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No strings attached: Sony H.ear On

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Our office door unlocks through an app that connects via Bluetooth — we don’t use keys anymore. To get a taxi, we simply ask Google Home to book one without even needing to go out or press any buttons. Even refrigerators can now talk!

Technology is moving at such a fast pace, and it shapes all aspects of our everyday lives. The beauty of being a millennial having grown up in this day and age is that I personally watched technology evolve. I was there through the age of dial-up internet to fiber connectivity, from the Nokia 3310 to, well, still the Nokia 3310 (17 years later), and from wired earphones to wireless Bluetooth ones!

Honestly, I was averse to the idea of wireless earphones when I first heard about them, and I’ve held true to that conviction for a long while. It seemed to me they were more inconvenient than they were useful. I mean sure, it’s “top-of-the-line technology” but then what? 

That cord that connects my headphones to my gadget makes me feel safe; it’s the only way I know.

I tried the Sony H.ear On headphones only because they came in a very pretty red. (Apparently, it also comes in a really cute Hot Pink, but okay, red is nice, too.) These headphones connect to your music player via Bluetooth so in theory, it’s wireless and fuss-free.

They also came in Teal, which made the GadgetMatch Creative Director very happy.

Frankly, the idea of wearing headphones connected to nothing still seemed weird to me, but the “cuteness factor” trumped the weirdness, and so began my journey to being unattached (like, literally).

Sound-wise, the H.ear On is pretty solid. These headphones have noise-canceling technology, which makes for optimal music listening conditions — or just for tuning other people out.

Though they may seem big and eye-catching, these headphones sit comfortably atop my head. The headband is adjustable, and the whole thing is collapsible for easy storage in the matching pouch provided.

I learned quickly that wireless headphones weren’t that bad.

After hurdling the initial apprehension about being tied to nothing, it was actually pretty convenient. I could go wherever I wanted and do whatever I wanted without being bogged down by pesky cords. I could stand, jump around, or even leave as I please and nothing held me back.

It was a carefree, sound existence; a tech independence unlike any I’ve ever known — at least until as far as my Bluetooth connection could reach.

Frankly, I enjoyed using these headphones, even more than I thought I would. And to think I almost didn’t try them just because I was used to a certain idea of how things should be. If this proves anything, it’s that there’s premium in letting go — literally and figuratively.

I guess there’s a metaphor here somewhere. I know I’m talking about headphones, but I’m pretty sure this is applicable to other aspects of life.

[irp posts=”11148″ name=”Sony Xperia XZ Premium Hands-On”]

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C is the key: Explaining USB Type-C

What really makes this new standard special

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For years, people have grown accustomed to using USB ports for almost all of their devices. Whether you need to charge your phone using your computer or use a controller to play games, you can always count on a USB port to be readily available for you. But 2018 was the year of change and innovation, and the USB port you know and love welcomed change in a big way.

Introducing: USB Type-C, the newest port added to the family. Its round shape brought many new uses and functionalities to your ports. But, how different is it from its much older brothers? How have companies revolutionized its use in mainstream devices?

What is this USB Type-C port?

The USB Type-C (USB-C) port is a not-so-recent discovery in the world of tech. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) developed this USB port back in 2013, and launched it into mass production the following year. The connector is a reversible oval shape, much different from the usual rectangular shape of the previous generation. Its reversibility allows any orientation of the cable for transferring files or charging your device.

USB-IF developed USB-C following the USB 3.1 standard. Such a standard was particularly used because of its faster transfer speeds and charging capabilities. With a USB-C port, you can transfer an hour-long movie in less than 30 seconds, provided you have the appropriate connector for it.

Computer and smartphone manufacturers have incorporated the USB-C port in most of their devices. One of the early adopters of the new technology was Apple, with their redesigned 12-inch MacBook in 2015. Other computer manufacturers followed in the later years, especially with the release of the Thunderbolt 3 technology used for gaming machines.

It’s the younger, faster and more all-around sibling

USB-C has been around for the past four years, and it has gradually developed into an all-around port for users. Alongside Thunderbolt 3, the USB-C port posts the highest data transfer speed across all the available USB connections in existence. Not only that, USB-C ports these days can now connect your devices to external GPUs and displays, and charge your devices. Most USB-C ports even support fast charging for smartphones.

While the technology behind it is supported by a USB 3.1 standard, it’s still very much different from other USB ports that use the USB 3.1 protocol. For starters, the USB 3.1 standard found in USB-C ports are USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, which offer twice as much performance in data transfer as USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. Most of the Gen 1 ports also use an older USB Type-A standard, which works for most of your gadgets and peripherals today. However, you would need more adapters for other functionalities, like displaying to a monitor.

But the USB-C port is a far cry from the old USB 2.0 and 3.0 protocols, which have been in existence for 14 years (and counting). Data transfer speeds for those two protocols are significantly slower compared to the USB-C port. An hour-long movie would ideally take around one to two minutes on a USB 2.0 port. Also, older USB protocols don’t really allow you to power up devices that need more electricity. So, charging devices on them might not be as fast.

