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25
Nov

Adventures of J: An “Escape the Room” style game that needs some serious polish


Escape the Room games were a hugely popular genre of puzzle games back in the day when Flash games were all the rage on computers. Your goal was to find clues and items scattered around the area that allowed you to solve puzzles to ultimately escape from a room or collect a treasure of some sort.

There are still several popular games in this genre available on mobile devices (The Room, 100 Doors) and several developers that are devoted to still making some great escape puzzles. Unfortunately, an Android game we’re reviewing, Adventures of J, is overloaded by ads and is plagued by some serious issues that prevent it from being a great game.

  • Developer: Hidden Fun Games
  • Price: Free, $.99 IAP to remove ads
  • Download: Google Play

Adventures of J is a story that starts off with a boy trying to rescue his kidnapped dog, which then turns into preventing a bank heist, a treasure hunt, and many other adventures across the 12 chapters of the game. You’ll find yourself exploring every nook and cranny of the game world to figure out how to advance through the many puzzles in this surprisingly long game.

The Setup

To start off, in order to play Adventures of J, there is a mandatory install of Adobe AIR from the Play Store. After the installation of AIR, you relaunch the app to be greeted by a loading screen, followed by a second loading screen specifically for an unskippable, full-screen ad.

To the most.Once you’re in the game, it starts out with a painfully choppy cut scene. I’m running this game on a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, so there isn’t any reason why it should stutter as much as it does aside from a serious lack of optimization from the developer.

The cut scenes themselves are riddled with many grammatical errors. The animation is stiff and dated, showing just how far we’ve come since the days of heavy reliance on Flash. Characters have awkward movements, gliding across the floor on legs that are perpetually straight and move at various speeds. There is a plot, but it doesn’t matter heavily to the playing of the game, which is good because it’s fairly nonsensical.

The Gameplay

The gameplay is what you would expect from a game of this style. You navigate to different screens tapping on objects that will either display some part of a code that needs to be entered somewhere, or that will give you an item, such as keys or wrenches, that allow you to open desk drawers, chests, and doors to more rooms.

screenshot_20161117-100325One of the better puzzles in Adventures of J

As for the puzzles themselves, most of them are pretty straight forward. You might find a playing card that has four different colored circles arranged on the back, and somewhere nearby you’ll find a computer screen with four colored circles that you’ll have to arrange to match the card.

Most of the puzzles are this easy, but there are a few that had me scratching my head, particularly the more elaborate sliding puzzles, where you’re given a grid full of images and you have to slide them one-by-one into place, being careful to not mess up other parts of the puzzle.

The Rough Spots

The most difficult parts of Adventures of J are the lack of saving progress and the advertisements. J has 12 chapters and allows you to start at the beginning of each chapter, but every chapter is between 30-45 minutes long. This could be remedy easily with a few checkpoints throughout each chapter or a quick save feature, but as it stands now, even if you were just minutes from the end of a chapter, you’ll have to start at the beginning of it if you don’t finish. It happened to me once or twice and is very frustrating.

To add insult to injury, there is an ad banner that runs at the top of the screen constantly and every 5-10 minutes there is a full-screen ad that pops up, forcing you to pause the action for a minute to sit through a video.

There is a walkthrough button conveniently placed at the bottom left of the screen at all times which leads you to a website that has a video walkthrough. On this page are links to other games from the developer and a few ads, but the kicker is there is a 10-second timer that counts down before the walkthrough video is displayed.

Between this, and the constant ads running on the top of the app at all times, and the full-screen unskippable ads that run every few minutes, it becomes quite clear this app is mainly just a money grab disguised as a mediocre game with dated visuals and gameplay.

Conclusion

If you are a die hard escape game fan, then maybe you will get some entertainment out of this. With 12 chapters each about 30 minutes long, you’ve got a lot of content, but with easy to solve puzzles and a sea of constant ads, Adventures of J is more annoying that it is fun. If you’re looking for a fun puzzle game, you should look elsewhere.

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25
Nov

Cases and battery mods work great with Daydream View


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Will I have to take my case off to use Daydream?

