Bose Home Speaker 500 Is Great Stereo Alternative To The Sonos Move

Bose Home Speaker 500

A couple weeks back, I reviewed the Sonos Move Portable WiFi and Alexa-enabled speaker and had nothing but great things to say about it. I wasn’t really excited when I got the Bose Home Speaker 500 to review (finally, after two years). After all, the speaker isn’t battery-operated, so it always has to be plugged in.

However, the Home Speaker 500 only weighs 4.75 pounds compared to the 6.6 pound Sonos Move. And you can easily plug it into your car with an AC adaptor because it doesn’t take up too much wattage. If you don’t carry your speaker around wherever you hang out (and most people don’t), the Home Speaker 500, rather than the Bose Portable Home Speaker, is really the best Sonos alternative.

The thing that differentiates the 500 from other current home speakers is that it is a stereo speaker. “Does that make a difference these days?” one may ask, and the answer is a definite yes. The 500 doesn’t look like it has much room for stereo separation, but the actual speakers face sideways, so you do notice the stereo separation. It makes a huge difference when listening to songs such as “Vogue” by Madonna or “Levitating” by Dua Lipa.

However, setup — like it was with the Portable Home Speaker — was a nightmare. I didn’t have a WiFi connection that was really fast, so it took a couple hours before I was able to download a full update. In the meantime, I couldn’t play music or see the Bose 500 on my network. But once everything was set up, it was worth the hassle.

Many love Bose’s soundstage, which has sort of a muffled V shaped curve. However, Bose does have its own equalizer that provides better results than the equalizer that comes with Apple Music or Spotify. I keep the bass level on +20, and it makes me really feel the rumbling of the low sound range. Bose has never been great on the middle ranges of the sound spectrum, but voices on ballads such as “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey come in very clearly.

The Home Speaker 500, which is AirPlay 2 enabled, also has Alexa and Google Assistant. Both work very well, even though I’m still not a big user of voice assistants due to privacy concerns. Thank God Bose lets you turn off the voice-assistant microphone. I wish it had a speakerphone, but the lack of it is no deal breaker.

For $299, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is a great deal. It may be a little outdated (it was released in 2018), but it is — by far — the best sounding WiFi stereo speaker in its size and price range.

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Sennheiser Momentum 2 True Wireless Vs. AirPods Pro: Battle Of Wireless Earbuds

Apple AirPods Pro vs. Sennheiser Momentum 2 True Wireless

Yours truly has been testing out the $299 Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds for the past week. I’m impressed, but not blown away. Here are my thoughts, especially when compared to the AirPods Pro, which are at least $50 cheaper in many places.

Design

The Wireless 2 are somewhat thick and topped with a circular silver metal on top. Despite looking clunky, they fit well and are comfortable for at least an hour or so. You feel the weight from them on your ears after wearing them for a long time. The controls all work by touch, and they work decently after you get used to them. The cloth case is the most elegant case ever made for earbuds.

The Sennheiser Momentum 2 True Wireless buds are very stylish.

The white AirPods Pro don’t fit the ear seals as much as the Sennheiser buds, but they are more comfortable. And even though you have to pinch to control the buds, it works 100 percent of the time. Some may be annoyed at the stem on the AirPods Pro, but this design enables better phone call capabilities.

Noise Cancellation

Both devices from Sennheiser and Apple offer great noise cancellation for their size. The transparency mode on both earbuds is natural, and you don’t have to take the buds off in order to hear people. Even though both block out an equal amount of noise, Sennheiser does this more with blocking the hearing tunnel. The amount of active noise cancellation on the Momentum 2 Wireless is rather small. Some may like this more.

Sound

Most reviewers have the Momentum 2 True Wireless as the winner when it comes to sound, but I’m not so sure. They do have stronger highs and lows when compared to the AirPods Pro, but the latter have a more natural sound. It’s sort of hard to explain unless you listen with both products.

