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Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro True Wireless Earphones With ANC Launched


Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro true wireless earphones with intelligent active noise cancellation has been launched. The new earphones are the most premium and advanced true wireless headset from Samsung yet, and come with advanced features such as active noise cancellation, wireless charging, and IPX7 water resistance. The Galaxy Buds Pro are the successor to the Galaxy Buds Live, and have been launched alongside the Galaxy S21 series of smartphones at the Galaxy Unpacked event. Samsung’s new earphones will be available in three colours – violet, black, and silver – and feature adjustable levels of active noise cancellation.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are slated to go on sale in select markets from January 15 onwards, and are priced at $200 (approximately Rs. 14,600). While specific India availability and pricing isn’t available yet, it’s expected that the earphones will be priced at close to Rs. 20,000 in the country, and will likely go on sale in the coming days alongside the Galaxy S21 lineup.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro specifications and features

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has been designed to work best with Samsung Galaxy devices, including smartphones and tablets. A new ‘auto switch’ feature lets the earphones maintain a simultaneous connection with two Galaxy devices, to be able to switch as required, for example between a tablet for media and a smartphone for calls. When used with Galaxy devices, there is also 360 Audio with Dolby Head Tracking technology for a spatial audio experience that reacts to your head movements.

As expected, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earphones come in an in-canal fit design for better passive noise isolation to aid the active noise cancellation. This marks a significant change from the unique bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live, which was met with some criticism for its odd design and lack of proper noise isolation. Each earpiece on the Galaxy Buds Pro has three microphones – two outer and one inner – along with a separate voice pickup unit.

All features of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro can be customised through the Galaxy Wearable companion app, which lets users adjust the equaliser, active noise cancellation settings, and more. Samsung states that there is intelligent active noise cancellation on the Galaxy Buds Pro, which can quickly switch between ANC and Ambient Sound mode, as well as reduce playback volume when the user speaks, similar to the speak-to-chat feature on the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Battery life on the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is claimed to be up to 8 hours on the earpieces with active noise cancellation off, and 5 hours with it on. With the charging case, the total battery life is claimed to be up to 28 hours with ANC off and 18 hours with it on. There is fast USB Type-C charging, as well as Qi wireless charging for the case. The earpieces are IPX7-rated for water resistance.

For sound, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has a two-way driver system, combining an 11mm woofer with a 6.5mm tweeter within the driver casing. Connectivity is through Bluetooth 5, with codec support for SBC, AAC, and Samsung’s proprietary Scalable codec. When used with modern Samsung smartphones and tablets, the earphones will use the Scalable codec which promises better sound quality through high-bitrate audio transfer and improved latency levels.


What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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The new Asus Fanless Chromebox could easily be mistaken for a wireless router

Asus has announced a new fanless addition to its family of Chromeboxes: the Asus Fanless Chromebox. Like Asus’ previous models, the Fanless Chromebox’s compact size is designed to be mounted to the back of a display or desk to save space in size-conscious work environments. Perhaps unintentionally, it also looks almost exactly like a wireless router.

The Asus Fanless Chromebox dimensions come out to about 8.15 x 5.82 x 1.26 inches, which gives its aluminum chassis a small, rectangular shape. But the real wireless router aesthetic comes from the ridged design on the top of the box and the two adjustable antennas on the back.

The Asus Fanless Chromebox piggybacking on the back of a display.
Image: Asus

Inside, the Chromebox features either a 10th Gen Intel Core or Celeron processor: you can choose between an Intel Core i7-10510U, an Intel Core i5-10210U, an Intel Core i3-10110U, or a Celeron 5205U. It also offers up to 16GB RAM and up to 256GB SSD storage.

Depending on the configuration, the Chromebox offers different ports, with the major difference between the Celeron and Core models being the number and type of USB ports: the Celeron model has a mix of two USB 2.0, one USB 3.2, and one USB-C port, while the Core models have three USB 3.1 and one USB-C port. All configurations have two HDMI 2.0 ports for connecting to displays and one microSD card slot for adding extra memory.

Asus says the specs of the Chromebox, along with its fanless design, should let it power up to three 4K displays while running Chrome OS (and Android apps from the Play Store as well). With a starting price of $399, the Asus Fanless Chromebox could be a solid desktop Chrome OS experience — just don’t buy a wireless router by mistake.

The Asus Fanless Chromebox will be available in the US in February 2021.

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Technology US

Belkin wireless charger sold by Apple is being recalled for fire hazards

Belkin is voluntarily recalling its Portable Wireless Charger + Stand Special Edition that was sold in Apple retail stores and online on Apple and Belkin’s sites because of fire and shock safety hazards. No incidents or injuries have been connected to the charger, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the malfunction should only affect chargers sold between July 2020 and October 2020.

