In case you’ve been keeping a watch on the whole Noise Cancelling headphones scene, you’ve probably heard the news — Sony makes some of the best Noise Cancelling headphones in the business.
Nowadays if you ask most tech people — what’s a good pair of noise canceling headphones? The answer will almost always be — The Bose Quiet Comfort series or, more recently, the Sony 1000XM3.
Now, the 1000XM series are Sony’s flagship noise canceling headphones. And flagship headphones tend to cost a premium, which they’re totally worth for sure, but not everyone can afford super premium headphones!
That’s why I was happy to see Sony announce the new XB-900N recently. The Sony XB-900N, or the 900N as we’ll call it for the rest of this review, are a much more approachable pair of noise canceling headphones.
So while they probably won’t have the same level of noise-canceling power as the 1000XM3, there’s still a lot to like here, especially at this price point.
Expensive looking without being THAT expensive
The 900N shares a lot of design similarities as the more premium XM3, which is a good thing because that means these headphones look expensive.
The exterior is mostly hard plastic, and the headband has a nice foam padding on the underside. There’s also a tiny NFC logo on the left side which you can just tap a compatible Android phone against, to pair it with these headphones, which is super convenient.
Apart from that, there’s Sony branding on both earcups as well, and you’ll notice bass vents present which look pretty cool.
On the left earcup, you’ll find two buttons and ports present, along with one of the two microphones. One button is for power and the other button can be set to trigger your phone’s voice assistant but I’ll talk about that a bit later.
On the right earcup you’ll see the second microphone, along with an entire flat surface which is touch-sensitive.
Just like the XM3, the flat outside of the right earcup has touch-enabled pads. It’s one large solid piece though, so there’s no separate sections with different features like on the XM3.
Easy navigation and control
You can swipe up or down vertically to increase or decrease your audio volume. Swipe sideways to skip tracks, and double tap in the center to pause music. You can also tap the center of the earcups to answer or end a phone call.
But my favorite feature has to be the “quick attention mode.” It automatically and instantly lowers the volume of whatever you’re listening to, in case you need to speak to someone in front of you, or listen to something going on around you. All you have to do is cover the right earcup with the palm of your hand.
This feature is really handy, especially if you’re like me and like to wear your headphones in the office, or in a cafe, and some random human comes up to you and says something.
These gestures take a little getting used to, and you’ll either find them super useful or super frustrating. Either way it’s still cool to have.
Support for a virtual assistant
Speaking of frustrating, like I mentioned earlier, Sony allows you to choose between Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa for a dedicated button on the 900N. But if you choose to have a digital assistant then you’ll lose the ability to use that button to cycle between noise canceling modes.
Not that there’s too many Noise cancellation modes on the 900N, there’s two – an ambient mode where the noise cancellation is less aggressive and you can hear what’s happening around you, or the full-on noise cancellation mode.
Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of digital assistants on phones. I use Google Assistant all the time on my Google Home, likewise for Alexa on my Echo, but on my phone I just never find them quick enough. So while I might not find this particular feature very useful, I understand that some of y’all out there might really like it, so here you go.
Just FYI, you can turn off the noise cancelling on these phones as well, but I’m not entirely sure why you’d want to, since it doesn’t really affect the audio quality TOO much. And while these are primarily marketed as wireless headphones, you can use them wired as well. Which will help get even more battery life out of these headphones, if necessary.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the headphones also fold up for easy storage when not in use. It comes with a nice carrying case too which makes it much easier to carry around when you’re not using it.
Something you can wear for hours
Sony has done SUCH a great job on nailing comfort on the XB900N. Just like the more premium 1000XM3, there’s a cushy headband (with very prominent Sony branding), and super soft, sturdy earpads that have an around-the-ear fit.
The headband in particular has a good enough tension with the headphones feeling nice and secure around your ears. This helps give a good amount of noise isolation to help with the noise cancellation.
The headphones weigh a very light 254 grams so even after wearing them straight for a few hours, I never felt like it was pinching my brain too much.
That being said, I will mention though, that it’s been a little too humid where I live for the last few weeks and as a result if you’re in a really humid environment, there can be quite a bit of moisture built up between your eyes and the earpads so you’d want to take a break every hour or so.