Don’t get me wrong — the True Wireless buds sound great. But you can tell they are Bluetooth earbuds. The AirPods Pro sound closer to wired headphones than any earbuds I have ever tested.

Phone Call Quality

You have to give Sennheiser credit for offering one of the only set of earbuds you can make audible calls on. Other buds from Sony and even Bose have horrible call quality. In Sony’s case, the WF-1000XM3 buds are unusable in this case. However, the True Wireless will make you sound a little distant and robotic. You may even be asked to speak up every so often.

I don’t know how Apple does it, but the AirPods Pro, as small as they are, are perfect for making phone calls. They even work very well when you walk down the street in busy traffic. Sometimes, the listener won’t even be able to tell that you are wearing earbuds.

The AirPods Pro offer better call quality than Sennheiser's buds.

Battery Life

You are supposed to get 4.5 hours of battery life with the AirPods Pro when the noise cancellation is turned on, but I usually get about 4. The Momentum 2 is supposed to give you around 7 hours, but I usually get about 6.5. Both have pocketable cases that rapidly charge the buds, so battery life usually isn’t an issue. 

Conclusion

The AirPods Pro offer a better all-around experience when compared to the Sennheiser Momentum 2 True Wireless earbuds. Both are great, but Apple’s earbuds sound more natural and offer better phone quality.

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Surface Pro 8: What Consumers Want

Let's hope the Surface Pro 8 looks more like the Surface Pro X.

If things are on schedule (and that’s a big “if” due to the continued coronavirus crisis), Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 will be available during the 4th quarter of this year. There hasn’t been much said about the upcoming device, but that hasn’t stopped many from speculating. Here are some Surface Pro 8 wishes:

Smaller Bezels, Bigger Screen

Right now, the Surface Pro has a 12.3-inch screen with thick bezels (at least for 2020). Microsoft needs to decrease the bezel size at least a half-inch to look similar to 2019′s Surface Pro X. This way, the Surface Pro 8 screen size can be increased to near 13-inches. I am almost 100 percent sure this will happen. 

Thunderbolt 3 Port

Microsoft was two years too late when it came to putting a USB-C port on the Surface Pro, but finally gave in with the Surface Pro 7.  Now, Microsoft needs to take it a step further by making the USB-C port Thunderbolt 3-capable for faster speeds and the ability to add more displays. Microsoft has claimed that this isn’t important to their business users, but they would be surprised to know the truth.

Redesigned Type Cover

The current Type Cover is a little outdated.

The current Type Cover that Microsoft has used for the past several years is great, but it feels a little outdated. A cover that has shorter (but still noticeable) key travel and a larger  touchpad would help bring the Surface Pro up to date. Perhaps Microsoft can also spread the keys out a little more as well.

Improved Speakers

The speakers on the Surface Pro 7 are good, but they could be better. With Apple offering improved speakers even on the 2020 MacBook Pro 13, Microsoft can certainly add speakers that have a little bit of bass and feel more alive. This will make the great Surface Pro multimedia features even better.

Improved Graphics for Gameplay

This is a long shot, especially since the Surface Pro is has never been meant for gaming. But wouldn’t it be great to have NVIDIA or AMD graphics rather than the always “improved” Intel Iris graphics chip? A man can definitely dream!

Include Surface Pen with All Surface Pro Devices

This is even more of a long shot. Microsoft currently charges $100+ for their current Surface Pen devices, all which are admittedly excellent. But how about including the Surface Pen with the Surface Pro this time? I actually think it will help sell more devices. Come on, Microsoft!

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The Sonos Move Is The Best Portable WiFi Speaker Available

Last month, I reviewed the Bose Portable Home Speaker and was very impressed. It’s certainly worth $349 (or $299, if you can find a deal). But I am far more impressed with the Sonos Move and think it may be an even better buy, even though it costs $50 more. As a friend commented when listening to it, “I can’t believe the sound on this is coming from a single mono speaker.”

