Belkin’s WeMo Light Switch fills what most would consider to be a necessary gap in the company’s home automation solutions. While the company’s initial plan to create an easy “plug-and-play” set of home automation accessories was laudable, it seemed inevitable that the “no screwdriver” rule would need to be cast aside for the WeMo family to be taken seriously. While the WeMo Light Switch is not as simple to install as plugging it into an outlet, it’s not any more difficult than installing an electronic dimmer or motion sensor light switch, and the electrical wiring requirements are comparable to other electronic switches. Anybody with basic electrical experience will have little to no problem installing this, subject of course to the design of your home’s existing wiring. While we’d still like to see Belkin continue to expand the WeMo family with other options such as dimmers, the WeMo Light Switch is a welcome addition that shows that the company is serious about working to provide both complete and user-friendly solutions for home automation.
Netatmo is best known for its Urban Weather Station, an elegant — albeit pricey — solution for monitoring indoor and outdoor weather conditions, so we were a bit surprised when we saw the company branching out at CES this year with the introduction of its Welcome ($200), a new home monitoring and security camera that distinguishes itself from the pack by focusing on facial recognition as its key feature, promising to identify members of your household by face. It also notifies you and keeps track of who is at home and who is out.
While the bundle looks an awful lot like a rebranded Wahoo sensor with a pair of sports earphones, Pear Sports' new Training Intelligence ($100) is designed as a turnkey workout solution for iOS users. In addition to a chest-mounted Bluetooth 4 heart rate monitor and a pair of sports earphones with a microphone, one-button remote, and ear stabilizers, the Training Intelligence set includes a Pear Training app that provides real-time coaching for weight loss, strength, running, biking, and other activities, using the heart rate information to guide users through the hundreds of integrated workouts it includes. Three sets of ear stabilizers and a carrying case for all of the parts are included in the bundle.
Native Union's DOCK for Apple Watch ($60) is an attractive, minimalist charging dock for Apple Watch. Made of two pieces — a weighted block covered by gray matte silicone, and a rotating arm — DOCK can be positioned with the Apple Watch on the left or right side, or in Nightstand mode. The rotating cylindrical aluminum-and-plastic arm contains some space inside for cable management, as an Apple Watch charging cable can be wrapped around an inner circle inside the arm, and out the back of the "arm." The charging puck, of course, is installed on the "front" of the arm. DOCK is compatible with both Apple Watch sizes and all bands. We also received the DOCK for Apple Watch Marble Edition ($120), which is just like the regular DOCK, except instead of a weighted silicone block, you get a polished marble block. (The marble block is actually lighter than the weighted rubber base — 11.3 ounces to 13.9 ounces.) The marble edition has the same rotating arm.
The recently rebranded VRS Design is continuing its push into the American market with a number of new iPhone cases. The company's Crystal Bumper ($33), High Pro Shield ($33), and Verge Active ($33) all still bear the Verus name the company used before rebranding. Crystal Bumper and High Pro Shield are similar cases, both using the style of a soft shell surrounded by a hard plastic bumper. Verge Active is a bit different, as it puts a soft shell inside a harder, outer shell. The case also comes with a partially rotating magnetic holster clip, if you're still interested in that sort of thing. All three cases have proper coverage for the sleep/wake button and volume controls.
We've been reviewing Yantouch's products for years now, and the small Taiwan-based company is still focused on its distinct niche — speakers with light functions. Yantouch's newest is EyE ($100), a Bluetooth wireless speaker that can pair with another EyE unit for stereo capabilities. Of course, it wouldn't be a Yantouch speaker without some kind of light show, and Yantouch's HueDJ app lets users control the lighting while listening — you can change the colors or have the lights sync up with your music. The company claims EyE can display up to 16 million colors. EyE's music can be controlled as normal through iTunes or your streaming service, but the other functions of the speaker can be controlled through the app, or via the included remote control. Our EyE units also came with a velvet carrying pouch and micro-USB cable for recharging. EyE comes in white or black versions.
Thinking about getting yourself some wireless in-ear headphones? Then you're in luck because Jaybird has just released its most advanced wireless Bluetooth earbuds ever. Jaybird's new 5th generation Freedom are the smallest, micro-sized Bluetooth in-ear headphones to feature a premium metal design that is sweat-proof and made with active lifestyles in mind. Boasting up to 8 hours of wireless music playtime and the most secure customizable fit possible, these unbelievably tiny sporty wireless earbuds pack huge, user-personalized sound into what could possibly be the most impressive sounding package that we have ever experienced. That said, the Freedom aren't without their own unique shortcomings. So be sure to check out our full review on how these actually fare under real-world usage.