But essentially the Sony XB900N is meant to be used for travel. Your daily commute to work, or a flight, or long bus or subway ride, and in these scenarios you could comfortably wear these headphones for hours.
More codec options for a better listening experience
The Sony WH-XB900N headphones are powered by 40mm dynamic drivers, with a frequency response range of 20-40,000Hz when used with Sony’s own high-quality LDAC codec at 990kbps.
They connect over Bluetooth 4.2, but there’s also support for a whole bunch of bluetooth codecs, which is something Sony does that most other headphone companies do not. There’s support for AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC codecs.
If you’re only going to use these headphones with an iPhone or an iPad, then it’ll stick to the AAC codec.
BUT if you’re using it with an Android phone, or anything with better source equipment, you’ll get to try out the additional codec support which definitely helps with a better listening experience.
Like for example, if you’re using it with the OnePlus 7 Pro, you’ll be able to use the LDAC or aptX HD codecs.
But let’s talk about how good the noise cancellation is.
No QN1 chip but still gets the job done
The Sony XB900N does not have their new QN1 noise-cancelling chip that’s used on the flagship XM3. Like most other headphones, the DAC (digital-to-analog converter) has to handle noise cancellation duties as well. It won’t be as impressive as the XM3, which also customizes the ANC for atmospheric pressure when you’re on a plane, but it still does a really good job.
Once you switch on that noise cancellation, all those annoying sounds in the background around you just fade away. Granted it’s not as silencing as the XM3, but it’s definitely one of the best at this price range.
All about that bass
Now I’m not sure if you noticed this, but the “XB” in “XB900N” stands for “Extra Bass.” The very prominent branding on the box mentally prepares you for this. As a result, the XB900N is more suited for bass-heavy music styles that have a lot more thump. If you’re a fan of EDM, Hip-hop, or bass heavy POP tracks then you’ll love the audio quality.
But if you don’t listen to a lot of bass-pounding tracks then you might find the audio quality a little exhausting. Thankfully, in this case, you can use Sony’s “Headphones Connect” app to change the default, bass heavy equalizer to a different soundstage.
The Sony Headphones Connect app also allows you to tweak more settings for the headphones, including the equalizer I mentioned, adaptive sound control, ambient sound control, Sony’s DSEE sound enhancement system, and more. You can also use them to answer phone calls, and the microphone quality is superb.
Overall though, I’m quite a fan of the audio tuning, but then I’m all about that bass. Vocals are crisp, and that thumpy bass is tight, and resonates inside those earcups. There’s clear, clean audio coming through across the frequency range. And for softer, instrumental, or acoustic genres of music, you could just tweak things in Sony’s headphones app.
Superb battery life
The Sony XB900N boasts 30 hours of battery life with Noise Cancellation switched on. Not only is this just like the more expensive 1000XM3, but it’s pretty much very accurate.
I used these during writing and video editing sessions in cafes for about three to four hours each day for about an entire week before I even got a low battery alert. That’s just freakin’ awesome.
When it comes to charging the headphones, the first positive surprise is that it charges over a USB Type-C port!
It’s really great to see Sony adopt this incredibly convenient standard, especially if you only have type-c cables around like I do.
I mean come on, it’s 2019.
Coming to charging specifically, a ten minute charge will give you about an hour worth of battery life, but a full charge can take about three to four hours depending on the charger you’re using. It’s not great but it’s not too bad either considering the kind of battery life you’re getting.
Is the Sony XB900N your GadgetMatch?
At US$ 250, the Sony XB900N is worth every penny.
It has sound quality that rivals headphones that cost a lot more. That, combined with the solid noise cancellation, make it a really great buy at the price point.
Now, remember, the audio tuning tends to be a little bass-heavy so if you like that you’re set, but if you don’t then you will have to make equalizer tweaks to handle that. But then again if you want THE BEST audio, you’ll have to spend a bit more and get the Sony WH-1000XM3.
But at the price point it sells at, there’s just no beating the Sony XB900N as an all-around package. There’s great battery life, good audio drivers and, support for a whole bunch of bluetooth audio codecs. Sony has another winner on their hands.
