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The best Bluetooth earbuds of 2018

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

Bluetooth earbuds are the Goldilocks of the mobile audio world: not too fussy, not too expensive—juuuust right.

As Bluetooth earbuds don’t need to be plugged into a smartphone or tablet, you'll never have to worry about getting tangled up in the cord running between their earpieces while you're typing, working out at the gym, or grooving to music while making dinner.

Where corded earphones can only connect to one device at a time, Bluetooth devices can seamlessly switch between one audio source or another or even listen to multiple audio sources at the same time. Additionally, as the death knell sounds for audio jacks in mobile hardware, investing in a set of Bluetooth cans ensures you’ll be living a dongle-free, future-proof life for years to come.

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Audio-Technica Solid Bass wireless in-ear headphones review

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

It’s possible to find surprisingly decent Bluetooth earphones for well under $100. Aukey’s EP-B40 Latitude Wireless Earphones are proof positive of this. However, for every pair of great, inexpensive earbuds you’ll run across, you’re sure to discover 50 pairs that aren’t worth their asking price.

Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKS550XBT Solid Bass Wireless In-Ear Headphones fall into this latter category. At $79, they come with far too many quirks and compromises to recommend.

Note: This review is part of our roundup of wireless earphones. Go there for details on competing products and our testing methods.

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Jaybird X4 wireless sports earphones review

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

If you were to ask me to suggest a pair that will please most people—no matter their musical tastes or how they intend to use them—I’d recommend Jaybird’s X4 wireless sports earphones. Waterproof, lightweight, comfortable to wear, and boasting an adjustable equalizer, the X4 has enough going for them that almost everyone will enjoy owning them.

Note: This review is part of our roundup of wireless earphones. Go there for details on competing products and our testing methods.

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V-Moda Forza Metallo wireless earphones review

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

For over a decade, V-Moda has worked hard to carve a niche for itself in the oversaturated world of personal audio. Sharp angles abound in its audacious headphone and earphone designs. The build quality of its products could be compared to that of the personal audio gear churned out by its British rivals Bower & Wilkins: everything feels right; everything feels sturdy. When I think of its products, the word “misstep” isn’t one that comes readily to mind.

Unfortunately, it feels like the right word to apply to V-Moda’s Forza Metallo wireless earphones, the company’s first attempt at a wireless in-ear audio product. While they offer a lot to like, these earbuds come with enough quirks that you may feel buyer’s remorse.

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Sennheiser CX 7.00BT in-ear wireless earbuds review

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

In North America, Sennheiser is best known for its professional-grade monitor headphones, microphones, and the sort of speakerphone hardware that you’ll find in an upscale office environment. While its consumer audio products are wildly popular in Europe and Asia, they’ve yet to make much of an impact in North America’s saturated audio market. For this to happen, Sennheiser needs a reasonably priced hit to break the ice.

Unfortunately, Sennheiser’s CX 7.00BT In-Ear Wireless earbuds aren’t that breakthrough product. While reasonably priced and technologically sound, a number of frustrating flaws will have you looking elsewhere for your next set of Bluetooth earphones.

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Aukey EP-B40 Latitude wireless earbuds review

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

Not everyone wants to spend $100 or more on a pair of Bluetooth earphones. Perhaps you’d rather save that cash for dinner with your partner, or maybe you’re hard on your belongings and easily lose track of them. For that matter, you may not see the point in spending so much coin for an accessory that you’ll maybe use, at best, for a few hours a week at the gym. For you, “good enough” may be good enough.

If any of this sounds familiar, Aukey’s EP-B40 Latitude Wireless Earbuds might be a good fit. While they suffer from a number of irritating shortcomings, they sound far better than a pair of $28 earphones have any right to.

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Shure SE535-V+BT1 Bluetooth earphones review

Fri, 2018-12-14 06:00

Let’s not beat around the bush: $400 is, for most of us, an insane amount of money to spend on a pair of Bluetooth earphones. For that price, they’d best sound significantly better than anything else you’ve ever jammed into your skull, excluding earbuds that cost $1,000 or more.

