German company Sennheiser has a sterling reputation for creating high-quality audio products, so I was understandably enthused when I learned they were making a pair of true wireless earbuds. These products have improved a great deal since they first burst onto the scene, but they still tend to lag behind wired equivalents in terms of sound and can’t compete with bulkier Bluetooth sets in battery life.
Since Sennheiser is pretty late to the true wireless game, you would hope its engineers have taken their time to craft something superior to the many rival products already on the market. As it turns out, that’s not far from the truth. Read More
Jaybird has had a busy few months. Following September's release of both the flagship X4 and budget Tarah, the company released last month the Tarah Pro, a second high-end headset that evidently shares enough in common with Jaybird's entry-level offering to share its name.
Tarah, it seems, is Jaybird's name for these devices' particular form factor, rather than an indicator of budget-friendliness. While the Pro take a number of design cues from the vanilla Tarah, they certainly don't take inspiration from their price: at $160, the Tarah Pro are Jaybird's most expensive earbuds. They're also the company's best. Read More
Essential's PH-1 was criticized at launch for some valid reasons, like a mediocre camera, high price tag, and lack of a headphone jack. But great software and a falling price have earned it a small but impassioned cult following. Now the high-end niche phone from 2017 has a high-end niche audio accessory to go with it: the Audio Adapter HD. But a single-device, $150 external DAC/amp might be a bit too niche. Read More
It's weird to think that there's a high-end power accessory market, but there is. Mophie pretty much dominates it with just a few special characteristics: a slightly more premium build quality, better materials, and high-end specs. Of course, Mophie's products also typically come with a sky-high price tag, and that's the case here with the Powerstation USB-C 3 XL. You get 45W of power on both USB-C input and output (with pass-through and different ports for each, too), a voluminous 26,000mAh capacity, and an exorbitant $200 MSRP to go with it. Unfortunately, it refused to work with any Chromebook I tested it with. Read More
If you thought the Pixel 2 and 2 XL were expensive, you probably weren't very happy when you saw the Pixel 3's $799 and Pixel 3 XL's $899 MSRPs. The Pixel 3 XL received a modest $50 jump in price from the 2 XL, but the Pixel 3 went up by a whopping $150 when compared to the Pixel 2. In other words, those who've purchased a new Pixel, regardless of the model, are probably going to want to protect it. Read More
True wireless earbuds have seen a huge rise in popularity over the last couple of years as the products have reached a price point and level of quality that make them viable purchases for mainstream consumers. The IFA 2018 show floor was packed with new models from various brands, and I’ve already reviewed two products in the category in the last couple of months.
The Earin M–2 ($249) and Master & Dynamic MW07 ($299) were both premium products with hefty price tags, but now it’s time to try something a little easier on the wallet. AI company Mobvoi is best known for its TicWatch smartwatches, but it has previous experience with audio, too. Read More
Mophie is well known for both the quality of its products and the hefty price tag attached to them, so we were interested when we heard that a handful of its employees had splintered off to start a new, eco-mindful power accessory company called Nimble. With consumer cost-cutting recyclable packaging and a focus on renewable materials, we were curious to see if Nimble could disrupt the battery and charger status quo — a highly competitive market. Unfortunately, Nimble's specs and prices just can't beat the competition. Read More
As the 3.5mm headphone jack slowly descends into the freezing cold waters of the past, our audio options for most high-end Android phones are limited to three. We can use and subsequently lose the adapter, get some USB-C headphones, or we can ditch the wires altogether. Bluetooth earbuds inelegantly attached to one another by a wire just won’t do any longer; true wireless earbuds are where it's at right now.
Apple’s AirPods have acted as a blueprint for other manufacturers, but none has yet perfected the form and function of this fledgling product category. It’s now Master & Dynamic’s turn to try. Read More
Many of us hope for the eternal dream of convergence, that the day may come when a phone can serve double duty as a laptop via a bit of cheap, dumb hardware. Motorola had its mediocre Lapdock, and Canonical tried and failed to crowdfund the Ubuntu Edge. More recently, Samsung's DeX dock has built a small fanbase for its desktop-like experience. But in 2016, the Superbook hit Kickstarter, promising to turn smartphones into laptops for only $99. Over two years later, the Superbook technically delivers on the abstract concept, but it's an unpleasant and rough experience. Read More
As headphone jacks keep dying off, wireless headphones keep being relevant. And unless you're at peace with wrangling dongles, that means the average price of decent earbuds is rising. The days of swinging by Target on your way to the airport to grab a passable pair of $10 buds are numbered. C'est la vie.
Jaybird is aware of the rising cost of mobile audio accessories, though, which is why it's introduced the Tarah, a more affordable take on its X series of headphones with fewer bells and whistles. And while I applaud the company's initiative in introducing an entry-level Bluetooth headset to its lineup, at $99.99, the Tarah are plainly too expensive for what you get. Read More