Accessories

Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 review: Affordable, but far from perfect

Xiaomi’s premium TWS offering

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The truly wireless earphones market is filled with a plethora of options today, ranging from entry-level offerings like the Redmi Earbuds S to the premium Sony WF-1000XM3. However, the most popular TWS earphones are from Apple — the AirPods.

AirPods kickstarted the TWS trend, and since then, pretty much every brand has jumped onboard. Xiaomi is known for its reliable yet affordable products, and it has launched a few options previously, but it was limited to its home market of China.

Now, the brand has finally launched the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 in India, and it’s pretty much half the price of Apple’s AirPods.

The Redmi Earbuds S is an entry-level offering while Mi branding is now used for the company’s premium offerings. TWS earphones are incredibly convenient to use, and their demand is consistently rising. Can the Mi TWS 2 offer maximum features for the price and go against the competition?

Do they look like the AirPods?

 

At first sight, you’d think they are the AirPods for a quick second. But it’s soon clear that they aren’t. This is something I appreciate about the Mi TWS 2. In a market filled with AirPods knockoffs, it’s nice to see a different design. However, don’t set your expectations too high.

The earbud’s stem is exceptionally thick, and this is easily noticeable from the side. Thankfully, it doesn’t look that thick from the front view and is oval. The stem is also considerably long, giving the earbud a very bulky look.

The polycarbonate build has a matte finish on the stem while the driver is smooth and shiny. I feel the earphones were designed with utility and features in mind, and aesthetics took a back seat.

If the bulkier design can add more battery life and better drivers, I’m okay with it. This may not be the case with many since they tend to look like cheap AirPods knockoffs.

Each earbud weighs just 4 grams, and they slide in your ears very smoothly. Putting them on is a quick task, and for calls, while driving, these are exceedingly convenient to wear single-handedly. The semi-open design is supposed to be fit-for-all. But, this is where my primary concern lies.

How’s the overall user experience?

The earbuds fit perfectly and are rather stable. But the satisfaction of wearing an earbud is utterly absent because of reduced noise isolation. Even though they’ve never automatically snuggled out, I’m always afraid of losing them while walking. The confidence to wear them outdoors is low.

These too sport gesture-based controls, and the result is below satisfaction. I’d have to try a few times before they actively receive the command. Even play/pause function is rather cumbersome and paired with the loose fit; I’m afraid they don’t fall off.

Thankfully, they have an optical sensor that automatically plays/pauses a song when the earbud is worn or removed. Most times, I’d simply remove them from my ear instead of relying on the gesture buttons.

Lastly, the case is quite basic from a design point of view but gets the job done properly. The plastic build is solid, the lid has magnetic detection, and the earbuds aren’t finicky when plugged for charging. A small LED light on the front will show you the case’s battery status. A USB-C port is located on the bottom.

Pairing them is a straightforward task, and Xiaomi phones will automatically pop-up the status menu just like it’s on iOS. It’ll show you each earbud’s battery percentage along with the case.

But do they sound good?

The brand has added a lot of features on the audio side to make the product look premium. It has support for multiple codecs like SBC, AAC, and LHDC. The last one allows high-resolution audio streaming via Bluetooth. I used the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max to test the Mi TWS 2 and it automatically leveraged the AAC band.

Each earbud houses a 14.2mm audio driver, which isn’t the biggest. But, much of the audio output relies on tuning. Sound testing is also very subjective, so I’ll try to address everyone’s choice.

To start with, the output is very crisp and clear, and the vocals are perfectly heard. If you’re into Bollywood songs or even pop, these should be ideal for you.

Unlike the usual tuning, we see in Indian products; the bass here is well managed. It isn’t too much and ultimately does justice for every user. I’d say these are your GadgetMatch if you listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

The drivers are massively let down by non-existent noise isolation. The design of the earbuds inherently means you can hear pretty much everything happening around you. Even at maximum volume, it just didn’t feel enough.