The truth is that unlike the Bose Portable Home Speaker, you can pair two Sonos Move devices for each stereo channel (though Bose says an update is coming sometime this year). However, you may not need to. A single speaker offers enough separation of the sound range in order to make it sound like you are listening in stereo.

The Move can be transferred from place to place, but it’s pretty heavy (for a speaker) at 6.6 pounds. It looks like some type of dome from outer space that you can charge by putting into a ring that comes with the purchase. It’s also almost 10-inches tall and not something that you can just throw in your bag.

Click to play in YouTube.

But whatever the weight, the sound is fantastic, especially when listening to ambient or dance music. Take the slow jam “Don’t Look Back” from Rick and Morty. The Sonos lifts the song up from the bottom and pumps the bass softly into your ears. And despite outstanding highs and lows, you can easily hear the vocals.

If you are in party mode, a song like “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish can make your stomach turn — in a good way. The good news is that even when you turn the volume up towards its max (you may want to avoid the highest volume if you don’t want your eardrums busted), none of the bass disappears.

The Move is very easy to set up, unlike the Bose Portable Home Speaker and the Bose Home Speaker 500, which will be reviewed here very soon. The Move App is very user-friendly and will guide you though everything and even warn you of any problems you’ll run into (you probably won’t).

The only negative thing may be the battery life. Sonos claims 10 hours of battery life, but my tests have revealed slightly less (9.5 hours and 9 hours on two tests with the volume at 40 percent). Still, it’s nice to have the charge ring come in the box. You can charge the Sonos Move though the USB-C port, but I have found that many USB-C chargers, including the ones that come with the MacBook Pro (both 13 and 16 inch versions) don’t work.

Still, the Sonos Move is the best battery-operated WiFi speaker one can buy now. $399 may seem like a lot to pay for a speaker ($349 if you are lucky), but you’ll get every bang (and bass thump) for your buck.

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Dell XPS 15 2020 Is still No Match For MacBook Pro 16

Dell XPS 15 2020

I was finally able to see the Dell XPS 15 2020 in front of my eyes this past week, and the first thing I thought is that it didn’t look like a 15-inch laptop. But it felt more heavy than it looked. Still, 4.5 pounds isn’t too heavy for a 15.6-inch laptop, especially one that has everything but the kitchen sink inside.

The 15.6-inch UHD+ (3840 x 2400)  pixel resolution screen (283 PPI) on this laptop is an absolute beauty. I was looking though pictures of beaches and waterfalls on this, and it felt like I could almost touch the objects on the screen. But even if the screen were 2K, it would still look almost as good. The human eye can’t tell that much of a difference between 2k and 4K on a 15.6-inch screen, unless their eyes are a couple inches away.

Dell's new laptop has a very crisp screen.

The reason I mention the resolution is because it really affects battery life. That’s why the 3072 x 1920 (226 PPI)  pixel resolution screen on the MacBook Pro 16 is perfect. Its resolution is very high, but not so high that it eats up a huge amount of battery life in a short time. I can’t say the same for the Dell XPS 15, although you can opt for the 1080p version. In my opinion, regular HD is too low for 2020.

Then, there’s the keyboard. The XPS 15 keyboard is no slouch, but it felt a little “sunken in” compared to the Pro 16′s keyboard, which is the best that has ever been put in a laptop. Some may prefer the plush feeling, but you really have to test both keyboards out. It’s obvious that both Dell and Apple are listening to consumers when designing they’re keyboards.

The MacBook Pro 16 has the best keyboard.

I have to give Dell a lot of credit for its new speakers. I originally wasn’t thrilled to test the speakers out because I heard the sound on the new XPS 15 wasn’t as good as it is on the MacBook Pro 16. But I found that the new four-speaker system sounds solid, is very wide, and should be judged on its own merits rather than be compared to Apple’s laptop.

I didn’t feel the wobbly trackpad that has infected so many new XPS 15 units. The trackpad is huge and works well. But it is still offers slightly less smoothness than Apple’s amazing Force Touch trackpad.

