Thursday, June 22, 2017
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Travel-Friendly Wool Shoes – FELT FORMA Makes Wool Shoes with a Focus on Comfort

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FELT FORMA Makes Wool Shoes with a Focus on Comfort

What’s a seasoned world traveler without the perfect pair of comfortable travel friendly wool shoes? Only eco-friendly lightweight wool shoes are perfect for a comfortable journey.

The wool shoes are hand-crafted according your foot measurements at FELT FORMA studio with one’s choice of wool color. The wool adapts to the lines of your feet and keeps them in balanced temperature — not too cold, not too hot, but dry and breathing. The lightweight, rugged outdoor sole is specially selected for increased comfort, traction and durability.

These wool shoes would be perfect for playing in snowbanks or sand dunes. We usually associate wool with cold winter and rainy autumn. But do you really need to hide these wool shoes in the farthest corner of the house once the sun comes out? Definitely not. Thermal regulation is just one of the many reasons why these wool shoes would be a great choice. Endless styling options at FELT FORMA is another.

(Why? )

 

Samsung Galaxy Book Tablet – First Look

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Hands-on with Samsung’s latest Surface-rival

The Galaxy Book tablets are the second wave of hybrids from Samsung, since it re-entered the Windows market with its stellar Galaxy Tab Pro S last year. Rather than rework the wheel, the Galaxy Book-line seeks to rectify design and hardware flaws that kept the Tab Pro S from achieving true hybrid greatness. The end result, is a compelling looking alternative to the Microsoft Surface that could be the ideal choice for everyone from general office workers and students to creative types looking for a lightweight doodle of photo touch up station.

Samsung’s set to offer the Galaxy Book in 12 and 10-inch configurations, both of which have slightly different internals. On the outside, however , they look close to identical.

Like the Pro S, both sizes have smooth finish, metallic feeling backs and come with an attachable keyboard dock and updated S Pen stylus. Taking a closer look, I did notice a few important design updates however. For starters Samsung’s increased the number of USB type C ports from one to two on the 12-inch model.

Related: Best tablets

Galaxy Book

The update doesn’t put the device on a par with competing convertibles, such as the Surface Pro 4, or Asus Transformer 3 Pro, when it comes to connectivity, but it’s a welcome change nonetheless. The Tab Pro S had a single USB C port that was also used to charge it. This was a silly limitation given it meant you couldn’t, for example , connect it to a monitor while charging.

The enhanced S Pen also feels like a significant step forward. Samsung lists the S Pen as being its most advanced to date, claiming it can detect a whopping 4096 pressure levels. The Microsoft Surface Pen can detect just over 1000, by comparison. Testing the pen in Photoshop, though, it didn’t detect changes in angle as well as the stylus on Wacom’s premier Mobile Studio Pro, it still performed excellently. Brush strokes were enacted with near no latency and, outside of a few palm detection issues Samsung promised were due to pre-release software, the pen felt more than good enough for digital painting and note taking.

I’m also very impressed with the hardware changes Samsung’s made. The Core M in the original Galaxy Tab Pro S was sub par and as a result the device offered poor performance during intensive tasks. This was a key issue, especially if you wanted to take advantage of its stellar AMOLED screen and work on large painting projects.

Thankfully, Samsung’s fixed this on the 12-inch Galaxy Book, which now comes running a 7th-gen Intel Core i5U Kaby Lake CPU clocked at 3. 1GHz. I tested 128GB model, which comes with 4GB RAM not the more expensive 256GB model, which comes with 8GB RAM.

Some may scoff at the U-series CPU, which is basically a rebranded next generation M chip. But, even with the diminished memory, I was impressed how much faster the 12-inch Galaxy Book felt and can see it being a great choice for creatives working on small scale projects.

I also don’t see how Samsung could have gotten anything more powerful into a tablet that’s just 7. 4mm thick and weighs a piddly 754g.

Galaxy Book

The 12-inch AMOLED screen also looks excellent. According to a Samsung spokeswoman, it will cover 99% of the Adobe RGB and 100% of the sRGB gamuts favoured by artists and photographers who need accurate colour representation. Normally I’d take these claims with a pinch of salt, but considering how great the Tab Pro S’ screen was and my naked eye impressions, I’m fairly convinced the screen will at the very least be above average.

