Bose Frames Are Worth $199, But They Are Not For Everybody

Bose Frames - Alto Style

Last month, I attended a Bose event in Los Angeles and was able to try out the Bose Frames sunglasses. I was impressed, for the most part. I have been able to spend the last day testing the Frames, so here is my full review.

The Frames, which have  a metal hinge, fit very comfortably and can’t be mistaken for anything other than sunglasses. Each arm of Bose’s sunglasses contain a Bose speaker, and near the temple on the right arm is a microphone and multi-function button. The speakers are pointed backwards — this allows them to fire audio into your ears without the need for earbuds.

In my tests, people can barely hear your frames play music, unless it’s completely silent and the volume is turned all the way up. So, in many ways, the Frames feel like headphones that don’t have to be centered on top of your eardrums. And they can also be used to make phone calls, which they are pretty good at.

Unlike my experience with these last month, the Frames weren’t easy to pair with my iPhone.  I downloaded the Bose Connect app, tried to pair the glasses, and wasn’t lucky. After restarting my iPhone XS Max and restarting the Frames, things worked. Other people have claimed to have an easier time.

Bose Frames are stylish and fit comfortably.

Once things were connected, I was mostly satisfied. I walked with the Frames throughout Irvine Town Center in Irvine, CA. For most situations, the volume was loud enough. However, once I was next to a waterfall fountain or the highway, I did wish the Frames could get slightly louder.

The sound seems tinny at first. But once you break the glasses in and your ears adjust to the sound, the Frames produce audio that is better than the AirPods — the product I most compare them to, even if they seem worlds apart. The bass is decent considering the speakers are on a pair of sunglasses, but don’t expect to feel the “thump” you do with Bose’s headphones. The high ranges are prominent, and the mid ranges are somewhat recessed. In other words, it’s typical Bose sound, which — in my opinion — is a good thing.

Bose Frames are well-priced at $199.

The Bose Frames offer 12 hours of standby battery life, but only 3.5 hours of streaming playback. This wouldn’t be much of a big deal if it didn’t take the Frames two hours for a full charge. Still, I found myself being able to use these for most of the day (streaming and standby) without having to do any recharging. The battery life may be a disability, but it’s definitely not a deal killer.

I expect that like the Bose Sleepbuds, the Frames will do well for a niche audience. The new sunglasses won’t be for everybody, but they may lay the ground for similar future devices.

 

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New Dell XPS 13 9380 With Usable Webcam Is Announced

Dell's upgraded XPS 13 is now available.

I am a little underwhelmed with the new Dell XPS 13 9380 announcement, but it’s only because I’ve played with 2018′s Dell XPS 13 9370 a lot.

The 2018 XPS 13 added a white chassis, better keys, a 4K screen, and improved processor speed. The only thing one could really ask for was that the webcam be put on top, but the bezels were too small for that. However, Dell has finally listened to customers for the 2019 version.

“But that’s all a complaint of the past because for the 2019 model, Dell has heard our cries and moved the webcam back to the top of the display where it belongs. Praises be unto Dell and its R&D team,” says Chaim Gartenberg of The Verge.

The webcam issue has finally been fixed.

Dell has also added faster 8th Gen Whiskey Lake processors (available  in i3, i5, or i7). There is also a version that supports Dolby Vision. Dell also adjusted the hinge to make it easier to open with one hand. (Thank God! And anybody who has used the XPS 13 will understand this enthusiasm.)

Laptop Mag has the first full review, and it is an enthusiastic four stars.

“The Dell XPS 13 serves up a new color, a powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processor, a 4K display (and ditches the ridiculous “nosecam”) – all in a slim, lightweight chassis.”

Reviewer Sherri L. Smith seems to only be disappointed at the shorter-than-average battery life (at least when compared with devices like the Surface Pro 6 or the 13-Inch MacBook Pro 2018). But that’s what you get when you put so much power into such a thin device. But the XPS 13 still offers up to eight hours of juice, and that means that most people can take the 2019 version of the XPS 13 to work without worrying about leaving the charger at home.