The Dell XPS 15 2020 is probably the best Windows laptop available. Don’t let the slight negativity in this article deter you from getting it if you won’t go for anything else but Windows. But it’s not the best laptop in the world. The title for that goes to the MacBook Pro 16.

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Looking Forward: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 And iPhone 12

The Note 20 will be released later this summer.

The summer is almost here, and it’s typically the time we prepare for new smartphone releases from Samsung and Apple. Let’s take our attention away from all the craziness in the world and take a look at what we know so far about these future smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20

According to TechRadar, Samsung’s new phablet will be announced on August 5. Two versions are expected — the regular Note 20 and a Note 20+.  Both versions will have 5G, although 5G rollout has been very limited.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Mock Trailer. Please click to play in YouTube.

Most sources have the regular Note 20 with a 6.42-inch screen that has a pixel resolution of 2345 x 1084, while the Note 20 Plus screen will grow to 6.87 inches with a pixel resolution of 3096 x 1444. I enthusiastically reviewed last year’s Note 10+ with its 6.8-inch screen, but I eventually found it too large. I can’t imagine the screen on the S20+ will feel less cumbersome. Then again, that’s why Samsung has a smaller Note.

Both of the Note 20 devices will likely be powered by Samsung’s upcoming Snapdragon 865 Plus chip. They will also likely come with an improved S Pen features. 

iPhone 12

iPhone 12 Render

Most rumors point to there being two versions of the iPhone 12 (5.4 and 6.1-inches) and two versions of the iPhone 12 Pro (6.1 and 6.7-inches). As MacRumors notes, there will be a major design change on at least two of the phones that’s similar to that of the iPad Pro.

All the new iPhones are expected to feature OLED displays, and the Pro versions could have a 120Hz refresh rate. The huge notch for the TrueDepth camera system could become smaller. There are also rumors of a 3D triple-lens rear camera system that uses a laser to determine depth information.

All versions of the new iPhone 12 are expected to have 5G support. All iPhones will use an updated A14 chip that is expected to add both speed and efficiency improvements. However, the chips will only bring small gains in battery life. The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max currently offer excellent battery life, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

How Will Economy Affect Smartphone Releases?

Both the Note 20 and iPhone 12 look like great smartphones. However, they are being released in a year where everything is uncertain. Will people be in a rush to upgrade their smartphones? If so, will there be enough smartphones produced to meet demand? Stay tuned.

 

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2020: The Year Bose And Microsoft Shut Their Retail Stores

2020 has been a pretty chaotic year, and not in a good way. Just about everyone has been affected by the coronavirus, rioting, and the sudden closure of the economy. But tech geeks also have to deal with the shutting down of both Bose and Microsoft retail stores. It’s a huge loss as both stores are as satisfying to geeks as candy stores are for little kids.

I cannot explain how satisfying it has been to walk through a Microsoft Store since 2009. Sure, they copied Apple a lot with their layout, but offered more goods than Apple did, including virtual reality headsets and video game systems. I’ve barely ever had a negative interaction with a Microsoft Store employee since they have been trained so well.

I did many first-impression reviews of items for this blog from the Microsoft Store since they always got products in the day they were announced. I remember driving 30 minutes to the Westfield Century City location in 2015 just so I can play with the Surface Book.

Microsoft Surface Book (Picture taken at Microsoft Store)

Than, a week later, I walked in and saw the ill-fated VAIO Z Canvas.

Microsoft VAIO Z Canvas (On Display at Microsoft Store in 2015)

According to The Verge, Microsoft locations in New York City, London, Sydney, and Redmond will be turned into “experience” centers. That could be either a good or a bad thing. We’ll have to see.

Microsoft’s announcement comes five months after Bose announced they were closing 100 retail stores. CNN was one of the first news sites with the announcement.

