Bass. How low can you go? Sure, this might be a Public Enemy lyric, but it’s also a question that a lot of people find themselves asking when looking for headphones. Though it’s easier these days to find headphones with vision-blurring low end, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
Skullcandy, a Utah-based company that has been making a serious name for itself in headphones over the last 10 years, has a novel solution to that problem. The Skullcandy Crusher headphones feature a slider on the left cup that allows you to adjust the amount of bass you hear. This slider also adjusts how much bass you feel.
While this is definitely an interesting idea, whether or not it’s a good idea is an entirely different matter. For the verdict, check out the video or read the article over at Sound Guys.
We’ve often featured Raymond Soneira’s Technology Shoot-Outs analyses on Android Authority, and for good reason. Head of DisplayMate Inc., Soneira is one of the few display experts that regularly takes the time to look at major new devices and offer reviews based on actual measurements. In a world of vague comparisons, Soneira’s work is an oasis on objectivity.
The latest device to go through Raymond Soneira’s lab is the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s latest flagship features a 5.1-inch AMOLED display of Full HD resolution, and it’s easy to think that the differences between the S5 and the 5-inch Full HD Galaxy S4 are minimal. But things are not quite so.
According to Soneira, the Galaxy S5’s display is the best display DisplayMate ever tested. Not only is the Galaxy S5 a marked improvement over the Galaxy S4 in almost all aspects, but it’s also better than the Note 3, another device that gained Soneira’s praises.
Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light and Highest Color Accuracy
The Galaxy S5 sets several records when it comes to displays, including Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light and Highest Color Accuracy. That last point in particular is important, as color accuracy has long been the weakness of AMOLED screens, and the Galaxy S line in particular. In Cinema Mode (one of the color presets that users can pick from), the S5 features the most accurate colors of any smartphone or tablet that DisplayMate measured.
In terms of brightness, the Galaxy S5’s screen is 22 percent brighter than the S4, while using the same power. Factoring in display size, the S5’s screen is an impressive 27 percent more efficient than the S4, which should improve battery life.
The S5 is even brighter than the Note 3, the previous record-holder. With Auto-brightness turned on, the device can output a whopping 698 cd/m2, six percent better than the Note 3. Further helping usage in bright ambient light is the very low reflectance. In other words, the Galaxy S5’s should stay visible even in direct sunlight.
Soneira concludes that, with the Galaxy S5, AMOLED is on par or better than LCD in every aspect, a big change compared to the early days of the technology, when the technology consistently came last in display comparisons.
Bluetooth has come a long way when it comes to sound quality, and that is a fantastic thing. Gone are the days of hissy, strangled sound or dealing with unwieldy cables snagging everywhere you go. While Bluetooth earbuds and headphones are getting better, there are still a lot of variables that can make or break a good pair.
While Jabra is starting to gain recognition, they aren’t widely regarded as one of the top players in the field, like Jaybird for example. Still, when the company came along with the Jabra ROX, we were interested: metal construction, Dolby Digital Plus sound? Sounds good. But do they sound good?
Opera Max has been around in beta form for a while and it’s now about to see its official release. It’s from the makers of the popular Opera Browser and they’re known for coming out with some pretty good applications. Is this app worth your time? In this review, we’ll find out. As usual, you can read it below or watch it above.
Okay so what does Opera Max actually do? It is a standalone application that routes your internet traffic through its servers and compresses the data before it gets sent to your phone. This sounds complicated but it really isn’t. When browsing the web, you are essentially just downloading a bunch of stuff. Videos, images, advertisements, webpages, etc are all downloaded to your device using your data connection and then displayed for you.
What Opera Max does is it takes all that stuff and makes it smaller before sending it to your device. That means you use less of your data to get essentially the same content. This may not sound like a big deal but when you’re on a 1GB/month data plan, anything that helps stretch that data further is something that could be useful and in this case, it’s Opera Max.
Along with the data compression service, Opera Max lets you see what apps are using data and when. There are time stamps to show when apps use data so you know if something is borrowing your data connection when you’re not using it. There is also a function to block apps from using data so ones that update frequently –we’re looking at your Facebook- can be kept under control.
That’s really it folks. You install it, open it, and enable it and it pretty much takes care of everything else. It should be noted that it cannot save you data on encrypted apps because encrypted data is not routed through Opera servers. That stuff gets sent straight to your device.
How can I use this?
So how can you use this? It’s very simple, really. This is a classic “fire and forget” application so there’s really not much for you to do. You enable Opera Max and it essentially just works in the background to save you data. You can then use the app to block access from apps that you don’t want using your data all the time and overall it gives you more control over your own data usage.
As we noted earlier, it does not work on encrypted apps. So in order to get the full benefit of Opera Max, you may have to relegate a lot of your activity to your browser. This means using the browser for things like YouTube, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, and others that the app itself may not fully support. That way the data can be compressed and you can start using less data on more stuff.
Okay so here’s what we liked.