The wireless charging stand has a 10,000mAh power capacity and can charge at 10W speed for phones that support it, but an issue with the “power supply unit” could cause the device to overheat and leave it vulnerable to catching fire or shocking people. Belkin is advising anyone who’s purchased the device to stop using it and unplug it from power. The company will also issue refunds to anyone who owns an affected charger.

In the grand scheme of Apple’s iPhones, wireless charging has only been available since the 2017 launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Apple announced AirPower at the same event, a wireless charging mat that was supposed to charge multiple devices at once, but it was ultimately canceled because it didn’t meet Apple’s “high standards.” Rumors later pointed to issues with the device’s charging coils overheating as part of the motivation for Apple canceling. All of this to say, wireless charging is harder than it looks, and Belkin’s recall is yet another example of issues that can arise in a deceptively simple product.

If you own a charger affected by the recall, you can submit a form to request a refund on Belkin’s support site.

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Technology US

Jabra’s best true wireless earbuds yet are now available in more colors

Jabra’s Elite 85T true wireless earbuds, which we called its “best earbuds yet” when we reviewed them last year, are getting four new color variants. Alongside the preexisting titanium / black color scheme, the earbuds will soon be available in gold / beige, copper / black, black, and gray.

Outside of the new colors, the new Jabra Elite 85T earbuds are functionally identical to what we reviewed last year. That means they should offer a comfortable fit paired with good noise cancellation and excellent controls. They’re also able to connect to two sources at once, which is handy if you get a phone call while you’re listening to music on a laptop.

That’s not to say we didn’t have our reservations about the earbuds, which you can read about in our full review. Otherwise, the new colors will be available starting today from Jabra’s website for $229 (£219.99 / €229).

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Tech News

Honor V40 Specifications Allegedly Leaked, Could Come 45W Wireless Charging


Honor V40 specifications have allegedly been leaked in their entirety. The phone has been in the news since October last year and was expected to debut towards the end of 2020, but that did not happen. Now, the specifications for Honor V40 have been leaked, suggesting that it will come with a quad rear camera setup, the MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ SoC, and a 4,000mAh battery, among other details. As of now, the company has not shared any information on Honor V40 and there is no launch date for it either.

Honor V40 specifications (expected)

According to Chinese publication MyDrivers, Honor V40 is expected to run Magic UI 4.0, based on Android 10. It may feature a 6.72-inch OLED display with 2,676×1,236 pixels resolution. It is expected to come with 120Hz refresh rate and 300Hz touch sampling rate. Under the hood, Honor V40 could be powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ SoC that will enable 5G. The phone may come with 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and have two UFS 2.1 storage options – 128GB and 256GB, that can be expanded via a microSD card.

In terms of optics, Honor V40 is expected to come with a quad rear camera setup with a 50-megapixel or a 64-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro shooter, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. At the front, the phone may feature a dual camera setup with a 32-megapixel and a 16-megapixel sensor.

Honor V40 is expected to come with a 4,000mAh battery that supports 66W fast charging and 45W fast wireless charging. It may have a USB Type-C port and measure 163.32×74.08×7.85mm.

Speaking of the charging speed, Honor V40 has reportedly received TUV Rheinland certification for its wireless charging, according to a tipster on Weibo. The TUV Rheinland listing belongs to Honor V40 and shows support for 50W fast wireless charging. However, a schematic does mention that it can achieve a maximum of 45W.

Honor has not officially shared any information on the launch of the Honor V40. It was earlier believed that the phone will be released in November 2020 but when that did not happen, reports claimed that it will launch in December 2020 instead.


What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Best True Wireless Earphones You Can Buy [January 2021]


As we enter 2021, the true wireless earphones segment has seen some big launches. Although Apple hasn’t launched anything new since the AirPods Pro, other brands such as Sennheiser and Sony have been hard at work. Apart from the high-profile launches, we’ve also seen affordable players such as Xiaomi enter the space in India, as well as some impressive options from brands such as JVC, Huawei, OnePlus, Vivo, and Realme, to name a few.

Although there’s definitely demand for high-end products, we’ve seen some big shifts in the affordable and mid-range segments as well. We have a new top pick in the mid-range segment, and some noteworthy new entrants in the premium space as well. Read on to find out what our current top picks are when it comes to the true wireless earphones space in India, updated in January 2021.

How do true wireless earphones work?

Up until the advent of true wireless technology, wireless headphones and earphones have had some kind of connector between the left and right channels, be it a wire or a headband. With true wireless earphones, even this short cable is gone, and each earbud features its own battery, DAC, amplifier and Bluetooth chip. The earbuds individually connect to the source device, or a dominant earbud that is connected to the source then also connects with the second earbud to provide the digital signal.

This way, each earphone is able to work independently, yet the two function together to ensure that the listener gets stereo sound output from the source device. The obvious advantage of this arrangement is the convenience of a completely wire-free listening experience, which improves comfort and ease of use. This is a boon in many usage scenarios, including while working out, in crowded places, on your commute, or when you want to use your earphones while lying down.

