on the limited hardware you could blind to much of the system was absolute garbage.

        2. Until you’re out in the boonies and “‘DOH! This OS doesn’t have a native driver for my USB based widget and there’s no way to get one wayyyyyy the fuck out here.” Then what do you do?

        3. Yeah! I just love plugging a device in one time and it enumerates as ttyUSB0, plug it in again and it’s ttyUSB1 and so on. Or.. When I get sick of that editing udev config files to teach the computer to see the same device with the same sensable name every time is just loads of fun! Why the hell would I ever want a jack that is always the first serial port, ttyUSB0 or COM1 if you prefer. Why would I want to just plug it in and KNOW what device name it is found under. Going through the setup menus of the software that talks to the device every damn time I want to use it… that is what life is all about! USB USB USB Baby!

          1. I just *love* how every time I need to change something on my network that involves deleting the existing connection it makes a new one with an incremented number appended to the name. Why can’t it simply re-use the same name after the first one has been deleted?

      2. There are some that have RS-232 on board, but you’ll pay for the privilege.

        I paid about AU$2500 for the Panasonic I use at work, which is a Core i5 that features RS-232 and PCMCIA. It also has USB3 and Bluetooth. There’s a few other manufacturers that make them too, but as I said, you’ll pay dearly for the privilege.

        That said, they should last a good bit longer than the current junk.

        1. I use a Panasonic CF-53 for work, and I love the 232. I do work with fire alarm systems that have both USB and serial connections, but the USB is ALWAYS buggy. With a serial cable I built myself I can program them, or plug into the serial output (they use it for printers and output to nurse call systems/hospital pagers/ship control centers) to get a full history log when testing them.

          Long live the serial port! I just wish there were consumer grade laptops that still had them. I hate fucking around with USB-Serial adapters.

          1. We had some problems too, after i invested a little bit of time into the issues with usb-serial adapters it turned out that all the adapters that do give us a headache are based on the Prolific chips, while all the adapters with genuine FTDI chips never showed any major issues. So, we decided to just put a ban on all the Prolific based adapters and whitelisted a few options with FTDI chips to be used in our company.

    3. We have a joke at our hackerspace that in the far future when everything is made out of 128-bit nanobots there will still be a serial port on each one. Voltage levels will be 0.05 volts and you’ll need a portable electron microscope to see where to connect but you’ll still be able to get a prompt at 115,200 baud…

      1. I agree entirely, the ‘serial port’ is a a fundamental way to communicate, and at the simplest level – a few bits put together for a byte with no other protocol information – should last a very long time… I think the only thing that could kill it is if we went back to parallel, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen at the physical level..

        The audio plug is a bit different though, as while it is a very simple and fundamental concept – analog waveform represented by voltage waveform – the underlying concept is changing by the fact that music has gone digital (for many reasons) and the step to convert it to analog for our ears is moving closer and closer to our ears..

        So I think the only thing keeping the audio plug live is power. Bluetooth audio already works well enough not to have the wire now, if only the battery lasted longer. If that happens the audio plug is not going to be on many portable devices…

        1. I think you’re on to the dividing line here. There’s a spectrum that goes from “barely works to communicate” to “fast enough to keep up with a modern CPU.” The old RS-232 that I grew up with (110 baud, and often over acoustic coupled modems) was squarely in the former. But you could make a connection work using lamp cord. At the other end, standards like PATA get replaced by SATA because the parallel cables can’t be made accurate enough.

          Standards like the 3.5mm audio jack are a part of the consumer grade gear, (discounting the audiophile $7,000 speaker cables), and don’t have to get any better to keep doing a perfectly adequate job. The interfaces are dead simple, and don’t even involve protocols. When you go wireless, though, the next step up requires everything be specialized: electronics miniaturized to fit in an ear, including the battery, protocols that Machiavelli and Rube Goldberg couldn’t have imagined, IP, patent, and licensing battles for every bit of the gear, and even then they pose a poorly understood security risk.

          The height of the bar goes from “sitting on the floor” to “we’ll need a fire truck ladder to get over this”. The question is being presented as if the increased costs deliver a product that provides so much additional value. The benefits of getting rid of headphone cable storage, no more fragile headphone cables, and unrestricted motion while wearing, are definitely worth something, but those are all available with or without the jack. The only real benefit to losing the jack is the omission of a $1.00 component. So in this case losing the jack only means everyone has to pay to play, which makes this nothing more than a pure money grab, and not a technical advancement.

  2. I have a cat. (surprise!!) I got some bose wireless headphones to try to subvert my cats willingness to eat me out of hundreds of dollars with a single cord. Last headphones were sennheiser momentums, the good ones.
    So I got the best brand, with the largest pricetag I could possibly handle when my kitty relieved me of my beloved sennheisers. Here is what came of that.
    1. If i look right they lose connection. Even with the phone in my breast coat pocket, right over my heart where it can properly radiate my chest cavity.
    2. Every 20-30 seconds you get a “KKKKKKSSHSHSHSHSHSHSTic” and if you are lucky it starts working again. if not it goes mute still hears the key clicks from the phone but requires a repairing to work. 32 minute walk, I had music for 6 mins, static for 7 mins, and nothing but key clicks for the rest, while repairing repeatedly.
    3. Random unpairings , not that i would use headphones to listen to porn , but if i did this feature would blare some unmentionables on the pc speakers so the lady next door had no misconceptions what i was doing.
    4. Obscenely small battery life. It says 15 hours , that 32 min walk took 1/10th of the battery life. Its brand new so that will half within a month regular usage.
    5. Iphone style battery scam , non replaceable rechargeable.
    6. Tiny , fragile internal wiring that goes thru the hinged ear cups so if you put them back in thecase all pretzeled up you guarantee the wires will break rendering you a 250$ paperweight.

    Say no to making headphones shittier. Don’t buy them and they wont make them.

      1. I’ve been through many music players but I always use the same Koss KSC75 earclips with all of them. I’ve never found a lightweight pair with clear bass like those, especially not for $15. Every few years one of the speaker wires will come loose and I’ll have to get a new pair, but at that price, who cares?

    1. Word.

      Find an electronics friend who’ll put a new cord on your Momentums. it’s not that hard, and if they’re a (kitty) consumable, then just use cheapish cable.

      if you’re serious about headphones and use them alot (like ours a day), really good headphones still just cost pennies an hour, and the money should go into great construction, not one more unnecessary D/A conversion and a cheezy little amp IC.

