A confession: I gave up on my previous pair of Bluetooth earbuds, Jaybird's own X2, after about a year. It wasn't their fault; they sounded good, they were comfortable, and the battery lasted long enough. But keeping the things charged (with microUSB, no less — yuck) and juggling connections became a chore. I gave them away and cozied up to a pair of no-name wired buds. Once I got a Pixel 2, I was living the dongle life.
After spending a week with the Jaybird X4, though, I'm reminded what I was missing. By virtue of being wireless, they're miles ahead of any wired earbuds for exercising — they don't catch on gym equipment and pop out. Read More
Samsung was among the first large tech companies to launch a smartwatch, and it ran Android before Android Wear existed. Samsung's interest in Android-powered wearables had waned since then. Now, it's all about Tizen despite recent rumors to the contrary. The Galaxy Watch drops the "Gear" branding, but it keeps Tizen. It looks like a real watch, like all of Samsung's recent models. Samsung is really embracing the watch aesthetic this time around, going so far as to make the device tick when you look at the watch face.
In the end, it's still not a real watch—you have to charge it every few days, and it's a bit bulky compared to a mechanical watch. Read More
Some people are cord cutters — fed up with cable bills that seem to rise every month, hardware rental fees, and the unshakable sense that they aren't getting a ton of value for their entertainment buck. The just-under $150 Channel Master Stream+ and its ability to both stream online content and record free over-the-air broadcasts promises to keep them happy in a cable-free world. Does it deliver? Read More
Swedish company Earin was one of the frontrunners in developing true wireless earbuds, releasing the M–1 back in 2015. That first generation product had its fair share of issues, ranging from unreliable Bluetooth connectivity to unsatisfactory battery life. The startup that was recently acquired by Will.i.am brand i.am+ is now back with a follow-up it hopes will rectify some of those complaints. Read More
Chinese firm Mobvoi — founded by ex-Googlers — has a history of making connected watches that stretches back to its original TicWatch and TicWatch 2 running the proprietary TicWear OS. Around this time last year, the TicWatch S and E were launched with Wear OS (then Android Wear) on board, and they were praised for their quality and excellent value proposition.
Now, Mobvoi is back with a premium Wear OS smartwatch, the TicWatch Pro. It offers better build quality and adds NFC, but the real star of the show is a transparent second display for more efficient always-on functionality with the promise of excellent battery life. Read More
Motorola is still pumping out successful mid-range and budget phones, but a smash-hit flagship device has eluded it for years. The Moto Z phones with their modular accessories have potential, but consumers aren't running out to buy many $200 projectors or $130 photo printers. If you ignore the Moto Mods, past Moto Z flagships have at least been top-of-the-line phones with uncluttered software and modern specs. That's what makes the new Moto Z3 so perplexing. It's specced like a phone from 2017. Plus, it's exclusive to Verizon. Read More
So-called smart speakers became the darling of every big tech company in the last three years, with Amazon, Google, and Apple all trying to push their digital assistants as a complementary and indispensable part of their locked-in ecosystems. Incremental advancement continues, and the Assistant-powered responses to Amazon's trailblazing, screen-equipped Echo Show have started to land, the first one being this: Lenovo's Smart Display. And far from just being an interesting first try, Google's Assistant on a screen has already become an indispensable part of my home, especially in the kitchen. Read More
There was a time not that many years ago when Sony was trusted implicitly by consumers all over the world. You knew if you bought a Sony product, you were getting the best, and people were willing to pay more for that peace of mind. However, Sony has struggled to find its place in today's hyper-competitive world, particularly when it comes to smartphones. Sony makes phones that are good in some ways, but the issues often outweigh the strengths. Through it all, the price is still consistently higher than competing devices. Read More
As any introvert will tell you, the doorbell can be a source of great anxiety. If I'm not expecting someone, there are only so many reasons for the doorbell to ring. I don't want anything to do with most of those reasons, so it's highly desirable to know what's going on out there before I open the door. I've used various security cameras for this task, including most recently the Arlo Pro 2. None of them have come close to the speed and ease of use you get with the Nest Hello. Read More
It's getting easier to set up your own internet-connected home surveillance system, but that usually still means running cables to power all your fancy HD cameras. Arlo, which recently spun off from Netgear, offers an alternative. Its Arlo Pro line of cameras can keep tabs on your home without wires, and they last for months on a charge.
After wowing us with the original Arlo Pro, the Arlo Pro 2 ups the resolution and adds new features. At the same time, Arlo has finally rolled out its AI-enabled Arlo Smart system to compete with systems like Nest Aware. Can a wireless camera ever compete with wired, though? Read More