The reason I am slightly disappointed is that I expected that Dell would get with the times and change the aspect ratio to 3:2 — just like the Surface Pro 6. Then again, Dell’s highly-rated laptop isn’t a tablet, and the 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for watching movies, especially with the beautiful screen.

There is no word yet on how hot the laptop gets (the 2018 version got pretty warm). Still, the Dell XPS 13 9380 looks like it could be the ultimate laptop — especially for those who aren’t concerned with pen or tablet capabilities. So, don’t let my enthusiasm stop you from buying the Dell XPS 13 9380. Unless you own 2018′s version, you’ll be very happy.

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2019 Tech Predictions: It’s Gonna Be An Exciting Year

Samsung will debut its foldable smartphone in 2019.

I believe 2019 will be a great year in technology, though there will certainly be some tech. failures. It will be a great year for smartphones, and Samsung will surprise everybody at the beginning of the year with the Galaxy S10. However, some smartphones will not take off as well as expected. With that said, here are my main predictions for the year ahead.

Smartphones with foldable screens will flop…

Yes, Samsung will release the Galaxy X (or F according to some) during the first half of this year. Yes, it will cause initial excitement. But the backlash will be swift. There will be tons of technical issues, compatibility issues, and those who say that just having a smartphone and a tablet is more convenient than this future hybrid mess. I hope I’m wrong.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 gets USB-C port and increased screen size…

After inexplicably leaving a USB-C port off the Surface Pro 6 this year, you can bet that Microsoft will finally make amends in the new year. Expect the new port to be a Thunderbolt 3 one as well.

But that’s not all we can expect to this big Surface Pro upgrade. I predict Microsoft will not change the size of the device, but decrease the bezels. This will allow for a 13-inch screen instead of the 12.3-inch one we see on all the most recent Surface Pro devices.

5G

2019 will be the year 5G becomes a consumer reality. There will be 5G networks, 5G smartphones, and 5G everything else. However, I predict that the 5G networks will run into some issues, and people really won’t be seeing the full benefits of 5G until 2020.

VR could make some inroads…

The Oculus Quest will be released during the spring of 2019

VR was supposed to be the next big thing, but it has never quite taken off. But I predict the Oculus Quest, which is a powerful standalone headset with inside tracking, could really shake things up. $399 is a great price for a standalone powerful  VR headset that reduces some of the problems people complain about with current wired VR headsets.

The Robots…

Could this be your next pet?

 

We’ve heard about sex robots, pet dog robots, etc. And now, in 2019, you will see your neighbors or family members (ones who you would least expect) with one of these. Some personal robots will be powered by Amazon’s Alexa, others will be powered by Google Assistant, and who knows if the government will be or will not be able to hear your conversations.

Facebook becomes less relevant…

Facebook has had many troubles in 2018, and barely anybody can trust the communication platform. The Cambridge Analytica scandal turned Facebook from a much-loved platform to a near joke. Then, there was the security breach, in which 120 million accounts were hacked.

I predict that there will be even more scandals for Facebook in 2019. This time, even the most frequent users will be logging off. Soon, Facebook could become the next MySpace.

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The iPhone XS Max Is The Best Smartphone Of 2018

2018 wasn’t as exciting of a year for smartphones as initially predicted, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get some decent smartphones. However,it’s actually the first year that a Samsung smartphone isn’t on my list.

3. OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is the sleeper smartphone hit of 2018.

The OnePlus 6T may not have the huge price tag of the Galaxy S9 or iPhone XS, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good high-end phone.  The $629 model has 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, an AMOLED screen, and something that Apple and Samsung failed to release this year — an under-the-screen fingerprint reader.

The OnePlus 6T is also one of the only smartphones with a triple-lens camera — something you’ll see a lot more of next year. The phone is not only one of the best smartphones of the year, but it is also one of the best sellers. It will be interesting to see what OnePlus has in store for us in 2019.

2. iPhone XR

The iPhone XR comes in several different colors.