If you’ve used a Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard headset before, you’re familiar with needing to remove your phone from its case in order to get the best VR experience. Seeing how much more compact Daydream View is when compared to a Gear VR, you probably guessed that you’ll need to take your case off to use this VR headset as well. It turns out that’s not true, though. In fact, you can use just about any case you want and Daydream View will be more than a little accommodating.

Read more at VR Heads!

25
Nov

Don’t miss out on these sweet deals on cases


Save on cases for the latest Samsung phones, as well as some options for the Nexus 6.

It’s the biggest day of deals of the year, and you’re probably overwhelmed as it is. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t pass along these coupon codes for deep discounts on a variety of cases.

Today’s offers include cases for the Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note 5, as well as a couple cases for the Nexus 6 thrown in for good measure. To use these cases, you’ll need to select the option to fulfill the order from the manufacturer, then simply add the coupon code during checkout to save up to $11. Supplies are limited, so act now!

vcommute%20galaxy%20s7%20edge.jpg?itok=t

Galaxy S7

  • vCommute in Space Gray/Black for $4.99 (Reg. $16.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF12
  • Retain (Clear case) for $0.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code: **VENOFF07 **
  • iSlide in Teal/Champagne Gold for $1.99 (Reg. $12.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF11
  • vAllure in Coral Pink/Gold for $2.99 (Reg. $12.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF10
  • vArmor in Black/Black for $3.99 (Reg. $14.99) — Use coupon code: **VENOFF11 **

 Galaxy S7 edge

  • vCommute in Gold/Black: $4.99 (Reg. $16.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF12
  • Retain (Clear case) for $0.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF10
  • iSlide in Teal/Champagne Gold for $1.99 (Reg. $12.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF11
  • vAllure in Navy Blue/Gold for $2.99 (Reg. $12.99) — Use coupon code VENOFF10
  • vArmor in Navy Blue/Orange for $3.99 (Reg. $14.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF11
  • vShield HDf Full Screen Coverage Screen Protector (TPU) for $0.99 (Reg. $6.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF06

Galaxy S6

  • iSlide in Teal/Champagne Gold for $1.99 (Reg. $8.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF07
  • LEGACY LITE in Metallic Forest Green/Deep Sea Blue for $1.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code VENOFF06
  • LEGACY (Case with Kickstand) in Champagne Gold/Black for $2.99 (Reg. $9.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF07
  • RETAIN (Clear Case/Gunmetal TPU Bumper) for $0.99 (Reg. $6.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF06
  • vArmor in Teal/Gray for $2.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF05
  • vFolio (Genuine Leather Wallet Case) in Black for $1.99 — Use coupon code: VENOFF08
  • vFrame in Champagne Gold/Black for $1.99 (Reg. $9.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF08

Galaxy S6 edge

  • iSlide in Coral Red/Champagne Gold for $1.99 (Reg. $8.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF07
  • LEGACY LITE in Black/Gray for $1.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code VENOFF06
  • RETAIN (Clear Back/Black TPU frame) for $0.99 (Reg. $6.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF06
  • vArmor in Dark Gray/Gray for $1.99 (Reg. $8.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF07
  • vFolio (Genuine Leather Wallet Case) in Black for $1.99 (Reg. $9.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF08
  • vSuit Wallet Case in Black for $1.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF06
  • vSkin in Smoke Black for $0.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF07

Galaxy Note 5

  • vArmor in Black/Black: $1.99 (Reg. $13.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF12
  • Anti-Glare (Matte) Screen Protector for $0.99 (Reg. $5.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF05

Galaxy S6 edge+

  • vSuit in Oxford Blue for $1.99 (Reg. $7.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF06
  • vArmor in Black/Black: $1.99 (Reg. $8.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF07
  • vArmor in Teal/ Dark Gray: $1.99 (Reg. $8.99) coupon code: VENOFF07

Nexus 6

  • vSuit in Burgundy Red for $1.99 (Reg: $9.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF08
  • vFolio in Black for $1.99 (Reg: $9.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF08
  • RETAIN (Clear Back/Black TPU frame) for $0.99 (Reg: $9.99) — Use coupon code VENOFF09
  • LEGACY (Case with Kickstand) in Black/Black for $2.99 (Reg: $7.99) — Use coupon code: VENOFF05
  • vSkin (Clear) for $0.99 (Reg: $7.99) — Use coupon code VENOFF07
  • Clear Screen Protector for $0.99 (Reg: $5.99) — Use coupon code VENOFF05

25
Nov

Everything you need to know about Freedom Mobile


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What’s the big deal with Freedom Mobile?

