True wireless earbuds with noise-cancellation sprouted like crazy in 2019. Not to be outdone, Huawei, along with a few other wearables, launched the Freebuds 3. And these earbuds are actually pretty darn good.
Comfy fit, on the fence about the look
Let’s get it out of the way before anything else. The Huawei Freebuds 3 looks a lot like Apple’s Airpods. In fact, the entire Freebuds line has looked like this since it’s first iteration.
But is it fair to reduce it as simply an AirPods knockoff? Not quite.
Looks-wise, I kind of get why they went with this design. Not everyone’s a fan of in-ear earbuds. Some feel they are too invasive.
I can definitely say that the in-ear ones feel more secure but the Freebuds can cling onto your ear just fine. The only time I saw one fall off was during a Huawei demo but that was only because a dancer wore it and she was moving pretty intensely.
Also, perhaps the only way to put all the tech that Huawei managed to pack in the Freebuds 3 is to have them look the way they do now. I’m personally not too wild about it, but that’s just me.
Noise-cancelling all star
Speaking of “all the tech” in these earbuds, at the heart of it is the Kirin A1 chip. Made specifically for wearables, this is what enables a lot of what makes these earbuds great.
Chief of those features is the intelligent noise cancellation. I’m quite skeptical about noise cancellation claims especially on wireless earbuds, but the Freebuds 3 performs just about as good as advertised.
It doesn’t quite shut you out of your environment the way noise-cancelling headphones do. However, it does it well enough that your attention won’t easily be taken away when you have these on even when you’re in a crowded area.
The noise cancellation is still a tier and a half below the Sony WF-1000XM3 which I consider to be a superstar in that department. That said, the Freebuds 3 still does an awesome job and should be more than enough for most users.
Surprising bass, fantastic sound quality
The default bass setting on the Freebuds 3 is such a pleasant surprise. Coupled with the noise cancellation, it gives you such a full sound that if you close your eyes you’d almost feel like you’re surrounded by the music you’re listening to.
I wasn’t even playing bass heavy tracks when I noticed this. I was in a bit of a slow jams mood while trying these earbuds out and listened to tracks like Nice and Slow by Usher and I Wanna Know by Joe and man, the bass was really banging in a really good way.
This level of bass can be achieved in other true wireless earbuds but they’re usually not turned on by default. On the Freebuds 3, there isn’t any option to tweak the sound quality but I don’t imagine anyone needing to do this.
There is significant leak out of the audio though when you turn the volume to maximum. But I never felt the need to do this. Only tried it for the heck of it.
Easy pairing and controls
Pairing these are pretty straightforward, you only need to hold the button on the case for about two to five seconds to enter pairing mode. Make sure the case’s lid is open.
It’s even easier when your using a device that already has EMUI10. It’ll automatically find the Freebuds 3 once you pop the lid open. Similar to how Samsung Galaxy phones quickly detect the Galaxy Buds.
Controls are straightforward. Double tap on the left to turn on/off noise cancelling, tap on the right to play or pause, and double tap to skip to the next track. You can switch this up on the Huawei AI Life but that’s about the level of tweaking you can do on these.
I paired our review unit with both the iPhone 11 Pro and the Huawei P30 Pro. It’s worth noting that at the moment, you won’t be able to make these control changes on the Huawei AI Life/Smart Home app on iOS. Then again, if you’re using an iPhone, you’ll probably just get an AirPods or AirPods Pro anyway.
Is the Freebuds 3 your GadgetMatch?
There’s a lot to love with the Freebuds 3. The noise cancellation is pretty good, sound quality is superb, and the carrying case is small enough to be pocketable but not too small that they’re easy to misplace.
The battery is also pretty darn good. I’ve only had to charge it once in my week with the device. Speaking of charging, you can do so through a USB-C cable which comes with the device on the box or through wireless charging.
My only real gripe is how it looks. I’m still not a fan of how Apple has normalized wireless earbuds with stems sticking out. I find it frustrating that it’s now somehow considered trendy and fashionable.