I was initially not too thrilled about the iPhone XR, but I know so many who have the phone and love it. Smartphone geeks may not care too much for the phone, but most people aren’t smartphone geeks; they just want an affordable phone that works well. Cue the iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR has an LED screen (instead of an OLED) with a lower resolution, no 3D Touch Support, a single-lens camera (instead of a double-lens one included in higher-end iPhones), and the reception isn’t as good in some low-reception areas. But it’s also $500 cheaper. The iPhone XR is also Apple’s best-selling iPhone in 2019.

1. iPhone XS Max

I was enthusiastic when I reviewed the iPhone XS Max in late September, and I am still enthusiastic about it now. The XS Max, which somehow feels very portable despite having a 6.5-inch screen, is simply the best smartphone available — even if the cheapest version (with 64K) is $1099. 99. 

The best thing about using the iPhone XS Max for the past three months is its multimedia capabilities. I’m fascinated by how Apple was able to fit in such great stereo speakers on such a (relatively) small device. Sometimes, while I’m watching a Netflix movie, I hear sounds in the movie (such as birds chirping) that sound like they are coming from a couple yards away. Then, there is also the stereo recording, which Apple finally added after 10 years. 2018′s iPhone XS Max certainly isn’t a must-upgrade-to device, but it’s still one hell of a smartphone.

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Huawei Matebook X Pro Leads List Of 2018′s Best Laptops

Huawei made the best laptop of 2018.

2018 might not have been a really adventurous year for laptops, but it was still pretty good. The best thing that happened is that Intel released their 8th generation Core i5 and i7 processors, which have multiple cores, are faster, and manage battery life better. Let’s take a look at the best laptops — all which have used Intel’s latest processors.

5. 2018 MacBook Pro (13-inch)

The 2018 MacBook Pro doesn’t look very different from the one we saw last year and at the end of 2016. But, as your parents might have told you, it’s what’s inside that counts. And the newer 8th generation processors make a huge difference, and this can especially be seen when working with memory-intensive programs like Final Cut Pro.

There has been some controversy over the fact Apple keeps including the much-divisive Butterfly keyboard. However, at least you don’t have to worry about particles of dust and food crumbs getting under the keys with the latest keyboard. And there is more of a “crunch” feel to the keys as well.

4. Dell XPS 13 9370

Dell’s latest 13-inch laptop makes one wonder how Dell fits such power under such a thin design. Since 2015, Dell has surpassed expectations with the XPS 13, but 2018′s version takes the biggest leap. There is a new improved keyboard, touchpad, and 4K screen that makes this laptop the best 13-inch one available. We can’t wait to see what Dell has cooked up with the next generation XPS 13, which should be revealed at CES 2019

3. Surface Pro 6

The Surface Pro 6 looks identical to 2017′s Surface Pro, but there are some important differences — the 8th generation Intel Core processor, the improved (and insanely good) battery life, and the contrast ratio of the screen. Everything about the Surface Pro 6 is so good that you can forgive it for not having a USB-C port.

2. Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Dell’s 15-inch hybrid hasn’t been as discussed as much as the XPS 13 9370, but it’s just as impressive. Dell’s higher-end laptop has a gorgeous 4K 15.6-inch screen that is the stuff legends are made of. And although you would think putting a 15.6-inch laptop in tablet mode would be cumbersome, it actually works well. The magnetic-driven keyboard is one of the best you can get on a laptop.

1. Huawei MateBook X Pro

A. True. MacBook. Pro. Killer. Have you ever owned or used a MacBook Pro and wished there could be a PC laptop with the same quality hardware but with a cheaper price? Welcome to the MateBook X Pro. 

Everything about this laptop is top notch — the beautiful 13.9-inch screen (with just as much screen contrast as any MacBook Pro), the keyboard (with keys that actually have travel), and the stereo speakers (the best speakers on a notebook). The best thing is that you can purchase this touchscreen laptop (includes 16GB of RAM and an 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor) for $1500 — almost $800 cheaper than a MacBook Pro with the same specs would cost.