Earlier this week, Canada’s Wind Mobile announced that it was changing its name to Freedom Mobile, and under new owner Shaw was launching an LTE network on November 27. That was met with a healthy dose of excitement and trepidation from current Wind Mobile users and potential switchers alike, but there were many remaining questions. Let’s try to break some of them down right now.

What is Freedom Mobile?

Freedom Mobile is the new Wind Mobile, a brand change that, according to CEO Alek Krstajic, was necessary to offload some of the baggage of the existing brand, and find a new space within the Canadian mobile industry under new owner, Shaw Communications.

For all intents and purposes, Freedom Mobile is the same company as Wind Mobile — even the orange and blue color scheme is nearly identical — but with LTE connectivity.

OK, so what’s the big deal about LTE connectivity?

Wind Mobile, around since 2009, has been behind the incumbents like Rogers, Bell, and Telus when it comes to technology. While the so-called Big Three set up and expanded their LTE networks to include high-speed tech like LTE-Advanced, carrier aggregation and VoLTE, Wind Mobile was stuck with limited spectrum, older equipment, and 3G speeds. Even in the big cities in which they were supposedly competitive, like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, download speeds were limited to under 5Mbps.

More: Is Wind Mobile worth it?

In late 2015, Wind Mobile began replacing all of its old network equipment with newer Nokia equipment, beginning with Vancouver and working east towards Ottawa. While those changes have been for the better, they are still limited to 3G speeds.

LTE is a big deal, then, because it finally allows now-Freedom Mobile to compete on the same level as the Big Three carriers — at least in the markets the company operates. And because Freedom is owned by Shaw, it has the capital to continue investing in networking equipment — and spectrum, when it becomes available — where it doesn’t currently operate.

Tell me about the LTE service

freedom-mobile-lte-coverage.jpg?itok=t09

Starting November 27, Freedom Mobile will operate an LTE network in the cores of Toronto and Vancouver, expanding to the outlying regions of each city by the spring of 2017.

By summer of 2017, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa will be LTE-enabled, and Freedom hopes to have negotiated LTE roaming deals with its domestic roaming partners (namely, Bell and Rogers) for when customers are not connected to its Home network.

Finally, by the fall of 2017, all of Southwestern and Southeastern Ontario — where there are towers — will be LTE-enabled.

How fast will it be?

Freedom Mobile’s LTE connectivity is not slated to be the fastest in the business, but with a theoretical maximum speed of 180Mbps, it will certainly be competitive with the incumbents’ existing networks, at least in areas with good coverage.

The main issue will be that because LTE service will be so limited, many customers will often fall back to Freedom’s 3G service, which is considerably slower than LTE, and slower too than the incumbents’ 3G networks.

How do I get on the LTE service?

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This is where things get a bit tricky. Freedom Mobile’s LTE network operates on a brand new channel called Band 66 — that’s why the company calls it a “traffic-free” LTE network — which means there are only a handful of phones that support the new standard. Eventually, most new phones will support Band 66, which operates on AWS-3 spectrum, but as of this writing it is limited to the expensive LG V20 and the yet-unreleased ZTE Grand X 4, a mid-range device.

Eventually, you’ll be able to bring your existing phone to Freedom Mobile to connect to its LTE network, but right now the most popular devices, from the Galaxy S7 to Google Pixel to iPhone 7, are not going to work on Freedom’s LTE network.

There is one exception, though: in Eastern Ontario — Ottawa, and the surrounding region — LTE is piggybacking off Freedom’s existing AWS-1 spectrum because the company wasn’t able to buy any AWS-3 spectrum in that area during the 2015 auction. That means the network will be slightly slower in that region — using 10Mhz as opposed to 30Mhz — but it will also work with hundreds of existing phones, unlike in other parts of Canada.

What are the plans available right now?

Freedom Mobile is taking an early adopter strategy for its LTE network, likely because it knows how limited it is at first. Not only is there only one plan available right now, but it’s different, and slightly more expensive (naturally) than the rest of the company’s plans.

