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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.

Accessories

Sony unveils the WF-1000XM4 with smaller design, better ANC

There’s also a significant improvement in battery life

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WF-1000XM4

Sony has unveiled the WF-1000XM4, the latest product in the company’s long lineup of truly wireless earbuds. The successors to the wildly successful Sony WF-1000XM3, the earbuds come with a range of upgrades that push the ceiling further.

It comes equipped with a more capable Sony V1 chip and a redesigned body outside for maximum comfort, isolation, and fit. The processor, coupled with a pair of microphones on the sides of both earbuds, delivers best-in-class noise cancellation. Sony says the mics aid beamforming technology, making the earbuds bone conduction capable.

to reduce noise cancellation while talking or focusing on your surroundings, the ambient sound mode can be toggled. Lastly, there’s automatic wind noise suppression to prevent any leak. It’s keeping an eye on your voice, disabling ANC automatically when needed. Sony boasts it’s the first in the world to support Hi-Res audio over the LDAC codec.

It gets improved 24-bit amps, redesigned driver units with 20% larger magnets, and an improved diaphragm. There’s also EQ adjustment available with tonnes of presets and has space for customs ones too. It’ll automatically optimize those music streaming apps that offer 360 Reality Audio or Dolby Atmos.

Voice Assistant friendly

The WF-1000XM4 can be connected to your phone via the Sony Headphones Connect app. It’ll let you set up location-based profiles for Adaptive Sound Control. Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri can all be summoned by earbuds. Touch controls allow you to adjust your music playback, activate your preferred voice assistant, and toggle between active noise cancellation modes.

While it’s packed with more features, the overall size of the earbuds has come down by 10 percent. It can deliver up to 8 hours of playback with noise cancellation enabled, and 12 hours without it. The case can recharge the earbuds twice, providing total support of 24 hours with ANC switched on. Thanks to quick charging technology, a five-minute plug-in can deliver up to 60 minutes of playback.

Other features include low latency listening, Fast Pair, speak to chat, and Bluetooth 5.2. The Sony WF-1000XM4 is IPX4 rated.

Price and availability

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are available in Black and Silver and are priced at US$ 279 in the US and available for purchase now via Amazon, BestBuy, Sony’s website, and other retail partners. In Singapore, they retail for SG$ 379 and are available in all Sony Stores, Sony Store Online and Sony Authorized dealers.

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realme Finger Sleeves, Cooling Back Clip: Step up your mobile gaming

Accessories galore!

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The devil is in the details and realme? They’re bringing in the fierce fresh details. All the way from keeping your phone nice and cool; to protecting your fragile gamer fingertips from chaffing. realme just launched their Finger Sleeves and Cooling Back Clip. And, if you were wondering what for, you’ll surprise yourself.

realme Finger Sleeves

So, before we consider getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s get into the why first. If you’ve been burning through your fingertips with hours of playing on your phone or have sweaty hands (you know the infernal struggle of chaffed fingertips). This is for you.

The realme Finger Sleeves features superconductive silver fibers. This is what lets it deliver non-stop responsiveness and high sensitivity. And, get this, realme’s Finger Sleeves didn’t miss a single tap in testings alongside ordinary finger sleeves made of ordinary fiber materials.

Worried you’ll get the sweats? Well, the Finger Sleeves are made of thinner silk threads that offer breathability and comfort. Plus, they’re 0.25mm thin, keeping things chill even in the hot summer.

realme Cooling Back Clip

Alright, hot gamer summer is up. And, if your phone’s been radiating some ripping heat, this is a must-have for you. the realme Cooling Back Clip is designed with Dual Cooling Tech to help keep your phone from overheating. 

The obvious fan air cooling method aside, the device also comes with a semiconductor ice chip to dissipate heat. When clipped on and powered up, the semiconductor ice chip cools the device while the 7-blade fan circulates cool air to your phone. 

If you’re worried about the fan interrupting voice chat, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s pretty quiet despite efficient cooling. It even comes with stunning RGB lighting for the unicorn vomit gamer aesthetics. The realme Cooling Back Clip fits most phones so, if you hate playing with a hot pocket, this is a must-buy.