The only thing that isn’t top-notch is the touchpad, but it still works very well. Huawei may be having some public relations problems lately, but they made the best laptop of 2018.

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Bose Sleepbuds Top List of 2018′s Best Audio Products

I have reviewed several audio devices throughout the year. I know a product is a good one if I am still excited about it several months later. With that said, here are my four favorite audio devices of 2018. I originally wanted to list five, but there really aren’t five top-notch audio products I can come up with. But the four listed here are certainly worth your attention and cash.

4. Jabra Elite 65t Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite 65t Earbuds

The AirPods are still the best overall earbuds, but Jabra actually beats Apple when it comes to sound. The bass on the Elite 65T is something you would expect from a pair of higher-end headphones. And to make things even better, the battery life is great (at least when it cones to earbuds).

3. Sony WH-1000MX3 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sony hasn’t conquered the earbuds game yet; the WF-SP700N are awful. But their other headphones have excelled at ways that even outdo Bose. The WH-1000MX3 earphones not only offer great sound (at all ranges of the spectrum), but the noise cancellation is out of this world (and could be dangerous if you are jogging in traffic).

2. Sony SRS-XB41 Bluetooth Speaker

There are so many Bluetooth wireless speakers out that it’s hard to keep track. And it’s true that Bluetooth speakers are starting to go out of fashion now that Wi-Fi speakers (with better sound, Google Play, and Alexa) are in. But Sony’s latest Bluetooth speaker not only has excellent sound, but it plays stereo sound (something consumers don’t apparently care about anymore).

1. Bose Sleepbuds

The Sleepbuds are valuable in masking annoying noises that wake or keep you up.

I’ve talked about these so much that one person asked me if I work for Bose. The answer is a definite NO! But I don’t hide my enthusiasm for Bose products, and the Sleepbuds are the most groundbreaking (and certainly) underrated audio product of the past year.

At first glance and listen, they come off as overpriced earbuds that play sounds for relaxation. (They can’t stream your music — it would make the battery life way too short.) But when you are an insomniac like myself and finally, after years, find yourself getting hours of interrupted sleep, you’ll appreciate them.

Yes, they can be cheaper. And it’s true that you can also buy a cheaper white noise machine instead. But for those who truly want to sleep, Bose’s Sleepbuds provide the best solution. And trust me, they will be considered a groundbreaking product in years to come.

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Looking Forward To CES 2019

The new year is coming, which means one thing to the geek world: CES is coming the second week of January. Hopefully, this year’s show will be better than last year’s. Let’s take a look at some of the things we can expect.

Samsung’s 4K OLED Display Notebooks

Samsung may be innovative when it comes to smartphones, but their laptops leave a lot to be desired. Still, that may change in 2019. According to SamMobile, Samsung will launch three 4K resolution notebooks with an OLED panel — one would be 13.3 inches, another 14-inches, and there will also be a 15.6-inch laptop. Samsung will likely be the first company to put these on the market.

8K TV Sets

8k OLED displays will be shown at CES 2019.

You really think 4K is the limit? Think again! Several manufacturers are expected to display 8K equipment (many with OLED displays) next month at CES, and you can bet that eyes (and mouths) will water. It’s quite likely that the enthusiasm might die down a bit when the pricing is announced.

Smartphones

While smartphones are usually shown at different events (Mobile World Congress, for example), CES has never been short of showing off new smartphones. Will LG reveal their foldable smartphone this year at CES?

Smart Speakers

In 2018, smart speakers became mainstream. They have been making rounds since 2015, but really found themselves in a large percentage of homes in 2018. As Tech Radar points out, we’ll probably be seeing more smart speakers with screens. Hopefully, we’ll see more portable Wi-Fi smart speakers like the Libratone ZIPP. You can expect several companies to show new Smart Speaker products at CES 2019. 

Smart Cars

The CES website makes a hint about the “smart future,” and you can bet that that future includes smart cars. Whether you like it or not, smart cars will be mainstream within the next ten years (maybe earlier), so you better start embracing the technology. The good news is that the only smart airplanes right now are toys.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

CES still believes virtual reality is still a thing.