The LTE plan is regularly $45 and includes 3GB of data, unlimited Canadian calling and global texting, but for a limited time the price drops to $40 and the data allotment is doubled to 6GB, which is pretty good.

What about switching over? Can I use LTE on my current plan?

No, if you’re an existing Wind Mobile customer transitioning to Freedom Mobile, you won’t be able to use your existing plan to access LTE. And if you’re using an older SIM card, you may actually need to buy a new one to get access to the LTE network.

What if I want to trade in my newly-purchased Wind phone for an LTE-compatible one?

Freedom is doing people a solid by extending the return window on phones purchased less than 30 days ago. For those purchased between August 1 and November 21, there’s a special trade-in program that charges a small restocking fee should you decide to buy the LG V20.

So, is it worth switching over?

freedom-mobile-wide.jpg?itok=hpEVHB1S

That depends. We have yet to use Freedom Mobile’s LTE network, at the very least it should be five to ten times faster than its 3G network.

There are a few things to consider. Even though Freedom Mobile has 30Mhz of AWS-3 spectrum in most of its regions (except for Eastern Ontario), AWS spectrum still doesn’t travel well through walls, so those in basements or buildings with thick cement exteriors may experience the same connectivity issues on LTE as on 3G. LTE is inherently more efficient, but radio waves are not magic: you won’t get service where the signal can’t reach.

Right now, if you’re currently a Wind Mobile customer, I’d wait to see whether the network is as robust in the Toronto and Vancouver core as the company claims, and I’d investigate other devices before settling on the LG V20, especially if you’re looking for a smaller phone — that thing is massive.

We’ll have much more Freedom Mobile coverage in the next few weeks, so stay tuned! Got questions? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll try to answer them!

25
Nov

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 tipped for early 2017, could have A10X processor


Apple is said to be preparing an all-new size for its iPad range. A 10.5-inch iPad Pro is rumoured for release in the first quarter of 2017.

At present, Apple has the 7.9-inch iPad mini 4, plus 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets. The 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 is also still sold by the manufacturer. A 10.5-inch model would bridge the size gap.

The rumour comes from Digitimes, which reports that claims come from Taiwanese manufacturers in the supply chain. They say the enterprise and education sectors are keen on an iPad of that size. The 12.9-inch is said to be too expensive for them, so something slightly larger than the iPad Pro 9.7 would be welcomed.

  • Apple iPad Pro 9.7 review: The tablet to beat all tablets
  • Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: What’s the difference?

Digitimes also says that a 10.5-inch iPad Pro would sell around two million units in the first quarter of 2017, straight after release, with a further three to four million shifting before the end of the year.

A new, cheaper 9.7-inch iPad will reportedly also be launched to compete directly with Android rivals.

Both devices could utilise a faster version of the A10 processor in the iPhone 7. According to sources, it will follow the same naming conventions as previous mid-generation upgrades and be called the “A10X”.

Previous rumours have suggested that Apple will hold an iPad launch event around March next year.

25
Nov

The first smart mirror you can actually buy focuses on your flaws


Staring lovingly at your reflection in the mirror gets old, especially if it’s not a magical one that tells you you’re the fairest of them all. But what if all that time you already spend in front of a mirror could actually make you the most beautiful person in the land? Many smart mirrors already make this promise, but HiMirror is the first one you can actually buy, and it costs $189. The secret sauce comes in the form of a camera that captures your au naturel visage to analyze your complexion, before offering you tips on how to get better skin. I tried it out recently and was impressed by how many things it could do.

The 5.5-pound mirror is more cutesy than the futuristic thanks to its pink accents. It houses a 14-inch LCD screen and has a camera sitting in the middle of a ring flash, which helps light your face for better images. HiMirror snaps a picture of your face every day to analyze your wrinkles, dark spots, dark circles, red spots and pores. The idea is to track how your skin changes over time, and flag your so-called problems so you can take “early measures to improve upon your skin and achieve your beauty goals.”