Definitely recommended. This is going to be THE pair of headphones I recommend in this price range for a while.
realme Beard Trimmer: Getting that sexy stubble
For that stylish, cool, and attractive lewk
“Is he attractive? Or he just has sexy stubble?” That’s a question my friends wonder when they meet someone new. And a question I pose for myself as well.
Stubble is sexy. Period. Every time I look at the mirror, I find myself alluring when I have stubble. Though they look cool, and they help separate men from boys, keeping your facial hair at a certain length takes time, skill, and precision.
The art of trimming your facial hair
You can easily trim your facial hair when you have a manual shaver or trimmer. But that might be time-consuming to use and master to achieve the desired result.
Contrarily, going to a grooming salon can help you get that peg you’ve been wanting for your face instantaneously. Albeit, quite expensive. In addition, it’s difficult to maintain when you have a hectic lifestyle. Unless your preferred barbershop does both of your regular haircut and beard styling.
Precisely why the likes of smart, grooming tools rose through the past few years, aiming to help men redefine what’s sexy, groomed, and stylish. But in their own way.
You might think of a few brands to consider, but some could be taken aback by an expensive price tag. Moreover, it’s scary to invest in something expensive especially when it’s your first time. So if it’s indeed your foray to grooming and styling, the realme Beard Trimmer might be worth a try.
Looks sleek for the sleek-looking
Having a beard trimmer opens up possibilities for your personal care. Most accessories come with nifty features to help you achieve your desired result e.g. a sexy stubble. And realme’s very own Beard Trimmer can surely deliver, too.
At a glance, it looks like a hefty device at a size of a regular gigglestick. Thick, sturdy, and a design that piques someone’s curiosity. It comes with a stainless steel blade, whereas its head and motor are fixed and lubricated.
It’s skin-friendly, and it definitely feels premium with that matte finish. It can rival the likes of trimmers from Philips, especially with the materials used. More importantly, it’s ergonomically designed so it can be gripped easily while you groom yourself.
Style on your own
The package comes with a 10mm comb that you can place over the head, so you can trim your hair properly. The realme Beard Trimmer comes with 0.5mm precision and 20 length settings that can be adjusted using the adjustment knob.
To turn it on, you just have to press the power button and a green light will indicate it’s ready. And of course, the motors would be buzzing by then.
I personally prefer using the lowest length setting — 1cm to be exact — since I keep my facial hair short enough to be trimmed easily. But preferably, you’d have to grow the hair for at least 3 cm for a more flexible approach. Nevertheless, having a lot of length settings offer versatility to define your facial hair.
Just remember to shave with light, gentle strokes. And don’t forget to even the hair out and edge it accordingly. More importantly, rinse it properly since the metal head is washable. Just don’t let the liquids run through the charging port.
On another note, what I like about the realme Beard Trimmer is the low-noise operation when trimming my hair. Its minimal noise sounds like the buzz from my stylist’s clipper, coursing through my head in a quiet barbershop. It’s somewhat pleasing to my ear; a new beginning awaits as I shed old parts of myself.
The realme Beard trimmer is equipped with an 800mAh battery capacity. While it seemed pretty small, it can last for an hour and 20 minutes of cordless use on a single charge. If you run out of battery, you’ll have to charge it for at least two hours.
I, however, didn’t get to drain the battery down to zero. But I did use the trimmer four times now, and it’s still up and running. Previously, I charged it after unboxing and it reached full battery capacity after 45 minutes. That’s average, but the battery might be long-lasting considering I haven’t charged it for two weeks now.
But if you can’t wait for two hours to fully charge the device, you can always trim while charging. The Beard Trimmer will still work even if it’s plugged — and you don’t have to worry about it since the heat dissipates easily with its stainless steel and metal properties.
What’s amusing, though, is the Beard Trimmer sporting a Type-C port. I literally sighed “Amen”, seeing a lifestyle product that doesn’t use a micro USB port. Most gadgets I own now use a Type-C cable and I appreciate it when more devices are equipped with this port. It just makes my life easier.
If you travel frequently — either for leisure or business — then you might love the trimmer’s travel lock feature. With just a single long press on the power button, you can lock the trimmer to avoid accidental touch while traveling. Or so it doesn’t buzz while inside your carry-on.