True wireless earphones often also include built-in microphones, which makes it possible to use them as hands-free devices with your smartphone. Provided the microphones are good enough to pick up sound over a slightly longer distance, this makes true wireless earphones the most discreet and effective way to have call conversations on the move. And while the additional components may make the earbuds a bit heavier than typical earphones, many new options have compact, light-weight designs that are comfortable and don’t rely on winged tips or ear hooks to stay in place in your ears.

Best true wireless earphones: Apple AirPods Pro

Our favourite true wireless headset you can buy today is the Apple AirPods Pro. Yes, it’s expensive at ₹ 24,900. However, for that price, you get features and sound quality that, in our opinion, are unmatched in the segment. The AirPods Pro is a big improvement over previous AirPods and competing headsets, thanks to one big feature – active noise cancellation. This makes the headset a lot more useful than most other true wireless options, and improves your ability to hear the sound even in the noisiest of environments. There’s also Transparency mode, which lets in outside and ambient sound in the most natural sounding way we’ve heard on any earphones to date. We found the sound to be engaging, immersive, and clean.

Much of the improvements in these earphones can be credited to the in-ear fit, which makes for better noise isolation and a more immersive listening experience. The AirPods Pro is also incredibly flexible, and is able to adjust to different tracks on the fly for a comfortable, yet entertaining sound. As expected, the AirPods are meant to be used with Apple devices and work best if you have an iPhone or iPad. That isn’t to say they won’t work on Android smartphones or computers, but certain features will only work with an Apple iOS device. But regardless of what device you use it with, the AirPods Pro is an easy and engaging pair of true wireless earphones.

Buy: AirPods Pro

 

Best under ₹ 15,000: Jabra Elite 75t

Danish audio manufacturer Jabra is best known for its professional audio headsets, but its consumer range is equally good and often underrated. One of its newest products in India is the Jabra Elite 75t, which is a premium true wireless headset priced at ₹ 14,999.

Although the Jabra Elite 75t doesn’t quite match the AirPods Pro, it does give the regular AirPods (2nd Gen) a run for their money thanks to a more secure in-canal fit. There’s no aptX or LDAC Bluetooth codec support, but AAC means the sound will be good enough regardless of what source device you use. The sonic signature is bass-heavy, but the sound is clear, crisp, and very enjoyable. As with other Jabra products, voice call quality is excellent on the Jabra Elite 75t, making this one of the best pairs of true wireless earphones to own if you spend a lot of time on the phone.

Although the Jabra Elite 75t didn’t have active noise cancellation at launch, the company has impressively managed to roll out the feature through a software update. This makes the Jabra Elite 75t among the best true wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 15,000, giving options such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and Sony WF-1000XM3 strong competition in the sub-Rs. 15,000 price segment.

Buy: Jabra Elite 75t

 

Best under Rs. 10,000: Lypertek Tevi

If you haven’t heard of Lypertek before, we’re not surprised. This small and relatively unknown brand is making waves in audiophile circles with the Tevi, its first pair of true wireless earphones. Priced at Rs. 6,999, the Lypertek Tevi is our current top pick of true wireless earphones priced under Rs. 10,000, thanks to the balanced and natural sound on offer.

Much of the credit for the good sound quality goes to support for the aptX Bluetooth codec, along with excellent tuning that favours detail over excessive thump and power. The resulting sound is clean, enjoyable, and as natural as you can expect on a pair of earphones priced under Rs. 10,000. 

Apart from delivering excellent sound quality, the Lypertek Tevi looks decent, has great battery life, and is IPX7 rated for water resistance, making this perhaps the best all-round pair of true wireless earphones you can buy right now. If your budget is lower than Rs. 10,000, there isn’t a better true wireless headset you can buy than the Lypertek Tevi right now.

Buy: Lypertek Tevi

Best true wireless earphones for battery life: Samsung Galaxy Buds+

While true wireless earphones are extremely convenient, battery life is still a bit of a pain point; the small size of the earphones makes it hard to put large enough batteries into them. However, Samsung appears to have made some progress on this front with the Galaxy Buds+. 

The successor to last year’s Galaxy Buds, these earphones also happen to be the best option to buy if you own a modern Samsung smartphone, thanks to support for the Scalable Bluetooth codec. Improvements in the drivers makes this an excellent sounding headset for ₹ 13,990.

samsung galaxy buds plus review open case

With the earbuds offering an impressive 11 hours of use per charge in our testing, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is the only headset in our list capable of true all-day, uninterrupted listening. The charging case offers just one additional top-up to the earphones, but this is entirely acceptable given the long run the earphones themselves are capable of.