The 10-inch configuration doesn’t match its bigger brother’s specs, but if priced correctly could be a solid choice for more general users looking for a laptop-tablet convertible. The 10. 6-inch HD screen uses an LCD, maybe not AMOLED panel and as a result isn’t as vibrant, or bright, but from what I saw it’s more than good enough for general use and watching movies.

Galaxy Book

The use of a 2 . 6GHz Intel Core M3 CPU and set 4GB of RAM will also make it slower, but the specs are more than sufficient for people that just want to use the Galaxy Book as a basic laptop.

My only serious issue with both Galaxy Books relates to their attachable keyboard covers. Samsung has done stellar work making the keyboards more comfortable, by giving them a 1 . 5mm travel depth and three adjustable backlight levels, but I’m still perhaps not sold on the magnetic docking system.

The docking system works the same way it did on the Galaxy Tab Pro S and Huawei Matebook. This limits you to three stand angles, one of that is an artists’ easel mode that flips the keyboard behind the tablet. This will inevitably make the device difficult to use on anything but a flat surface, and I can’t help but wish Samsung would drop the magnets and create a properly hinged keyboard dock.

Related: Best Laptops

Galaxy Book

First Impressions

Both the 12 and 10-inch Galaxy Books look like seriously impressive hybrid devices. However , from what I’ve seen, outside of their branding and aesthetics they are completely different devices that cater to two different markets.

The 12-inch variant has a super-looking screen that, combined with the tablet’s S Pen, seems tailor-made for artists and photographers. However , its upgraded components mean it will likely cost a pretty penny.

The smaller 10-inch variant seems better suited for general consumers that have been hankering for Microsoft’s long rumoured Surface Mini. Despite having lower specs, the device appears to be more than powerful enough for general users and, if priced correctly, could be the hybrid to get this year for students looking for a truly all-on-one device.

(Why? )

Grocery Payment Apps – Tesco Shoppers May Now Use the PayQwiq App to Pay for Purchases Up to £250

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Tesco Shoppers May Now Use the PayQwiq App to Pay for Purchases Up to £250

As an alternative to using physical cash or cards, Tesco customers may now opt to pay via the multinational grocery retailer’s ‘PayQwiq’ app. With this app for iOS and Android, shoppers are able to store their debit card and Tesco Clubcard details and convenient pay for purchases of up to £250 at a till just by having on onscreen QR code scanned. #@@#@!!

Once an individual’s unique code has been scanned with the app, a payment is settled and points are automatically added to one’s Tesco Clubcard rewards account. #@@#@!!

As an alternative to using systems like Apple Pay and Android Pay, retailers are developing their own payment systems. This includes Waitrose’s Quick Check and Kohl’s Pay, among others.

#@@#@!! (Why?)

 

Prey Game – First Look

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Prey release date, trailer, gameplay info and everything we know

After Prey 2 was cancelled back in 2014, many believed the series was dead in the water. But now, fans are dlighted and excited to see the reimagining of the beloved title under the helm of Dishonored creators Arkane studios.

It’s not long now until Prey is launched, so TrustedReviews has rounded up everything you need to know about the game as well as our brand-new preview from February.

Prey release date – When is it coming out?

Bethesda has confirmed that Prey will launch on May 5, 2017 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Prey trailer – How’s the game look?

Take a look at the brand new gameplay trailer of Prey below:

Related: PS4 Pro vs PS4

Prey Story – What’s it about?

Details about Prey’s story have been revealed in a press release:

“When you awaken aboard Talos I, an immense space station orbiting the moon in the year 2032, you find yourself as the key subject of an experiment meant to alter humanity forever – but things have gone terribly wrong.

Prey video preview

“The space station has been overrun by hostile aliens and you are now being hunted. As you dig into the dark secrets of Talos I and your own past, you must survive using the tools found on the station, your wits, weapons, and mind-bending abilities to defeat the Typhon alien. ”

It’s clear that Arkane’s vision of Prey is unlike anything the series has seen before, and a very interesting prospect indeed.

Prey pre-order bonuses – What do we get?