    2. Something is seriously wrong in your setup. I have several pairs of cheap Bluetooth headphones, and they all work near-flawlessly (until iOS 10 broke it). I can leave my phone on my desk and walk 30 feet down the hall and they still work. Works with my car’s head unit. Hours and hours of play time. I even rigged a Qi charger onto the folding set so I never have to plug them in. I’m living in the goddamn future and it’s wonderful. I just put my heaphones hanging off the wireless charger and they are always ready for me.

      1. I’ve actually had both experiences. I have a chap pair of bluetooth headphones from DX. If I have the phone in my bike saddle bag, which is barely a few feet behind me, they will randomly cut out just likeAddidis described. In my front pants pocket it’s better but still cuts out occasionally.

        With that said, if I put my phone down, I can walk 20′ away without problem and 30′ away in the next room with only small interruptions.

        I suspect it’s a combination of the water in my body absorbing the signal and the phone being on a significantly different angle on the table (flat), in my saddle bag (on its side) and in my pocket (vertical) messing with the polarization of the BT antenna.

        I plan to experiment with the orientation in my saddle bag.

        1. It is about the phone absorbing the signal, because the 2.4 GHz frequency is basically absorbed within an inch of water.

          I have a 2.4 GHz wireless keyboard. I open up notepad, pick the keyboard up and mash the keys down, then move the keyboard behind my back so that my body shades the reciever – the letters stop appearing. It’s that sensitive.

      2. Interesting comment… until iOS 10 broke it… so a software update (perhaps even automatic when you connected to the ‘net one afternoon)broke your headphone connection! My wired headphones? I’d have to bust out the wire cutters to achieve that sort of crap.

    1. 3.5mm is:
      – almost universal (certainly global)
      – simple
      – cheap
      – passive
      – (relatively) reliable
      – easy to work with

      Anything involving Bluetooth or Lightning is:
      – expensive
      – powered
      – subject to pairing
      – unlikely to work when you most need it to (see: Murphy)

      My decision’s been made.

      1. Most phones use a bastardized version that have 4 connectors for reading microphone. They don’t last a long time and and if they break the wires in the headphones are to thin to be resoldered by a mere human. Good riddance

      2. yeah, but on the plus side: a 2,4Ghz white noise transmitter and there will be iSilence on the public transport from all the people who like to pay 180 bucks for the sounds of 15 buck earphones :-)

    2. It got dozens of comments, and probably thousands of hits, last time. So why not write basically-the-same-article, but from a slightly different angle, to do it all over again? Beats working.

      1. Yes, it is just hollow in the head, to omit the connector. I also use wireless sometimes, but I want the option to just plug a cable in and into an amplifier which does not have Bluetooth.
        I even used the phone sometimes as a test tone audio generator to test an amplifier. How should I do this? Introduce another source of error or failure with an additional Bluetooth dongle? Then I could just use any other oscillator – or a CD-player with output connector. And it would not be that simple anymore. :-(
        And there is no gain at all, omitting a 0,25cm³ and 3ct cheap connector.

    1. Not only extensively used but a good standard with nothing to replace it. A 3.5mm jack can be made tiny (far smaller than Apple ever did – though it isn’t easy), it is easy to plug in (can’t do it wrong), it is robust if designed right, it can have good transfer characteristics for the application, it is a raw analog connector used to connect to a raw analog device. The alternatives either require a dongle, an expensive and complicated wireless receiver+audio DAC+amplifier+battery+battery management or a design which is essentially the same as a 3.5mm equipped headphone _except_ the standardized 3.5mm connector have been replaced with a proprietary connector.

      How the hell is that a good idea?

  3. IF Bluetooth wasn’t such a piece of sh;t then the 3,5mm jack would be obsolete. I’m sure there are people out there who have never had a problem with it but there are many who get tired of the random unpairing, It’s why I use the Logitech wireless mice and keyboard instead of bluetooth. It’s why my printer is WIFI instead of Bluetooth. It is NOT DEPENDABLE.

    As for headphones it’s been a couple of years since I tried one but it sounded terrible. It too would also become unpaired.

    Now at least my car and phone pair pretty well for phone calls but my son bought a car and neither I, nor he, nor the sales rep, nor the so called expert technician could pair them together for more than a minute or two.

    Yeah I know… the experts on here and make excuses about chipsets or what not. Don’t know don’t care.

    I think the 3.5mm jack will be around long after Bluetooth is dead the way things are.

    1. Computers, e-books, e-readers whatever are sooooo much better then paper, still we have it.
      Escalators and elevators are sooooooo much better then stairs… but they still haven’t replaced the stairs.

      Please do not say the 3.5mm jack is dying because one phone manuf. decides to no use this standard.
      I’m very disappointed to see that the author of this article wrote another article to “prove” or “strengthen” his point in a case that has been received so badly by so many readers.
      What is the point, is this is personal quest or is this informative? Perhaps it is an “add” to create a hype for some sort of phone manuf. ? Who knows? To me it makes no sense any more.

    2. I was here to make the same comment. CD’s died because something BETTER came along. I’m am 100% willing to give up serial and headphone jacks when something BETTER comes along. Not just different, but genuinely better. And knowing the crowd around here… and knowing that we all probably took a class or two in transmission theory, we all know that wired will always be better than wireless for reliability, and ease of use. Yes there is an insertion life issue, but that is small potatoes compared to the hoops and problems associated with Bluetooth or WiFi.

      Betamax was an interesting case study. VHS wasn’t better quality, but it was cheaper and just as user friendly with acceptable quality, which is why it was ‘better’ There were a few betamax die-hards, but they eventually realized the decision was made. 1/8th inch audio jacks are here for a long time to come. I don’t see a competing technology that can match it/

      1. I too don’t think that jack connectors will go away any-time soon, but are they 3.5mm or 1/8″ ? The original jack was 1/4″ and is referred to, here in metric-land, as 6.35mm. All the dimensioned drawings of 3.5mm jacks I could find show them as 3.5 mm diameter (which is not 1/8″).
        Personally, if I was a betting man, I would put my money on bluetooth disappearing before the 3.5mm jack does (as others here have said, only better beats existing).

  4. SD cards, Dropbox, and thumb drives are all superior to the DVD format now, even though they didn’t start off that way. Yes, when they started beating DVDs in size, capacity, and cost, it’s no wonder they replaced the then-standard. It won’t work that way in this case. Big speakers and those pill things already have replaced the 3.5mm jack because there was no real problem in replacing it. However, I don’t think that it will ever fully die as long as we have earbuds that we can lose easily. That’s a huge problem to solve if you want to kill the jack. Maybe when we can permanently integrate earbuds into our ears and never lose them.

      1. SD vs DVD-RW. When flash memory reached $10 for 4GB, it became a question of speed and physical size. One goes in a pocket and takes seconds to copy a file. The other requires a case, won’t fit in your pocket and takes many minutes to copy the same file. Even if you were burning a DVD-ROM, the cheapness sometimes didn’t compensate for the time or the bulk.