Buy: Samsung Galaxy Buds+

 

Best true wireless earphones under Rs. 5,000: Oppo Enco W51

Priced at Rs. 4,999, the Oppo Enco W51 is our new top pick in this price segment for one big reason – functional active noise cancellation on true wireless earphones at a previously unimaginable price. Although the quality of the active noise cancellation is nowhere near as good as you’d get with more expensive options, it’s good enough to make the listening experience a bit cleaner and easier. 

oppo enco w51 review in case 2

Interestingly, you also get Qi wireless charging for the case, IP54 dust and water resistance, and sound quality that is cohesive, energetic, and detailed. The Oppo Enco W51 earphones are also comfortable and pretty good for voice calls. Although slightly let down by average battery life and strange touch controls, the pros largely outweigh the cons with the Oppo Enco W51. This is the true wireless headset you should buy if you’re on a tight budget.

 

How we picked the best true wireless earphones

We’ve reviewed or used a wide range of true wireless headphones, including popular options from major electronics manufacturers, as well as options from traditional audio brands that have been in the business of making headphones and earphones for many years. We also took into account specifications, codec support and price to come up with our top recommendations.

True wireless earphones form a relatively new product segment, and we’ve had a chance to test most of the new options. Apart from the earphones themselves, we’ve also paid attention to the charging cases that come with these options. The cases usually offer additional battery backup, and also make for a convenient and safe way to carry your earphones when not in use. With all of these points in mind, we’ve selected our list of top recommendations, as well as other options to look out for as listed below.

Also consider these true wireless earphones

Huawei Freebuds 3i: Priced at ₹ 9,990, the recently launched Huawei Freebuds 3i is one of the most affordable true wireless earphones to come with active noise cancellation. The three-microphone system also promises better performance on voice calls.

OnePlus Buds Z: Priced at Rs. 2,999 gets almost everything right, making this the most impressive pair of true wireless earphones you can buy on a budget. USB Type-C fast charging is a particularly impressive feature for less than Rs. 3,000.

Sony WF-1000XM3: At ₹ 20,000, Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM3 offers the absolute best active noise cancellation you can find on a pair of true wireless earphones. Sound quality is good, but not quite as good as what Apple and Sennheiser have to offer.

Realme Buds Air Pro: Realme’s latest true wireless earphones are also its most impressive yet, offering active noise cancellation, app support, and good sound for less than Rs. 5,000. Although not quite as good as the Oppo Enco W51, this is a solid pair of earphones for the price nonetheless.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: If you have an Android smartphone to take advantage of the aptX Bluetooth codec, this is the absolute best-sounding pair of true wireless earphones that you can buy right now. It’s expensive, though, at ₹ 24,990.

1More ColorBuds: With aptX codec support and balanced armature drivers, the 1More ColorBuds is among the better sounding true wireless earphones at under Rs. 10,000. There are some connectivity issues, and the app needs some improvement.


Buying a budget TV online? We discussed how you can pick the best one, on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Zebronics Zeb-Monk Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Earphones Review


Affordable audio brand Zebronics has been around for a long time, and has a strong position in both the online and offline markets with a presence on e-commerce retailers and in small electronics stores. The company seems to have a good idea of what works in India and what doesn’t, particularly when it comes to affordable audio products such as headphones, earphones, and speakers. One of Zebronics’ newest products in India is the Zeb-Monk, a wireless in-ear headset priced below Rs. 3,000.

Although there are plenty of neckband-style options at this price, what makes the Zeb-Monk special is the inclusion of one key feature: active noise cancellation. This is among the most affordable wireless headsets I’ve come across with ANC, and I’ve been keen to see just how well the Zeb-Monk works, considering its price. Read on to find out everything you need to know about these wireless earphones in our review.

Zebronics is a familiar name in the business of affordable audio, and the Zeb-Monk is among the most affordable wireless headsets with ANC today

 

Design and build quality are less than ideal on the Zebronics Zeb-Monk

There was a time when affordable wireless earphones were pretty basic, but the last couple of years have brought us some impressive options that offer great design and build quality even on a budget, such as the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z. The Zebronics Zeb-Monk doesn’t quite match up to those standards; this is quite an ordinary-looking pair of earphones.

With plain, dull plastic on the earpieces and neckband, the Zebronics Zeb-Monk feels a bit cheap to hold and touch, and even the Zebronics logo on the left side of the neckband seemed to be fading before I had even started using this headset. The earpieces latch together magnetically, but this is only for easy storage and doesn’t control the power as on some headsets. Although it looks and feels ordinary, the Zeb-Monk is a comfortable headset with a decent fit and good passive noise isolation.

The right side has physical buttons for power and active noise cancellation, a touch sensor that controls the volume, and a Micro-USB port for charging. This is quite disappointing considering that many options that cost much less now come with USB Type-C. The sales package includes a total of three pairs of silicone ear tips and a charging cable.

The touch sensor for volume adjustment is strangely complicated to use; a double-tap increases the volume by one small increment at a time, while touching and holding the sensor quickly lowers the volume. This was confusing and quite frustrating to operate, and the Zeb-Monk would have been better off with regular buttons to change the volume.