Bethesda has unmasked that players who pre-order Prey will receive the exclusive Cosmonaut Shotgun Pack. The pre-order bonus includes Morgan Yu’s family heirloom Margrave shotgun and some extra gear including: three Neuromods players can spend to acquire new abilities, two Medkits, a Fabrication plan to create the Shotgun and Ammo, a starter kit for building tools and weapons, and an unique upgrade to help players preserve their limited resources.

Prey preview by Brett Phipps

Available from May 5 on PS4, Xbox One and PC

Playing games of all shapes and sizes for many years means it becomes increasingly difficult for them to surprise you. Much like movies, the plot points (or for games, the mechanics) can often be spotted from afar: the princess is actually in a different castle, that friend is the bad guy, that door is definitely going to be locked with a big boss behind it. That’s why we need more games like Prey, because within just 20 minutes of its opening hour, it had completely swept the rug from beneath me.

Prey is in an unique position: it comes with great anticipation and excitement, but is also a total mystery. After the original Prey 2 looked set to be Star Wars meets Blade Runner, before getting canned in 2014, the franchise seemed dead in the water. Then at last year’s E3 conference Bethesda revived it under the stewardship of acclaimed Dishonored developer Arkane Studios. What was equally surprising was that the overall game would be arriving within a year.

With a complete reimagining of the series, we didn’t know what to expect, and having played the first hour, I still have so many questions – but the answers I did get had me very excited to find out more.

Related: Upcoming PS4 Games

Prey

Prey takes place in an alternate reality where John F Kennedy survives the assassination attempt, and then invests heavily in the US space program, leading to significant advancements in the field. With its jumping point being the ’60s, Prey has a beautiful aesthetic reminiscent of that era.

Morgan Yu, the brilliant scientist and lead protagonist, wakes up in his – or her, as you can choose whether Yu is a man or woman – room in the entire year 2032, and everything seems grand. Prey operates in a very similar way to Dishonored, with hints of Half-Life, so you can wander around with almost complete freedom and autonomy as well as pick up and loot everything Yu’s hands can grab.

After raiding the room of scrap and booze, I check emails and discover that today Yu is to visit his brother, Alex, for some routine tests at Transtar research facility.

The tests involved seem a little odd. It appears that Morgan is imbued with some sort of supernatural abilities, but they’re so deeply repressed that he’s unable to access them. One test involves standing in a small room with glass walls, with nothing but a chair, and being told to find somewhere to hide from the observing scientists. After I’ve panicked and held the chair between myself and the examiners, hoping this would act as sufficient camouflage, the scientists appear confused and frustrated by my failure.

Related: Best Xbox One Games

Prey

During the final test everything goes wrong. The boffins stood behind the glass pane are attacked by a strange spectral creature, and the whole operation is shut down. Sleeping gas is pumped into the test chamber and Yu awakens back in the hotel room like nothing happened.

What proceeds is an unbelievable series of events that leads to a twist that genuinely made my jaw drop. I won’t spoil the finer details for you, but all is not as it seems, and Morgan has been deceived by everyone around him in incredible fashion.

The story of Prey is gripping. For Prey to present one proposition then completely flip the script had me engaged and desperate for more. And it is how this was done, with so many references to familiar titles, that kept the smile on my face.

Prey is littered with so many nods and inspirations from all the best sources that it becomes a wonderful melting pot. The ’80s electronica-esque soundtrack reminds me of Drive, the plot moves swiftly from The Matrix to The Truman Show and back again. It makes for an exciting prospect, all within the opening salvo.

And now, it was time to dive in to the actual game.

Prey is pretty similar to Dishonored, realised as a first-person shooter with even more RPG elements. Morgan will pick up various items and weapons along the way to help survive on board Talos 1 – the spaceship in which the game takes place.

Related: Nintendo Switch preview

Prey

At first Morgan has only a wrench, but is soon armed with a shotgun and also a Glue Gun. The Glue Gun is a good example of not only Prey’s arsenal having multiple uses but also Arkane’s ingenuity. It can be used to shoot enemies to slow them down, and eventually freeze them in place, but it can also be used to shoot solid lumps of glue onto walls for Morgan to jump onto and reach higher ledges. In the demo, there was a broken elevator shaft that would’ve required improved engineering skills for Morgan to fix, but with the Glue Gun it was a doddle to climb.