Lastly, they have “Environment Noise Cancellation” that automatically kicks in when you’re on a call. Background noise is reduced drastically, and everyone I called could feel the change. The overall voice clarity is immensely improved, and high-winds too couldn’t deter them.

How long can they last?

Xiaomi claimed the earbuds can last up to four hours on a single charge and it’s on-point. I was able to get almost four hours with volume at 80 percent.

The case is capable of providing 10 hours of backup, taking the total to fourteen. Thankfully, the case takes just an hour to charge.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re an audiophile, the simple answer is no. The Mi TWS 2 will disappoint you in many ways. However, if you’re looking for work-related earphones, these are perfect.

Calls are ultra-clear, and the overall experience is better thanks to a loose fit. Keep them on, and get through a full day’s work. On the audio side, hip-hop or bass-intensive genre may not suit well here. However, all other vocal-centric songs shall swing by without a hitch.

With a price of INR 4,499, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 is a solid competitor. When compared to the realme Buds Air, these lose out on aesthetics. But, the minor additions from a function point of view are worth the slight bump in price.

Accessories

Apple Watch Pride Edition bands celebrates LGBTQ+ movement

Representing the breadth of LGBTQ+ communities and experiences

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Apple has been continuously supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s been visible ever since the launch of Apple Watch Pride Edition in 2016.

This year is no exception, as Apple introduces a new Apple Watch Pride Edition band and a dynamic watch face on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. The new features embrace a much more colorful presentation, inspired by multiple Pride flags representing the diverse LGBTQ+ community.

Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop

Apple weaved the original rainbow colors together with various Pride flags to represent the diversity among LGBTQ+ experiences.

The Braided Solo Loop tells a collective history of movements spanning across generations and communities, through colors. For instance, the Black and Brown colors symbolize the Black and Latinx communities along with those who have passed away from or are living with HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, light blue, pink, and white represent transgender and nonbinary individuals.

Regarding its material, the band features a stretchable recycled yarn interwoven with silicon threads. It’s designed for comfort even without buckles or clasps. If you’re worried about the fit, there are 12 available lengths of the Braided Solo Loop.

The Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop is compatible with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or later.

Pride Watch Face

This year, Apple came up with a special Pride watch face. It mirrors the new colors of the band, representing the combined strength and mutual support of the LGBTQ+ movement. When you rotate the Digital Crown, the threads on the watch face infinitely scroll and animate when you raise your wrist.

Additionally, Apple includes a new App Clip functionality to ensure immediate access to the new matching watch face with ease. The 2021 Pride watch face is coming soon as part of a software update. App Clip codes require iOS 14.3 or later.

Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop

There’s also a new Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop, showcasing the six colors of the original rainbow, and utilizes reflective yarn to support those who engage in outdoor workouts, especially at night. The design is comfortable yet durable and infinitely fits any wrists. And of course, it pairs nicely with a corresponding Nike watch face.

The Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is compatible with Apple Watch Series 3 or later.

Price and availability

The Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop retails for US$ 99 while the Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is available for US$ 49. Both bands are available at apple.com and the Apple Store app. The Pride Edition bands will be available at Apple Store locations beginning May 25. Meanwhile, the Nike Sport Loop will find its way to nike.com soon.

The new Pride Edition bands are available to order today from apple.com and the Apple Store app, and will be available at Apple Store locations beginning May 25. The Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is also coming soon to nike.com.

Apple’s long-running financial support towards the LGBTQ+ movement

Apple isn’t a company riding on the LGBTQ+ movement. The latest introduction of these watches is just one of Apple’s commitment to celebrating and supporting the movement.

The company has been working with LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations that bring positive change, including Encircle, Equality North Carolina, Equality Texas, Gender Spectrum, GLSEN, Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, PFLAG National, SMYAL, and The Trevor Project in the United States, as well as ILGA World internationally.