The Zebronics Zeb-Monk uses Bluetooth 5 for connectivity, with support for only the SBC codec. There are 12mm dynamic drivers, and the headset is claimed to be splash-proof, but doesn’t have a listed IP rating. As mentioned, there is active noise cancellation on the earphones. I was able to use the Zebronics Zeb-Monk for around 6-7 hours of mixed usage on a single charge, with ANC on most of the time. This isn’t very good, even considering the price and features.

Sound is quite plain on the Zebronics Zeb-Monk

I’ve heard some pretty decent-sounding wireless headphones and earphones priced below Rs. 5,000, and the Zeb-Monk is unfortunately not among the best in the segment when it comes to sound quality. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it bad, it’s best described as ordinary and entirely plain. I used the earphones with Android and iOS smartphones as well as a MacBook Air to stream music, watch videos, and answer phone calls.

The earphones sound closer to what you’d expect from a much more affordable pair such as the Redmi SonicBass wireless earphones, with just the presence of active noise cancellation to try and justify the additional cost. ANC does help make music a bit easier to listen to by cutting out some background sound, but without support for the AAC Bluetooth codec or proper tuning, it doesn’t make a huge difference.

Whether listening to high-resolution music on Tidal or compressed streams on Spotify and YouTube Music, the Zebronics Zeb-Monk sounded the same, as would be expected from any headset that uses just the SBC Bluetooth codec. This also meant that there wasn’t too much detail to be heard, even with nuanced and elaborate tracks such as Truth by Kamasi Washington. The soundstage wasn’t very wide, just about managing to keep up with the interplay between the two channels.

zebronics zeb monk review remote Zebronics

The Zeb-Monk has touch controls for volume, but it’s a rather complicated system that I didn’t find productive

 

That aside, there was always a sense of roughness to the sound, particularly in the lows. Although the Zebronics Zeb-Monk is tuned to amplify the bass and treble in a typical V-shaped sonic signature, there was just a hint of audible harmonic distortion in the lowest frequencies, giving the sound a somewhat unpleasant grunt. This was particularly noticeable in the drums and double-bass elements in Truth.

While well-engineered tracks such as Truth managed to hide the Zeb-Monk’s flaws to some extent, its lack of depth was quite easily revealed in tracks from popular genres. Your Love by Mark Knight was loud and punchy, but the narrow soundstage and unrefined, plain sonic signature brought out none of the excitement and feel in this track that I’ve often enjoyed on good headphones and earphones.

Active noise cancellation for less than Rs. 3,000 is the main promise that got my attention, and while it isn’t quite as good on the Zeb-Monk as on the slightly more expensive Realme Buds Wireless Pro, it wasn’t bad by any means. There was a gentle reduction in typical background household sounds such as ceiling fans and air conditioners, and this made it a bit easier to listen to music and dialogue in videos. It didn’t sound as natural, although it also didn’t affect sound quality, as it does on the Realme headset.

Bluetooth connection quality and stability were decent enough on the Zebronics Zeb-Monk, but call quality was poor. Voices sounded rough and were sometimes unclear, and I had to switch to my smartphone’s earpiece on a couple of occasions. There’s no environmental noise cancellation, and weak microphones meant that I couldn’t be heard on the other end of the call clearly enough.

zebronics zeb monk review earpieces Zebronics

Although ANC is functional, sound quality is very plain on the Zebronics Zeb-Monk

 

Verdict

Although usable active noise cancellation at this price is a feature worth noting, the Zebronics Zeb-Monk offers very little beyond this. With a plain design, strangely complicated controls, ordinary build quality, below-average battery life, and unexciting sound, these earphones don’t have too much going for them. There just isn’t much appeal in the Zeb-Monk beyond its signature feature.

If you’re firm on a budget of Rs. 3,000 and insist on having active noise cancellation, the Zebronics Zeb-Monk fits the bill. However, I’d recommend the Realme Buds Wireless Pro, which is objectively better in every way for just Rs. 1,000 more. If you absolutely don’t want to spend more, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z is an excellent option priced at Rs. 1,999 in terms of sound quality and features, provided you’re willing to give ANC a skip.


Which are the best truly wireless earphones under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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1More ColorBuds True Wireless Earphones Review


Once a rising star in the personal audio segment, and known for its well-priced wireless and wired earphones, 1More has been rather quiet for the past year or so. After the excellent 1More Stylish True Wireless Earphones, the company hasn’t quite kept up the momentum, and meanwhile the competition has raced ahead. Brands such as Lypertek, Creative, and Oppo have all been busy in the Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000 price segment. Now, 1More is looking to win back some goodwill with its latest true wireless headset.

Priced at Rs. 5,990, the 1More ColorBuds true wireless earphones are the spiritual successors to the 1More Stylish True Wireless earphones, but with one big improvement – the use of balanced armature drivers. Support for the Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codec returns, making this a promising option for sound quality, judging by the specifications. Are the 1More ColorBuds the best true wireless earphones you can buy for less than Rs. 10,000? Find out in our review.