The main enemy are these dark, spectral creatures which can take different forms. I came across two types: Mimics – small, spider-like creatures that may hide within any object in the environment, and Phantoms – tall, daunting enemies which are tougher to take down.

However , Prey’s combat, at least in its opening hour, feels a little basic. Neither enemy proved much of a threat, and weapons lacked enough punch to make engagements feel very interesting. Being so early in the game, though, I’m hopeful the complexity will evolve as more weapons are picked up – plus there’s plenty of depth elsewhere to create up for the combat’s shortcomings.

As you’d expect, there are plenty of upgrade trees to focus on along the way, too. Morgan can earn “neuromods” which, rather disgustingly, have to be injected into his eye with a gun, much like a Dead Space upgrade. These improve certain skills, be they medic, hacking, weaponry proficiencies or others.

Once you locate Morgan’s office within Talos 1, you can also recycle scrap to earn more useful items, as well as 3D-print new items and weapons with said materials.

There’s incredible depth on offer, and the layout of the ship feels very much like a Metroid game, with the lobby and your office acting like a central hub.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I was very impressed by what I saw of Prey. Its narrative immediately intrigued with an excellent twist, and while its RPG elements are initially complicated, using them to evolve Morgan as a character they slowly made sense.

The combat lacked the punch of other shooters and even Dishonored, but with the strength of the story available I’m willing to give it a chance. Perhaps this isn’t the game for someone looking for a solid shoot-’em-up, but if you’re hopeful of a gripping tale, Prey certainly looks set to deliver.

(Why? )

‘ Mr. Robot’ Season 3 Spoilers, Release Update: Elliot Receives Help From Krista? Series Nominated For Multiple Awards For 2017 Golden Globes?

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Actor Rami Malek (R) accepts Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for ‘Mr. Robot’ from actress Allison Janney onstage during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
( Kevin Winter/Getty Images )

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Fans of the popular US network’s drama-thriller series “Mr. Robot” should rejoice as the next installment has been confirmed to air this year. We are still short on updates on the exact “Mr. Robot” season 3 release date for now.

However , we do have some theories for what to expect on “Mr. Robot” season 3 this year. A number of fans expect Krista (Gloria Reuben) to be back for her role as Elliot’s (Rami Malek) therapist. She may continue to help him with his issues in the upcoming season.

According to series, the court had appointed Krista to help Elliot with his mental problems. “Mr. Robot” season 3 spoilers note us of her supporting role in overcoming his mental instabilities about Edward, an anarchist (Christian Slater) who bothers him mentally.

We do note of Elliot not acquiring Krista’s help in the past which made it hard for her to help him out. Elliot had been avoiding sharing his emotions with her and relied more on medicinal drugs like morphine to curb his mental instability.

“Mr. Robot” might not be one of the top rated TV series aired in the United States, but it does have a relatively small but dedicated fan base. The show was also able to grab a few awards at the Golden Globes last year which included the award for the “Best Television Drama Series. ” Another famous award was for an outstanding music composition at the Primetime Emmy Awards which was given to Mac Quayle. In addition , the lead actor Malek also got an outstanding lead actor award at the Drama Series award ceremony.

2017 might also be a good year for “Mr. Robot” season 3 because the show is nominated for the Golden Globe Awards this year as well. Malek is again nominated for the Best Actor in the award category for Drama Series. Slater is also nominated this time for the supporting actor category.

What more is planned for “Mr. Robot” season 3? Stay tuned for more update on the series.

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(Why? )

 

Asus ROG GL752VM Laptop – Review

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What is the Asus ROG GL752VM?

Most 17. 3in gaming laptops pair their imposing stature with huge, flagship components. That’s great for smooth frame rates, but not so good for the price.

The Asus ROG GL752VM is different. This machine has a 17. 3in screen, but its £1, 600 price keeps things relatively sensible in a market that sees many laptops costing twice as much.