That said, if you like rocking these types of earbuds, that’s completely fine. Live and let live, right? But part of me is hoping the next version has a different look. These do come in two colors: Ceramic Black and Carbon White so you can at least go with the black one if you think the white looks too much like a knockoff.
The Freebuds 3 is priced as follows: UK (GBP 147), Singapore (SG$ 238), Philippines (PhP 8,990), Malaysia (MY R679). That’s very competitive considering everything you get. These might just be the value upper tier true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation. Everything works as advertised and that is truly satisfying.
If you’re looking to splurge a little for a better audio experience, either for you or as a gift for someone else, then it’s hard not to recommend the Freebuds 3.
These HyperDrive accessories make your Macbook fun to use
Don’t worry about ports and connectivity anymore!
We all know most Macbooks have limited connectivity hubs. The removal of useful ports made Apple’s notebooks slimmer and sexier.
It’s one of the reasons why I got a Macbook Air as my daily driver. I want a device that helps me get the job done, eases my workflow, and makes me look cute while typing on my keys.
And I’ve accepted the compromises. I bid goodbye to the several ports I’ve enjoyed while using a Windows laptop. But just because I bid goodbye to USB-A and HDMI ports, it doesn’t mean I won’t be using them anymore.
Getting all the ports you need
After purchasing my Macbook Air, the next thing I did was buy necessary accessories. When you only have two Type-C ports, the best thing to do is get a form-fitting hub carrying all the other ports you need.
I got the HyperDrive SOLO 7-in-1 USB-C Hub, a docking station that securely attaches to my Macbook. It sports a 60W Power Delivery USB-C port enabling fast charging for the laptop.
Faster data transfer
Notably, there are two (2) USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports capable of 5Gb/s transfer speed — perfect for your accessories that are still using USB-A. For instance, I still use my old external hard drives and I haven’t replaced its cables, which still uses a USB-A port. There are also smartphone cables that I use when I transfer photos to be attached to our reviews.
Speaking of which, the solo hub comes with UHS-1 MicroSD and SD ports. Basically, it lets anyone do a data transfer quickly. It’s perfect for when you’re in a time crunch, transferring photos and videos from your mirrorless camera or your GoPro.
Make calls and listen to music
There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack for those who don’t have it. Although my Macbook Air has one, I remember using premium, ultra-thin Windows notebooks with no headphone jack. Somehow, I loathed them while I was reviewing them. It was inconvenient to make calls and do remote work.
Thankfully, solo hubs like this are compatible with Macbooks, Windows, and even Chromebooks. As long as you have a Type-C port, you’re good to go.
Watch videos in crystal clear resolution
If you need to present or watch a video but prefer to watch it in crystal-clear resolution, fret no more. HyperDrive’s Solo Hub comes with a 4K 30Hz HDR video output.
It’s one of the reasons why it caught my attention while I was scouring for a docking station. Most accessories I found (and those coming from OEMs) are incredibly cheap, but are also incredibly lacking.
While this solo hub comes at a steep price of PhP 4,768 (US$ 90), it’s a price I’m willing to pay to get everything in one place instead of buying several accessories to make sure I stay connected.
Enjoying a smoother 4K
A lot of us are still cooped up in our homes, dealing with a remote or hybrid working setup as the pandemic surges. Some probably have an external display for work and leisure, and some have a 4K monitor because they want to indulge and serve visual treats for their eyes.
But just because you have a laptop and a monitor capable of a 4K display and 60Hz refresh rate, it doesn’t mean your job is done. If the cable you have doesn’t support 4K, how do you think your monitor can display a crystal-clear resolution?
Though my solo hub supports a 4K output, it caps at 30Hz. Luckily, Hyperdrive also offers a USB-C Pro Video Adapter. For a magnificent viewing experience, I can connect to a high-resolution monitor with displays reaching 3840×2160 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate.
Hyperdrive is composed of two adapters: one with USB Type-C male to MiniDisplay Port female, and the other has a Mini DisplayPort male to HDMI female.