Shure’s SE535 earphones meet this qualification with moxie. Yet their exceptional audio isn’t the only reason why I recommend them: Their clever modular design and Shure’s reputation for exceptional customer service also render the SE535s practically damage- and future-proof. They may cost more than some new iPads, but their winning combination of wonderful sound reproduction, repairability, and adaptability make them an outstanding investment.

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Apple’s original TV shows and series: J.J. Abrams to produce 'My Glory Was I Had Such Friends' with Jennifer Garner

Thu, 2018-12-13 14:48

Apple is said to be spending as much as $1 billion over the course of 2018 on original TV programming. That’s a lot of TV! It’s not the $8 billion Netflix is going to spend, but it’s still a huge commitment.

What can you get for a billion dollars? Well, some simple math gives us 200 episodes at $5 million a piece (a reasonable per-episode price for high-end TV). But we’re not likely to actually see 10-20 shows with 10-20 episodes each, all costing around that much. For starters, that billion dollars has to cover a lot more than per-episode production costs.

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Costco now sells Macs online, with discounts ranging from $50 to $200

Thu, 2018-12-13 13:52

The value of a Costco membership just got significantly better. Today the popular wholesaler started selling units from the MacBookRemove non-product link, MacBook AirRemove non-product link, MacBook ProRemove non-product link, and iMacRemove non-product link lines on its website with starting discounts ranging from $50 to $200. Impressively, you’ll sometimes get AppleCare+ included with the price.

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Stream your Apple Music library right in your browser with this awesome third-party player

Thu, 2018-12-13 13:06

Apple Music may have a library of more than 50 million songs, an Android app, and upcoming support for Amazon Echo devices, but there’s one thing it’s still missing: a web player. While rumors have suggested that Apple is working on one to compete with the likes of Spotify, Tidal, and, well, every other service, you currently can only listen to your Apple Music collection via the native app or iTunes, both of which require downloads and compatible devices.

Reddit user NaveedGol has developed a solution, and it’s a good one (at least while it lasts). To try it out, simply type into your browser and you’ll instantly be taken to a fully searchable Apple Music web interface that looks like something Apple itself would build. From there you can log into your account using Apple’s own authentication service, right down to two-factor authentication.

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Get 4K streaming for insanely cheap with all-time-low pricing on Amazon's Fire TV Stick

Thu, 2018-12-13 11:07

Media streamers open up a whole world of content for cord-cutters, and right now you can grab the one we’ve called “the media streamer to beat” at a steep discount. Amazon’s Fire TV 4K is on sale for $35, down from a list price of $50 and the lowest we’ve seen it. If you buy two, you can save even more, bringing the pair down to $60.

This plug-and-play streamer features 4K HDR streaming for some awesome visuals on supporting TVs. It also comes with the rare useful streaming remote, with control over volume, TV power, and even a mute button all in one place. For hands-free control, the Fire TV 4K is compatible with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, and can respond to your voice using either the microphone built into the remote or via connection to an Echo. The voice control is a little limited, but it’s still a handy feature, and its ability to control things like volume amps up that convenience factor.

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You don’t deserve a nice phone: Misusing iPhone features

Thu, 2018-12-13 10:00

It is a sad fact of life that there are no standards for who is allowed to use an iPhone. If there were some kind of minimum, we probably wouldn’t have to deal with these kinds of problems.

Writing for Fast Company, Mark Sullivan tells us “How Apple could easily fix the iPhone’s “cyber flashing” problem.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @designheretic.)

This would be the problem that when people have AirDrop set to accept file transfer invitations from “Everyone”, they can receive invitations from — are you sitting down? — everyone. Having it set like this can be a problem because some people — it’s men — get a thrill from showing their gross bits to other people. Here the Macalope means their physical gross bits and not the gross bits of their souls, although they are also putting those on exhibition.