          1. 16x DVD drives would be about 21MB/s, and $10 gets you a 32GB MicroSD card that can achieve 45MB/sec to 80MB/sec read speeds (and perhaps half that for writing). The most recent one I bought from Lexar achieved its advertised speeds. They aren’t premium priced. This is probably a development in 2016, I’m sure these cards were slower a year or so ago.

          2. In practice the DVD-RW is slower, because you have to erase the disc as well, and it takes minutes for the lead-in/lead-out part until it finally spits the disc. It’s just a multi-step process to use one, whereas an SD card you just slot in and the folder pops open, and you drag and drop files and it’s done.

            Then there’s compatibility issues between different RW drives, discs, and the fact that optical media in general is really flaky because it’s subject to the lemon market effect where nobody makes good discs, because paying more money will just get you swindled. I have multiple DVD-RW discs broken at 3-5 years old, while all my SD cards work just fine. The write limitation on an RW disc is about 1000 erase cycles – in practice <100 times before it craps out. RW discs are just short-term throwaway items that nevertheless cost way too much, and if you have to use optical media, you're better off just buying a spindle box of no-label DVD-R discs for a penny a pop.

      2. You are correct DVD’s are cheaper.

        I can buy a 64Gb SD card from Sams Club for $18. That is about 28 cents per GB

        DVD±R DL is 8.55GB per disk and for $55.99 I can get a pack of 50. That is about 13 cents per GB.

        However… I’d much rather have an SD card for small size and faster speed. DVD’s might have a longer shelf life (but I am unsure about that anymore).

        1. For longevity I use the M-disc variants of both DVD+R and BluRay. I use them only for storing family photo albums & videos – stuff that once lost is lost for good.
          I have seen *absolutely* no information on the longevity of flash memory storage (SD, etc), especially the newer devices. Manufacturers sometimes ‘claim’ ten year data retention, but from what I’ve seen, older devices just seem to quietly slip away and no-one ever recounts restoring a ten-year-old file from one.
          I’m confident my m-discs will last me until the day I go into the ground, and then my kids, and their kids…

        2. For personal storage, HDD beats them both by a longshot and SD Cards basically win if you need something physically very small (to fit in your pocket, etc).

          Unfortunately that price does not scale at DVD storage sizes. If you are giving media away (wedding photos, etc), especially to a lot of people (like after a wedding), it is ridiculously cheaper to give away $1 DVD’s $10 for flash drives that are only 10% full.

      1. Redbox is on it’s way out. It’s a temporary replacement for Blockbuster, using robots instead of teenagers. The entire concept of picking up and dropping off movies on physical media is on it’s way out.

    1. I was waiting for something better as a kid with 45s and cassette tapes(and those weird 8tracks which looked like more Atari carts). Actually cassette tapes were OK until they seriously got under the driver’s feet or got spooled out or jammed in the player. Optical disks were always flawed as they were so damn easy to scratch, terrible in a car unless you had a huge trunk CD changer or a good CD folio on your sun visor and perfect dexterity, and terrible at home if you ever forgot to stick it in it’s box or it fell out, one slide and it is done. USB flash drives or pairing a phone(by both/either A2DP BT or 3.5mm pigtail depending on which is convenient, but I INSIST on both) to the car or home stereo or just some good amp’ed speakers if you could care less about plastic discs or commercial FM broadcast.
      Most physical storage like optical and tape is effing fragile, as is “the cloud’ services for their own stupid reasons; I like backed up high capacity flash and my laptop HDD.

      1. Yes, I also “insist on both.” And can also support your estimation of optical disks and “the cloud”. Although sometimes it is good to burn something on a CD, because you have not to think about getting back/ giving back an USB-stick. At something like 13ct/CD it is “fire and forget” :-)

    2. I use sd cards and thumb drives a lot, I also have a dock to take 3.5 hard disks but I also still have a dvd burner and a spool of blank dvd’s?
      Why? because burnt, fixed point in time, write on it with a sharpie and store it away as a archive at that fixed point in time. Nobody takes it and overwrites it, its useless to anyone else once burnt.
      I also have rs232 on my box and a working parallel port still too mind…

      As for dropbox, I’m not allowed to put half my stuff from work on dropbox, and even if I were, I wouldnt. Times change, encryption’s depreciate, and my connection sucks anyway. Its not even in the ball park as a replacement.

      1. if you are doing archival work then do yourself a favour and move away from cd’s or dvd’s they only last around 10 years reliably before they can fail due to simple ageing.
        cassette tape drives are quite cheap in storage but usually they do cost quite a bit for the drives themselves, many cassettes can last for a century or more.

        1. How should be cassete tapes more reliable? I am glad. that I can store my music on HD, CD, DVD, Flash, etc (digitally) and do not have to use this damn, slow tapes any more. The time of the C64 is gone and even there I saved for a Floppy drive and now you want me to use the datasette again? It was not THAT reliable.

          1. He means LTO and other stuff, while it doesnt suffer pinhole corrosion like some of the early cd’s we burnt and are fully aware of the problems around, are something that I load in to the tape drive with fingers crossed that the drive isnt going to eat the tape especially now the drive mechanisms are getting some age on them. You can still buy new dvd readers and writers for now.

          2. Yah, having a hate on recordable optical because of old solved problems on one type of disc is like going around telling everyone their car is going to explode any second because Ford Pinto.

  5. The truth is, standards die for one of three basic reasons: a) the fundamental concept is no longer relevant, b) the standard is fundamentally flawed, or c) another standard is better than and replaces it. Usually it is a combination of one or more of these causing one or more of the others.

    Things like floppy disks, laser disc, and betamax had competing standards that were cheaper or superior, or at least appeared to be so. CDs and DVDs are still around but are disappearing for many uses because other technologies have improved on them.

    But the 3.5mm audio jack? Headphones are clearly still relevant. There is no major flaw with the 3.5mm jack; Apple wants to claim it’s bulky, but it’s actually rather small, and if that were the case there are smaller variants. Is there a superior standard? No! The 3.5mm audio jack is better than the alternatives, ESPECIALLY wireless headphones. The ubiquitousness of the 3.5mm audio jack is part of why it is the superior option (everything works with everything else), and is also the real reason Apple wants to get rid of it.

    Apple is trying to ditch the 3.5mm audio jack so that people will buy Apple branded/licensed accessories and nothing else. All these devices that allow you to add IR control or scan credit cards via the 3.5mm port? Now they’ll have to go through apple to make these peripherals and pay large licensing fees. Not to mention the timing would be an amazing coincidence with Apple buying a big name (though shit quality) headphone brand.