It’s a really good idea for an app. We still live in a world where many carriers restrict how much data you can use and sometimes a couple of GB per month won’t cut it and for many, Opera Max can help.
We really liked the Block Apps feature. Even if it can’t save you data on encrypted apps, it can still prevent them from accessing the internet without your permission and this alone can save you hundreds of MB per month. Especially from social media apps that like to update constantly.
For the most part, it’s fairly easy to use. You open the app, you enable it, and then you go about your business as usual. There are no overcomplicated set up processes.
Lastly, we liked the level of information it gives you. You can see exactly which apps use what data and when. This can be a real eye opener for people because a lot of apps use more data that they would initially think or use a lot of data in the background without their knowledge. Even if you don’t engage in Opera Max’s data saving services, it’s still pretty nifty to see what is using your connection.
And here’s what we didn’t like so much.
It doesn’t support IPv6 and this can be a real bummer. When it detects that you have that, it suggests that you simply change your APN settings. For some this won’t be a big deal but for many this is a complicated task. You can still use the other features of the app, but you won’t get any data savings until they either support IPv6 or you decide to go through with learning how to change your APN.
There isn’t a readily available list of popular apps that are encrypted and even the screenshots are a little ambiguous. So figuring out when and how to save data can be a bit of a pain. In that same vein, most savings take place in the mobile web browser and not as much in applications so many may be turned off by the prospect of using their mobile browser instead of applications for more things.
Since the app is essentially a VPN service, you may experience slower web browsing depending on things like your distance from the nearest server. Also, because it does compress data, you may also notice some lower quality images and video.
Overall, Opera Max is a solid app. It has its problems but none of them are bad enough to decrease the overall value. If used properly, this app can save you a lot of data. If you’re on a limited data plan and are on a carrier than uses overage charges, this app may very well actually save you money and that’s never a bad thing.
Even without the data saving mechanism, the app is still pretty useful. Being able to block apps from using your data alone makes it worth checking out because we all use apps that use our data religiously for updates. Best of all, it’s free to use so there’s really no reason not to check it out. Use the button below to get started.
Newsbeat is a new app that is really truly different. It’s a news aggregator like your standard news app or RSS app but instead of just delivering news for you to read, Newsbeat will read you the news. If you’re like me and read articles pretty much all day, being able to listen to it for once instead of reading sounds like a great idea. In this review, we’ll see just how good it is. As usual you can watch it above if you don’t want to read it.
Okay so what does this app do? It’s a news aggregator not unlike RSS. You tell it your interests and what publications you like and it will fetch news from sources that report on that kind of news. What’s interesting is that while you get the option to read the articles, you also get the option to listen to them. That’s right; this app will read the news to you in a news radio style format so you don’t have to read it.
The voices aren’t perfect but they are pretty good. They even have voice inflections to make them sound real. Some who have used the app already have stated preference between the male and female voice, but frankly both are about equal. There is still that robotic tone every now and then, especially when they try to pronounce difficult words or people’s names but they do well at sounding real enough to where it isn’t distracting when listening to the news.
The app goes the whole nine yards to make it sound like a radio show. When you open the app, it’ll greet you by name if you have your name entered into the app. It’ll give you your local traffic rundown sometimes which I thought was a nice touch. It then proceeds to read the news articles back to back until there are none left. When it reads articles, it’ll state the source and the author in a manner you’d expect a radio host to do.
Of course, you do still have the option to read the news. You can pause at any time and scroll through articles on your own if you prefer. The only real issue we found was a lack of sources. It seems to take more from local publications and worldwide news sources so you don’t get too many options when it comes to where it reads the news from.
The design is pretty decent. It’s not overly colorful but it is easy to navigate so no one should have any problems figuring out where to go. There is a hamburger menu on the left side where you can check out the app preferences or get to the news. Articles have two interfaces. You can look at them one at a time or use a second interface to swipe through them if you prefer. It was a little laggy here and there but not so much to make the app unpleasant.
Once the voices start to read the news, there will be a notification that pops up. You can swipe it away without interrupting the voices but it apparently comes back after a short time which can get annoying if you’re OCD about keeping your notification drawer cleared out. In the notification there are skip buttons as well as a pause and play button so you can skip news or pause it if need be.
This app is just a great idea. Reading article after article can be tedious and trying to keep up with the news all day that way can be tiring and frustrating. With this, you turn it on, connect some headphones or a speaker if need be, and let some robot people read you the news. It is much less stressful on your eyes too since you don’t have to stare at a little screen to read it if you don’t want to.
The voices are actually really good. As mentioned there are moments where they sound blatantly robotic and you never shake the knowledge that they are fake voices but they read the news so you don’t have to and they do it pretty well. This includes small things like pronunciation that a lot of robot voices screw up.
The app strings together the intro when you open the app, the local news, and each story in the flavor of a radio show. This includes short music bursts between stories and specific phrasing that you’d hear in a radio show. The male and female voices also interchange occasionally giving the illusion of multiple hosts. These aesthetics are purely atmospheric and not really functional, but it makes the whole thing sound coherent and it makes the experience more enjoyable.