The 1More ColorBuds have touch controls, but these didn’t always work well

 

The 1More ColorBuds look a bit strange, but not in a bad way

The design of the 1More ColorBuds comes across as quite radical, compared to the more conventional styling that we tend to see on most sets of true wireless earphones priced at around Rs. 5,000. The earpieces will reach deep inside your ear canals, and I felt even the outer part a bit snug and tight because of their shape. This felt somewhat intrusive, but it did ensure excellent passive noise isolation.

Although the earphones are available in some pretty interesting colours including gold, pink, and green, I quite liked the subtle sophistication of the black review unit that I received. The dull finish and sharp 1More logo give this headset a rather impressive look, and the fact that the earphones don’t stick out too much makes this among the most discreet pairs of true wireless earphones you can buy in this price segment.

The charging case of the 1More ColorBuds isn’t quite as radical-looking as the earpieces, with a glossy finish and simple styling. The bottom is lined with rubber to keep it firmly in place on any flat surface. However, the case is susceptible to grime, and mine looked dirty and greasy within hours of use. The USB Type-C port is at the back, the indicator light is at the front, and the pairing button is under the lid. The earpieces latch into place magnetically.

The earphones have gesture controls, with the outer sides of the earpieces sensitive to touch. By default, you can play or pause music and answer calls with a double-tap, or invoke the default voice assistant on your smartphone with a triple-tap. There are also sensors that detect when the earpieces have been removed or inserted in your ears, to pause or play music respectively. The touch controls and sensor settings can be changed using the 1More Music app. I had a bit of trouble with these, often needing to try a second or third time to get the earphones to respond to tap gestures, and hearing the music continue to play after taking off one earpiece.

1more colorbuds review single 1More

There’s no active noise cancellation, but there is environmental noise cancellation for better voice quality on calls

 

The app, available for Android and iOS, lets you check the battery levels of the earpieces (but not the charging case), and change the sensor and touch settings. The app’s interface is a bit unrefined, and despite several attempts, I couldn’t update the firmware which was supposed to add a low-latency mode. The basic functionality did work, but the app definitely needs some improvement.

Connectivity was a frequent issue during my time with the 1More ColorBuds. Pairing wasn’t as straightforward as the instructions made it seem, and it took a while to get working on two separate smartphones. There were also times when music would randomly get muted after voice calls, and would play on only one earpiece with the second taking a few seconds to sync after connecting. The headset would also sometimes have strange buffering or stability issues. While it usually worked well, the frequency of these issues was bothersome.

The 1More ColorBuds uses full-range balanced armature drivers. There’s Bluetooth 5 for connectivity with support for the SBC, AAC, and Qualcomm aptX codecs. The earphones use a Qualcomm chipset which enables dual-microphone environmental noise cancellation on voice calls through cVc 8.0 technology. There’s also IPX5 water resistance on the earpieces, so they should be able to handle a few splashes of water or sweat.

Battery life on the 1More ColorBuds is decent enough; I was able to get around 5 hours of listening from the earpieces, and nearly three full additional charges from the case, for a total battery life of around 18-19 hours. This is decent enough for the price, but far below the class-leading battery life of the Lypertek Tevi, which is the closest competitor to the ColorBuds.

Warm, detailed sound on the 1More ColorBuds

The mid-range segment for true wireless earphones has many impressive options today, with some options such as the Oppo Enco W51 that offer features such as active noise cancellation and wireless charging, while others such as the Lypertek Tevi and Shanling MTW100 focus on sound quality. The 1More ColorBuds fits into the latter category; this is an impressive-sounding pair of true wireless earphones for the price.

Although not the only headset in this price range with aptX support, the combination of that with balanced armature drivers gives the 1More ColorBuds a detailed and rather unique sonic signature. I used an Android smartphone for much of my review, listening to high-resolution and compressed music, as well as taking some calls on the earphones.

1more colorbuds review two out 1More

The fit was a bit too snug and tight, but this did ensure excellent passive noise isolation

 

Starting with the smooth jazz track Truth by Kamasi Washington on Tidal, the warm sonic signature of the 1More ColorBuds was immediately evident in the sound. Unlike on competing headphones and despite the use of balanced armature drivers, the sound was audibly tuned to give the low end a bit of a bias. That’s not to say that there was any heavy aggression or rumble in the bass; instead, the lows and mid-lows just felt a bit more pronounced and deep.

The drums and double-bass had a bit of grunt in them that was very enjoyable, even while the saxophones and orchestral vocals felt clear and precise, if only slightly laid back. The 1More ColorBuds produced true warmth in the sound, with uniformly elevated lows that go far beyond the kind of punchy sub-bass that most true wireless earphones priced below Rs. 10,000 base their sound around.