    IMO, these blog posts that are trying to defend and apologize for Apple’s attempt at making these things proprietary have no place on a website dedicated to open hacking.

    1. Well, I know I’ll still be using it for many years to come. And they won’t stop being manufactured in my lifetime; they are simple and cheap and used all over the world.

      Also, current wireless only offers digital transport. Many musicians are going to continue to want analog transport. So the worst case for this technology is a smaller footprint, but still being an available standard.

  6. Again that stupid BS. HaD click-bait bad habit.
    Audio jack won´t die soon. Gerritz´s audio universe seems limited to listening music with a smartphone, but he totally bypasses the fact that audio jacks are (and will, for a long time) used in any music device: line-in, line-out, mic.
    YES in 20 years there will still be tons of devices fitted analog audio interface, in the form of 3.5mm jack.

    Long live audio jacks!

    1. Now, the mere fact that separates CD player are built and sold nowadays like say the Marantz CD 5005 (that has also a 6,3 mm jack for the headphones) seem so show me that old standards aren’t so old. Separates are sill made and sold, and even the Matsushita group has resurrected the Technics brand for separates. The market share for decent audio gear is smaller compared to crappy audio devices, now and even in the ’70s crappy record player were made and sold, without the earphone jack normally…

    2. It’s like he thinks that the entire audio world will be driven by the trends in consumer choices. On the production side, wireless technologies have a long way to go. Analog audio is RELIABLE. I hate wireless microphones, the crackle of interference or a dropout that spoils a nice bit of dialogue or a singer’s beautiful performance. Give me XLR any day.

    1. – no sound because of different standards
      – you now have two things to charge at home
      – the joy of a burning battery on your head
      – the electronics and batteries create a lot of unneeded additional waste
      – electrosmog anybody?

      Please continue the list :)

  7. The amount of issues people have with bluetooth baffles me. As a person who uses bluetooth for at least 2 hours every weekday I have zero of the issues people speak of. I use it pair to multiple bluetooth speakers, headphones, and my car daily. I have been utilizing bluetooth on this schedule for almost 4 years now as well. My sennheisers sit at home where my DAC lives… Not hooked to my phone.

      1. That is the whole point of the discussion: You need a fucking adapter, because the manufacturer omitted a cheap part: The connector. Adapters get lost or forgotten at home and they are an unnecessary expense.

    1. I use Bluetooth and generally don’t have issues but sometimes I had them, most of the time the are 2 roots for the problems, and overcrowded 2.4Ghz band and bad adherence to the standard of some devices that causes incompatibilities. Put 100 people in a closed environment using Bluetooth headphones at the same time and I’m sure that that a good number of them are going to have issues, and this can happen in reality (subway cart).

  8. I think standards were the first open source platform. We went from a public form of resources to privet when companies solely develop and own a “standard”. I first noticed it when apple took over video with quicktime. Then everyone got in the game putting out there own codic and were left with a mess of competing “standards” trying to financially own the market.

  9. There is though a noticeable difference between a storage device and an audio output. I don’t think it is fair comparison.

    A storage standard/device requires to store data which is ever more increasing, hence subject to faster evolution. Audio jack on the other hand, has one main function not anything else, provide audio (ignoring the media buttons), and that’s all we ask from it.

    While from our HDD, SSD, SD, cd-rom, we tend to want more storage or faster storage.
    You can even now see, that the demand for as much possible bytes has reduced, we are now looking more into having as fast as possible storage. SSDs are replacing HDDs. At the moment people are trading 1TB HDDs for 500GB SSDs. I wouldn’t be surprised that in some very distant future, a storage device invented would become a standard for 100+ years, like audio jack, once it satisfies the capacity and speed and maybe some yet unknown requirement.

    I do like the idea of wireless headset, but for most of my requirements a very simple robust audio jack would suffice. In this case I think simplicity wins, to satisfy our demands. You don’t need an electric screwdriver for every screw do you?

    However, to be fair, we could always try to make the audio jack even more smaller, but still keep it simple stupid.

    And worst we can do, is to introduce propriety digital protocol for transferring audio. If that’s where we are heading, then screw it, I’m sticking with 3.5 audio jack.

  10. Standards die when something better comes along. Bluetooth? Really? Wireless headphones might have a chance if they hadn’t been relegated to the ISM band where you find 1 kW transmitters in everyone’s homes. Sure, my microwave oven is shielded, but there’s enough leakage to reliably kill the headphone connection whenever the thing runs. I’d almost rather catch the frying pan handle with the headphone cord – but running it inside my shirt fixes that.

    1. In the kitchen I go wireless, I transmit music in the air using pressure waves. My sense organs are able to receive this type of transmission unaided.

      Of course using speakers does mean that Apple won’t be selling me wireless headphones. R.I.P. capitalism

  11. This article was really NOT necessary. It engages the sole (cleaving) opinion of the author, who is bringing his point of view about this for the second time. So it´s merely just a click-bait article. One won´t learn anything from it. Useless crap.

  12. I use one set of headphones on 4 devices daily. Easy to switch. Less than a second. Can’t do that with BT. Can’t use bt on work desktop. I am not carrying more converters and dongles around. I just bought a pixel phone because it has a headphone jack. That jack will be around for ages to come. It’s far from obsolete. Apple engineers are just too stupid to fit it in the phone, Lazy retards. Ohhh. 0.5 mm thinner. Big whoop.

    Tek becomes obsolete when some better replaces it or it becomes redundant. Better usually = easier! Having to charge headphones. Erk. Not easier! Waiting to pair, what a joke. I Plug in and go. Im on the train listening to tunes whilst your fiddling with codes and batteries outside the lift. Haha.

    1. Well, if they wanted to make it 0.5mm thinner, they could have simply used a 2.5mm connector and saved *double* that! I’ve seen plenty of 2.5mm stereo audio sockets (and some even have video on them to boot!) on consumer equipment. Not as universal as 3.5, but much more standard and at *least* an order of magnitude cheaper than bluetooth.
      This crap about needing to reduce thickness is just that, crap.

  13. I remember it well the first cd-rom drive I’ve owned. It was a PCMCIA external one that could be connected to an Amiga 1200. It could only read, at 1x speed :) But the huge libraries of Aminet could fit on a single cd-rom. Not many games were made for it though.

    Of course the PC that followed had one, and if memory serves, a writer at that. I used my dvd drive recently to rip an audio cd I bought. I like my music RAW, not in the overbaked MP3 or AAC format thank you very much :)
    I also still use dvd’s for repairing/installing a pc if an usb stick doesn’t boot on the system.