This versatility supports any setup that best fits you and your lifestyle. Further, it works with any USB-C Macbook, iMac Pro, Ultrabook, Chromebook, and even smartphones, tablets, and devices using a Type-C port that needs to display up to 4K60Hz resolution.
HYPER comes to the Philippines
HYPER, an accessory brand based in Silicon Valley with a strong focus on Apple, data storage, and connectivity products, brings its shop to the Philippines. Get discounts up to 25% off during Hypershop’s Grand Launch on Shopee starting from January 17 until January 23, 2022.
Should you worry about stalkers using an AirTag on you?
A few have already been victimized
Anyone who’s ever owned a piece of technology in the last two decades has had the anxiety-ridden experience of misplacing their favorite devices somewhere. It’s become such a problem that a few companies have created a niche for tracking devices specifically made to track wayward devices. Breaking out of that niche market, Apple recently launched its own popular version of the device called the AirTag. However, such a tracking device does come with a worrying problem for privacy-conscious individuals: Can stalkers use an AirTag to stalk their targets?
The story so far
Recently, a Sports Illustrated model Brooks Nader revealed that someone used the tracking device to follow her around. While she was partying in New York with friends, an unknown party slipped an AirTag into her coat pocket. The device had been tracking her for hours before her iPhone eventually alerted her to the device’s tracking as she was walking home.
Nader’s discovery is currently the most widely reported incident of unauthorized tracking using an Air Tag. However, the phenomenon has already been happening outside of celebrity circles. For example, a public Facebook post from user DAnna Biscoe-Farrell describes how someone attached an AirTag to her truck. The device had also been tracking her for miles before her iPhone alerted her to its existence.
With two major incidents tattling on the device’s more nefarious potential, is it finally time to consider the AirTag a security risk?
What are AirTags?
Apple launched the AirTag last year. Instead of just a spartan tracking device, the brand turned the device into a fashionable device to own. Users can add engravings and personalized key rings to go along with the new device. It even has a relatively affordable price tag, offering the device for only a decent US$ 29 per piece.
In terms of size, the AirTag is just as small as a poker chip. Though Apple does want its users to flaunt the tag with accessories, the device’s diminutive size does allow for its users to hide it from plain sight.
Using the AirTag is a simple process, too. The device pairs with a user’s iPhone (or other Apple device) using the Find My app. They can then check Find My to know where the tag is located.
Now, as you might have noticed in the above reports, Apple will also alert users if an unauthorized AirTag is somehow following them around without their knowledge. It can notify users either with an iPhone alert or chirps that the tag will eventually play. It’s a convenient security feature designed to prevent malicious tracking.
Should you be worried about stalkers?
The AirTag’s description does set up a double edged sword (or, more appropriately, reveals two sides of the same poker chip). The AirTag is inherently useful. It can help users find lost devices with a simple app. However, its unassuming design can become a security risk with enough malicious ingenuity.
However, before we get into why an AirTag is a bad idea, let’s run down the pros of the AirTag’s security features. Compared to other tracking devices, the AirTag was specifically designed to prevent unwanted tracking. Other devices in the market don’t even have alerts if you’re carrying an unauthorized tracker. For example, a quick search on Amazon and Lazada pings unbranded GPS trackers that can easily track people or vehicles without consent for a fraction of the price. Tile, the leading tracking brand before the AirTag came along, even offers different shapes and sizes. Relatively speaking, the AirTag protects against stalking more than any other product in the market.
That said, the AirTag’s security measures are still severely lacking. For one, the device will alert victims only if they own Apple devices. If you’re carrying someone else’s AirTag on your person but don’t own an Apple device, then you’re in potential and unknowable danger until the AirTag chirps. While Apple has made great strides in creating a robust ecosystem for its products, the Apple-exclusive has inevitably ostracized Android users from its security blanket.
Further, the sizable delay between attaching an unauthorized AirTag and alerting the followed user can be too late. In the above incidents, it took hours before the victims discovered the AirTags on their persons. By then, the stalker could have already attacked or discovered where the victim lives.
