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Sony WH-1000XM2 hands-on: A new experience

Old tracks feel new when you listen on these headphones

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Using the Sony WH-1000XM2 is an experience I didn’t know I needed until I put them on. I felt a sort of transformation in myself and in the kind of headphones I look for.

Disclaimer checklist before we proceed:

  1. I’m not an audio expert.
  2. This isn’t a full review.
  3. I’m just sharing the experience — which is really something else.

It was love both at first sight and sound. The Sony WH-1000XM2 is a sleek stunner, especially this particular unit we’re testing. It’s black all over with only the Sony logo and left and right ear indicators as the parts that are colored.

The power button and noise cancellation/ambient button, as well as the 3.5mm port, all have labels, too. Although I did wish there was some sort of highlight, a little colored part around these buttons and the port so they’re easier to find would’ve been great.

That aside, it looks great, but of course you want to know more about how it performs, right?

Noise Cancellation

I’m actually wearing the headphones as I write this. Not because I want to listen to music, but because it helps a lot in drowning out the background noise. It’s great for when you want to focus and don’t have immediate access to a quiet room.

Trying to look serious while writing

You don’t have to remove the headphones to turn off noise cancellation. You can either put your right hand over the right ear to allow ambient noise or press the noise cancellation/ambient button on the left side.

However, to truly appreciate what this baby can do, I strongly suggest listening to some pretty darn good tracks.

Familiar songs transform

I’m the type who enjoys an hour or two just sitting or lying down somewhere, quietly listening and really absorbing songs. If you’re like me, you will absolutely love the Sony WH-1000XM2.

That’s exactly what I did one night after I got these headphones. (And a few more nights, if I’m being completely honest.) It felt like experiencing the songs again for the first time. These headphones had me feeling so fly, I actually turned into a white guy. See photo below:

I put the headphones on and suddenly turn into this white dude

Suddenly, older tracks like “Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)” by Incubus — which I have listened to countless times before —  felt new again.

I turned up Craig David’s “7 Days” and my sexy meter suddenly went off the charts. So much so that I felt like I could ask anyone out and they would say yes! I did that. Didn’t go well, but that’s a story for another time.

Old tracks feel new

I wanted to know what more it could do to certain songs. I remembered listening to some that had the feel of the sound traveling from left to right, vice versa, and then just all around your head.

I crowdsourced on Facebook and Twitter for songs of this nature and my friends did not disappoint. I didn’t expect to get classic, old-school rock suggestions but those dominated the suggestions.

Tracks like “Black Dog” and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Come Together” by The Beatles, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen straight up took me home. These are songs I often listened to as a child who had absolutely no clue what these people were singing about.

“Stairway to Heaven,” with the acoustic guitar intro starting off from your left ear and then just an echo of it from your right just before the mellotron flute comes in will touch you in ways you didn’t realize you could be touched.

Just me enjoying all these classic tracks

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was a strong recommendation by several friends. Apparently, it’s one of the best songs to listen to when you’re testing whatever audio device, so always have this on your phone. It didn’t disappoint. The song, listened to with the Sony WH-1000XM2, feels as powerful as ever.

When it gets to the “Galileo” part, that’s when it gets really interesting. Close your eyes and you’ll feel as if you’re surrounded by the band as they play the entire thing in all its glory.

If you decide to give these headphones a spin, I put the recommended songs in a playlist. It’s mostly rock and roll tracks but I put a few handpicked anime songs there if you’re into that.

You should also try this “Love is in the air” playlist, specially since it’s the love month and all.

Other bells and whistles

I forgot to mention that I felt all of that while listening via Bluetooth. The sound quality is insanely crispy — imagine if I had used the cable that came with it. My mind might have been blown in an instant.

The Sony WH-1000XM2 also comes with a carrying case. It neatly fits the headphones inside, as well as the cable.

A carrying case as neat as the headphones

The headphones also have non-visible controls on the right ear panel. Great idea, but it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. Often times when I was trying to skip to the next track, I would wonder why the music stopped playing. Turns out, it paused instead of skipping.

The controls and gestures might take a while to get used to but during my test, I never really gravitated towards using them. I would mostly adjust the volume or skip a track on my phone or laptop.

Video editing, podcasts, video games

I switched back to my normal self once I started using the headphones for work.

No longer a white dude, but still kinda cute. Violent reactions go straight to the comments section

The ear-opening, near-mind-boggling experience listening to music translates well to other tasks. I could clearly hear any unnatural sound from what I was editing which made applying changes easier for me.

I also played NBA 2K18 and Shadow of the Colossus with these headphones on. It was funny hearing the players’ voices better while on the court. Shadow of the Colossus is a pretty quiet game but has great scoring as it changes moods from when you’re just wandering to when you’re trying to take down a colossus. With the headphones on, you really feel the intensity of the battle and it helps get you on your toes and immerse you in what you’re playing.

Final thoughts

If I had my way, I would keep the Sony WH-1000XM2 all to myself. As someone who works with video and audio a lot, and someone who enjoys sitting back and just absorbing good music, this is the exact pair of headphones I would want.

No, I didn’t actually turn into a white guy, in case that’s something that got you confused

They sound great, look amazing, and battery power lasted long! I only had to charge once in about a week. That’s considering I used the headphones a lot for both work and play.

As far as wireless, noise-canceling headphones are concerned, the Sony WH-1000XM2 set the bar high for me.

SEE ALSO: No strings attached: Sony H.ear On

Accessories

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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