SEE ALSO: Apple Watch Series 6 Review

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Upcoming Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds leak, design change confirmed

Comes with improved battery life

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The audiophile community has highly regarded Sony’s WF-1000XM4, and it has a special fan base of its own. The Japanese electronics giant will launch an updated iteration soon, and we’ve already got a sneak peek of it.

According to the Walkman Blog, the new earbuds have a very different design with downsized shapes. It no longer retains a pill shape, looking more like the Galaxy Buds Pro. The site also claims that the new buds could be released on June 8.

While the images shared on the blog are of prototype models, they’re likely to reflect the final design. Obviously, the commercial unit will be far more polished and sharp. It also seems like there’s space for two different microphones, hinting at noise cancellation tech and voice assistant support.

The leak also includes shots of the WF-1000XM4’s charging case, which looks fairly dull except for one potentially important detail. Charging output is listed as 5V = 140mA, a little above the WF-1000XM3’s charging case which is listed as 5V = 120mA.

The TWS earbuds will also feature Bluetooth 5.0 technology and a new noise reduction processor. Lastly, the Sony wireless earbuds will reportedly offer an improved battery life and sound quality. Many details about the upcoming earbuds are still missing, so we’ll just have to wait for Sony to unveil it officially.

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Viewsonic Woodpad 10: The wooden drawing tablet you never knew you needed

Just don’t put it anywhere near your kitchen area

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Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Nowadays, products (not furniture) made out of wood dominate the interest list of most people — myself included. Whether that may be a monitor riser, headphone stand, wrist rest, and even as electric fans, wood simply is the way to go.

Well, Viewsonic also has something up in their sleeves. Their Woodpad line offers a unique-looking drawing tablet that suits every artist’s clean and minimal workspace. Here, we’re specifically checking out the Viewsonic Woodpad 10.

Viewsonic may not be the best brand when it comes to graphic tablets but they surely are a reputable Taiwan-based brand for computer peripherals. But would this drawing pad suffice? Let’s find out.

Wooden product in a non-wooden packaging

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

The packaging is actually nothing special but I have to point out that it looks cleaner and more premium than its other tablet counterparts.

And yes, the box is made out of a solid piece of cardboard in black, not wood. I’m not saying it should though since wood is harder to produce and will be a lot heavier when packed and shipped.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Inside, you get the Woodpad 10, as well as its stylus that matches the wooden aesthetic of the tablet. There’s also a super long cable (also in white) for connection, and three extra nibs with a nib remover in case your existing nib gets ruined.

Sleek and classic-looking

Say goodbye to your “wood” stickers and wallpapers! The Viewsonic Woodpad 10 is crafted from lightweight and renewable bamboo. Ironically, Wacom’s discontinued “Bamboo” product line (replaced by Intuos) is made from plastic, not even bamboo.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

The “Woodpad” text with its leaf product emblem is carved on the drawing pad, mimicking a solid chunk of wood. Its bundled pen stylus is also one of a kind with its cream and white color combination. That’s something you don’t see among styluses because they usually come in black.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect a graphic tablet to have a jagged surface area. This drawing tablet has a super smooth finish even if it’s made up of bamboo. You just have to keep it beside you and not near your kitchen area. If not, expect someone will use it as a chopping board.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

The Woodpad 10 is oh so thin at 7.5mm and super lightweight, just under 0.3kgs. This makes it convenient if you’re always on the go as you can just insert it in your laptop sleeve.

Overall, this is a solid piece of accessory that blends well in most rooms. This is mostly suited for people who dig that “Muji” (white and wood) vibe like I do.

Battery-free = worry-free

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Both the Woodpad 10 and its stylus are battery-free. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about overheating and dying batteries over years of usage. While the pen works without any power, the graphic tablet connects from micro USB through your device’s USB-A port.

For most devices, I complain about not having a USB-C port. But the thing is, this is a product that doesn’t require fast charging nor data speeds. Equipping this with a USB-C would probably cost more since micro USB is still not obsolete. You just have to keep your dongles for this one.