Finally, as a smaller niggle on the AirTag’s features, Apple doesn’t really offer any solution once a device discovers an errant AirTag. Though authorities can certainly check who owns the AirTag, Apple doesn’t have a system in place that can easily report stalkers.
What should you do if someone attached an AirTag on you?
Given the delay before an actionable alert, there aren’t a lot of hard-hitting solutions you can take against a stalker. However, that’s still no reason to panic.
If you detected the AirTag before you reached home, don’t go straight to your house. Leading a stalker to where you live is the worst case scenario. Instead, lead the device somewhere far from where you live. Once you’re in a safe and untraceable place, you can figure out what to do with the device.
The easiest solution is to throw the device away. Disposing the tracking device can already throw the stalker off. However, don’t attempt to destroy the tag. Besides alerting the stalker that you discovered their device, you run the risk of damaging the tag’s battery. A damaged battery is a safety risk and can explode.
There are, of course, more rigorous methods you can try to bring the stalker to justice. A functioning AirTag has the linked Apple device attached to its hardware. Investigating authorities can identify and locate where the owner of the tag is. Once you discover the tag and have transferred to a different location, you can report the tag to the police.
In terms of preemptive measures, always keep your things in sight especially objects that can easily hide a small object. Though people can easily slip something small into your things without you knowing, there’s no harm in keeping your belongings safe and staying away from strangers suspiciously close to you.
Sony adds party-ready WH-XB910N to wireless headphones range
For easy and personalized music listening
Sony announced the newest addition to its wireless headphones range — the WH-XB910N, which is tipped make music listening even easier and more personalized.
The WH-XB910N overhead headphones transport you to your favorite music venues from the comfort of your home with exemplary features which focus on bass and noise cancelling.
Bring the party anywhere
The WH-XB910N overhead headphones feature exceptional bass with improved noise cancelling which replicate the feel of your favorite festivals or clubs.
The EXTRA BASS feature allows for a deep and punchy sound while the Dual Noise Sensor Technology clears out everything else with next-level digital noise cancelling.
A dedicated bass duct on the headphone housing paired with more air-tightness between the unit and the eardrums elevate the music experience.
Listeners are still guaranteed to get high-quality and clear sound too, as if their favorite artists are performing right next to them especially with the device allowing 360 Reality Audio.
Crystal clear calls
When it comes to phone calls, the Precise Voice Pickup Technology combines two built-in microphones with advanced audio signal processing, so users answer calls hands-free while ensuring voice is clearly picked up.
Boost your listening experience
The WH-XB910N also uses DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) in order to restore your favorite tracks to a high-quality sound, truer to the original recording.
Additionally, users may connect the device to the Sony | Headphones Connect app and tailor their sound with the Equalizer feature.
Of course, the WH-XB910N is also equipped with smart features that lets users tailor their listening quite more.
The Adaptive Sound Control senses the customer’s location — including places visited — adjusting the ambient sound accordingly whether you’re in a quiet room or out in a café, gym, or your office.
Keep the party going
With up to 30 hours of battery life, Sony’s latest wireless headphones edition provides enough power for even lengthy trips and long weekends.
A quick 10-minute charge when running low also gives up to 4.5 hours’ extra worth of play time with the optional AC adapter.
The WH-XB910N also features Sony’s popular Multipoint connection, meaning it can be paired with two Bluetooth devices at once.
It also supports Google’s Fast Pair feature and Swift Pair for easy connecting to a Windows 10 computer.
Furthermore, it is Google Assistant and Alexa compatible for hands-free help every day on the go.
The headphones is equipped with soft, oval-shaped earpads made from comfortable synthetic leather and urethane materials for exceptional wearability.
Its handy design allows the ear cups to swivel inwards and neatly into the compact and durable carry case for users to be able to take it everywhere.
Aside from the product being stylish, Sony designed the WH-XB910N with sustainability in mind.
Zero plastic is included in the packaging material for both models, reflecting Sony’s commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of their products and practices.
Pricing and Availability
The WH-XB910N is now available in the Philippines priced at PhP 9,999 available in colors black and blue. For a full list of specs and information, please click here.
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