    I like new technology but it should be an improvement in quality and/or convenience, but often you see it’s either/or or neither. Cloud and DRM comes to mind for example.

  14. All my PCs have at least one headphone jack, all 3 laptops, the usb audio interfaces, cd player, amps, mixer, synthesizers – all with 3,5 or 6,3mm jacks. I’ve got at least 25 devices with headphone jacks. No, it’s not gonna die soon here.

  15. You cannot compare 3.5mm jacks with CD-ROMs. It’s like comparing film cameras with digital cameras: you will still have people preferring analog over digital things, no matter what, and that’s why tube amps and film photography has still momentum these days.

    Please stop trying to prove Apple is right, it’s just trying hard to sell Beat headsets.

  16. Oh you think you’re sooo clever, don’t you… Cyber Controller!
    Doctor Who predicted this years ago, and now it’s happening. You want us to switch over to a purely wireless standard, so you can mind control us into becoming Cybermen!

  17. apple wants to sell more shitty adapters, i see this whole “you get only one plug” development as critical, because onlything it does is prevent you from charging while using other wired peripherials.

  18. VHSs went away because people started using them less and less. CDs quietly went away because people started using them less and less. DVDs quietly went away because people started using them less and less.

    These were all paradigm shifts, but they all had in common that the manufacturers and products followed the market, not the other way around. Once few enough people were buying and using CDs, it made sense to remove a CD drive as a feature.

    In this case, the “next thing”, Bluetooth headsets, have existed for a while. However, not enough consumers have transitioned over to make it a logical shift for manufacturers to start removing the 3.5mm jack. With Apple, this is the case of a manufacturer trying to force the shift, which is a gamble at best…

    Nobody had to tell or force people to move on from video cassettes. Once a better product/standard was available, people made their own decision to move on. Once there is a viable next technology from wired headphones, people will move. Bluetooth is not (yet) that technology.

  19. As a ham radio operator, I see a lot of old equipment at swapmeets. There’s one guy who has been trying to sell the same microphone there for the last 10 or so swapmeets I’ve been to. 1/4 headphone jack on the end of it. I’d rather have the jack than some wireless garbage. More secure. While I do understand things evolve, as Scotty said, the more they complicate the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the the drain. I see old headphones at GoodWill all the time,and some from the 70’s like Lafayette really do sound good. My Kenwood TS-430s has a 1/4 headphone jack. No need to pair or mess with codes or charge wireless. It just works. It’s simple, even a child could figure it out. Round peg goes into round hole. My computer didn’t come with a 9 pin serial port, so I got a card specifically so I could have one. No need to mess with FTDI drivers
    and whatnot. Keep it simple stupid. Has worked for me for many decades and will probably work for me many more.
    Is the 3.5 jack going away? Yes and no. On laptops as thin as a credit card, I’d say yes, but in our quest to make things
    smaller and faster, etc. etc. on such a laptop a 3.5 jack wouldn’t make sense. Now the 3.5 jack IS an improvement over an older standard. Anyone remember the white earphones you’d get with a transistor radio? Those were monoaural.
    3.5 stereo headphone (with the first Walkman) pretty much replaced those. I think as long as something is used, like
    the 3.5 jack, it will be around for a long long time.

  20. Wow after reading the author’s rant, sorry article I am no longer interested in reading anything else written by him. And I’m losing more interest in anything having to do with hackaday. The articles are not what they once were, the authors 1337est fanboys and the projects pitiful arts&crafts nonsense.. Talk about the death of a standard. Tech-no-pest

      1. dear Betelgeuse, just like you I’m not crazy about the 3.5mm jack related posts of Gerrit, but to block him completely that doesn’t sound fair. I’ve read some articles from him that did make a lot of sense. Everybody is allowed to make mistakes aren’t they? I think that what we all want so see is posts of projects, it is called Hackaday for a reason.
        I’m sure that Gerrit means well, though I rather have him writing something constructive, something we can all learn from, something that really helps us in hacking or build or repairing stuff.
        However, if you do manage to build such a script, are you going to post it as a hackaday project?

        I was thinking about things becoming obsolete because they were replaced by something better… this principle works for humans to. If some author writes better articles then Gerrit, then Gerrit will soon become obsolete. Unless Hackaday wants to “identify” itself with click-bait articles like this (instead of the fun and quality articles we are used to and are the main reason for us to come back to this site). So if quality declines then Hackaday itself will soon become obsolete. I’m sure that there are plenty of other Hackaday-like websites that we can all go to.
        Does anyone have any suggestions?

        A google for “hackaday alternatives” gave me this:

        1. Yeah fair enough. I do realise I overreacted a bit, and constructive criticism/discussion should be the way to go. Which I tried to attempt in my first comment.

          However, what you said sparked an interesting idea. Whether ML can be used to score how likely an article is a “click bait”?

      2. Yeah, that’s really true. One mistake is OK, but two? Perhaps we should apply a three-strikes-out rule for him. If he writes such bullshit once again, I really want such a script.

  21. honestly, who cares. apple won’t displace many customers with this move. it’s a phone, a consumer level product. it’s not like it’s a tool which will suddenly be missing an important part of its functionality.

    for a lot of people who buy apple products, talking about the fact there is no headphone jack is part of the appeal. I have a hard time believing this move is motivated by anything other than marketing and vanity, disguised as innovation.

  22. I don’t have issue with the wired headphones going away. I think we’re a ways a way because of pairing and cost but I can see it coming. I do have issue with saying its dead because Apple said so. Especially when their primary motivation is to make more money on “MFi Certification” royalties and not because its a market demand. Floppies dies mostly because the market moved and companies stopped selling what wasn’t being asked for. 3.5mm is HUGELY popular. Apple just saw an opportunity to bolster their already freakish profits and jumped ahead of the market.

  23. /me envisions a guitar player on a stage of a 10k audience performance, pairing his guitar to his pedal rack, pairing the pedal rack to the amplifier and the sound guys pairing all their microphones to the mixing console.

    Three months later it works for a split second…

  24. In today’s article, the author posits a future where wireless technology is as simple and reliable as putting a plug in a jack, where battery life is never an issue and bandwidth limitations are unheard of.

    And when this gleaming, glorious utopia comes to pass, I will happily drop my headphone jack in the trash from atop my magical flying unicorn.

  25. when a wireless audio technology can get it’s shit together in regards to easily connecting to a device, then and only then will there be a chance for it to replace wired audio.

          1. It was awesome at it’s time. But for me it’s also somehow obsolete. I have two devices, the mobile Sony MZ1 (the very first MiniDisc ever) and one in the HiFi rack. But truely, I did not use them in the last years. Playing through the PC so much more convenient. But of course it’s still the 3,5mm jack, the music goes through.