With the new Freedom buds you can expect to find a plethora of accessories included inside the box. They've given you every option possible for you to create the ultimate comfortable experience for any type of wearing application whether it be casual listening or high-intensity training. Aside from the carry case, included are Jaybird's signature secure-fit ear fins, cord managements clips, a cord shirt clip, a USB charging cable (not shown), a charging clip and a getting started guide.
I've got to hand it to JayBird for including three different sized Comply foam tips in addition to its standard set of various sized silicone ear tips. We always recommend using Comply tips for the best fit and sound isolation. It's even more important to use these tips when you're going to the gym as you can easily block out the music and other noise in the background. The Freedom can also overpower external noise flawlessly without having to raise the volume all the way up.
What may look very much like a pair of ordinary wired in-ears most likely inspired by Klipsch's audiophile-grade X12I, is actually the smallest wireless in-ear headphones we have ever seen. It's hard to get an idea of just how small these are until you get to seem them in person. The Freedom are hands down Jaybird's the most stunningly designed offering to date. You can get them in a few different color combinations including this all-black colorway, or in a mixture of silver and red, silver and blue and of course with every gadget being now available in the most luxurious and elegant-looking color on earth – gold and white.
Despite JayBird claiming these having an all-metal housing, the new Freedom are for the most part made out of a sand-blasted injection molded metal but do have a small piece of plastic as part of their design. Regardless, they still feel incredibly well made and are highly durable unlike their cheap, all-plastic rivals. These are by far the most impressively made wireless in-ear headphones we’ve tested thanks to the use of quality materials and having this ultra-slim, tapered design that is so incredibly low in profile. What’s more, the fully featured 3-button remote also features accented metal construction giving it a very solid build quality.
JayBird not only designed a sleek looking package, but it also made sure to sweeten the use experience with little polished details such as attractive-sounding voice cues that notify you of the battery status in great detail each time you power on the Freedom – including various sorts of status modes and functions.
Call quality using the built-in microphone has been greatly improved over Jaybird's X2. It is no longer tinny and distant sounding, but actually loud and clear so people on the other end of your call won't ever complain that they can't hear you well. I also cannot complain about the Freedom's Bluetooth connectivity. It has been working flawlessly with absolutely no audio interruptions unlike some other wireless earbuds we've tested.
The secrete behind the Freedom's micro-sized, low-profiled form factor is due to creative engineering. You see, unlike most other wireless earbuds, the Freedom do not have a battery housed together with the earbuds themselves. Instead, the rechargeable battery is located inside the remote and microphone module, which I've got to say is as slim as any other ordinary 3-button remote I've seen. Having such a slim and lightweight remote though does mean sacrificed battery space, which is the main reason why you'll only be able to get up to four hours of use out of these wireless in-ears. That being said, I think it's a sacrifice most will be willing to take in return for such a compact set of wireless earbuds.
In real-world usage, the Freedom’s battery life has been really great and has surprisingly lived up to Jaybird’s 4-hour claims. I was easily able to reach that before having to recharge while having my volume set at around 60%, which is loud enough to overpower noisy environments.
It does get a bit sweeter for you guys who can't go throughout the day with only four hours of wireless audio goodness. Jaybird's ingenious way of providing the option of adding additional battery power to your earbuds is with this add-on battery charging clip that attached to the remote and provided an extra charge, doubling the amount of time you can use the Freedom. Of course the dome side to using the Freedom with this charging clip is that it does add bulk and weight to one side of the earbud. And that means that doing any kind of training with it attached to the Freedom is not comfortable at all. Not to mention that it will tug and pull on the right side of your ear, eventually causing the earbud to fall out all the time. What you can do to alleviate the added weight of the battery clip attachment is by wearing the Freedom over your ears, which will reduce the pulling of theearbuds as the cable wraps around the ear. The difference this alternate wearing configuration makes is night and day.
I honestly don't know why Jaybird thought it would be a good idea to place the remote andcharging clip battery on one side of the Freedom instead of balancing the weight by positioning it all at the middle of the cord where the wearer can then use the included clip to attach the module to a shirt collar, thus reducing any weight pulling on one side of theearbuds.
To Charge the actual earbuds you will need to use the proprietary charging clip, which is the only piece that features a micro-USB charging input. So make sure to never lose it, otherwise you'll have a very lightweight paper weight. The Freedom do come with a charging cable of course, but it's on the short side, though it can be easily carried with you when stored inside the carry case.
I've been using the Freedom in the gym with workouts lasting as long as two hours and not once have I needed to readjust or push the earbuds back inside my ears. They've been fully secured using only the included Comply foam tips without any additionalstabilizers, which is a hugely impressive feat for wireless in-ear headphones. The Freedom are so lightweight you can barely notice you're wearing them after a while. They're that comfortable to wear.
