Choosing a pair of quality wireless earbuds can be a painstakingly long process, given thousands of options available on the market across a diverse price range, and in my experience, can often be hit-and-miss across many brands. Jaybird Freedom have caught my eye during a half-price sale, and I got my hands on a bright red pair from BestBuy. Over extensive use throughout two months, the headphones have met or exceeded my expectations when it comes to reliability, design, and sound quality, delivering consistent performance across the board. If you get them during a sale, the Jaybird Freedom are often available at a half price point, which I highly recommend waiting for, and make full use of that value by delivering a strong set of features. Jaybird Freedom make a strong case for why premium audio products command such consumer demand, and their general availability at an affordable price point backed by high quality ensures user satisfaction. Below, I discuss the full extent of the product’s features, taking into account extensive quality testing throughout a two month period to highlight why these rank among some of the best wireless earbuds money can buy.Continue reading
In the past, I’ve got a chance to be a part of Anker’s Power User program, working with the company to test product and provide feedback. I had the opportunity to try out the Anker PowerCore 20100 and was very impressed with this product, through its design, quality and performance. Besides packing a large amount of battery capacity, the PowerCore 20100 is also one of the sleekest designs you can buy, and the quality of packaging and accessories by Anker impress a lot, and at just $40 price for a whole package. So, let’s take a look at what it offers.
When I received this product, I was immediately impressed with its packaging. Anker demonstrates its high levels of product quality not just with their devices, but the all-around package. Anker products are always packaged well, and the PowerCore 20100 was no exception. Opening the box, the contents look impressive – a super sleek power brick, a soft carrying case (super useful after I had to start carrying it around everywhere but not commonly seen included with these products) and a nice charging cable. I was actually surprised to see a carrying case, as I’ve tested multiple power bricks over the past and its proven useful when i carry the PowerCore 20100 around with me.
The Anker PowerCore 20100 looks seriously sleek and I find it to be one of the best-looking power bricks around. All design elements fit very well into it, from the white colour (the model I received, and I do believe it look a lot better than black) to the placement of USB ports. To round off the sleek package, Anker places its neat logo and 4 LED lights on the top of the power brick to further enhance the already great look. The quality of the build also impressed, and Anker didn’t slack off with making this model. The result is an all-around best power brick.
PowerCore 20100 is quite large in size, although it is never inconvenient to carry it. The plentiful capacity is a worthwhile trade-off, and I appreciated the fact I wouldn’t have to charge it often for weeks. The 20100 mAh capacity is enough to charge a high-end phone multiple times over, although this iteration of Anker’s PowerCore does not include Quick Charging. Don’t expect it to be able to charge your phone from zero to full in an hour, and I rely on it more to keep my phone from completely dying. 2 USB ports allow for simultaneous charging, which is always handy for a second device of any type.
Anker uses its smart Power IQ technology for charging devices, which like many others, detect the best possible output to charge a phone quickly. Again, QuickCharge is lacking so it is still slow by modern standards, but it doesn’t necessarily present a big problem. Most of these devices I won’t use to fully charge my phone anyways, and maintaining a steady battery level is more of a priority. The PowerCore 20100 has never failed on me once, and I’ve had it for over half a year by now. It also didn’t cause any issues with my wide range of electronic devices and accessories.
Overall, the Anker PowerCore 20100 demonstrates the excellent quality of products by Anker, and thus deserves a lot of attention. It is one of the sleekest power banks you could buy, but it also delivers on its excellent quality and performance. Its capacity is plentiful and up to 2 devices can be charged simultaneously. Its one of the best portable chargers around, and Anker also includes some neat accessories such as a carrying case for protection. If you’re in the market for a new portable charger, give this one a good look.
Tested On: Windows 10-Based PC
The Xbox One Wireless controller was already considered to be a great gaming accessory and a preferred input device for players, including those on PC. The device later came equipped with a wireless dongle to use with Windows 10 and for a while it’s the controller that came to dominate many gaming markets. Later on, Microsoft unveiled the premium Elite controller with a high quality build and customizable bindings to please quality-oriented gamers with no budget concern. At last, the product range has been updated to include the updated wireless controller to come with Xbox One S and a Bluetooth functionality to connect with PCs. The new controller slots in between the old models and the Elite, and offers some quality improvements over the original controllers to bridge the gap between it and the premium Elite.
I purchased a white version of the updated controller to use with my Windows 10 system, and while its design doesn’t look outstanding, the controller looks very neat thanks to its colour. This option ships included with all Xbox One S standard consoles and can be purchased separately in white colour. Although many special editions of this controller are available like the Gears of War 4 special, those are limited to be used with the consoles only as the controllers feature no Bluetooth support. On PC, you currently have the option of the black older controller with a dongle or the updated white one with built-in Bluetooth.