Yes, the industry is still pushing augmented and virtual reality, even if consumers haven’t quite taken the bite yet. And you can bet Oculus will be there to show off the new standalone Oculus Quest, a device which will provide a desktop VR experience along with positional tracking. The device goes on sale this spring.

2019 International CES Starts on Tuesday, January 8

Keep checking this blog for more coverage. 

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Bose Frames: First Exclusive Look

I had some hands-on time with the Bose Frames in Los Angeles on Sunday. They are available for pre-order on Bose’s website and are expected to arrive in January. However, I was told that some orders are going to be shipped even sooner than that. No matter when you receive your Frames, you’ll likely feel that your $200 has been well spent.

I can’t give a full review until I spend some time with the Frames, which are legit sunglasses that have acoustic speakers and a microphone for voice calls, Siri, or Google Assistant. But I am more than happy to give you my first impressions from a half-hour of use.

  • The Frames connected very easily to my iPhone — no hiccups at all.
  • They are legit sunglasses that feel comfortable and look sharp. However, I am embarrassed thinking about using these at the gym, which I really want to do.
  • There is a multi-function button under the right frame that is easy to use. I would have preferred touch controls.
  • The sound is good — I could feel the thump of the bass when playing “Better Now” by Post Malone. It’s slightly more tinny (at least at first) than the fantastic Bose SoundWear (may God curse the idiot who stole this from me), but not as tinny as Apple’s AirPods (which still provide good sound) or other audio products in the same price range.
  • The Frames also provide Augmented Reality, which allows an audio experience based on head orientation and gestures. This is something I’ll zero in on more in my full review.

Bose Frames fit comfortably.

  • The speaker phone feature works very well. I wished the other voice was slightly louder, but I will test it out in different environments. The person I called sounded clear, and he said the same for me.
  • The Bose Frames come in two frame styles — the larger (Alto) or smaller (Rondo). I personally liked the Rondo better, but can see why some would choose the Alto.
  • The speakers really do beam music straight to your ears without bothering others. I tested this in a silent area and could barely hear my friend’s Frames, although he was just a couple feet away.
  • This device would be great for gaming.
So far, the only thing I wish for is that the maximum volume could be slightly louder. However, I wore these at a football game, so I need to test these out in different environments. So far, I can say that those who put down $200 will not be disappointed. The Bose Frames aren’t for everybody. But everybody will definitely find something to like about them. 
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Bose Continues To Innovate With New Bose Frames

Will Bose Frames finally make wearable audio devices mainstream?

Last year, I reviewed the Bose SoundWear Companion, a Bluetooth speaker that fits around your neck and delivers pumping stereo audio straight to your ears. Some thought the product was a gimmick, but I thought it was anything but one. Even if a niche product, the SoundWear companion was a breakthrough in many ways.

The best part of the SoundWear companion is that you could actually listen to it at a decent volume without bothering others since it delivers the sound right to your ears. The phone quality is quite decent as well. The speaker fits right around your neck, and you wouldn’t notice the weight of the device much unless you are driving; the speaker has a habit of twisting a little bit.

In any case, the SoundWear companion was something that I liked so much that I ended up buying it. And it ended up being stolen. I’ve tried to forget about Bose products for awhile since I was so upset my favorite toy was taken from my backpack. However, last week, Bose reminded me that they are coming out with new wearables — the Bose Frames.

Click to play in YouTube.

The new Frames are sunglasses that house acoustic speakers on each arm that beam music into each ear without bothering people around you. There is also a microphone for phone calls.  The mic is compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. Bose goes as far as to claim the Frames are an “Audio AR” wearable. That may be pushing it a little bit, especially since you can pretty much say the same thing about all wearable speakers. But, we shall soon see how Bose differentiates itself from the other companies with the Frames.

The Bose Frames come in Matte Black and will be released with two universal styles. First, there is the larger (Alto) and the smaller (Rondo). Both will be available beginning in January. So far, there is no price tag. But my gut feeling tells me they’ll run for $299.99 — a price that some will call a ripoff and one that doesn’t bother extreme tech geeks (like your’s truly).