Lastly, the app content is fairly customizable. While the sources are lacking, you still get to choose what topics you see. If you have no interest in, say, politics, then it won’t read you any political news.
This app seriously needs more sources. We assume they’ll be adding more as time goes but for the time being there aren’t all that many places to draw news from. So don’t expect to be able to follow your favorite blogs like Android Authority just yet.
While the topics are fairly customizable, they aren’t totally customizable. For instance, I like hockey but I dislike pretty much every other sport. I can have the app deliver sports news, but not specifically hockey news. So it’ll read me a bunch of football free agent signings that I don’t care about before it’ll read me the Columbus Blue Jackets game recap. That’s just one example, there are plenty of others.
The playback controls, notifications, etc are a little wonky sometimes. Clearing out a notification usually results in it coming back a few minutes later and the app has started reading articles before on its own when a story hits the news feed. It’s not terrible but some more control over the controls would be nice.
If you’re into RSS and reading the news, this app presents a unique premise that is difficult to pass up. It’s not difficult to read while on a subway or a train but if you’re driving or walking it’s probably more convenient to listen to the news rather than try to read it and this app shines in those kinds of situations.
We wish there were more sources. That’s about the only weakness that Newsbeat has and unfortunately it’s a pretty bad one to have. We’re sure they’ll add more eventually but until then you’re stuck with the biggest dogs in media who don’t already do the best reporting on things. Even so, the app is wonderfully done and we recommend you give it a shot if only to see if you like it.
Link Bubble is a new application from Chris Lacy, the developer behind Action Launcher. In this truly unique app, you load links in the background and only bring them forward when you want them. In this review, we’ll take a look at the finer points of Link Bubble and determine just how good it is. If you want to watch it instead of read it, the video is embedded above.
So what does Link Bubble actually do? It’s a floating window web browser that opens links in the background so you don’t lose your spot in whatever it is that you’re doing. This can be helpful for a number of reasons especially if you surf the web fairly frequently. What happens is you find a link, then you click on it, and Link Bubble will have a little floating icon that lets you know when the target is finished loading.
There are two ways to use this app. You can have the auto-open enabled which will pop the website up as soon as it has loaded. Or you can go into the settings, disable the auto-open, and then the site will load in the background and you can deal with it as you please. The developer recently updated the app to make this easier and the option to change this is now labeled better.
Other than the main function, you can share links to practically anywhere. In the top left is your main sharing service which can be changed in the settings to whatever you want. In the top right is the full list of places to share if you’re sharing elsewhere. If you want to close a page, you literally fling it toward the bottom of your screen to close it. If you want to close all of your bubbles, you manually drag one bubble to the bottom and wait for it to say “close all” and then let go.
Overall, it’s a fairly easy and simple app to use. Once you get the flinging bubbles thing down, controlling everything is practically second nature and you can go on with your business while Link Bubble takes care of links in the background. If you’re a fan of measuring stats, there is even a function that will show you how much time you’ve saved by not waiting for websites to load.
Link Bubble’s design is very minimal. When you’re not using it, it’s like it’s not even there and when you are using it, it’s just a floating window with a couple of floating icons. Everything is organized in a manner that makes sense. It takes a second to logically explain why there are two share buttons but really that’s just so you can expedite sharing to the service you regularly use, which we ended up finding quite useful.
The big design elements are the controls. Flinging the bubbles around to make them do your bidding seems a little off putting at first because you’re not usually used to flinging anything on an Android phone. However –like we stated earlier- once you get used to it, you can fly through your open tabs. It does not take long to get used to.
Okay so here’s what we liked.
This is truly unlike anything I’ve ever used before. If I were asked if there apps that could perform the same functionality, I would draw a blank. It’s technically a web browser, but the way it operates is unlike any other browser.
For people who browse on a frequent basis, opening up a lot of links at once and dealing with them later is infinitely preferable to opening a link, then going back to the app, then opening another link, et cetera. It really does save you a lot of time.
So far we’ve seen virtually no incompatibilities. It opened pretty much all of the content we asked it to without too much of a problem. I’m sure there are some sites or video streaming formats the app doesn’t support, but I couldn’t find them.
You can customize the share buttons to whatever you want them to be. So if you’re a Twitter person, you can make your quick share to Twitter or if you’re a Google+ fan, you can change it to Google+. This was a nice add on.
Perhaps my favorite part of the app is how browser loading times don’t matter. If it takes 15 seconds to load a web page, so be it. You’re not sitting there waiting for it. You can go do your own thing until it’s done.
And here’s what we didn’t like so much
There is a wide, gaping chasm between the paid and free version. I’m not complaining about prices or anything because the price is very reasonable, but you can’t really experience the brilliance of this app on the free version. Arguably its best feature is the ability to open an assemblage of links, let them load in the background, and then browse through them at your leisure. The free version limits you to a single tab so users of the free version won’t get that experience.
We did run into some occasional lag and a force close or two. It’s a new release so it’s not a big deal and we’re sure future stability and performance improvements will rectify these issues, but they are there nevertheless.