Supercharged with Thunderbolt 3

So, you’re probably wondering what really makes a USB-C port just that fast. It’s not so much that it’s round, or that it’s new; rather, it’s the technology inside it. Late 2015 saw the arrival of the new Thunderbolt 3 standard specifically for USB-C ports. It first started out in most Windows laptops before making it to the 2016 MacBook Pro and several gaming motherboards.

What Thunderbolt 3 does for USB-C ports is to significantly increase its capacity and capabilities by a mile. We’re talking faster file transfer, heightened gaming experiences, and being able to plug in 4K displays for clearer images. Thunderbolt 3 also allows much bigger devices to be charged at a controlled rate. This is mostly evident with the MacBook Pro, several high-end Ultrabooks, and most recently, the 2018 iPad Pro.

The charging capacity brought about by Thunderbolt 3 deals with a tweak to how USB power delivery works. USB power delivery standards state that each USB standard has specific conditions that must be met to power up devices. Early versions of USB ports only allow a small amount of electricity (2.5W) for delivery, while USB-C allows for the full 100W.  Basically, you went from just powering up your mouse and keyboard to charging your entire laptop.

What’s to come for USB-C?

At this point in time, you’re already living in the future that the USB-C port hopes to achieve. Suddenly, you can simply bring a USB-C cable around, plug it into a powerbank, and you can already charge your expensive MacBook. More and more devices are starting to adopt USB-C because of its potential to enhance your tech experience as a whole.

However, people still find it difficult to switch to USB-C, and for good reason. Most devices continue to use a USB Type-A or micro-USB connector, especially gaming controllers and peripherals. Also, they can argue that the old ports are more accessible. In a not-so-distant future, using a USB-C port could potentially replace a phone’s headphone jack.

The future of USB-C is still uncertain. Companies will iron out the new technology more so it can become mainstream for the future. Let’s just hope that by the time that happens, there won’t be a USB Type-D yet.

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Apple now sells 18W USB-C fast charger and clear iPhone XR case

More expensive than the ordinary, of course

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Apple has a couple of interesting new items available for iPhone owners out there.

After the month-long delay, the iPhone XR finally gets an official case. For the first time ever, Apple now offers a clear protective case. Instead of leather or silicone, you can protect your colorful iPhone XR with an optically clear polycarbonate and flexible TPU case.

It’ll be probably one of the most expensive TPU cases you’ll ever purchase for US$ 39. With its expensive price tag, hopefully, it won’t turn yellow over time like other cheap third-party clear cases.

18W USB-C Power Adapter | Image credit: Apple

Those who have been wanting a fast charger for their iPhones can finally get one without spending too much. The early solution wasn’t specifically designed for iPhones and it’s not cheap either.

Thankfully, Apple is now selling an 18W USB-C Power Adapter. Although, you’ll still have to purchase a USB-C to Lightning cable separately. The new iPhone fast charger is priced at US$ 29, while the USB-C cable is an additional US$ 19.

It’ll cost you US$ 48 to charge an iPhone faster, which should come out of the box like with flagship Android phones. Keep in mind that you should be using an iPhone 8 or later model.

The new 18W fast charger and clear case for the iPhone XR are now listed on Apple’s online store.

SEE ALSO: Apple gives away iPhone XR to everyone on The Ellen Show

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Pantone of the year Living Coral and where you’ve seen it before

Such a pretty shade! 🤩

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For the last 20 years, the Pantone Color Institute had been assigning a color to the year that’s to come. Symbolic of the incoming trends in culture, fashion, and design, among others; each shade that’s carefully picked represents a sentiment that embodies “our collective experience and reflect what is taking place in our global culture at a moment in time.”

This year, that color is Living Coral, or Pantone 16-1546.

As the name implies, it’s a color we mostly expect to see under the sea. It is, according to Pantone, a hue which “embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.”

But, we don’t just see this amazing color in submerged life forms. It’s a breathtaking shade we find in nature, in the beautiful world that surrounds us, and on our Instagram feeds. Here are a few breathtaking samples from our feed:

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Of course, makeup is all up in this color jam. Coral classics have always existed, and here are some crowd favorites in this year’s Pantone pick.

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Even on the runway, this mellow color has popped up. For the Spring 2019 collections, a number of designers like Marc Jacobs, Prada, Sies Marjan, and Zac Posen have worked in the shade.

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Coral also took center stage in celebrity news and pop culture in the form of a tiny bikini in what has been dubbed as “the battle of the coral bikini.” Basically, Kourtney Kardashian and Sofia Richie, the ex and at-that-time beau of Scott Disick, were both spotted in Mexico with swimwear that looked way too similar.

In terms of impact, this item would probably have the least on this list, but those coral bikinis are still looking pretty cute to me

Even in tech, we saw the rise of this color slowly creeping in and taking the place of traditional gold and black color schemes — thank goodness!

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The Pantone Institute justifies its color choice with the “innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits” that this color represents. They even go as far as saying that Living Coral symbolizes the  “authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy” — perfect at a time of fast-paced tech and the internet.

Rightly so, Panton explains that Living Coral is “a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media.”

After writing this feature, I can’t say I disagree.

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