  26. the thing is, the 3.5mm headphone is what really got me started into my love of tinkering with electronics. I found a big ol 70’s cup style headphones that I used extensively while delivering papers, but the cord invariably ended up getting frayed from being jostled around in my pocket and hit by the heavy paper bag. I didn’t want to buy new headphones, so I figured out how to fix them myself. Perhaps it’s a bit of nostalgia, but perhaps, I just really enjoy being able to rewire a set of headphones if they break, I don’t think that’s going to happen with a bluetooth set.

  27. Maybe someday something wireless will replace the headphone jack. But not bluetooth. Bluetooth is and has always been crap. I have never seen a pair of bluetooth devices pair and work more reliably than a wired connection, frayed and broken they may be.

    For a while, I thought maybe my car and my phone had paired successfully. Then one day I couldn’t get the phone to stream audio until I rebooted the car. Now it won’t work at all; the phone thinks it is streaming audio to the car, but it is coming out of the phone, and no amount of reboots of either device fixes it. But the 3.5mm audio jack, buried in the armrest? Works 100% every time.

    1. There is a wireless option that works great on most phones, it’s called a speaker, it transports the audio in a non compressed format by using compressed air. Although there are some issues with a lower audio quality and a higher energy consumption it seems to work. Everyday I see a kid somewhere riding on it’s bike playing music through this option, it is dangerous, they hold the phone in one hand and steer with the other and when a hole in the road comes they almost fall of their bike or drop the phone. It is fun to watch when this happens.

      But seriously… I think and hope that the jack is going to stay for many many years. And if I have a choice between buying a device with or without a jack… then I choose for the device with a jack!

      PS: has anyone thought about the FM radio in a smartphone… it requires the wires of the headphone cable to act like an antenna. Now how is this going to work when you have a bluetooth headset… WITHOUT WIRES! Because some of us still want to listen to a radio station instead of the same MP3 playlist over and over again.

      1. Unfortunately the FM radio gets disabled in some devices deliberately. The chip in the phone would be able to receive it (WiFi/BT/FM combination), but the RF input is grounded. This is the case e.g. in the otherwise very good Galaxy S5. Only the edition for one US provider (Sprint?) doesn’t have it blocked.

      2. I anyway prefer listening through speakers much more than with a headphone. It’s just that the tiny speaker is not always up to the task. Therefore the 3,5mm jack is also important – to connect to a sufficiently sized amplifier.

  28. We used to have a Laser Disc player in my high school earth science class, and at that time it was state of the art bleeding edge shit. And we used to have to watch science films on it. EXCEPT – It could output either english, spanish or french audio streams OR all the streams at once. And for some reason, the earth science teacher didn’t know how to set the language output on the damn thing SO we had to watch films about volcanos and geology and whatnot in three languages at once. And the guy, to his credit would not let any of us punk kids touch the thing to try to figure out how to set it to just English.

    I’m sure the disc player had that capability so people from different languages could all watch together, but how anyone could listen to English on top of French on top of Spanish and understand any of it is beyond me. But I think that teacher knew what he was doing – torturing a bunch of punk kids.

  29. My 15 year old headphones have yet to come “unpaired” from my computer or whatever else I plug them into. When the plug breaks, I solder on a new one. When the cord breaks, I solder on a new one. Either even costs me less than $1 to fix and less than 15 minutes of my time.

    Screw Bluetooth. It’s useless garbage with too many issues. There’s a reason why the audio connectors we know and love have lasted well over a century: THEY WORK!!!

  30. this might make more sense if it was just limited to apple idevices/similar products loosing 3.5mm headphone jacks, not the death of a standard. the former is more realistic. applying it to all devices everywhere just seems unlikely, offhand i think of low cost call centers, atm, military, medical, sekrit apps, that may not want wireless comms

    technologically better, doesn’t always mean the product is better/more suitable, KISS and all that.

    it does seem a little bit of a strawman to compare the death of things that definitely died out because they had been replaced by demonstrably better tech (in a much shorter time frame) and also fueled by other market forces.

  31. Hoo-ray, we’re killing the optical disc. The only data storage medium that’s reliably write-only and has enough space to be useful.

    1. Heh let’s be assholes and feed it back to his employer/clients, “Gerrit said this was possible, Gerrit said that was possible, even easy…” fakespectations meets real world balls on the anvil.

  32. The phone makers will continue to make them thiner and thiner. You will never be allowed a week’s runtime. They will become so thin there will be no conections at all. Holding them will require a holder because you can be cut by holding them by the thin sharp edges. Foldable displays seem to be the holy grail. Most people will only wad not fold, weather TP or displays. They will look like s… and sound that way too.

  33. I believe we’re on the backside of the hill for bluetooth and something better will eat it’s lunch. Here’s why, adoption rates for new techs have been accelerating over the years, as things become cheaper quicker and information gaps are filled by advances in the communications and media available to the average person…


    Yeah, so if bluetooth has been around 16 years and it’s not the UBIQUITOUS choice right now for headphones, as in already saturated, every person reading can see a few sets by looking around the room, it’s not gonna be, ever, blew it’s chance.

  34. Okay, I’m far from the only person to point this out.

    But there is more to audio than Bluetooth-enabled telephones.

    At work, yes, I use a wireless headset to allow me to walk around whilst listening to whatever’s on the computer. The headset isn’t Bluetooth, but some proprietary standard that Logitech use. Connect time is under 1 second, and my only gripe is the asymmetry of the sample rates: it’ll happily do 48kHz stereo receive, but the microphone is 16kHz, and that’s a problem with some audio systems like JACK that prefer everything run at the same sample rate.

    But I digress… In this case, it’s a headset that’s connected wirelessly to a USB dongle to a comparatively bulky laptop.

    The other main area where I use a headset a lot is when I’m riding my bike. My bicycle is fitted with an amateur radio transceiver, and a headset embedded in the helmet allows me to talk hands-free. I generally don’t talk when I’m in traffic, but once I’m in the quiet back-streets, I can theoretically operate on bands from 80m through to 70cm. I sometimes use that same headset on the phone.

    Now here’s the kicker. The radio is a Yaesu FT-857D. It cost me about AU$1000 when I bought it near-new in 2011 (previous owner bought it thinking he could use it on 27MHz then sent it back). It does not have Bluetooth. The best I can do is some sort of Bluetooth module that plugs into the microphone and speaker ports. West Mountain Radio make one. There are some you can get for motorcycles. They’re expensive, and it’s an extra point of failure. It took a bit of experimentation, but I found that using DIN5 connectors and CAT5-style cabling makes a very reliable and universal audio system.