Related: Best gaming laptops

Asus ROG GL752VM – Features

The GL752VM’s price hasn’t led to much compromise when it comes to components. Graphics horsepower still comes from one of Nvidia’s latest Pascal graphics chips: the GeForce GTX 1060. It’s proved to be one of the more popular new parts, and it’s the perfect GPU for 1080p gameplay. Asus GL752VM 5

The GTX 1060 deploys 4. 4 billion transistors across 1, 280 stream processors, and it has 6GB of GDDR5 memory. The mobile chip runs at 1, 404MHz, which is about 100MHz shy of the desktop card – but these specifications still outpace most full-fat desktop GPUs.

The current-generation GPU is paired with a Core i7-6700HQ. The familiar chip is a 2 . 6GHz quad-core processor with a Turbo peak clock speed of 3. 5GHz. Here it’s paired with 16GB of 2, 400MHz DDR4 – another bit of familiar hardware, and a decent speed too.

Video: How to choose a laptop

There’s a 256GB Toshiba XG3 SSD and a 1TB hard disk, which is entirely conventional. A slightly stranger inclusion, in 2017 at least, is a DVD drive – a welcome addition if you’re into playing older games, or watching films.

The GL752VM’s nearest competitor is another Asus machine: the ROG Strix GL702VM. That system also has a GTX 1060, but it costs a more affordable £1, 200 – and that means it has a Core i5 processor chip rather than a beefy Core i7 chip. That machine also sports just 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD.

The particular GL752VM has dual-band wireless and Gigabit Ethernet, plus plenty of ports. There are four USB 3 ports, an USB a few. 1 Type-C connector, an SDXC card slot and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs.

Related: Best SSDs to buy

Asus ROG GL752VM – Design

The GL752VM is at the affordable end of the 17. 3-inch spectrum, but that hasn’t stopped Asus from ensuring that it looks the part.

This machine adheres to the firm’s “armour titanium plus plasma copper” design language, which means plenty of brushed metal and burnt orange. There are a vibrant-coloured area on the hinge with the Republic of Gamers logo, orange slashes on the lid, in addition to dramatic vents across the entire rear. Asus GL752VM 21

The interior has an angled power button and even an area decorated with the Mayan-inspired design that now appears across most Republic of Players products. There’s also a two-tone colour scheme with brushed metal around a darker, matte core.

Typically the Asus looks the part, but there’s no sign of slimming down: this machine weighs just over 4kg, and it’s 44mm thick. That’s at the top finish, even for 17. 3-inch machines : the Asus ROG Strix GL702VM is about 1 . 5kg lighter and about half as thick.

This GL752VM is sturdy, with barely any movement around the screen and only a little depression on the wrist-rest. I’ve no qualms about putting this machine in a bag to take to LAN parties, but other machines are stronger. Laptops such as the Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme are more expensive, for example , but they exhibit no weakness.

Elsewhere, smaller touches indicate the Asus’ gaming pedigree. The row of five macro buttons along with a streaming key come straight from the firm’s pricier laptops, and elevate the GL752VM – only expensive machines from Asus and Gigabyte’s Aorus range have included such features.

There’s a bit of interior access available, too. Remove one screw together with pull on a rubber tab; a base panel lifts away to reveal two spare memory space sockets, the hard disk and the M. 2 SOLID STATE DRIVE, alongside a spare M. 2 connector. That’s better than the cheaper device, which had no practical way to get inside the system. Asus GL752VM 27

This model also comes with the Asus ROG Gaming Center app. It’s an one-stop tool for tweaking several aspects of this machine, along with Standard and additionally Extreme performance modes, screen options, audio tools and also a macro-recording module. It covers most bases, although higher-end Asus laptop computers do offer more.

Related: Best PC Games

(Why? )

 

Quick Charge Smartphone Batteries – The ‘ NitroQ’ Charging Pack Recharges in Seven-Minutes Flat

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The ‘NitroQ’ Charging Pack Recharges in Seven-Minutes Flat

The ‘NitroQ’ charging pack is a new piece of charging equipment that can be recharged in just seven-minutes flat to provide a full charge to a smartphone when it’s needed. Outfitted with a 5, 000 mAH capacity, the ‘NitroQ’ battery pack has a discharge efficiency of 95% and is universally compatible with smartphones of all makes and models.