Most importantly, Bose is continuing to innovate the “wearables” category of audio devices — one that was considered an absolute joke just two years ago. I am really excited about these! And next weekend, I am invited to try these out before they hit shelves. I will certainly report on my experience and give my first impressions review afterwards.

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iPad Pro Vs. Surface Go: Which Is The Best Tablet

Microsoft vs. Apple

 For the purposes of this article, the Surface Go with 8GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, an Intel Pentium processor, and an LTE modem is being compared to the 11-inch Wi-Fi and LTE version of the iPad Pro (64GB RAM).

For the past month, this blog has talked a lot about the new iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Go. Microsoft’s tablet came out more than three months ago, but I just got a review unit in a couple weeks back.

To be honest, I didn’t care much about the Go before receiving the review unit but now realize what I missed. As a secondary PC that has an LTE radio on all the time, it feels like computing freedom. The iPad Pro I reviewed had LTE as well, but I didn’t feel all that “free” since it is runs a mobile operating system. Still, the iPad Pro definitely has some strengths.

Let’s compare the most important aspects of both tablets.

Display

Some people are upset because Apple didn’t deliver an OLED display this time around (parts aren’t in great stock and are expensive), but it’s hard to imagine a screen better than the  11.5-inch  2388 x 1668 (264 pixels per inch) pixel True Tone display that’s on the iPad Pro. And interacting with the screen is soothing to the eyes since it has a 120Hz refresh rate.

The iPad Pro has the best display of any tablet.

Compared to the display on the iPad Pro, the Surface Go’s 10-inch screen looks underwhelming. But on its own, Microsoft still includes a good 1,800 x 1,200 pixel resolution display (217 pixels per inch). The colors are sharp, and the contrast ratio is great. The viewing angles aren’t perfect, but you’ll only mind looking at your screen from a very sharp angle.

The Winner: iPad Pro 

Performance

The eight-core A12 processor makes the iPad Pro more powerful than most laptops today. And in the real world, the iPad Pro runs very fast and can handle many programs open at the same time. But what good is all this power if the software can’t utilize it?

The Surface Go appears to lack power — that is if you are thinking of it as a laptop replacement. The Pentium Gold processor is good for office work, web surfing, and streaming movies. It doesn’t run Photoshop well, and it was never supposed to. But even though the Surface Go feels under-powered, it runs a desktop operating system (Windows 10) and is more useful than the iPad Pro when it comes to content creation.

The Winner: Surface Go 

Digital Inking

If you want to draw or take notes with the Apple Pencil, you are going to have to spend an extra $129. However, it’s certainly worth it as the Pencil provides the best digital inking experience compared to any other device.

The Surface Pen costs $99, and even though it offers an excellent inking experience on the Surface Pro 6, Microsoft’s stylus writes somewhat poorly (jittery, latency) on the Surface Go. Those who take notes won’t mind that much, but those who are using the Go as an accurate drawing device will be disappointed.

The Winner: iPad Pro

Typing

The Surface Go has a fantastic Type Cover.

The Smart Keyboard Folio for the iPad costs $179, and even though it’s overpriced, the keys have a comfortable click to them. Still, it’s not a match for the Surface Go’s $100 Type Cover ($129 for Alcantara), which not only provides an almost perfect (if a little cramped) typing experience, but has a near-perfect touchpad as well.

The Winner: Surface Go

Battery Life

Continually Streaming Netflix at 60 percent brightness will get you at least nine hours of battery life on the iPad Pro. Continually doing the same with the Surface Go will get you about five hours of battery life. Unfortunately, the Surface Go is not the type of device you can carry without a charger all day.

The Winner: iPad Pro

Conclusion

The iPad Pro is a beautiful multimedia device, but the Surface Go is a better productivity device. Microsoft’s tablet also is a lot more reasonably priced. Unless you are absolutely stuck in Apple’s ecosystem, the Surface Go will give you a lot more bang for your buck.

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