“Bose is significantly shrinking the number of retail stores it operates because of the ‘dramatic shift’ to online shopping, the company said in a statement…The maker of high-end electronics said it’s closing 119 retail stores worldwide across North America, Europe, Japan and Australia. It will continue to operate about 130 stores throughout China, the United Arab Emirates, India and some Asian countries.”

It’s quite interesting that some of the retail locations that remained open right after the announcement are now permanently closed. It wouldn’t be surprising if, by the end of the year, Bose only had a few “experience” stores open worldwide. This is sad because going into a Bose store was quite an aural experience for years.

It is quite true that online shopping has become increasingly more relevant than retail shopping, especially after the coronavirus hit the world. But there’s nothing like going in a store and interacting with items that you may or may not buy. The closing of Microsoft and Bose stores certainly represents the end of an era.

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Dell’s XPS 15 Problems Continue Long Streak Of Quality Control Issues

Dell XPS 15 2020

Dell has become a formidable PC laptop maker, especially since 2015. That was when the first modern Dell XPS 13 with the Dell’s practically border-less infinity display appeared. If things looked too good to be true, they were. Many people had problems with intense heat, a touchscreen that looked like it had been spread with a smudgy substance, and experiences with screen brightness changing even without any power settings turned on.

By the time the XPS 13 was revamped for 2016, there were a lot of improvements made. However, there were still some who had extreme backlight bleed. Many wondered how these units got past quality control. The same thing happened with the XPS 15, meant to be the larger version of the XPS 13, that was released at the end of 2015.

The new Dell XPS 15 9500, which some think is the best all-around laptop, has been shipping over the past few weeks. Reviews have been unanimously positive. However, since it first arrived in the hands of consumers, complaints about loose trackpads have persisted. This video explains it all.

Click to play in YouTube.

As you can see and hear, the trackpad is loose. Because it is loose, it will register clicks that you didn’t even intend. This appears to be on several new Dell XPS 15 units as well as some Dell XPS 17s as well. Some people have come up with fixes that require you to open up the XPS 15 by tightening a screw or putting tape on. However, as many have noted, one should not have to become a computer repair clerk when paying $2000 or more for a computer.

At least Dell recognizes the problem. Forbes has provided a statement from Dell.

“Dell is aware that some XPS 15 9500 customers might be experiencing an issue with their touchpad. We have identified and resolved this issue on all systems shipping in June 2020 and beyond. While functionality is not affected, it does not meet the stringent quality and experience standards we set for ourselves”

Dell claims to be fixing the XPS 15 2020 trackpad issue.

The statement adds that any current XPS 15 owners experiencing the issue can get it remediated with Dell customer service. Many are happy that Dell finally admitted the problem and are either exchanging units or sending out someone to repair trackpads at people’s homes.

So if you want to buy a new Dell XPS 15, it’s better to wait at least a couple weeks to make sure you don’t get one that has a wobbly trackpad. From all the reviews, it sounds like the wait would definitely be worth it. Let’s hope that Dell’s quality control can finally live up to the company’s innovation in the coming year.

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Bose Portable Home Speaker Is Absolutely Worth Its New $299 Price

I didn’t review the Bose Portable Home Speaker with AirPlay 2 when it was first released last fall. I tried playing with it, but had a difficult time with its connection. I was going to look into it more, but forgot about it. Besides, at $349, it didn’t seem as good as a buy as the competing Sonos Move.

Now that Bose’s WiFi speaker has been reduced to $299 this past weekend, it was time for a re-evaluation. And I’m glad I spent the time. The Bose Portable Home Speaker is one of the best portable speakers released in years, especially since it offers both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. Let’s take a look at some of the specifics:

Build and Design

The Bose Portable Home Speaker looks and feels solid.

The Bose Portable Home Speaker looks and feels solid.

The aluminum designed speaker, which measures 7.5 inches, is simple but eloquent. It reminds me of the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ from 2017, but it feels better. The controls are on the top, and the speaker space is rounded at the bottom. It’s shocking that a device this small (compared to other WiFi speakers) could produce such fantastic and lifelike sound.