Microsoft goes one step further to allow users to customize controller buttons through its Xbox Design Lab site. What it does is allow for millions of colour combinations to choose when buying a controller, which gives the device a degree of personal touch and unique design options. If it wasn’t for its higher price tag relative to the standard controller colours, I would have totally gone for it. As it stands, the customized controllers start at $100 MSRP, which is already quite a lot for an input device. Xbox Design Lab is a quite simple utility tool that offers customizable colours in multiple areas; for example, the controller body, sticks, triggers and the back can be set to different colours to make a really flashy controller. The front and the back get the biggest colour treatment and possess the biggest variety of colour options. Want your controller in pink? Sure. Want in to be purple, yellow and orange at the same time? Not a problem, but you must be crazy to want it like that.
The new controller is not visually distinguished from its predecessors, but I find it to have smoother corners and grips. The buttons all remain in their usual places and the controller doesn’t feel any different from the Xbox One Controller I’ve used before. However, past the surface, many improvements are immediately recognized, but it still doesn’t justify spending $80-100 on an almost identical controller if you already have one from your Xbox One. Nonetheless, the features are important in moving the product forward and the controller works quite nicely. The device now features a rubberized texture grip for those sweaty palms to hold on to. One of the biggest problems I’ve had with the previous Xbox controllers is when your hands become so sweaty it’s literally prone to fall out. With the updated controller, however, these issues are not much noticeable, although sweaty hands are not completely solved by the rubberized surface. Still, the controller feels nice to use and provides a lot more grip than its predecessors.
More improvements are apparent diving further into testing. The updated controller sports a 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones, taken from the elite. There is still the port for a headset adapter, but the standard audio port makes things easier. On that not, I would not recommend gaming in headphones if you keep it wireless. The Bluetooth connection is not designed to simultaneously conduct game inputs and audio, thus the quality of sound takes a significant hit. If the controller is used wirelessly, sound quality is noticeably very poor, with low clarity and muffled sounds. And don’t even get me started on voice dialogue – it sounds absolutely awful in this setup. Thankfully, all sound issues are fixed by keeping the controller wired so it’s up to preference whether its better wired with headphones or wireless with speakers. I haven’t been able to test the quality of sound in a wireless connection with the headset adapter, as those cost extra. Generally speaking, if the controller is wired, sound quality doesn’t disappoint and can be used perfectly fine with headphones.
The updated Xbox One Controller still relies on using AA batteries, which I was not very impressed by. For a new device, lack of a built-in rechargeable battery is really insulting and this is one area where Microsoft didn’t improve things. Despite the known issues with the Dual Shock 4’s battery, I would have much rather preferred that in the updated Xbox controller than the old-fashioned batteries. Sure, you can use rechargeable batteries in it, but popping them out to charge over the entire night is not exactly fun. The USB port is not particularly done well either, and I’ve got it broken a month into using it wired. The cable still works but it disconnects consistently, however not everyone might run into this issue. The last bad stone to throw would be the controller’s shaky Bluetooth connection. I haven’t used the best quality Bluetooth dongle, but even then, the controller would give me way more trouble with connecting that I would like. A simple thing as unplugging your Bluetooth dongle for an hour can mess up the pairing, and you have to do it all over again. The amount of times I’ve had to deal with that would be astonishing – last few months I’ve been keeping it wired. The new controller still needs a lot of work done on it, and Microsoft hasn’t succeeded in all areas, but there is potential to turn this device into an ultimate gaming accessory, assuming you prefer Xbox controllers over PlayStation’s.
Bluetooth pairing in itself is not an issue. The controller features a small button for device pairing and the Xbox logo serves to turn on the controller. When you can get it to work, the updated Xbox One controller works quite well over Bluetooth and I’ve never had it disconnect on me once unless the batteries die. Wireless range is not a major issue of concern, as the controller can easily keep up with a few meters away from the computer, but most have their PCs set up in a desk environment anyways, where range wouldn’t be an issue. The controller never disconnects randomly on its own, so it at least provides for extended gaming sessions with no interference. Batteries can last for a while but the controller simply disconnects when out of power, even if in a middle of an intense gaming session.
All issues aside, the updated Xbox One controller deserves praise by bringing the traditional experience closer to the level of the Elite controller. The controller is improved all-around to justify dropping another $80 on one, although if you’re just upgrading, I won’t recommend getting it unless you’re moving up from a 360 controller, where this becomes a big upgrade. The controller can even be ordered in a multitude of user-selected colour combinations to add a drop of personal touch when gaming. The product is well rounded-off with existing and newly introduced features, such as the 3.5 mm audio jack taken from the Elite controller. The new rubberized surface provides for a lot more grip than seen in previous iterations, which makes gaming comfortable even when your hands are sweaty. The controller still uses AA batteries, which I wasn’t impressed by, and suffers from a lot of Bluetooth issues, but despite the abundance of issues I could nitpick about, the controller is overall a solid offer. The newly revised Xbox One Wireless controller is a big step forward and improves on a lot of aspects over the previous model to make the user experience even better.