I've owned and used a stack of wireless speakers over the years. The one thing that has clearly changed over that time is that the bang-for-buck we receive is now excellent. The Sony SRS-XB31 Extra Bass Wireless Speaker delivers great sound, looks good and won't break the bank. It's quickly risen to be one of my favourite products of 2019.
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I have to admit that I'm one of those people who is pretty annoyed at the disappearance of the 3.5mm headphone jack from my mobile devices. And while Bluetooth is easy enough to set up, there are times when it's easy to plug in a set of wired headphones. Sony's WH-1000X M3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones offer the best of both worlds. They deliver Bluetooth connectivity but also support a 3.5mm connection. Here's how they performed for me.
One of the consequences of the shift from traditional hard drives towards SSDs has been shrinking on-board storage in many computers. While spinning drives are slower than SSDs, they are far more capacious and offer vastly superior bang for your storage buck. That's led many of us to look for external storage solutions and the rise in popularity for cloud storage. The Synology DS119j offers up to 14TB of external storage that's easy shared and accessible across both your local network and across the internet.
As panel technology has improved, larger and better displays have become increasingly affordable for home and business users. And while there's still a place for low cost screens limited to just HD output - it wasn't long ago when HD was the benchmark - the ability to display 4K and HDR (high dynamic range) content is becoming increasingly important to many users. That's where the BenQ EW3270U display fits in. It's a 4K and HDR capable screen that's good for business, gaming and catching up on the latest movies and TV shows.
Apple's Mac mini is a strange beast. For four years, it was seemingly abandoned by Apple who left it there running on older processor, storage and memory tech. But, for those using one, it proved a reliable, compact and quiet workhorse. But it was in dire need of some love and Apple finally updated it. The new model brings the Mac mini into 2018 while retaining much of what made people happy.
Apple's MacBook Air, until a couple of weeks ago, was an underpowered notebook that had been bypassed by almost the entire PC market. The thin profile, that made it special a decade ago when it was released is now common and the specs were not even last generation. Yet, many people held onto those computers for years because they proved reliable and portable. The 2018 model takes what users loved about the old model and give it a thoroughly modern twist.
We are in a transitional phase as micro-USB and Apple's proprietary Lightning ports are being phased out and being replaced by USB-C. And that means many of us are caught in the position of needing to carry multiple cables for different purposes. Belkin has provided a great solution with their Universal Cable. Coupled with its Pocket Power battery, you'll rarely be caught without a charging and synching solution.
The Lenovo Yoga 730 is evidence that you can teach an old dog new tricks. It's hard to believe that the same company that brings the understated, matte black ThinkPad to the market delivers the Yoga convertible, with its touchscreen, fully-foldable design and shiny body. There's a lot to like about the Yoga 730 - but there are some rough edges.
Now that USB-C has become a standard feature on most portable computers, finding a docking solution that lets you connect an external display, hard drive and other peripherals has become far simpler. Gone are the days of proprietary docking stations. Now, one cable can link you to a cavalcade of ports. The Thunderbolt 3 Dock by Other World Computing, lets you connect your Windows or Mac system is a dozen external ports through a single cable.
Vacuum cleaners used to be boring devices that we had to push and drag around the house to collect dust bunnies and other flotsam and jetsam from our floors. But over recent years they've gotten smarter and can now clean our floors with out us even being at home. The Ecovacs Deebot 900 is a robotic floor cleaner that wanders around your home collecting the bits and pieces that hit the floor. Here's how it performed at my place.
Apple has taken the iPhone X design that introduced in 2017 and made it the template for all of their new iPhone models. With three new iPhone models this year, the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, Apple has made the near-bezel-less design their standard. The two premium models, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have identical specifications other than display size. That means everything I cover in this review should apply to both flagship models. After a couple of weeks using the iPhone XS, here's what I've learned.
The Apple Watch Series 4, which is the fifth major product version of Apple's smartwatch platform, offers a number of substantial changes over its predecessor while retaining much of what has made it the most popular smartwatch around. While it is an evolution on previous versions, it represents, perhaps, the first compelling reason for early adopters to consider an upgrade.
Microsoft has played a very steady game with its Surface family of computers. It took a couple of generations of the Surface Pro convertible before venturing into more traditional laptop form factors with the Surface Laptop and Surface Book and desktops with the Surface Hub. It's surprising that it's taken over six years to produce the Surface Go, a more compact device that appeals to those seeking a Windows system in an iPad-like form factor. But the company has produced a solid performer that will fulfil the needs for those who want a second computer to complement their main computer or whose computing needs are more modest.
While printing has never really died (Long live the paperless office!) the ease with which we can take high quality photos and share them has almost rendered personal printing redundant. And the ability to print at home means the post-holiday trip to the chemist or local photo-lab to get pictures printed is also a rarity. Enter the Lifeprint - a portable printer that lets you take a mini photo lab with you wherever you go.
With Sonos doing a great job of making exceptional speakers that fit in almost every situation in your home, three further battlefields remained - becoming a less proprietary option so you can stream music from any device to the speakers without having to go through the Sonos app all the time, smart speakers and home theatre setups. All of those have been addressed over the last year or so as the Santa Barbara-based company has revised most of their range. The Sonos Beam is their second home theatre product. Here's what I've found after using the Beam in my lounge room.
The iPad may have started its life as a content consumption device but over the last eight years, since its release, it has evolved through a combination of upgrades from Apple and the release of many accessories into a valid alternative to a traditional computer for many people. One of the key apps many people need is an image creation and editing tool. Pixelmator fills that gap with a powerful suite of image creation and editing tools for iOS and the Mac.
If you're a presenter or trainer and you like to use iOS devices to show things from your screen off to a broader audience, it can be challenging. Perhaps you're a developer and what to see how things look on different mobile devices. Or, if you are responsible for providing AV facilities to visiting presenters, ensuring you have all the right cables and connectors for connecting smartphones and tablets can be annoying. Reflector 3 is a solution to those challenges. Here's how it works.
Motorola's smartphone business has been through some challenging times. After the mobile phone business was spun off, it landed with Google who later sold it to Lenovo where it sits today. And while other brands have garnered plenty of attention, Motorola has continued to create some decent Android handsets. The Moto G Plus is the company's flagship smartphone and it's a great phone that won't break the bank.