The ‘NitroQ’ charging pack is compact in design and features indicator lights that allow users to see how much charge is remaining on the battery pack within. The ‘NitroQ’ can be quickly charged to have enough power for a single smartphone charge in seven-minutes, but a full charge of 15-minutes will offer enough power for two full charge cycles.

(Why? )

 

JBL Reflect Aware Headphone – Review

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What are the JBL Reflect Aware?

The JBL Reflect Aware are in-ear headphones packed with up-to-date tech. They feature active noise cancellation and have an iPhone Lightning connector rather than a normal 3. 5mm jack.

They’re no friend to Android devices, but also don’t require a battery; they’re powered by your phone thanks to that Lightning jack.

The JBL Reflect Aware are some of the higher-end Lightning earphones around. However , since the active noise cancellation on offer is fairly poor, there are better-sounding devices available at a similar price – and as such, they play to a small audience.

Watch: Headphones buying guide

JBL Reflect Aware – Design and Comfort

As well as having a techy edge, the JBL Reflect Aware are sports headphones. This is obvious from their unusual tip style.

Rather than sporting tiny tips that fit in your ear canals, the JBL Reflect Aware have large, ear-filling silicone ovals and separate oversize earhooks that stabilise the fit of the units, moving the actual plastic earpiece further away from your skin.

Sweat as much as you like, as you can remove these rubbery shields and give them a rinse.

Related: Best Bluetooth Headphones

JBL Reflect Aware 13

All the silicone and those sizeable core earpieces make the JBL Reflect Aware pretty large, but they’re comfortable. They feel a little like a custom-moulded silicone earphone; your ears feel as though they’re crammed full, but at least they’re full of soft stuff.

Three pairs of the oval recommendations and three pairs of hooks ensure you achieve a decent fit, regardless of your ear shape.

JBL Reflect Aware 7

The JBL Reflect Aware cable feels solid too, thicker than that of your average pair of in-ears. Where the cable splits to the left and right buds, there’s a (relatively) huge remote control housing. It’s likely larger than normal because it needs to fit in a DAC. This converts a digital signal to an analogue one that can be fed to the speaker drivers, because an iPhone’s Lightning port can output only digital audio. Handy, that.

JBL Reflect Aware

On the remote you get the standard three buttons that let you alter volume and play/pause, and a mic on the rear to let you take calls. There’s a fourth button on the front, too: this switches between the active noise cancellation modes.

JBL Reflect Aware – Active Noise Cancellation

Unlike a pair of Bose QuietComfort 20i, the JBL Reflect Aware don’t eliminate noise 24/7. The other side to their sporty angle, they enable you to monitor ambient noise so you’re aware when you need to be. There’s an iPhone app that lets you alter the level of ambient noise piped through, in an identical vein to the Bose QuietControl 30 .

It’s a great idea, but the real-world results of the ANC system aren’t great. First, without the “ambient aware” feature enabled, the cancellation just isn’t that effective. Certain frequency bands seem to be reduced minimally, making the noise bed sound odd.

JBL Reflect Aware 9

Even more distracting, using the ANC feature out on the streets, rather than in a relatively quiet room, makes it sound as though you’re listening through a plastic tube. There’s that odd whooshing of air you obtain when you put a shell (or, yes, a plastic tube) up to your ear. I find it disconcerting.

The JBL Reflect Aware’s noise cancellation isn’t useless, but it’s not great, either.

JBL Reflect Aware – Sound Quality

Switching the JBL Reflect Aware’s active noise cancellation on and off also has a significant effect on sound quality. With it enabled, the Reflect Aware have very punchy bass impact. It’s fun and adds plenty of energy. Like the sound of the Beats Solo 3, it’s good to exercise to, but doesn’t work quite as well if you’re listening to music more actively.

The bass isn’t subtle or particularly well controlled for such a pricey earphone, with basslines and kicks drums treading on other parts of the mix more than the majority of £170 earphones.

JBL Reflect Aware 3

Switch ANC off and most of that excess bass is sucked out, resulting in a more balanced sound. Some of the energy drops away, mind you, and the mid-range also loses some of its sweetness.

These earphones have a big, fairly wide soundstage, but they are not as sophisticated or as “hi-fi” as I’d expect for the money.