During a recent demo, I stood in front of the mirror, carefully moving around to align my face with the onscreen outline, until the camera recognized me. HiMirror then took a photo and displayed how I had fewer fine lines and red spots than I did the day before (the system was comparing me to another person’s profile), but that my dark circles were worse. It then told me that I had to drink more water and sleep more, which, duh. It also told be not to be discouraged by my (self-proclaimed) terrible complexion. HiMirror pairs with an iOS or Android app so you can track your complexion on the go.

In addition, HiMirror will play tutorial videos on proper skin-care techniques (because there’s a right way to wash your face!), stream music from Spotify and show you the weather forecast and UV index for the day. You can also tell it the types of beauty products you use, so it can determine whether they’ve been effective in treating your target areas. Adding a product to what the company calls your “Beauty Box” simply requires holding up its barcode to the camera and scanning it. It’s not clear yet how many brands and products this feature supports, but most big brands are recognized.

In fact, most of your interactions with HiMirror will involve the camera or the motion detector below the screen. Wave your hand to the right to slide to the next screen, and move your hand up or down to navigate options. You can press the physical buttons on the mirror’s right edge to toggle brightness, speaker volume or mode (which turns the screen off, leaving behind a basic mirror). The gestures mean you don’t need to touch the display, so you won’t smear the glass and obstruct your view. You can also use voice commands to control the device, although the functions here are somewhat limited. You’ll always have to say the trigger phrase (“Hi Mirror, listen”) before speaking a command, and the system doesn’t yet understand contextual follow-up questions.

The camera also allows for some security features. HiMirror won’t start its operating system unless it recognizes your face. This proved accurate during my demo, when I failed to log in by scanning my face and had to wait for the company’s rep to stick his head in front of the camera. You can also say a passphrase to log in — HiMirror will recognize your voice and sign you in. That’s mostly helpful only if you’re sensitive about your complexion and don’t want guests or family members snooping around and finding your facial data, because there isn’t any really confidential info stored on the mirror. Those who are worried that HiMirror’s camera can be hacked to spy on their bathroom activities can cover it up with the provided shutter.

The company also makes a smart scale that can be paired with the mirror which will measure your body weight and fat percentage, and send that information to the mirror (and your phone). The mirror’s display will then play videos and dispense information on how to get to your goal weight, too. It feels a little superficial to be focusing on such arbitrary characteristics of physical appearance, but really, what else do you use a mirror for if not to make sure you look good?

Setting up the mirror requires some assembly, but it should install on most walls. It might sound like a hassle, but I’d do it just to enjoy that ring light that sits at the top of HiMirror. It’s exactly like the flash that plenty of photographers and bloggers use to make their portraits look flawless, and to add a sparkle to the subject’s eye. That’s not one of HiMirror’s selling points, but certainly something that draws a selfie-lover like me.

For a first-gen product, HiMirror offers a surprising number of features, and appears to understand its target audience well. The beauty-obsessed may spend even more time in front of the mirror than they already do, poring over their data and watching instructional videos. Future iterations of the device may better integrate with your phone to make it a more helpful assistant. As it stands, though, HiMirror looks to be a smart home gadget that beauty-lovers will adore.

25
Nov

Maserati’s electric Alfieri two-seater coming in 2020


Maserati recently said it would sell its first electric car by 2020, and now we know exactly what it will look like. The company told Just Auto that it would build an EV version of its Alfieri, a two seat concept car that it first unveiled at the Geneva auto show in 2014. The Alfieri (above), which will also be produced with a V6 engine, “is being designed as a competitor to the 911 but it will be a larger car,” said European GM Peter Denton. “More the size of a Jaguar F-Type.”

The gasoline version will go on sale in 2019, Maserati says, well past its original 2016 launch date. It was originally supposed to be a V8, but the company decided to go with a smaller engine to meet environmental requirements. There are no details yet on the performance or price of the EV model, but we’d expect it to have outstanding performance (and hopefully decent endurance), given its Italian pedigree.

Maserati’s parent Fiat is a reluctant player in the EV industry. CEO Sergio Marchionne recently told Car Magazine that “I don’t know how to make [Tesla’s] economic model work,” but added that there’s nothing Elon Musk’s company can do that Fiat or Maserati can’t. However, the car is set to arrive in 2020 and things can change a lot. Who would have thought just three years ago that Tesla would get nearly 400,000 pre-orders for an EV, for instance, or that Volkswagen would switch from a diesel-heavy lineup to an electrified future?