The yellow light will indicate that the trimmer is locked. If you try to open it by pressing the power button softly, the LED indicator will prompt that it’s locked by blinking the yellow light. You can unlock it easily though: Just long-press the power button and voila!
Furthermore, the realme Beard Trimmer is easy to fit in on your carry-ons. Or in your luggage, if you’re going on a trip that doesn’t require an x-ray scanning machine and doesn’t prohibit combustible devices.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
If you’re out in the market for a grooming accessory, and if it’s your first time to shop for a personal care tool — the realme Beard Trimmer is worth considering as your GadgetMatch. It ticks the right boxes that first-time groomers would look for: affordable, sleek and premium-looking, easy-to-use, and offers precise cutting.
Meanwhile, seasoned groomers would probably look elsewhere. Something like Panasonic and/or Philips; household brands that we know all too well.
Nanoleaf Lines: World’s first customizable backlit light bars
Spice up your home lighting!
As gamers continue to be trendy and creative when it comes to their setups, Nanoleaf has successfully announced the launch of the world’s first customizable backlit light bars: the Nanoleaf Lines.
Nanoleaf Lines reinvents the idea of mood lighting with ultra-lightweight light bars to create sleek linear layouts, grand geometric shapes and even ceiling setups.
The lines come with 19 pre-set dynamic scenes, as well as seven rhythm scenes that sync with music to give one’s indoor space with mesmerizing lighting scenes to complement their gaming or entertainment experience.
Bringing games to life
Nanoleaf’s Screen Mirror feature syncs up on-screen colors and animations across the lighting setup, to bring one’s favorite game to life.
Connect Nanoleaf Lines with Razer Chroma-enabled devices to bring the entire gaming setup for an immersive RGB rainbow display, taking users beyond the screen.
Pricing and availability
Nanoleaf Lines is now available at both online and physical stores below. Smarter kits (9 Lines) retail at SG$ 339 and Expansion Packs (3 Lines) at SG$ 109.
Physical stores are Brex International (Oxley Bizhub), Synced by District (Plaza Singapura), HipVan Experience Store (Suntec), BHG (Bugis Junction – from 1 December 2021), Takashimaya Level 3, and Omnidesk Experience Studio.
The art of printing moments that you can hold onto
With the instax Link WIDE, I remember it all too well
Memories are fleeting.
Apart from music, photos, films, and anything visual that has a moment imprinted on it can remind us what we once experienced.
Whether it’s the shriek that your friends made when you cracked a joke, or that lingering stare between two people head-over-heels in love. Or even the mundane hours passing by captured in between. And the little things that brought you joy and made your heart warm like a cup of coffee on a rainy day.
Looking back at moments I once savored twists a knot in my heart. Sometimes, it’s heartbreaking to fondly remember the past. But it’s a great reminder that I can still feel and that I experienced something blissful in my life.
If you’re wondering why instant printers are still out and about in a digital age where all your photos are stored on the cloud or shared in social media, that’s precisely the reason why this novelty is very much alive.
It’s a piece of memory that you can hold on to — transporting you back in time even when your mind can’t remember it all too well. It’s proof that you were there.
To holding something that never changes
Though I look like someone who can move on easily after a day or two, I’m highly sentimental and I have difficulty letting go of the past.
Life used to be unfair to me when I was growing up and after surviving an abusive relationship seven years ago, I lost memories of myself. Photos of friends from when I was studying, digital clutter that showed off my interests, and stuff that made up who I was. I lost them all.
Perhaps it’s the reason why I’ve owned and printed memories — unbeknownst to many — through the devices I’ve owned and reviewed in the past few years. Be it from an ink tank printer, a mini instant printer that uses an instax film, or from an actual instant camera that prints the moment captured right away.
I love holding onto memories because it’s something that never changes, no matter how many years have gone by. So, when Fujifilm unveiled the instax Link WIDE — I was giddy like a little kid on a Christmas morning, ready to open his presents.
The only present that welcomes the past
Living in the present means letting go of the past, and throwing away your worries of the future. But time and time again, it’s nice to remember the moments that shaped who you are today.
The instax Link WIDE helps bridge the present and the past by allowing you to print memories stored in your smartphone. It’s just like the instax mini Link I reviewed two years ago.
