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Sony Xperia Ear Duo review

The line between headphones and hearables is blending together now more than ever, and Sony’s Xperia Ear Duo is one of the most innovative products we’ve seen on the market that tries to push those two ideas together. Hearables are devices that can offer similar functionality to a smartwatch, such as giving you notifications from your phone, updates from apps and other functionality, but this all comes directly into your ear through audio rather than on a display as on a watch or phone.

The Xperia Ear Duo follows on from 2017’s debut product in this category for Sony, which was the Sony Xperia Ear open-style and which wasn’t a particularly popular product and which we didn’t get to test properly. This new product brings two hearables to the mix in one package.

The Xperia Ear Duo is similar to true wireless headphones we’ve seen in the past, such as the Apple AirPods, where there’s no wire between the two Bluetooth earpieces. This looks different though as it hooks around your entire ear and looks more like a Bluetooth headset from the late noughties rather than offering a stylish and distinctive look. Here’s our full verdict on the Sony Xperia Ear Duo and whether it’s worth picking up to hear your notifications and listen to music.

Sony Xperia Ear Duo price and release date

  • Announced at MWC 2018, released in June 2018 in the US and UK
  • Price set at £279.99 or GBP249 (about AU£380)
  • Quite expensive considering competition

Announced at MWC 2018, the Xperia Ear Duo was one of few wearable devices announced at the show and it was particularly eye-grabbing as it’s such as strange idea to begin with.

Those in the US can buy the Xperia Ear Duo, but it’s not particularly cheap with an RRP of £279.99 or GBP249 (about AU£380). The Xperia Ear Duo is hard to find online in the UK right now, but you can buy it from select retailers in store and we hope it will appear at more online retailers soon. An Australian release hasn’t been made clear yet, but we’d also hope for Sony to bring the hearable to that market as soon as possible

In terms of compatibility, the Xperia Ear Duo will work with any phone that’s running Android 5.0 or higher, while those with an iPhone will be able to use it if their phone is running iOS 10 or later.

Design

  • An outright odd design that’s difficult to put into your ear
  • Hook around your earlobe with touchpads on the sides to interact
  • Comes in a wireless charging case that’s large but portable

There’s no getting away from the odd design Sony has chosen for the Xperia Ear Duo, so we’ll start with that. This is a headset that looks unique, but also reflects a lot of what we’ve seen change in recent years with the introduction of true wireless headsets. The Ear Duo is made up of two earpieces that aren’t connected by a wire, which is what true wireless means.

These both sit within a wireless charging case – more about that later – so you can carry them around and ensure you don’t lose one when you’re walking around.

Unlike Apple AirPods and most other true wireless headphones we’ve used, the Sony Xperia Ear Duo actually looks more like the Bluetooth headsets you used to see wrapped around the ears of business people. There’s a thick piece of tech that houses the battery, the touchpad to interact with it and a variety of other sensors. That sits behind your ear, then a small metal band bends around your ear and provides the earpiece so you can hear the audio.

When we first took the Xperia Ear Duo out of the box we were a little confused by how to wear them.

There’s a handy guide in the box to demonstrate the way you’re meant to put them in, but it’s inherently a problem that they’re so confusing looking that the company has to include that message. We asked other people to try and wear them in the TechRadar office, and often people found them uncomfortable to put into their ears even when they knew how to do it. We’ve been wearing the headphones for over a week, but we still struggle to put them in our ears.

Once you’re used to how the headphones work, it’ll still take you around 10 seconds to hook each one around your ear.

Perhaps we have particularly long earlobes, but we often found ourselves struggling to get the earpiece around the bottom of our ear comfortably on the first go. It’s an odd feeling to have this large piece of tech sitting behind your ear, but it’s not particularly uncomfortable. Each is light, so they sit in your ear well and won’t weigh down either side of your head.

As it’s such a complicated thing to explain, we’ve shared this video that may help you understand exactly how the Xperia Ear Duo sits around your ear.