Features

The most important thing to note is that this is not just a Bluetooth wireless speaker; it’s a WiFi speaker as well. This is important because WiFi offers better sound quality. Most WiFi speakers need to be plugged in, but not the Bose Portable Home Speaker.

Setting up the speaker was frustrating. You’re supposed to be able to download the Bose Music app, which guides you on how to connect your device to your WiFi network. It wasn’t so easy, even for a tech-friendly guy like me. But once everything was connected correctly, the speaker worked very well. It was worth all of my frustration in setting it up.

Setting up the Bose Portable Home Speaker was frustrating.

Bose’s WiFi speaker is also a smart speaker that works with Google Assistant and Alexa. I didn’t test it with Alexa, but it worked very well with Google Assistant, even when I was several feet away from the speaker. I never really got into the whole smart speaker voice assistant thing much, but Bose’s speaker proves how far voice assistants have come.

Sound

Bose has always had a V-shaped sound spectrum, and that certainly continues on this speaker. The bass is punchy, but not overwhelming. The treble is also very clear. Though it’s not a deal killer, the middle range sometimes gets recessed a little more than Bose’s other products. Still, it’s only a minor issue, and some may not mind at all.

Overall, the sound is excellent and doesn’t get distorted when turning up the volume. Only at the very highest volume do you notice distortion, but I don’t think anybody would dear turn this up to its maximum capability unless they really want to disturb their neighbors.

Battery Life

Bose claims this speaker gives you 12 hours of battery life. However, the higher you turn up the volume, the less battery life you will get. At medium volume, I am able to get about 10 hours of use. Some people think that’s disappointing, but it’s great for a speaker this small and powerful.

Conclusion

Many have compared the Bose Portable Home Speaker to the Sonos Move, and claim the latter is better. However, at $100 less, Bose offers the best value. If you are looking for a portable WiFi speaker, the Bose Portable Home Speaker may be your best choice.

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Apple AirPods Studio Headphones To Be Released Very Soon

Will the AirPods Studio look anything like this? We'll find out soon.

Apple has already conquered the world of wireless earbuds. The AirPods Pro was named best product of 2019 by this blog. Now, Apple is hoping to finally conquer the world of headphones, giving Bose and Sony a run for their money. Mac Rumors has the news.

“AirPods Studio will join the AirPods lineup with the AirPods 2 and the AirPods Pro, and the new headphones will be distinct from Apple’s existing Beats lineup, which features several over-ear headphones options.”

The article adds that the over-the-ear headphones will feature active noise cancelling, equalizer settings, and head and neck detection. They are expected to be announced at the WWDC 2020 conference on June 22. They could start shipping by the end of June or beginning of July, and the software for these cans has been finalized.

According to 9To5Mac, Apple’s new headphones will also feature a sensor that will be able to detect your left and right ears and automatically route the audio channels. This means that you don’t have to worry about putting the headphones on backwards. (Yes, it happens. I do it with my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 all the time.) The headphones will also allegedly be released in two variations – one using leather fabrics and another with lighter materials for fitness use.

Apple has to improve the already great sound quality and noise cancellation of the AirPods Pro.

Most sources say the AirPods Studio headphones will cost $349, and the price could be worth it if Apple lives up to their reputation. However, the sound quality will have to be better than the AirPods Pro buds, even though those have great sound quality. The active noise cancellation will also have to improve from the Pros in order to compete with the excellent noise cancellation that Bose and Sony offers with their latest headphones.

Then, there is the call quality. Many companies don’t realize this, but people care a lot about using their headphones for phone calls. Bose realizes this and has done an excellent job making one heard, even in a crowded room. Sony has yet to make headphones that offer great phone quality, but that may change with the upcoming WH-1000XM4 cans.

Can Apple revolutionize wireless headphones like they have done with wireless earbuds? Will this be another example of Apple being late to the game? We’ll find out in another couple weeks. The AirPods Studio is shaping up to be the most exciting product release of the summer.

 

 

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