Overall, this is an amazing app. When you fork in the .99 for the paid version, you will literally cut the time you spend staring at a blank web browser waiting for a page to load to almost zero. It makes surfing social media more enjoyable because in my experience, I found that I was clicking links I may not have otherwise clicked because I don’t have to wait around for them to open or worry about losing my place in the other app. So it’s allowed me to have a more rich experience on my device. It did have a few very minor issues but most of those will likely be fixed in coming releases. Between the moment I started reviewing this app and the moment I released this video, there have already been two updates and that’s encouraging. At the very least, you should try the free version. It doesn’t give you the full experience but it gives you an idea of what you’re in for and what you’re in for is pretty awesome. Click the button below to get started!
Wearable technology has slowly been picking up the pace over the past year or so, and the growth and popularity should grow exponentially with Google’s announcement of Android Wear, along with a bunch of hardware partners that plan on releasing smartwatches and other wearable tech this year.
But before there was Android Wear, there were still some really good smartwatch options available, one of the most popular of which was the Pebble smartwatch. While the original version was pretty great, especially following the highly-anticipated software update, the follow up seems to be even better. Here’s our detailed review of the Pebble Steel!
Before we get started, I have to mention that while I’ve had the Pebble Steel for some time now, I’ve been using the original Pebble smartwatch since Christmas, so even though this is a Pebble Steel review, I will be covering the new version somewhat in comparison to the original, before diving into the identical software experience of both. Let’s get started.
Having extra functionality in a watch is something that is almost unanimously desired, but it has proved to be quite difficult to put it all together in a watch that rivals, or is even aesthetically similar to, a “normal” timepiece, which is one of the biggest hurdles smartwatches face. A case in point is the original Pebble smartwatch, that looked pretty simplistic, and didn’t try too hard to hide the fact that it was piece of technology going on your wrist, which for a lot of people was a little too far from the standard, and something only geeks would be completely okay with.
This is where the second iteration of the Pebble smartwatch, the Pebble Steel, comes in. Attempting to bridge the gap a little, the Pebble has moved into a more familiar watch territory, with a metal or matte black construction as opposed to the plastic build from before, that can be outfitted with a metal or leather band. Both bands look quite nice and are easy to change up, but other than the available options, you won’t be able to use your own watch bands as it doesn’t take the standard measurement band like the original Pebble did. This level of customization has been sacrificed in the transition, but the trade off is a new look that works incredibly well, and is more along the lines of a regular watch.
The body of the watch face itself has a more decisive look to it with its rigid lines and extra thickness, and isn’t too large for small wrists, or look out of place on a large one. Because of the better build material all around, the buttons have a much better feel than before, with more of a click to them, compared to the soft squishiness of the original. The only problem I have with the design of the Pebble Steel is the large logo on the front of the watch. While you don’t have the luxury of having the branding within the watch face with a smartwatch, the large size of the Pebble branding is definitely in your face, and I feel, somewhat unnecessary.
The final gripe in terms of design is with regards to the charger. Granted, it won’t be a big deal if you’ve just picked up the smartwatch, but if you’re switching over from the original, you’ll find that the charger has been changed. While the new charger has a stronger magnet and seems to stay on better than the one before, it’s just a bit of bummer that I couldn’t ostensibly have an extra charger when getting the next iteration. Thankfully, battery life on the Pebble Steel is quite good, and you aren’t continuously bombarded with notifications, you can easily push the battery life to around five days.
Overall, the Pebble Steel is a proper update to the original, with a design more akin to a conventional watch, that should please and attract a lot more users. Metal or leather bands on the metal or matte black body help give a little room to experiment with the look, while also not being completely out of place with a more formal attire. That being said, if metal watches aren’t your style, and you’re look for more versatility, the comparatively cheaper original Pebble smartwatch may be more along the lines of what you need.
Whether you’re rocking the original Pebble or have just picked up the latest Pebble Steel, as far as the software is concerned, the Pebble ecosystem is very reliable, allowing for the same overall experience regardless of which iteration of the device you’re using. In the transition to the Pebble Steel, the operating system has been updated to version 2.0, which introduced the ability to check our notifications history, along with a new Android app that quite literally consolidates the entire software experience. Earlier, you were able to install your applications only by scouring a number of different sources and installing a bunch of different companion apps for each and every one. Now, almost every Pebble app and watch face is now available from just the single Pebble app.
If you’ve missed our feature focus on the new Pebble app, you can check out the app in action in the video below. Keep in mind that at the time of the video, the app was still a beta release, and the experience is a lot smoother and faster now.
The best thing about the new app is the consolidation of all your Pebble apps. Especially when coming from an earlier model of the smartwatch, signing into the app allows you to easily grab all of the apps you were using before and automatically load them into your smartwatch. With the ever growing list of available watch faces and applications, searching for just what you’re looking for is never too difficult.