Both are available on Lazada and Shopee, the realme Cooling Back Clip will retail for PhP 1,590 while the realme Finger Sleeves will retail for PhP 240.

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realme Buds Q2 review: One small audio package

Take it with you anywhere and anytime

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realme Buds Q2

We all love a good pair of wireless earphones, especially if you just switched to the wireless life. However, we also want these sets of earphones to be as affordable as a set of wired earphones. As the old saying goes, we can’t really have it all, even with something as trivial as earphones.

The people over at realme thought, “are you sure we really can’t have it all” and decided that maybe, it’s time to change all of that. Enter the realme Buds Q2, the company’s latest offering in the TWS earphone space. It’s quite small and easy to carry around, and it hopes to bring an enhanced audio experience on the go.

So, does the realme Buds Q2 keep up? Let’s find out!

Compact, lightweight, and easy to set up

realme Buds Q2

Upon unboxing, the first thing I noticed was how small and subtly designed the case is. It comes in either a clean Black or soft yet vibrant Blue color option, which I feel adds to the style aspect of it. Also, with the case being small, it will slot into any pocket easily — whether it’s in your bottoms or your bag.

What I also love about the realme Buds Q2 is the ease in setting it up. For one thing, they already give you instructions on how Bluetooth pairing works on the buds the moment you open it up. Also, if you have any realme smartphone, you can link and customize it through the realme Link app. 

Overall great sound quality

Here’s the thing: the realme Buds Q2 provides impressive sound quality mostly because of everything integrated inside it. For starters, it comes with a 10mm Dynamic Bass Boost driver, which adds depth and bass to the sounds you hear. Essentially, it lets you hear your favorite music the way it’s meant to be.

realme Buds Q2

In my usage of the device, I could definitely hear some level of depth in most songs I listened to. It isn’t as punchy and in-your-face about it, and it’s also quite loud even at around 50 to 60 percent volume. Also, I felt some level of noise cancellation with prolonged use (but more on that for another segment).

realme Buds Q2

If there’s one issue I encountered while using it, it was a little bit of latency upon initial use. See, thee realme Buds Q2 also come with an 88ms Super Low Latency mode more suited for gaming. Essentially, it supposedly reduces latency between video and audio while watching videos or playing games. Initially, however, latency was evident but with prolonged use, it became a non-issue.

Decent for gaming and work comms

Another neat feature of the realme Buds Q2 is its environmental noise cancellation, which on paper is great for calls. For the most part, it helps make your voice a little bit more clearer and eliminates any background noise when you’re talking. Whether it’s for a meeting or team comms during gameplay, it’s what it was built for.

I felt it did a decent job in cleaning and clearing up my voice during these situations. For the most part, my teammates heard my voice quite clearly even for a small earbud with a relatively precise microphone. Also, they took note of how there was minimal noise or scratches in my voice every time my microphone was on.

Solid battery life for such a small package

In terms of lasting long, the realme Buds Q2 is no slouch at that. On a single yet continuous usage, I managed to squeeze in roughly four to five hours of total audio (and sometimes video) playback. When maximizing the near two-hour battery life of the charging case, I got about 18 hours of earbud time. Honestly, this is already quite long considering it’s not particularly designed for a full day use. 

Also, the earbuds and charging case take roughly a short time to fully charge up. With the charging case, the realme Buds Q2 took close to two and a half hours to do a 0 to 100 on. Meanwhile, the charging case itself took about two hours, which isn’t that long.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 1,290, the realme Buds Q2 lives up to the expectation of a great wireless audio device. It boasts great audio quality in a compact and lightweight package, fit for everyday on-the-go use. With its ease of set up, it’s a daily driver that fits any device you plan to use it on.

It even comes with great hardware-centered features that do their part in enhancing the audio experience a little bit. Things like noise cancellation and bass boosting drivers allow you to fully immerse yourself with the music or games. Plus, it lasts quite long so you can keep listening to your music or play with team comms for hours on end.

realme Buds Q2

For its price, it’s a device that screams “we can have it all” in one package. A great audio experience at an affordable range; I mean, what more could you ask for, right?

Buy the realme Buds Q2 from Lazada
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