I’ve been using the Sony Xperia Ear Duo for almost two weeks and I’m still struggling to put them in. Here’s my best attempt so far: pic.twitter.com/AVmooEzTvd22 June 2018

You have three choices of inner ear pieces with small, medium and large being the options. We took some time to figure out that medium was the perfect size, but so far the inner part of the headset has been comfortable.

We’ve also never felt like they could fall out of our ears, which is something that can’t be said of Apple AirPods. To access the smart features, you use your finger along the sides of the bits that sit behind your ears. This is easy to reach and works well.

You can adjust the volume (by running your finger up one of the touchpads) as well as pause and play your music by tapping on them. One interesting quirk is that you can only pause by tapping on the left earpiece, so you have to wear both earpieces to be able to use the headset properly. You can change the volume on both, but if you’re only wearing the right one for some reason it means you’ll lose the ability to quickly pause the music.

Instead, you can long press on the right one to open up Google Assistant, while a quick tap on this one will offer your notifications.

There’s no getting around the fact the Xperia Ear Duo headset looks silly. That said, we also don’t particularly love the look of Apple AirPods, but those have become a popular choice for iPhone fans so it may be that the Sony Xperia Ear Duo is a look many begin to adopt. If you do plan to buy the Xperia Ear Duo, you can buy it in either black (pictured throughout this review) or in a gold color.

When we originally tested the Xperia Ear Duo we saw them in silver too but it looks like Sony decided against that color for the full release. The charging case that comes with the Xperia Ear Duo is large, but it’s easy to slot into a small bag or even your back pocket. It’s thin, and while the round design is large it’s not an oversized case.

This isn’t as slim and easy to carry around as Apple AirPods and its charging case though, so if you’re looking for an easily portable device this may not be right up your street.

The Best Linux Laptop: System76 Galago Pro vs. Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

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Linux PCs are often a do-it-yourself (DIY) venture. However, many vendors are starting to provide pre-built Linux laptops and desktops 7 Places You Can Buy a Dedicated Linux PC or Laptop Online 7 Places You Can Buy a Dedicated Linux PC or Laptop Online Installing Linux on your desktop or laptop is easy. But can you just buy a Linux machine, straight off the shelf?

Here are seven manufacturers doing just that. Read More . System76’s Galago Pro and Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition remain top picks among the bevy of Linux laptops on the market. Learn about both System76 Galago Pro and Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition in this head-to-head comparison!

Why Buy a Linux Laptop?

While you can purchase a Linux laptop, it’s simple to create your own with any of the countless Linux distributions (distros) freely available.

So why buy instead of build? A pre-built Linux laptop offers a computer that’s ready for use out-of-the-box. There’s no hassle of installing a Linux operating system and potential troubleshooting.

Additionally, buying a Linux laptop from the right supplier affords tech support. Dell and System76 (particularly the latter, as a dedicated Linux manufacturer with its own Linux operating system) provide fantastic support options. If you’re in the market for a Linux laptop or desktop What Type of Linux Desktop or Laptop Should You Buy? What Type of Linux Desktop or Laptop Should You Buy? What kind of Linux desktop or laptop should you buy?

Many powerful machines exist that come designed specifically with Linux in mind. We’ve covered all bases, ranging in price from £650 to £2,700! Read More , let’s find out which rig is right for you.

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Display

Image Credit: System76

One of the highlight System76 Galago Pro features is its screen. The Galago Pro HiDPI 13-inch display delivers lush visuals at a 3200×1800 resolution. There’s also a 14-inch 1080p IPS 14-inch screen alternative.

The 14-inch IPS model now features a thinner bezel than its predecessor. Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition boasts a 13-inch screen in full 1080p. Opting for 1080p means the Galago Pro yields a bit more screen real estate.

As such, the HiDPI display found on the Galago Pro easily trounces the screen on the XPS 13. Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: System Specs

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Both the XPS 13 Developer Edition and Galago Pro feature similar specs with a few key differences. At the core of both machines, you’ll find either an i5-8250u or i7-8550U. For RAM, the XPS 13 Developer Edition allows up to 16GB of DDR3.