Since getting the original Pebble, there has been one particular benefit that it hasn’t failed to provide. When set up with a third party notification application, or the built-in one that is available with version 2.0, you’ll find yourself not needing to look at your phone as often as before. The growing problem of people being glued to their phone all the time is helped by the ability to receive notifications on your smartwatch. You can glance at a notification on the Pebble, and if it’s not important, you can always get back to it later. This also saves you the trouble of having to pull out your phone every time it goes off.
Of course, third party applications do have their own advantages. You can quickly find places to eat nearby using Yelp, keep yourself focused and productive using a Pomodoro app, and even read your notes using Evernote. But ultimately, what the Pebble does best is easily bring your immediate information to your wrist, so that you don’t have to go searching for it.
While the Pebble Steel brings a more conventional style to the ecosystem, ultimately it is a smartwatch that sets out to perform at least one great function, notification consolidation, and does it very successfully. While other smartwatches might simply be trying too hard to replace your smartphone, or at least parts of the smartphone experience, the Pebble compliments the device instead. You might still need your phone nearby to get the most out of the Pebble, but it’s benefit is undeniable.
Watch wearers understand the feeling of something being missing when they don’t have their watch on, and that’s exactly how you’ll start feeling about the Pebble whenever your phone has to go without it.
Alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was also launched the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), featuring the same faux leather back as the flagship phablet. Following that, Samsung introduced a new PRO line of tablets, in an effort to update its tablet offerings in various sizes, which also saw the introduction of the Tab Pro 10.1, despite there already being a pretty high-end 10-inch tablet around. So, is the Tab Pro 10.1 just a Note 10.1 (2014) without the S-Pen? We find, in our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 review!
At a Glance
Impressive battery life
Magazine UX and TouchWiz somewhat disappointing
High price point
From you first glance, you might feel like you know exactly what to expect from the Tab Pro 10.1. The design elements that was first introduced with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), is what you get with every tablet in the PRO lineup, with the faux leather back cover that rounds out what is otherwise standard Samsung fare.
You get the usual trio of buttons at the front, with the physical home button and a couple of capacitive keys, with the noticeable difference being the replacement of the menu button with one to access Recent Apps. You’ll find the power button and volume rocker at the top when in landscape orientation, with a microSD card slot on the left, and the dual speakers to the sides.
With its thin profile, light weight, and flat sides, it is somewhat easy to get a grip on the device, but ultimately, handling the tablet is definitely more of a chore than a breeze. Typing especially isn’t the easiest experience, but things do get more comfortable over time.
One area where Samsung didn’t want to compromise in with its latest crop of high-end tablets is with regards to screen resolution, with all the PRO tablets featuring a high resolution of 2560 x 1600. Granted, this isn’t particularly groundbreaking when it comes to 10-inch tablets with the Nexus 10 boasting the same resolution, but it works just as well, if not better, on the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. A pixel density of 299 ppi provides good sharpness for all the text you may want to read, and colors shine through, as in the norm with the high quality displays from Samsung. While for various reasons we do prefer the sub 10-inch form factor for tablets, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 provides a great experience, and proves why there is still a lot of merit in the larger tablet size.
The trend of no compromises continues with regards to the performance as well, with non-LTE version we’re working with here featuring the powerful Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor with a 1.9 GHz and 1.3 GHz quad-core combo, coupled with the Mali T628 GPU.
As expected, the processing package gets the job done, even with the very demanding TouchWiz UI. That being said, you do face occasional instances of stutter here and there, but that is more an issue of the feature-heavy user interface, as opposed to being a fault with the processor.
That being said, the general performance and multi-tasking capabilities of this tablet don’t come into question, as you can get whatever you need done, even if you have to wrestle with the software to get there.
This isn’t a comparison with the Galaxy Note 10.1, but it has to be said that without the S-Pen and its added functionality, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is made of pretty standard tablet fare, of course, along with everything Samsung could throw into it.
You get the usual 16 GB or 32 GB in-built storage options, with the welcome option of expansion with the presence of microSD card slot. If mobile connectivity is something you need, an LTE variant of the tablet is also available, sporting a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, but apart from that, you get every other connectivity option with the Tab Pro 10.1. Extra Samsung connectivity also makes a return in the form of WatchON, a robust controller system that allows you to manipulate things like televisions, consolidating your tablet and TV viewing experience.
Dual speakers are always a welcome sight, and in this case, they certainly get the job done. Allowing for very loud volumes, you can easily share your media with anyone around to watch or listen.
No concessions have been made when it comes to the battery of the Tab Pro 10.1, with the tablet sporting a huge 8,220 mAh unit that should keep you going for days. You’ll get at least a full day out of the battery even with heavy usage, and with average use, you may be able to push the battery life to at least a couple of days.
Tablets with rear cameras is a given nowadays, even if they are considered rather secondary, but that doesn’t stop Samsung from putting its best forward.
What you get with the Tab Pro 10.1 is an 8 MP rear shooter, that is backed by an app that is packed with an impressive set of features, with quite a few modes available with the Galaxy S and Note series of smartphones making an appearance.