Via: Techcrunch

Source: Just Auto

25
Nov

The best $200 in-ear headphones


By Lauren Dragan

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After researching every new pair of in-ear headphones released since our last update in 2013, we think the Sony XBA-H1 are the highest-quality ones you can get for $200 or less. We spent 35 hours researching and testing for this guide, reading myriad reviews and performing a listening panel for our top 16 headphones with four audio professionals. Seventy-five percent of our professional listening panel agreed that the XBA-H1 was the best-sounding set of the entire bunch.

Who this is for

In-ear monitors are made for use on the go. They should be compact, portable, and easy to pop in a bag (in a way that over- and on-ears can’t dream of doing). They should isolate external noise so you can listen on a noisy plane or street and not have to crank the volume, yet still be comfortable in your ears so you can listen for a few hours and not have your ear canals ache.

Unlike less expensive in-ears that can lack in bass reproduction, clarity, and depth of sonic field, the best $200 headphones can rival similarly priced over-ears for sound quality.

How we picked and tested

Comparing 16 sets of headphones in our listening panel. Photo: Lauren Dragan

When buying in-ear headphones, you need to account for sound and build quality, but fit is also of utmost importance. When you find a pair of in-ear headphones that are liked by many different people—with very different ears—you’ve found something special.

A good pair of in-ear headphones should sound even across the entire frequency range. In other words, the bass guitar shouldn’t overpower the lead guitar, the lead guitar shouldn’t make you lose detail in the vocals, and the vocals shouldn’t have consonants that are painfully, piercingly loud. The headphones should have crisp, clear details (without being harsh), and a low end that has pitch and form to it (not just be whump whump whump).

To narrow down what to test, we read copious reviews, looked at major manufacturers for new releases, and talked to audio professionals. We made a list of the 15 top-reviewed or most promising headphones between $150 and $250 to test against our previous winner. Then, we conducted a back-to-back comparison listening panel with four audio professionals.

Our pick

Our top three are so close, there’s really no wrong choice. (from left to right: Sony XBA-H1, Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3, and NAD Viso HP20). Photo: Lauren Dragan

Our top pick are the Sony XBA-H1 because three-quarters of our panelists agreed that they were the best-sounding headphones, and the great price only makes them more appealing. Incredibly balanced, clear, and with a soundstage that defies their price range, the XBA-H1s sound equally good on every kind of music. Rock, pop, classical, jazz, hip-hop—you name it, the H1s deliver.

The highs are clear and clean, with no obvious spikes or peaks that might distract you. The mids are full and detailed, and the lows have pitch and form with no woofing, booming, or bleeding into other frequency ranges. To give you a better idea, instruments just sound “right.” If you know what an acoustic guitar sounds like in person, or a certain vocalist sounds like in concert, the XBA-H1s create that sound as accurately as we’ve heard in this price range.

The Sony XBA-H1s would be perfection if they had a remote and mic. But they don’t. In general, people shopping for $200 headphones are prioritizing sound quality above other features, so the H1 gets a pass in this respect. But if you must have a mic, check out our runner-ups.

The warmer-sounding runner-up (with remote and mic)

If you want in-ear headphones that sound great, look beautiful, and have a remote and mic, the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H3s are for you. They come in four colors: black, silver, gold, and red. The Apple-enabled remote and mic is unobtrusive on the thin and light cable, and they are comfortable, even on all of our panelists’ diverse ears.

The main difference in sound between the Bang & Olufsens and the Sonys are that the H3s have a slightly rolled-off high end and very slightly less-defined bass. This can actually be preferable to people who are sensitive to sibilance or who like a “warmer” sonic profile (think tube radios and vinyl records). But the mids are just as enjoyable and do a great job of making pianos and guitars come to life. This means that the H3s are great on acoustic music or anything where analog instruments are used (e.g., rock, jazz, classical).

Boosted bass and treble for a livelier sound

The NAD Viso HP20 is another great choice for a bit less than $200. Whereas the Bang & Olufsen pair is a classical-lover’s dream, the NAD set would be adored by those who like things that rock. They come with an Apple-compatible remote and mic, a solid build, and black and silver options. The cable is linguine-style: flat and slightly fat, which some people prefer (to avoid tangling) and others dislike (because it adds heft). The heavier cable plus the shape of the bud that sticks out of the ear can make the NADs feel a little less stable in your ears than the Sonys or B&Os.