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How to turn off location tracking on your iPhone or iPad

Thu, 2018-12-13 07:00

Most of us already know that many apps track our location data to better deliver information about local weather, shops, or movie showtimes. A new report from The New York Times, though, reveals that this data is often frighteningly precise and collected up to 14,000 times per day. It’s so precise, in fact, that it’s possible to figure out intimate details of a person’s life merely by studying it. Worse, some apps sell this data to companies who then use it to push hyper-targeted ads to your phones.

Fortunately, the report also demonstrates that we iOS users are better protected than our Android counterparts. Even so, we’re far from immune.

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Best photo book printing service: Cherish your memories in a DIY project

Thu, 2018-12-13 06:30
It's easier than ever to transform your photos into a pro-grade, coffee table-style photo book. But not all services are created equal. PCWorld reviewed photo book services to find the best money can buy.

The sudden revival of PlayStation Vue

Thu, 2018-12-13 06:00
Maybe PlayStation Vue isn't ill-fated after all.

The new Apple Pencil made me a believer

Thu, 2018-12-13 06:00

I probably used the original Apple Pencil for no more than an hour, total, during its entire existence. I don’t draw. I avoid writing by hand whenever possible. My penmanship is awful. The moment my teachers began accepting printed essays, I stopped writing them in longhand. I have never had a good relationship with pens and pencils; why should the Apple Pencil be any different?

And yet... something funny happened upon the release of the new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with the second-generation Apple Pencil. I gave the new Pencil a try. And I’ve used it more in the past five weeks than in the three years that I kept the original Apple Pencil... well, it’s around here somewhere, if I can find it, but it’s probably not charged, anyway.

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Best offbeat Christmas movies to stream in 2018

Thu, 2018-12-13 06:00
When you've had your fill of traditional feel-good Christmas fare, these 12 offbeat movies add an interesting twist to the holidays.

Report: Apple could relaunch Texture magazine subscription service in spring 2019

Wed, 2018-12-12 15:41

A new report from Bloomberg states that Apple is gearing up to launch its new magazine and newspaper subscription service. The report states that it may launch as early as spring of 2019 as a premium paid addition to the company's News app, but publishers aren't totally sold on the business terms.

You may recall that Apple agreed to purchase Texture, a Netflix-style "all-you-can-eat" digital magazine app, back in March. Texture features over 200 popular magazines, including Rolling Stone, People, Forbes, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and (yes) Macworld, all for $10 a month.

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Bose's SoundSport Free, the best truly wireless earbuds for exercising, are cheaper than ever

Wed, 2018-12-12 10:53

Wireless earbuds help you tune into your music on the move without the risk of getting tangled in cords, and today, one of our favorite pairs is on sale for the lowest price we’ve ever seen. The Bose SoundSport Free true wireless headphones, which we’ve named our favorite truly wireless workout earbuds, are on sale for $169 at Amazon today, down from a list price of $199 and an original price of $250.

Bose’s earbuds are designed for adventure, with playtime of up to five hours on a single charge, plus 10 more with their charging case, as well as water and sweat resistance. Their design is comfortable but secure so they’ll stay in place during even your most intense workouts. Although they’re a little bigger than similar headphones, they’re light enough to avoid weighing you down. They also have excellent reception and killer sound quality.

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Year in review 2018: Apple’s year of predictable updates and high prices

Wed, 2018-12-12 07:00

If 2017 was a year in which Apple let some products stagnate while over-aggressively trying to update others, 2018 was the exact opposite. Long-neglected favorites like the MacBook Air and Mac mini were finally refreshed, and iOS 12 focused on addressing longstanding complaints.

For the most part, Apple didn’t wow us in 2018 with breakthrough designs or never-seen-it-before features. Just as iPhones have “S” years (iPhone 4s, 5s, 6s, etc.) where the design stays the same but everything is just better, this was an “S” year for Apple as a company. With the exception of the Apple Watch Series 4, most of this year’s product and service releases were safe and predictable. Apple didn’t launch major new services. It didn’t drastically change the designs and features of products we’re used to.

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