Nevertheless, it’s hardly a primary camera, mostly because you probably won’t want to take pictures with a tablet out in public, but if you do need to in a pinch, the camera will certainly do a satisfactory job.
If you’ve followed the reviews of the other Pro tablets from Samsung, you would know by now that while the enhanced version of TouchWiz does bring some new features to the table, it’s essentially still TouchWiz, which is perhaps the biggest disappointment for anyone looking for a major overhaul.
The often bloated and otherwise pretty cluttered motif of Samsung’s UI gets the exciting new addition of the Magazine UX, which unfortunately does face some issues. Used primarily as a front end to Flipboard, the second screens don’t provide much more than just glimpses into news sources, and even when you actually want to dive in, it take you through layers of the app before you reach your destination. Along with the hangups that you might run into while trying to customize your experience, the Magazine UX falls short of providing what could have been an amazing user experience.
Outside of the Magazine UX, you still get the same multi-tasking capabilities with features such as MultiWindow, which works as expected, and is very useful on a tablet with this size. If you’re used to a more stock-like experience, the inclusion of a Recent Apps capacitive button brings a more familiar form to multi-tasking to the fray.
At the end of the day, even with all the small aesthetic changes and the introduction of the Magazine UX, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that you’re still using TouchWiz, and that means that it comes with the same fundamental problem. While the feature-packed software has a lot to offer, it isn’t quite perfect at doing any single one of those things.
8 Megapixel, Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash 2MP front camera
Android 4.4 Kitkat
243.1 X 171.4 X 7.3mm, 469g (WiFi version), 477g (LTE version)
Pricing and Final Thoughts
The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is now available with a hefty price tag of 9. While you get quite a few extras in the installed software suite, along with added vouchers for various services, the question that will come up for a vast majority of users is whether the price justifies the core experience.
And the answer to that question entirely depends on how powerful you want your tablet experience to be. Since the primary reason for picking up a tablet is heavily based on media consumption, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 does provides everything you might need to make that fun experience a reality. In many ways, you get what you pay for, with the high-resolution display and the powerful performance, but on the flip side, it’s a little unfortunate that the software experience is so inconsistent. But then again, that’s something you might have expected from a Samsung device, and if you’re willing to look past it and the high price point, you might just have one of the best 10-inch tablets available in the market today.
When noise cancellation technology first came onto the audio market, several headphone makers tried their hand at incorporating the technology in their headphones. Most thought of it as just an added feature to market their headphones, but Bose took the technology seriously and went hard at work in order to perfect noise cancellation technology. The result were some of the best noise cancelling headphones on the consumer headphone market, in the Bose QC 15 over-ear headphones and the on-ear QC 3, but Bose was yet to incorporate the technology in a pair of in-ears.
Enter the Bose QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones, Bose’s first pair of noise cancelling in-ears have set themselves on a mission to see if they could put a wall between you and the outside world in order to immerse you in a world of music, and all in a small, portable package. To find out, we went ears-on with the QC 20′s and we’ve come out very impressed.
What is noise cancellation and how does it differ from other in-ears?
Before we can get into the true details of the QC 20′s, we must first understand what noise cancellation is. Essentially, noise cancelling headphones use DSP (Digital Signal processing), where an internal microphone and an audio processor observe the sound around you and then invert the signal and insert it into the audio. Since this wave is 180˚ out of phase with the opposite sound, it “cancels” it out. While this won’t block out high frequency sound, it does manage to block off background noise on public transport, make office environments pretty much silent, and turn an airplane passage into a less noisy affair.
Even custom moulded noise isolating in-ears can’t match a great pair of noise cancelling headphones, and the QC 20′s are definitely a great pair of noise cancelling headphones.
This sounds a little detrimental to sound quality, and it often is. First off, it produces a little hiss of white noise (some headphones produce less of a hiss than others) which some claim they can hear, but most people can’t actually hear. But this isn’t actually the biggest problem. The big problem is that implementing noise cancellation into headphones is expensive, and that means that the money spent on drivers is often diverted towards the noise cancellation technology. That means noise cancelling headphones are pretty expensive (the QC20′s we are reviewing are 9), and often won’t match headphones in the same price bracket when it comes to sound quality. Of course, they make up for this in other ways.
But how are the QC20s different from in-ears which aren’t noise cancelling? Well, there are two forms of noise reduction, ‘noise isolation’ and ‘noise cancellation’. Noise isolation involves a physical seal between you and the outside world. The better the fit, the less noise that will get through. However, even custom moulded noise isolating in-ears can’t match a great pair of noise cancelling headphones, and the QC 20′s are definitely a great pair of noise cancelling headphones.
Out of the box
The Bose QC20 comes in a simplistic housing. Bose has two versions of the QC20, the standard set that we are reviewing, and the QC20i, which comes with two additional buttons which work iPhone music control and Siri voice commands. The Android, Blackberry and Windows compatible QC20 still comes with the standard answer and end call button, and “aware mode” control.