The mids have a slightly synthetic character, and the treble could be more refined, often delivered with a sharp edge even though the higher frequencies aren’t all that pronounced.

There are much cheaper earphones I’d rather spend my money on. But the Reflect Aware would be perfect for the gym, where their punchy bass and strong energy mitigates – for the money – the slightly disappointing sound.

JBL Reflect Aware 5

Should I buy the JBL Reflect Aware?

Desperate for a pair of Lightning earphones? There aren’t that many options out there, and the JBL Reflect Aware certainly sound better than a set of Apple EarPods.

Nevertheless , the AirPods suggest Apple thinks wireless headphones are the way forward, rather than ones with Lightning connectors. For now, we’re going to have to stick to using the 3. 5mm adapter included with the iPhone 7, because neither route is perfect.

The JBL Reflect Aware are sports-ready, but both their sound quality and active noise cancellation are, at best, passable given the price. If you’re looking for a great couple of cancelling in-ears, check out the Bose QuietComfort 20i, which are in another league of effectiveness.

Verdict

Problematic sound and so-so noise cancellation keep the Reflect Aware from earning a recommendation.

(Why? )

 

Sony SRS-XB3 – Review

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What is the Sony SRS-XB3?

The Sony SRS-XB3 is a fairly small wireless speaker. It wants to be used anywhere and everywhere: while you’re in the bath, beside a swimming pool in Tenerife, or just as you cook your evening meal.

Sony’s special move is to use slightly larger drivers than the competition to achieve a meatier, more powerful delivery. And it works.

The Sony SRS-XB3 is a great little speaker for noisier environments. However , some rivals display more clarity and finesse if you’ll mostly be listening indoors. At the time of writing, the speaker can be picked up for £89. 99 rather than its £129 RRP – and at that price it’s a good deal.

Related: Best Bluetooth Speakers

Sony SRS-XB3 3

Sony SRS-XB3 – Design and Features

Quite a lot of speakers in this class are made of metal. The Bose SoundLink Mini series drew up a blueprint that others have tweaked, but Sony isn’t playing copycat.

The Sony SRS-XB3 is made of plastic and rubber, injecting a touch of personality with colour instead. There’s the dark-green version seen here, as well as black, red and blue. All but the red are quite moody and subdued in tone, leaving the red version for those who are after something that really stands out.

A plastic frame isn’t exciting, however the Sony SRS-XB3 feels like it could withstand being thrown against a wall. The plastic is thick, and will easily handle being scraped carelessly across hard surfaces much better than aluminium.

Sony SRS-XB3 9

The speaker appears to be far better equipped for outdoor use than most, and is also water-resistant. The Sony SRS-XB3 is certified to IPX5, meaning it can handle rain or being splashed, but it can’t be submerged. Actual IPX5 testing involves spraying the speaker with 12. 5-litres of water a minute for three minutes at a distance of 3m.

What enables this water-resistance other than a clever speaker grille is the port protector on the rear of the device. A rubber-sealed panel pulls off to reveal the charge socket, aux input and an USB port with which you can charge other devices.

Sony SRS-XB3 13

One part of the Sony SRS-XB3 that might disappoint is its use of a 15V cylinder charger rather than the USB kind used by Android phones.

However , this lets Sony include a large battery that doesn’t take an age to charge. The speaker lasts for up to 24 hours at moderate volume, which is excellent. Some this size last for only eight hours – BUT to be honest, I’ve been happy with just that much in the past.

This is a side benefit of the Sony SRS-XB3 being slightly larger than some ultraportable Bluetooth bricks. It’s bigger than favourites that include the Bose SoundLink Mini II, Riva S and Jam Heavy Metal, but will happily fit into my luggage for a work trip or weekend away. Just.

Sony SRS-XB3 15

The Sony SRS-XB3’s controls are entirely obvious, valuing practicality over design impact – just like the construction. A bunch of buttons let you alter volume, enter pairing mode, take calls and turn the extra bass mode on and off. They couldn’t be much clearer.

One that might get you scratching your head is “Add”, though. This is used to join up two Sony SRS-XB3s as a stereo pair. I don’t think all that many buyers will end up acquiring two of these speakers for that purpose, but it makes linking them up simpler than most others – which tend to require some fiddling in apps or button combinations.