Compare that to the Galago Pro’s available 32GB of DDR4. Because the Galago Pro uses DDR4 and as high as twice the RAM of the XPS 13, it’s a better machine. Notably, the XPS 13 can accept greater than 16GB of RAM.

However, that’s the maximum you can order from Dell. Adding more requires purchasing the memory and adding it yourself. Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs.

Galago Pro: Connectivity

With an increasing number of devices ditching ports, connectivity is key. The XPS 13 features a microSD card slot, headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a USB 3.o PowerShare DC input with DisplayPort. The Galago Pro rocks a microSD card slot, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, USB C with Thunderbolt 3 headphone jack, and microphone jack.

Moreover, both laptops offer Bluetooth as well as 867Mbps wireless internet connectivity. Here, the two laptops are pretty close in specs. Winner: Tie

XPS 13 Developer vs.

Galago Pro: Battery Life

Image Credit: Dell It’s battery life where the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition bests the Galago Pro. While the Galago Pro includes a 35.3WHr battery, the XPS 13 touts a whopping 52WHr battery.

That packs in quite a bit more on-the-go power than the Galago Pro. Especially for a thin-and-light laptop engineered for portability, battery life remains a key consideration. Winner: Dell XPS 13

XPS 13 Developer vs.

Galago Pro: Build Quality

Since the XPS 13 Developer Edition and Galago Pro are premium laptops, both come outfitted with backlit keyboards. The XPS 13 is comprised of recycled ocean plastics for an eco-friendly design, whereas the Galago Pro chassis is aluminum. The aluminum chassis on the Galago Pro tops the plastic body of the XPS 13.

Nevertheless, its environmentally friendly construction makes the XPS 13 a sustainable PC option. Similarly, backlit keys lend a premium vibe. While the XPS 13 is no slouch and you won’t confuse it with the extremely budget-conscious Pinebook Pinebook 64 Review: £100 Laptop That Isn’t Terrible Pinebook 64 Review: £100 Laptop That Isn’t Terrible It’s a £100 laptop that runs Linux – it obviously isn’t going to replace your MacBook.

But it’s not actually as bad as we thought it might be. Read More , the Galago Pro wins with its brushed aluminum chassis. Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Options and Support

The Best Linux Laptop: System76 Galago Pro vs. Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Both the Galago Pro and XPS 13 offer Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as an operating system choice. However, the Galago Pro also comes with an option of Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS, a Linux OS created by System76.

It’s an Ubuntu derivative which differs from vanilla Ubuntu while providing a similar experience. Overall, Pop!_OS from System76 is similar to Ubuntu Pop!_OS Has Arrived: How Does It Compare to Ubuntu? Pop!_OS Has Arrived: How Does It Compare to Ubuntu? System76’s Pop!_OS Linux operating system is available for download, and is also shipping as the default option on new computers from System76. Should you check it out? Read More but with a few key differences: fewer pre-installed apps, fantastic desktop support, a lush user interface, among others.

Whereas the XPS 13 only offers Ubuntu, the Galago Pro comes with two Linux OS choices. Furthermore, System76 specializes in Linux PCs and as such provides quality support. That’s not to say Dell’s support is inferior.

But since System76 specializes in Linux PCs, its capabilities are better suited to troubleshooting issues. Furthermore, System76’s impressive lineup includes a wide array of machines such as the Gazelle. When it comes to Linux, they know their stuff.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: The Winner

Although the System76 Galago Pro and Dell XPS 13 are pretty similar in specs and build, a few key elements separate the two laptops. Notably, the two screen options.

Essentially, the Galago Pro consolidated the System76 lineup so you may pick from two different screen options. Compare that to the Dell XPS 13 with its singular HiDPI screen choice. Similarly, operating systems available on the Galago Pro include Ubuntu and Pop!_OS.

The XPS 13 only comes with Ubuntu. However, the XPS 13 bests the Galago Pro at battery life. In its review, ARS Technica found a middling three and a half hours of battery life.