In Truth, as well as a Tidal Masters Brazilian drum rework of Fatboy Slim’s Weapon Of Choice, the 1More ColorBuds’ support for the Qualcomm aptX codec ensured a detailed sound that practically matched up to the level of clarity I experienced on the Lypertek Tevi. The soundstage was a bit narrower, but still sufficiently spacious and clean, with distinct instrument separation. The percussion in this track sounded beautifully crisp, as did the vocals.

Switching to Spotify, I listened to So Am I by Ty Dolla $ign, Damian Marley, and Skrillex. The reggae-and-dubstep track sounded warm and immersive, but there were some audible differences as a result of the switch to compressed audio. Apart from a bit more grunt in the bass that seemed to outshine the general warmth in the sound, the detail and soundstage felt a bit reduced as well. Interestingly, this seemed to add a bit of aggression that benefited the track, despite the reduction in detail.

What this test essentially proved is that the 1More ColorBuds are flexible to the point of being able to serve appropriately for both compressed and high-resolution audio, and also adjust to different genres and styles. This was noticeable even with other lively tracks including My Mind’s Made Up by Kraak & Smaak, which had the earphones sounding more fun without really taking too much away from the warmth and detail in the sound.

Verdict

1More has been under the radar for a while, but makes a capable comeback with the ColorBuds. This pair of true wireless earphones gets the sound right, retaining the warm sound signature and attention to detail that the brand has typically been known for. Good tuning of the balanced armature drivers, aptX support, and very good passive noise isolation make this a true wireless headset that audiophiles can get behind.

The 1More ColorBuds are not without problems though: various connectivity issues, an app that needs much improvement, and iffy controls hold the headset back. It’s also only just about ordinary for voice calls. Pick up the 1More ColorBuds if you want warm, detailed sound and will only use them for music, but consider options such as the Lypertek Tevi or Oppo Enco W51 for a more rounded and capable experience.


Which are the best truly wireless earphones under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Realme Buds Wireless Pro Review


True wireless earphones are great for a number of reasons, including ease of use, the convenience of having no wires, and the fact that good options with this are now available at very reasonable prices. Realme has been in the true wireless game for a while now, and its most recent launch, the Realme Buds Air Pro redefines just what users can expect for less than Rs. 5,000, with functional active noise cancellation and other useful features such as low-latency mode and Google Fast Pair.

However, if you look beyond the true wireless form factor to the more traditional wireless neckband style, Realme has a pair of earphones that’s even more impressive on paper. The Realme Buds Wireless Pro offers active noise cancellation, support for the LDAC Bluetooth codec, and a promise of great battery life, all for Rs. 3,999. Is this too good to be true, or is the Realme Buds Wireless Pro all it claims to be? Find out in our review.

Physical buttons on the right side let you control playback, volume, and ANC

 

The Realme Buds Wireless Pro has all the right specifications

As far as wireless earphones go, the Realme Buds Wireless Pro is among the nicest-looking of the recent launches I’ve seen, and build quality is impressive. The headset has a flexible neckband with plastic chambers at the ends. There are four buttons on the right for playback, volume, and to cycle through the noise cancellation and transparency modes. At the bottom of the right side is a USB Type-C port for charging, protected by a flap when not in use.

There’s no power button; the headset has a magnetic power switch, so it turns on when the earpieces are separated, and turns off when they’re snapped together. While this method is quick and allows for fewer buttons, the headset is prone to accidentally switching on when in storage. This was sometimes bothersome, as the headset would automatically connect to my smartphone, diverting audio and leading to battery drain.

The Realme Buds Wireless Pro is available in two colours, Disco Green and Party Yellow, with the latter definitely the more sophisticated of the two. Realme’s signature combination of bright yellow and black works well. The cables, insides of the ear tips, and microphone grilles are all highlighted for contrast. The sales package includes a total of three pairs of silicone ear tips of different sizes, and a short charging cable.

Where the Realme Buds Wireless Pro excels is in its features and specifications. There is active noise cancellation, Bluetooth 5, support for the SBC, AAC, and LDAC Bluetooth codecs, a 119ms low-latency mode, and IPX4 water resistance. The earpieces each have a 13.6mm dynamic driver. Two of those points stand out: active noise cancellation and LDAC codec support are impressive for a headset priced under Rs. 4,000.

realme buds wireless pro review magnet Realme  Realme Buds Wireless Pro

The headset has a magnetic power switch, controlled by separating or attaching the earpieces

 

Although battery life on the Realme Buds Wireless Pro is claimed to be 22 hours, this is under specific – and quite improbable – usage conditions. With active noise cancellation in use on occasion, the volume at around 70-80 percent, music streaming using the LDAC codec, and occasional use for voice calls, I was able to get only around 12 hours of use per charge. This isn’t exceptional, but is decent enough given the price and feature set.

You won’t find a better sounding pair of wireless earphones at this price

With the Buds Wireless Pro, Realme has far outdone every other pair of earphones it has made thus far, and also completely changed my ideas of what to expect at this price. You’re unlikely to find a better equipped pair of wireless earphones than this for Rs. 4,000 or less.