I could probably tell you the same things I wrote in my story before, but the experience is still quite different.
This instant printer is boxy and humongous when compared to the mini Link. It’s sturdier, thicker, wider, and heavier. Of course, the size is the prominent change but what I like is being able to print in wider, landscape-oriented films.
Pretty much like the ones from Polaroid, souvenir stamps, and postcards.
Navigating the device is simple and easy if you’re familiar with instant printers. Press the power button on the front — which has instax’s logo printed — to turn it on. On its back, you can find the film door where you can place your landscape-oriented film.
Upon shutting the film door, the printer takes out the excess film. So, be careful about opening the door once more lest you consume one of your films. A grim reminder that sometimes, doors from the past aren’t meant to be opened.
Any way you want it
Like I said before, the instax Link WIDE prints photos stored in your smartphone. To do that, you just need to connect the printer via Bluetooth and by pairing it with a dedicated app.
Through the app, you can determine how many films are still available and the battery capacity of the device. Apart from the status of the instax Link WIDE, the app allows you to play with your prints.
You can use the simple print mode to churn out the photo instantly, or you can use an editable template print that lets you edit the colors and text of various templates. Yes, you can also create your own templates if you want them to be more personal.
Frankly, I’m not fond of these templates since they look tacky and don’t fit my aesthetic. But of course, there are people who’d love to use stickers and other templates especially when they’re in a hurry to print their memories. To each his own.
There’s also a collage print that helps you put together two images in one print. Then, there’s the Sketch, Edit & Print option where you can write or draw something on the image, and customize it to your liking before you print it.
When past meets present meets future
Clicking the settings icon can brings you a plethora of settings that you’d want to maximize. For example, the Print Mode options are handy for toning the prints.
Using instax-Natural mode can give your prints a saturated yet classic look. Meanwhile, instax-Rich mode will print out photos with deep and immersive colors.
There’s so much to unpack here, but thank heavens, it’s not feelings. Nevertheless, I’m glad the dedicated app works seamlessly this time around. Compared to previous apps developed by Fujifilm for their instax cameras and printers, which were buggy and unstable.
In a way, the instax Link WIDE was able to bridge the memories of the past and the stability and connectivity of the future in the present.
A rare experience to remember it all too well
During the course of my experience with the instax Link WIDE, I was preparing for a holiday reunion with my almost-decade-old friends. People who helped me crawl out of that depressive rabbit hole.
Not wanting to let go of the only moment we will be able to come together after being away for two years, I printed my favorite moments with certain people and embedded a QR — which can hold voice clips, hidden messages for friends, and even a location pin to direct people.
I’m not very open with how I feel unless I’ve poured myself twelve shots of tequila. The truth is I’m afraid of the future, seeing the holiday reunion as the only time that my friends and I will be complete again.
Some of us are flying in different countries for work, some are settling down with that dreamy white-picket-fence life, and some are migrating for a better life.
I couldn’t fathom the idea of not being able to hug these people again. And I’m afraid that I won’t even remember these weirdos that helped me get a second leash in life. Times like these make me appreciate the novelty of instant printers and the personalized features they bring through technology.
That even a decade after, when my wrinkles started to show and I’m in my late 30s, I get to remember how life wasn’t unfair at all. That I was surrounded with bliss and love, and that what I was looking for was right in front of me all along.
Is the instax Link WIDE your GadgetMatch?
If you love taking photos and printing pieces of memories to hold on to, then your highly sentimental nature would love the instax Link WIDE. It doesn’t hassle you, unlike instant cameras where you have to frame it properly and take a shot perfectly as to not waste a film.
Aside from being overly sentimental with your memories, the instax Link WIDE also makes for perfect gifts or you can use the prints as souvenirs for your intimate gatherings.
There are unlimited possibilities, you just have to be open to making new memories — and collect them so you can savor them someday.
The instax Link WIDE retails for PhP 8,999 and comes with a free pack of film. There are two colors to choose from: Ash White or Mocha Gray.
The instant printer is available for purchase at Instax flagship stores in Lazada, Shopee, wonderphotoshop.ph, and at Fujifilm authorized dealers nationwide.
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