That’s not terrible, though for a lightweight laptop competitor to the Apple Macbook Pro and Dell XPS 13, it’s pretty measly. Nevertheless, the Galago Pro delivers a performance wallop in a small form factor while allowing for expansion and user serviceability. It’s a rarity among laptops as a pre-built Linux machine, but also as a mobile rig which balances power with portability.

Looking for something more affordable?

Check out the best cheap Linux laptops you can buy The 3 Best Cheap Linux Laptops to Buy in 2018 The 3 Best Cheap Linux Laptops to Buy in 2018 Cheap Linux laptops aren’t easy to find.

Fortunately, we’ve rounded up three of the best Linux-equipped laptops around. Read More !

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Lego The Incredibles Review

After Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe got the Lego treatment, developer Traveller’s Tales turns its attention to The Incredibles with Lego The Incredibles for PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC. If you’ve played any of the past games that adapted movies to its brick-fuelled aesthetic, you’ll know exactly what to expect. And if you haven’t well, Lego The Incredibles lets you wreak havoc through 12 levels spanning the original movie and The Incredibles 2 that’s in theatres this week.

You’ll solve puzzles, partake in thrilling sequences, and beat down evil henchmen aplenty all while swapping between multiple characters from the franchise. The familiarity is tempered with the decision to have the game begin with the events of The Incredibles 2 rather than the first movie, letting you access the latter later on. It’s a perplexing choice as it ends up making significant reveals feel hollow; for example, you learn about the origins of Jack-Jack’s superpowers after you’ve spent the entire game using them.

While it may have been a bold, subversive idea on paper, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps it was an attempt on banking on what’s fresh for audiences now given that the second movie is out at the moment, but it falls flat as it impacts gameplay as well. Your heroes are more powerful early on than they are towards the end making the experience not as enjoyable as it could be.

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Where Lego The Incredibles could have been better served with ingenuity is in its gameplay. There are great set-pieces that have you in a motorcycle chase and levels that have you stalling a giant drill before it tears the city apart.

Although they’re entertaining segments, the moment to moment gameplay feels rote. Each hero has its own abilities. Mr.

Incredible can smash through walls, Elastigirl can contort her body into shapes, Dash is the fastest in terms of movement, and Violet has invisibility and shields. Through the main story you’ll swap between them and other heroes such as Frozone, Jack-Jack, and Reflux as you match a hero’s ability with the obstacle in your way such as swapping to Elastigirl to make a bridge allowing others to pass or using Violet’s shields to cross through toxic waste. It’s par for the course and despite the apparent variety on display, there’s nothing really new here.

This extends to the unlockable characters as well. Sure, they tally over a hundred – including from other Pixar movies like Woody from Toy Story – but some of them seem to exist to just make up the numbers. You can play as the old woman whose cat Mr.

Incredible rescues, which is a bit of a stretch, as is the character count considering a lot of powers remain the same. What’s cool though is the ability to kit out your own superhero from the Lego you’ve collected, though you can’t use it until you’ve completed a mission at least once.

All of this compounded by a camera that loses focus ever so often and button prompts that don’t work as they should, putting a damper on what should be a straightforward experience. These issues result in your character being killed more often than it really should. At times it feels that Lego The Incredibles’ biggest villain is the lack of polish and attention to these elements, further hamstrung by an erratic frame rate and texture pop-in on the Xbox One X that doesn’t make it look as good as it could be.

Clocking in at around 12 hours, Lego The Incredibles’ questionable narrative choices and bland gameplay make it one to avoid. If you’re looking for your Incredibles fix, check out movies instead because the game is far from incredible. Pros:

  • Great set-pieces
  • Make your own superhero

Cons:

  • Bland gameplay
  • Odd narrative choices
  • Technical issues

Rating (out of 10): 5

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Lego The Incredibles on Xbox One X. The game is available on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch priced at Rs.

2,999 (£60 in the US). The PC version costs Rs.

1,299 (£40 in the US).


If you’re a fan of video games, check out Transition, Gadgets 360’s gaming podcast.

You can listen to it via Apple Podcasts or RSS, or just listen to this week’s episode by hitting the play button below.

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