There are other extras, too, including NFC for easy pairing with Android devices and a speakerphone function. This means there’s an integrated mic, letting you just take calls by just talking to the speaker. There’s a “call” button up top, too. Solid, dependable, practical. That’s what the Sony SRS-XB3’s hardware is about.

Sony SRS-XB3 5

Sony SRS-XB3 – Sound Quality

The Sony SRS-XB3 sound is different to many rivals, with Sony’s aim to outgun the competition. You only need to look at the drivers for proof. The Bose SoundLink Mini II has a pair of 38mm active drivers and a radiator array; the Sony has 48mm drivers and bass radiators, the main reasons why the SRS-XB3 is a little bigger than most such speakers.

Its sound is more powerful than most, too. Larger drivers let it go louder with fewer signs of strain, and bass depth and clout is very good for a still-small unit. The tiny Bose SoundLink Mini’s bass is deeper-sounding, though – a surprise given it’s significantly smaller.

If you haven’t used one of these small rectangular Bluetooth speakers before, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised by any of the better models, this one included. The Sony SRS-XB3’s parlour trick is that it can be pushed harder before it actually sounds like it’s being pushed, meaning the start of obvious compression and/or distortion.

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The sound is thick, too, which helps it deal with noisier surroundings. Small speakers can get lost in noisy rooms, but this one could shout over the noise of a small house party.

Use the Sony SRS-XB3 in a quiet indoors setting, though, and you start to hear some of its shortcomings.

The thickness to the bass and low mids make the lower third of busier mixes sound a little muddled, lacking definition and separation. While the Riva S doesn’t go as loud as the Sony SRS-XB3, it sounds far more articulate and sophisticated. The Bose SoundLink Mini II also has better mid-range tone, making vocals sound a little more natural; the cheaper Jam Heavy Metal offers greater clarity and detail.

Using the Extra Bass mode confuses the sound from the SRS-XB3. It gives bass drums more obvious punch, but mainly because it boosts mid- and mid-bass frequencies to act as a “loudness” booster, making the SRS-XB3 appear louder at the same output level.

These are serious problems if you’re looking at the Sony SRS-XB3 at its RRP of £130, but since it’s available right now for around £90, the significance of these sound issues evaporate somewhat.

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Should I buy the Sony SRS-XB3?

At £130, the Sony SRS-XB3 is only a fair buy. However , it’s far more attractive at the £90 for which it can be had at the time of review. At this price its main competition is the Jam Rock, a speaker with less power, bulk, battery life and ruggedness, but greater treble detail, an all-round cleaner sound and still exceptional top volume.

The UE Boom 2 is also a significant rival, offering water-resistance and a similar, hardwearing plastic style. That speaker has many fans but I’d likely pick the Sony SRS-XB3 over it for being cheaper and sounding less strained at high volumes.

For pure sound quality the SRS-XB3 comes nowhere close to the Riva S, though, which at a recently reduced price of £155 looks like a more attractive proposition if you can afford a little more expense.

Verdict

A super-powerful and portable – if not always subtle – wireless speaker.

Watch: Portable and Bluetooth speaker buying guide

(Why? )

 

Flexible Work Trousers – Dish & DU/ER’ s ‘ Limitless Stretch’ Dress Pants for Men Boast Comfort

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Dish & DU/ER’s ‘Limitless Stretch’ Dress Pants for Men Boast Comfort

Laura McQuarrie

By: Laura McQuarrie – Jan 24, 2017
References: dishandduer

One of the newest items to be added to Dish & DU/ER’s collection of innovative clothing pieces is a pair of dress pants for men that’s being introduced as the ‘Limitless Stretch Infinity Pant. ‘

The trousers boast a slim fit that looks as sharp as most other dress pant styles, but with the comfort that men’s activewear usually provides. In order to keep the pants looking their best, the brand specifically chose its Limitless Stretch fabric, which it describes as: “engineered with color-lock technology to stay sharp after multiple wash cycles. ” This includes a fabric makeup that blends the comfort of Modal with the durability of Lycra, making for a pair of dress pants for men that boast the same comfort and high performance properties as athletic gear, with a style that suits the office.

(Why? )