You simply slide the box from the sleeve and you pull open the Bose flap. Once the flap is opened, and the protective foam is removed, you will see the the headphones. Both ear buds and the control module are fully exposed and ready to go. After pulling the plastic housing out of the way, some documentation for support and a Bose carrying case are revealed. The carrying case is a nylon-mesh material. Inside you will have the documentation for the headphones, and also additional ‘Stayhear’ tips. The ‘Stayhear’ tips are Bose’s patented design that are made for comfort and a great seal, and in our tests they’ve worked extremely well. It also comes with the USB cable for charging the noise cancellation features.
The Quiet Comfort Earbuds, at first glance, appear to be like any other normal earbuds, but when you take a closer look you see a few differences. First there is a 3.5 by 1.25 inch control module. This control module allows you to turn on and off the noise cancellation.
The Quiet Comfort Earbuds, at first glance, appear to be like any other normal earbuds, but when you take a closer look you see a few difference.
When I first heard about noise cancellation I cringed a bit, because I assumed conventional batteries were being used. I was quickly relieved when I saw that it had a built in rechargeable lithium ion battery and it supported the standard micro USB cable for charging, meaning you’ll find a charger pretty much everywhere you go. Unfortunately, it’s not removable, so if it does fail, you’ll need to send it back to Bose. Pick your poison, I guess.
The built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 16 hours of listening time, but what is really unique is that you can listen even when the battery is drained, it’s just that the noise cancellation features will not be active and they’ll function like regular noise isolating in-ears. This is a big improvement over other headsets that requires batteries to use the headphones in any capacity.
Fortunately, Bose has also included a battery indicator light to help tell when the juice is running low. It’s located right next to the power button. The control module is a moulded matte rubber and its very grippy.
A new feature introduced with the QC20 is the ‘Aware’ mode. Each of the headphone’s earpieces have two tiny noise-cancelling microphones on them. During the regular noise cancelling-mode, all four of these microphones are picking up external noises to determine the proper amounts of inaudible out-of-phase tones required to drown out the external noise. When pressing the ‘Aware’ button on the remote, two of the microphones passes external sounds through, so you can still hear some outside sounds. Great to use when you need to quickly hear your surroundings.
The cord is two-tone, thick, and tough. The cord sports a black and grey color scheme and feels that it’s made for the long haul, but only time will tell. Also about 7 inches down on the cord you will find the inline mic and remote. This part is made from a normal plastic and has two buttons on it and also the mic hole. There is nothing that is truly tangle free, but this cord is the closest thing to it. Due to the thickness of the cord I am able to toss these headphones into my pockets and when I pull them out they’re tangle free.
The case that it comes with is a cloth zipper case. The material feels like middle of the line nylon, but should still offer some protection against regular wear and tear. The case is compact, just 5 inches long and 2.75 inches tall, which is perfect for sticking in your pocket.
The earbuds are also two tone. Grey and silver with a black stroke around the “Bose” logo. The silver part is perforated and it actually looks like a speaker. The earbuds are a little bit bigger than other earbuds in this price range, but for good reason. The Qc20’s follow a clean color scheme, and style. This goes from the packaging all the way down to the headphones. The overall presentation is stylish, clean, and modern.
The QC20’s are an extremely comfortable wear due to the light weight of 1.55 oz (44g). The ‘stayhear’ tips may look intimidating, but do their job shockingly well, Sliding into your ear easily, and locking into place with a slight turn of the wrist. The tips also come in 3 different sizes as well: small, medium and large. The tips are soft, have a lot of give, and really conform to your ear. The silicone ear-tips seal off the ear canal, and have an extra fin-like piece that presses against the ear for added stability.
The QC20′s are extremely comfortable, but there are a few qualms.
These earbuds are designed for the traveler in mind. The tips do not get abnormally warm during activity, and the cord is thick enough so it does not bounce much when walking. You can also clip it to your jacket, for even more stability.
There are a few annoyances with the headphones when out and about. If I have one complaint, it’s the control module which can at times get in the way when walking.It is a bit cumbersome, but with some quick adjustments like moving it to your jacket pocket which are normally deeper, it should alleviate that issue. Also, if your headphone jack is at the bottom of your phone, it makes an awkward mess when trying to pull your phone out from a tight space.
As a sedative listener, the lightweight construction and soft tips makes the listen an enjoyable one. After a few hours, my ears can become sore where the ‘stayhear’ tips are pressing against. I know that nothing compares to over the ear headphones, but other earbuds around this price range have managed to make long time usage more comfortable. However, in conjunction with the secure fit, these are a true pleasure to wear in all circumstances.
The first question that is always posed in regards to headphone is how they sound? Especially when it comes to Bose their sounds signature is one of the best in the consumer market. Well, I can proudly say that the sound signature is what you expect.
The first thing I noticed when placing the headphones in my ears was the bass. I was impressed by the amount of bass produced, and how low the headphones got. Listening to the song ‘Rap God’ by Eminem it provides a great example on the low bass the headphones manage to pick up. During the song the bass dips down low, and during my tests these earbuds can get down to around 20 Hz on the low end.