    The same headset will work on my mobile phone, all my radios, my computer, my work’s desk phone, the lot. I have other headsets that interoperate with the aforementioned devices too, so I don’t have to sit at my desk wearing my bike helmet. I don’t suffer the issues mentioned in the original 3.5mm demise article. I get good audio clarity, instant connection, and reliable service and haven’t had any issues with cable routing.

    I’ve had two radios that had Bluetooth: the VX-8DR and when that died, I bought a FT-350AR which could accept the VX8’s Bluetooth and GPS modules. The BU-1 Bluetooth module is utterly pants.

    It refuses to talk to the majority of standard mono headsets, it will begrudgingly talk to one A2DP-enabled headset I have. Sometimes it connects, and I hear nothing. Sometimes it connects, I can hear the other station, but then when I go to transmit, they hear nothing. Sometimes it gets stuck on transmit. Sometimes it drops out. It is an unreliable gimmick that I’ll never bother wasting money on again.

    I use this radio for emergency communications: a drop-out in the middle of a message is the last thing you want.

    As for the other applications… A2DP is one-way, headsets that support it will typically only receive audio, they won’t transmit it that way. The only profile that works both ways is the HSP, which is 8kHz mono audio, generally poorer quality than AM radio. Great for a 2G mobile phone, but 4G is wideband these days, and no one wants to listen to their music at that bandwidth.

    I have a Bose SoundLink Mini I was given recently. Lately, yes I’ve been using it on the bike for music, and for now, I’m just using Bluetooth because it’s there. In traffic it’s fine, although I’ll probably resurrect an old speaker that I built from a kit in high school since if there’s rain, I’m more likely to be able to fix it.

    Using the speakers at home, they’re okay, I store my music using the Vorbis CODEC, but I do note some distortion that isn’t present when I listen to the same music on analogue speakers or via my (non-Bluetooth) headsets. Not bad enough for me to want to do much about it, but I do notice at times it is there. The Bluetooth A2DP headset I have, I notice it far more, and is a reason I have avoided Bluetooth to date.

    I am considering doing something wireless … the ESP8266 has I²S, and it seems a good candidate: have the units set up an ad-hoc network, run stream audio as UDP multicast, then have each device do software mixing and handle button events. Goal being it’s a unit that can be brought in and removed as necessity demands.

    So yeah, I’ll hang on to my 3.5mm jacks thanks. Its the means that I use to interface certain off-the-shelf devices to my audio infrastructure. It’s not perfection, but it gets pretty damn close.

    1. In/on a vehicle I am glad to have a wireless system (BT-handsfree). I get into the car, the phone just connects to the audio system. But there are times when I want to have the analog option.

  35. Gerrit is an Apple fanboy, and has to defend all things Apple do, regardless of how stupid they might be.

    I have seen this type of “journalism” before, often payed for by the company defended, by gifts to the “journalist” in the form of “hey here is a pair of our new bluetooth headphones for you to rewiew, you can keep them…”

    Not that I say that it is the case with Gerrit

  36. The problem with this is that a wireless replacement for bluetooth very well may satisfy some 90% of users. Sure, there’s problems like battery life and clumsiness of trying to use the same headphones with more than two devices but these are consumers we are talking about here. They won’t care so long as marketing tells them wires are unsexy.

    The problem is that this means we will have no direct connection into the device for more… ‘hackish’ sorts of applications. Everything will be forced through bluetooth or it’s descendant where it is digitized, compressed and modified in who knows what ways. This will only matter to a small percentage of the population but… that small subset is US. WTF are you doing celebrating the loss of direct access to our devices on a site like Hack a Day? You should be over at Consumer Reports or somewhere boring like that.

  37. At the end point (your ears) the audio has to be in an analog form. Moving the conversion from the playing device to the speakers is only adding cost and complexity – and increasing the demand for lithium and other “rare earth” metals and minerals.

    There are many designs of waterproof audio jacks, so that argument against the jack is baloney. Got some dust or lint in it? Pucker up and blow! Plug in and twist a bit and it’s good to go.

    One way to not have the “problem” of dust and lint collecting (other than using a holster instead of a filthy pocket full of objects to scratch the phone) would be a magnetic connection. Make it an open standard and reversible so the phone cord can point either direction. An adapter to the 3.5mm jack would simply be an overmolded jack directly connected to magnets.

    Stick it onto the edge of the phone and there’s your good old standard. Internally the connection could take up much less room than a jack. Embed the magnets into the housing and have spring contacts touching spots along an edge of the PCB.

  38. I can’t wait to see someone selling a (licencensed) showlace/wire for 40$, so you can tie your wireless earbuds to your phone so you won’t loose them. Apart from that nice retro-look.. you could even utilize it and ran power through that wire to charge the batteries while in use.. or even use them without battery. Hmm.. maybe, just maybe, there might be even an add-on to run the signal itself through that wire to save battery and/or cope with interference. So many posibilities, once we got rid of that way to hackable, simple, open and easy to understand headphone-jacks.

    On a sidenote: I’m actually quite ok with the idea having a BT-headset (even if I never had one I used for more than 10min so far). But, for the time being I will always prefer the device giving me the option, not the one forcing me. But I agree in so far, that there is surely a growing market. I just hate it to be forced.. but yah.. I also carry a USBEthernet adapter in my netbook bag so I can use a proper cable, when available.

    In the particular case of earbuds/phone.. the wire is a feature for me. I give the cable a gentle tug so they pop out my ears as somebody talks to me, the cable keeps them from falling to the ground (and getting stomped on) and since I ran the cable trough a loop in my jacket I never forgotten my earbuds anymore (believe me, that happend way too often).

    Another sidenote: After writing this wall of text I feel bad for doing so and giving that pretty redundant article way too much attention and not just ignoring it.. won’t happen again. ;)

  39. CD ROMs will always exist even if just as a contingency plan for when your desk gets so cluttered that you need somewhere else to put you coffee.

    Also I am running Windows 7 and it works fine with a 3.5″ floppy drive that I use to transfer files to retro-computers.

    1. Floppys are like NES cartridges; it takes something pretty extreme to kill them completely.
      It’s kinda like a documentary I saw once put it, “long after our skyscrapers have fallen, and our digital media has become unusable, the hieroglyphics in Egyptian ruins will still hold information.”

        1. Run most magnets across a 3.5 floppy, and the data won’t be destroyed. Scrabbled a bit, if you’re dealing with a particularly powerful electromagnet, but definitely recoverable.
          This is a bit like countering a claim about a ssd being resistant to trauma by saying, “you call not-hammer-proof resistant to trauma?”