While this is a Plug-and-Play device for both Windows and Mac, there’s a reminder to install the drivers first through their Downloads page to maximize it. With my experience in Mac, it wasn’t able to automatically install the drivers so I manually installed it.

Without these drivers, pressure sensitivity won’t work regardless if you have Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketchbook, PaintTools SAI, or other sketching apps in installed in your machine.

Smooth-sailing performance

On paper, the Woodpad 10 has a 10-inch surface area. Other than that, it supports 4,096 levels of pressure with 250pps (points per pressure). And just like a true paper, the Woodpad 10 performs and functions well just like any other graphic tablet because of its 0.25mm pen accuracy.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

While the stylus isn’t battery-powered like Samsung’s S-Pen and the Apple Pencil, it still supports pressure sensitivity so your artworks would look better and versatile with thin and thick brush strokes.

It also supports pen tilting so you can also do shading just like you would on a traditional pencil. The attached pen tip is also said to last of up to 150,000 taps before it needs to be replaced with the extra nib.

Verdict from both a casual and a professional artist

Admittedly, I’m not the type of creative who’s good at drawing and sketching. I used to draw cringey chibis and some doodles way back in high school, but times have changed — and my skill simply vanished into thin air. Anyhow, I still tried testing it and here are some works I did using the Woodpad 10.

 

 

With the pandemic far from ending, it makes me miss traveling even more. I then decided to just sketch out some of the places I’ve been to just re-live the experience.

 

Some of those in my list are Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, Taiwan’s Taipei 101, and the National Museum of Natural History in the Philippines. With these rough sketches I produced, I was able to verify that its pressure sensitivity works well — evident through the weight of strokes. At the same time, it really felt like I’m using a paper, not a drawing device.

Not sure if it’s because of my bigger hands but the bigger surface area was advantageous on my end. I can’t imagine myself using a smaller 7-inch drawing pad anytime soon or I might suffer from arm sore.

To finalize my drawing experience, I just tried sketching my frustrations — having no motivation and feeling blah in the past few days. I also tried writing Korean lyrics from Lee Hi’s HOLO (watch the music video here) to remind myself that everything will be okay eventually and one day IT will stop. Maybe not now, but soon enough.

I also lent this unit to my great artist friend Angeline (@titaeny) for her to try out the Woodpad 10. This is to check if the graphic tablet can really keep up with the industry’s standards. Obviously, my sketching skills are not even as good as the drawing/sketching talent she possesses. Here are some of her best outputs.

AoT’s Eren and Levi, TWICE’s Chaeyoung, and yes, she’s one of the biggest Taeyeon (SNSD) stans out there

You can check more of her great works via her Twitter account, as well as her Instagram and Bēhance portfolio.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Viewsonic Woodpad 10 has a retail price of PhP 6,599. Users from the Philippines who are interested to check it out can visit this product site by OnwardPH. Also, there’s a less pricey Viewsonic Woodpad 7 priced at PhP 4,099 with a smaller 7-inch drawing area.

Viewsonic Woodpad 10

Artists would know that Huion has more affordable offerings but with Viewsonic’s brand reputation and Woodpad’s unique wood aesthetic, you simply can’t go wrong choosing it. It’s also a great deal considering Wacom counterparts offer smaller 7-inch tablets that’s closer to the Woodpad 10’s SRP.

It doesn’t matter if you’re fond of drawing and sketching. As a casual user, I enjoyed using the Viewsonic Woodpad 10 and how it performed with its pressure-sensitive wooden pad.

If you’re like me who wants to have a graphic tablet that doesn’t look as tacky as other brands, Viewsonic’s Woodpad 10 is a must have. If you’re also willing to pay extra for that wood “aesthetics”, this is your best option.


For more great products and accessories like Viewsonic’s Woodpad series, visit OnWardPH or follow them through their Facebook and Instagram accounts (@OnWardPH) for you to keep posted.

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