The lows and highs are exceptional, but the softer mids can sometimes be overpowered by the highs. Overall, it’s a laid back, warm sounding pair of headphones.
Listening to a song that has more of a punchy bass line like on the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams it keeps the bass tight and quick. The bass isn’t quite as boomy as other in-ears but it feels just right. As always, you can EQ tweak these to add more bass if that’s your cup of tea.
On the high end of things, listening to a song that has a vocalist with a range really shows off the versatility of these headphones. Listening to the song Ellie Golding “I Need Your Love”, it produces beautiful tonality when she hits the higher notes. Unlike other earbuds, this does not have that clashing sound that could make the listening experience uncomfortable. There is a smooth transition from lows to highs, but the mids come in a bit soft, and are sometimes are overpowered by highs.
Even with the volume cranked all the way up, the sound stays consistent and clear. The only draw back is that the highs sometimes could be overemphasised. Soundstage for the QC20’s is exceptional for earbuds. It’s tough to create separation with earbuds, but some how Bose figured out a good way at emulating it. It’s enough separation to immerse yourself fully in the music, especially important since the biggest selling point is the noise cancellation to help immerse you in the music..
When turning on the noise cancellation you instantly hear the difference. Noise seems to drop down to almost inaudible. My commute to work is in a car, but I can only imagine the amount of satisfaction these would give if you use public transportation daily. Flipping the switch can easily make the person sitting behind you talking pretty loudly, turn into a quiet murmur, and once music is laid over that, the nuisances can no longer be heard. The cord is also pretty much silent when rubbing against other objects, and it all adds up to the overall feeling of “quiet and comfort”.
Don’t get me wrong, these are by no means the greatest sounding in-ears ever to grace the planet, but it’s a combination of comfort, superb noise cancellation, and a laid-back warm tone that makes these one of the best in this price range, perhaps not for their sound, but for the overall package.
No other in-ear can touch the QC 20′s noise cancelation, so if you are a frequent flyer, these are pretty much a must have.
No other in-ear can touch the QC 20′s when it comes to noise cancelation, so if you’re a frequent traveller, these are pretty much a must have. But at 9 others might find it a little difficult to swallow so much for a pair of in-ears. It really comes down to your requirements,so if you find your noise isolating in-ears to do the job of blocking out noise well enough, you can find other in-ears which provide a better sound for
Oh yeah. This is totally decadent. Totally. But that’s how Vaja does things,right? And the Lucy Clutch for [#protected_0#] is the opposite of an exception. A combination iPhone case, wallet, and carry bag, it’s hand crafted like all of Vaja’s creations, but is it practical?
The Vaja Lucy Clutch is small, easy to hold, easy to zip and unzip, and yet still has plenty of space for all of your cards, your money, and any other small item you may want to cary for example, lip gloss. There’s a dedicated iPhone pocket, 2 general purpose pocket, and card holder good for 3 cards. None of the pockets zip or otherwise close, however, so loose change and other small items can tumble around as you go.
Taking your iPhone in and out is also easy. It slips into the dedicated inside pocket so you can keep it safe and secure, and slips right back out again when you want to use it. If you’re the type of person who uses your iPhone constantly to game, text, etc., it might be inconvenient compared to a pocket case, but if you use your phone mostly as a phone — or you just want to enjoy a night out in style — it’s perfect.
Now If you’re worried that you might not hear your iPhone rings when it’s inside the Vaja Lucy Clutch, don’t. There’s a special mesh on both sides designed to make Marimba — or whatever ringtone you so wish — come through loud and clear. And because it’s on both sides, it doesn’t matter which way you insert your iPhone.
The Vaja Lucy Clutch is made of premium Caterina leather with a distinctive quilted finish. It’s well padded, so your precious iPhone and any other valuables are safe and secure. It’s also available in a wide variety of colors so you can customize it pretty much anyway you like.
A sturdy strap lets you carry the Vaja Lucy Clutch easily, either in your hand or around your wrist. Unfortunately, it’s not quite long enough to comfortably cary around your shoulder and keep your hands free, which I prefer. The zipper is also heavy duty, and works without a hitch. It does, however, open along the bottom of the clutch, which is a little worrisome — if I leave it partially unzipped, I may not notice, and things may fall out.
The hand crafting results in spectacular quality as well, with every stitch contributing to a functional, long lasting design. The leather comes in azalea (pink), rosso (red), birch (off white), nautical blue, and black. The padded interior comes in over 20 different colors — several shades of the entire rainbow. That means you can get the Vaja Lucy Clutch in just the right colors for you (or for your someone special.)
The Vaja Lucy Clutch is positively luxurious. It’s soft, protective, easy to use, and offers space beyond what it’s small size would suggest. If you’re looking for a high-end, premium carrying bag for yourself or for someone you love, I highly recommend the The Vaja Lucy Clutch. Fashion may change but the Vaja Lucy Clutch is beautiful and built to last.