          1. The old de-gaussing of old glass tube monitors destroyed floppies.

            Also I through a SSD as hard as I could into a brick wall and then plugged it back in and it worked flawlessly as I said “try that with your hard drive”.

          2. Ive got a wire edm that blanks its boot floppies once or twice a month from the electrical noise going on in the cab next door :(
            Early on in the manual is how to back up the originals and theres a backup program built right into the system maintenance menus!

      1. Ive had a spate of floppy destroyers in old cnc machines recently, the problem is the load mechanism has got gunged up over the years and is lazy, and the floppy doesn’t quite go home properly. The read head comes in and hits the surface of the disk and scores the surface away, deestroyed unreadable floppy. It doesnt help that theyre nec 1Mb drives which are 3.5 but spin at 5.25″ speeds which aren’t easily available (PC98 standard hardware).
        Given some of these extremely expensive today used machines still boot from floppy, thats a bad thing…

      1. If your asking about the retro-computer, it’s an 8-bit Amstrad CPC 6128 from the 1980’s. I swapped out the 3″ FDD for a 3.5″ FDD so that I can transfer data back and forth to the PC (Windows 7) as I can’t get 3″ disks anymore.

        1. Interesting, CP/M format? Using 22Dos or something like that?

          But what I was asking was is it a 32bit version of windows 7? Because I heard that the floppy drive code was messed up on 64 bit versions of windows 7.

          1. I’ve used a USB floppy drive on 64 bit Win 7. Just about the only thing I ever use a floppy disk for lately is BIOS updates on computers that insist upon doing the update from a floppy and nothing else – even if they can boot from other types of media.

            What I can’t figure out is why when the 2.88M floppy came along all the big PC OEMs didn’t immediately make it standard equipment. At the time there wasn’t the Iomega Zip, USB, LS-120 – nothing with larger capacity, easily portable and nearly ubiquitous. IIRC IBM and Compaq were the only companies to routinely offer a 2.88M drive as an option. I’ve seen them in ThinkPads and a few PS/2 desktops.

            Then there’s dual layer recordable DVDs. In less than two years after their introduction, all new burners supported + and – dual layer formats and SL only burners were no longer made – but all the brick and mortar stores would not stock the media in anything but insanely overpriced, small packages. Usually 3 or 5 packs in jewel cases. Staples for a short while had Memorex 15 or 25 disc spindles. Unfortunately Memorex DVD+RDL media was utter shite. I bought one pack and out of all my burners just ONE would even acknowledge a blank was inserted. One or two would read them after being burned.

            Walmart could have ordered all the DL blank capacity of every manufacturer in India, had them done up in 50 and 100 disc spindles, then made sure they stocked lots of them in every store *at the same price as SL discs*. But for some reason they and the rest gave the discs a very cold shoulder.

            Retailers did even worse to writeable Blu-Ray. Carried some of the media for a short time, never stocked the drives. I’ve seen variations of this many times where a store will sell a gizmo but if you want more consumables than are packed with it, pfft, they don’t have and cannot get. Or I’ll see some supplies on a shelf and ask “Where’s the thingus this goes to?” Dunno, they don’t sell that. Manufacturers have to work with retailers to ensure this idiocy does not happen. It’s how products die. It’s why Shasta doesn’t make plain Strawberry soda anymore. “Why don’t you have Strawberry Shasta?” “Because it doesn’t sell.” “Well you can’t sell it if you never have any! You only ever get one pallet and it’s gone in one day. Get TEN pallets and you’ll sell it all.” See also DAD’S brand sodas. Most stores get it in very rarely, in small amounts, and it sells out insanely fast – but due to the low volume the bean counters continue to follow the same strategy because “it doesn’t sell a lot”.

            It’s what I call the Pepperoni Pizza Principle. Whatever is widely available and has the lowest price will be the most popular – and people will claim it’s widely available and lowest priced *because* of its popularity. If pepperoni was priced the same as other toppings and never on special or sales, it would not be the most popular pizza topping. Switch pricing strategy with any other meat and *that* would be the most popular. My fave is Canadian bacon, ground beef and black olive, but none of the frozen pizza manufacturers make that combo. If a big one did, and pushed hard on marketing it, it would become one of the top selling combos.

            Another new standard that took forever for the retailers to get with the program was the Micro B USB connection that debuted in 2007. Looking for a new cable for your new phone in 2007? “Not Available in Stores!” and still very scarce through 2009. Where were the product managers who *should* have said “There’s a new USB connector that ALL the 2007 phones (except those twits at Apple) will have. If we want to sell a metric shitton of cables, chargers and other accessories we have to call our suppliers NOW and order everything we can with Micro B. When our customers come to our electronics department and point to the connector on their new phone, our answer needs to be “Yes, we have that.” not “What the hell is that?”.”

            Every store I went to with my new phone I got in 2007, the employees *had no clue* what the new connector was. FAIL FAIL FAIL HARD. You have to know the new stuff before anyone else does. That’s how you sell stuff and make money.

          2. The CPC 6128 has CP/M disks with it and can run CP/M 2 and CP/M 3 but I only use CPM to format disks and I can do that on the Windows 7 PC anyway.

            It also has builtin disk features in BASIC that allow read/writing do disk from basic and also to be able to save/load programs or memory dumps or Assembly code (in RAM) but it is not an operating system by itself, just extensions to BASIC.

            The disks can have three different formats, CP/M, System and data formats. The system and data formats are proprietary to Amstrad and not compatible to later standards and they don’t support sub-directories. They’re just flat CHS data with no FAT.

            Getting back to windows – I have Windows 7 64 bit installed. I have never tried to use a floppy in the normal way on Windows 7 so I don’t know if that works. I use an emulator (low level driver) that emulated the old style floppy control registers that haven’t existed since Windows 98/ME – so that I can read and write in formats that are compatible with the retro computer but NOT compatible with Windows without the lower level driver.

          3. @[Galane]

            I think there were two reasons that 2.88MB FDDs never took off especially with big manufacturers.

            The larger/largest manufacturers all made a lot of profit from commercially networks computers (LANs) and a floppy regardless of it size was near to useless on a network. Files were stored on file servers and they were bacled up using tape drives.

            As for the domestic customer 2.88MB was not a big enough step up when you already had 100MB Zip drives and 800MB CD ROMs. One picture could that size or near enough to it. A screen dump at true color 800×600 pixel SVGA is 1.44MB (the size of a high density 3.5″# FDD).

          4. Last time I have used floppies was Friday. A customer brought us some floppies with cad files in them that he needed but could not find where to read. I had to take the disks hoje, but they read ok in my Windows 7 64Bit machine. What should be these problems that you mention ?I would like to make some tests before I dispose of some old pentium 3s

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