I used the earphones with an Android smartphone for much of the review, with the LDAC codec and active noise cancellation in operation. I also used my Apple iPad mini (2019) and MacBook Air, playing music through Tidal, Spotify, and YouTube Music on the Realme Buds Wireless Pro.

Support for the LDAC codec means that the Realme Buds Wireless Pro have the theoretical ability to bring out more in high-resolution audio tracks, and testing the headset with music on Tidal quickly confirmed this. There’s plenty of detail to be heard on the earphones, especially with Tidal Masters. The Weeknd’s Die For You sounded full, spacious, and intense, and largely unlike what I’d have expected from a pair of wireless earphones priced under Rs. 5,000. The faint elements at the start of the track were distinct and clear, with the bass sounding tight and refined.

What particularly surprised me about the quality in the sound was that it didn’t just stop at refinement in the bass and detail. The Weeknd’s soulful vocals were sharp and precise, while highs were crisp with just enough sparkle at the top to be felt, but not unpleasantly so. However, the most impressive aspect was the soundstage, which felt significantly wider than I’ve heard on any earphones in this price range.

realme buds wireless pro review earpieces Realme  Realme Buds Wireless Pro

Support for the LDAC Bluetooth codec makes this an impressive-sounding pair of wireless earphones for the price

 

The use of advanced codecs usually means that there’s a considerable dropoff in sound quality when listening to compressed audio tracks, and that is the case even with the Realme Buds Wireless Pro. Although tracks on Spotify did sound a bit less detailed, with a slightly narrower soundstage, this didn’t take too much away from the overall quality of the sound.

Listening to Suomi by Chill House artist Cantoma was as enjoyable as on the considerably more expensive aptX-enabled Creative Outlier Air that I had on hand to compare with. Although the level of detail was lower with the Realme earphones, their somewhat U-shaped sonic signature remained as enjoyable and refined as with high-resolution music, with calculated bass and precise mid-range.

Something that I did find odd about the Realme Buds Wireless Pro was how much of a difference active noise cancellation made to the sound. In addition to the obvious reduction in ambient noise, turning on ANC oddly also changed the way music sounded on the earphones, taking a bit of grunt and edge and of the sonic signature. I found that the earphones sounded considerably fuller with ANC switched off, and tended to use the feature only when actually needed rather than all the time.

The active noise cancellation itself is reasonably capable for the price, offering a noticeable reduction in noise. Regular household sounds were reduced by a fair amount, particularly air conditioner and fan sounds, while urban outdoor noises also seemed to have the bite taken out of them. It isn’t exceptional performance and there’s still a bit of droning to be heard even with noise cancellation on, but it is roughly on par with the ANC performance of the Realme Buds Air Pro.

The transparency mode was as good as on the Realme Buds Air Pro as well, offering a natural-sounding hear-through effect. The low-latency mode, which can be activated through Realme’s companion app, disables the LDAC Bluetooth codec and takes some of the edge out of the sound, but does offer a slight improvement in latency.

I didn’t face any trouble with voice calls on the Realme Buds Wireless Pro, with decent performance across both regular as well as data-based voice calls.

realme buds wireless pro review logo Realme  Realme Buds Wireless Pro

Although ANC is effective, it strangely affects the sound quality with music, and as a result I only used it when I actually needed to

 

Verdict

The Realme Buds Wireless Pro is an impressive pair of wireless earphones, both on paper and in practice, getting much of its feature set right at a very reasonable price. If you’re looking for very good wireless sound on a budget, there isn’t much else at this price that sounds this good, thanks to good tuning and LDAC Bluetooth codec support. Decent active noise cancellation is a useful addition, although it does affect sound quality a bit when in operation.

For the Rs. 3,999 price of the Realme Buds Wireless Pro, there’s very little to complain about. Unless you want the convenience of the true wireless form factor, this is our top recommendation among wireless earphones under Rs. 5,000. If you do prefer the ease of use that true wireless options offer, the Realme Buds Air Pro is decent for Rs. 1,000 more, but doesn’t quite match up when it comes to sound quality.


Which are the best truly wireless earphones under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Here’s the best look yet at Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro have leaked again, this time in a full 360-degree animation courtesy of Evan Blass. The latest @Evleaks drop gives us our best look yet at how Samsung’s latest true wireless earbuds will look from every angle.

Rumored to arrive alongside the Galaxy S21 in January, Samsung’s followup to the Galaxy Buds Live and Galaxy Buds Plus has already leaked in three different colors: black, violet, and silver, again courtesy of Blass.

All three Galaxy Buds Pro color options.
Evan Blass

The Galaxy Buds Pro are expected to feature active noise cancellation, that should be much improved over the open-ear design of the Galaxy Buds Live. The Pros will also feature a beefier 500mAh battery according to an FCC filing.

Samsung is rumored to be hosting an Galaxy S21 launch event on January 14th where we should learn more about Galaxy Buds Pro.