We talked a lot about how incredibly small and light the new Freedom are, but it also turns out that they're amazingly good sounding too. The Freedom produce such a clean, clear sounding audio that it may as well be used as a laboratory for testing extraterrestrial DNA. Bass while not thumpy, is acceptably punchy and very pleasing considering how small the Freedom are. If you can't live without deep sounding bass, these probably won't do it for you. That said, you find anything that is nearly as small and comfortable to wear as these. I highly suspect that instead of using dynamic drivers, JayBird has to resort to using micro-sized armature drivers, which produce lighter sound with amazing treble - which the Freedom easily deliver.
But what had me really excited was that when we put the Freedom up against JayBird's much bulkier X2 and X3, the Freedom sounded slightly more dynamic and richer. So not only are these much smaller, they outperform much larger wireless in-ears like the Jaybird X3.
For all you EQ-loving people, you’d be happy to know that by using the free MySound app from Jaybird you’ll be able to intuitively change the sound characteristics of the Freedom and save them on the earbuds themselves. Choose from various presets or manually adjust the EQ to your liking. And yes, you can actually improve the bass response of the Freedom quite significantly this way to a point where they easily outshine the Powerbeats 2 Wireless and the Jabra Sport Pace.
Jaybird's 5th generation Freedom are the best sounding wireless in-ear headphoneswe've tested so far that not only feature the most impressive premium build quality and amazingly small and lightweight design, but are also the most comfortable to wear in any situation. While four hours of battery life might not sound all that great, we think it's a relatively acceptable number for such small wireless in-ears. Of course with the added feature of having the option to double the battery usage using a clip-on battery charger, the Freedom can be used for an extended period of time before having to plug them in to charge.
If you're looking for one of the best, inconspicuously-sized wireless in-ear headphones to use when working out, you cannot go wrong with the new Freedom from Jaybird. The are, arguably, the best wireless in-ear headphones you can buy right now. But if you just want a great sounding pair to use for casual listening, JayBird's X3 are a cheaper alternative with greater battery life, albeit not as well made or as small as the Freedom.
The LG G5’s camera, like other G series phones from LG, takes great pictures, urging you to get outside and find new and interesting things to shoot. The G5’s party trick is the slot where special modules fit in to enhance the phone’s functionality, and one is the Cam Plus, designed to make the G5 even more satisfying for photographers to use.
To call the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air a "portable" speaker is stretching a point. It's over 2 feet wide, and it doesn't include a rechargeable battery -- so it's tied to AC power as well as to your home network. However, within your home, it will look and sound great. A free app makes AirPlay streaming simple, but some reviewers find the connection unreliable. The price may also give many users pause.
Very good, but not flawless. Professionals and users consistently agree that the Zeppelin Air produces full, rich sound. However, various reviewers raise a few minor quibbles. CNET says there's little stereo separation unless you're right next to the speaker, and PCMag.com says it "slightly processes sub-bass." Trent Wolbe of Engadget.com thinks the "big fat bass pumping out of the Zeppelin Air will do its best to choke out high end in many situations," and it isn't possible to adjust the levels sufficiently to bring out the treble. As a result, he thinks this isn't a good choice for your primary stereo system.
Ease of use
Mixed results. Reviewers generally find that the tiny, egg-shaped remote that comes with the Zeppelin Air isn't much use. It's much easier, they say, to control the device through your phone with the free app. However, they're split over this speaker's streaming performance. While Wired praises AirPlay's "lossless streaming," both CNET and many users at Amazon.com describe glitches in which the music cuts in and out or stops altogether. (One Amazon reviewer claims that updates to the iPhone 4S have fixed this bug.) Also, PCMag.com describes an annoying lag of a few seconds when playing, pausing or changing volume. We read mixed reports about the setup process as well: Some reviewers say it's easy, while others find it confusing.
Sleek styling. One feature reviewers consistently love about the Zeppelin Air is its sleek, futuristic styling. Words like "striking" and "distinctive" show up in most reviews, and Wolbe describes the black ovoid as "13.5 pounds of mesh-coated minimalism designed to look fierce on your coffee table or bookshelf." Users are generally impressed with its build quality, as well. Its biggest drawback is its sheer size: At 25 inches wide and 13.5 pounds, it's not likely to do a lot of moving around. However, that's mostly a moot point, since its lack of a battery and its dependence on a network mean it's unlikely to leave your home anyway.
- Battery life
- Weight (pounds)
- 13.7 pounds
- 2-year limited (only when sold by authorized dealer)
- AirPlay speaker
- Est. $600
- 30-pin docking port or Lightning docking port; Ethernet, 3.5mm aux input, USB 2.0, composite video output
- Power, volume (on speaker); Power, Source, Volume Up/Down, Play/Pause, Fast-Forward, Rewind (on remote)
- Device Compatibility
- iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with iOS 4.3.3 or later; Mac with OS X Mountain Lion; Mac or PC with iTunes 10.2.2 or later
- 25.2 x 8.2 x 6.8 inches