Slight comfort issues aside, the NADs sound really great. They have a bit more high-end intensity than the Sonys (and a good bit more than the B&Os). So if you’re someone who likes that bit of extra volume to add detail to consonants or fret noise on a guitar, you’ll adore the HP20s.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

25
Nov

Expercom Offering MacBook Pro With Touch Bar For Up to $225 Off With AppleCare


Apple premium reseller Expercom is offering some notable discounts on new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models, including up to $53 off 13-inch models and up to $167 off 15-inch models depending upon the configuration selected.

The discounts are even steeper when an AppleCare Protection Plan is added. 15-inch models with AppleCare are up to $225 off, while 13-inch models with AppleCare are up to $117 off, depending upon the configuration selected.

A limited number of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models remain in stock, with the majority estimated to ship in 2-4 weeks. Prices are valid until November 26. For reference, here is Expercom’s sales tax policy.

13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

– Build to order options for between $1,766.63 and $2,846.88 (up to $53.12 off)
– Build to order options with AppleCare for between $1,950.37 and $3,030.62 (up to $117.38 off)

15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

– 2.6GHz Core i7 with 256GB SSD/16GB RAM/Radeon Pro 450 in Space Gray for $2,305.17 ($93.83 off, regular $2,399)
– 2.6GHz Core i7 with 256GB SSD/16GB RAM/Radeon Pro 450 in Silver for $2,305.17 ($93.83 off, regular $2,399)
– 2.7GHz Core i7 with 512GB SSD/16GB RAM/Radeon Pro 455 in Space Gray for $2,689.55 ($109.45 off, regular $2,799)
– 2.7GHz Core i7 with 512GB SSD/16GB RAM/Radeon Pro 455 in Silver for $2,689.55 ($109.45 off, regular $2,799)
– 2.9GHz Core i7 with 1TB SSD/16GB RAM/Radeon 460 in Space Gray for $3,362.20 ($135.80 off, regular $3,498)
– 2.9GHz Core i7 with 2TB SSD/16GB RAM/Radeon 460 in Space Gray for $4,130.94 ($167.06 off, regular $4,298)
– Build to order options for between $2,305.17 and $4,130.94 (up to $168.06 off)
– Build to order options with AppleCare for between $2,548.04 and $4,373.81 (up to $224.17 off)

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, Black Friday
Tags: AppleCare, Expercom
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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25
Nov

Griffin BreakSafe Magnetic USB-C Power Cable review – CNET


The Good Lets you add a MagSafe connector to a MacBook that’s without one.

The Bad The adapter is awkwardly long and the inflexible cable means things can accidentally unplug quite easily.

The Bottom Line An excellent replacement for the MagSafe power adapter.

The MagSafe power adapter has probably saved me from injury — I trip on my cords often — on more than a few occasions. But with Apple’s notebooks now going all USB-C, new MacBooks are no longer made with MagSafe adapters.

For an accident-prone guy like me, that’s a scary thought. While charging your computer through an USB-C port is cool and convenient, if you happen to step on the cable, you could send your machine flying, doing some serious damage. The Griffin BreakSafe USB-C cable is designed to prevent just that.

This is a two-part device, consisting of a small piece that plugs into an USB-C port and stays there, and a 6-foot long cable that magnetizes to the first piece, while the other end has a USB-C connector. In case of forceful and sudden jerk, the two break apart.

USB-C dongles for your new MacBooks
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The cable is spec’ed to charge any USB-C device (including non-Apple products, such as the Google Chromebook) that requires 60 watts or less of power, so it’s not ideal for the 85 watt 15-inch MacBook Pro (though it worked in my trial). I do wish, though, that the plug-in part were a little more compact. Also, the inflexible cable means devices too easily come unplugged when moving the laptop around.

And it would be nice to have it in colors other than black, something that maybe matches the MacBooks’ colors. But for less than $40, this is a great accessory that will likely save your computer more often than you might imagine, especially if you have a small child.

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