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Being a parent is stressful in normal circumstances, but the rise in remote learning has added new wrinkles to what we deal with (and to our faces as we deal with things). As a father of two children under 4, I already had anxiety about my kids’ mental well-being, social skills, and healthy habits before having them attend class virtually added a previously unforeseen circumstance: noise-induced hearing loss. And while hearing loss may sound benign compared to other ailments, the consequences can be severe, including difficulties like learning problems, delayed speech, communication struggles, and social isolation. Because online learning looks to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, and headphones seem an unavoidable tool to let families “go to work” while kids attend classes in the same home, hearing loss has been on my mind while the ONANOFF BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones have been on my child’s head. Designed specifically to protect hearing by capping decibels, these headphones for kids have offered safety without leaving fun, handy features behind. Here are my thoughts on helping kids up their focus without upping the volume.What are the BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones?
The BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones are some of the latest kids’ headphones developed by ONANOFF, a company founded in Iceland that has been making purposeful kid-friendly products since 2010. Organizations such as the Journal of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, and American Osteopathic Association, among many others, have reported a rise in hearing loss in children and teens as a result of prolonged headphone/earphone use. BuddyPhones are designed specifically to keep kids entertained and parents at ease by offering volume-limited listening.
The BuddyPhones lineup includes models ranging from $30 to $100, including the travel-friendly, everyday wired BuddyPhones Explore+ headphones; the wireless, waterproof BuddyPhones WAVE; and the wireless, active noise-canceling BuddyPhones Cosmos+. The BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones are a Bluetooth-equipped version of the wired BuddyPhones School+ classroom headphones and fall in the middle of the pack alongside the similarly wireless BuddyPhones Play+ but with a detachable beamforming microphone built for those remote-learning video calls and a “StudyMode” that hones in on people’s voices, among other classroom-focused features.The BuddyPhones’ design
The BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones are built from durable, BPA- and phthalate-free plastics. ONANOFF says its school headphones are kid-proof and the company backs registered pairs with a two-year warranty. My daughter certainly wasn’t overly gentle with them, casting them aside onto the coffee table and floor, and I can report they survived. Inside that plastic are 40mm drivers—the same size as many adult pairs—with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz and distortion of 3dB at 1mW 1kHz.
On the rear of the left earcup is a switch to turn “StudyMode” on or off and on the rear of the right (the ear where the mic attaches) are three control buttons. It’s worth noting that there’s a built-in mic, so the boom is optional but optimal to help focus on your child’s voice during online lessons (or during treat requests).
Also included is a detachable 4-foot auxiliary cable featuring “BuddyLink”—an inline 3.5mm output that lets a second pair of headphones connect and share one device—which comes in handy when using devices without Bluetooth or when the battery, rated at an ample 20 hours, runs out. In addition, you get a 9.5-inch USB-C for charging said battery, as well as a cinchable, soft travel bag for compact storage when the BuddyPhones are folded.
Decorative stickers help your child customize the BuddyPhones for work and play. Our tester went through several options joyfully. Andrew WaiteSetting up the BuddyPhones
The BuddyPhones are no different than other wireless headphones when it comes to connecting: hold down the center button on the right earcup until you find the headphones listed in your smartphone’s Bluetooth panel, then select them. The range is rated at 20 meters (65 feet) and I only started to hear the feed interruption when I walked out the front door with my phone in the back of the family room. Once connected, that same center button controls play/pause as well as answering phone calls, and the plus/minus buttons above and below it handle volume or changing tracks if held longer. The center button also turns the headphones on/off when held five seconds or longer. But that’s not the setup your kids will care most about. Stickers help put the “fun” in functions. The headphones come with dedicated space on the earcups and four designs—my daughter went with pink stickers featuring rulers and staples, a nice fit for a pair of classroom headphones.The BuddyPhones’ key features
An ambulance rushing by blares its siren at a dangerous 120dB. By contrast, a whisper conversation caps at about 30dB. Most of our day happens in between, but we can’t always control where in that range environmental sounds hit. With the BuddyPhones, however, at least you can select between three sensitivity modes, 75/85/94 decibels, so long days of school instruction, and any loud unexpected interruptions, don’t take a toll.SafeAudio
The SafeAudio feature lets you select the BuddyPhones’ maximum output by pressing and holding the “plus” and “minus” buttons together for two seconds. Three LED lights on the right earpiece signify your selected level.
“ToddlerMode” is the one that tops out at 75dB—a level that’s easily safe for the entire school day, assuming lunch and recess breaks are included. Surprisingly, even in this mode the BuddyPhones deliver an acceptable sound that doesn’t require straining to hear––so long as you’re in a fairly quiet space. I tested them by listening to “The Daily” podcast and a New York State Writers Institute webinar, figuring journalists and authors discussing their work was probably even quieter than teachers addressing a class. My daughter also reported no trouble hearing a silly YouTube video.
The 85dB “KidsMode,” meanwhile, adds some energy, while still remaining at a level safe for an hour or two of listening. And the top, 94dB “TravelMode” makes your child’s favorite music listening as rich and detailed as they could want in a starter pair of on-ear wireless headphones. For curiosity’s sake, I put the BuddyPhones in TravelMode, pumped up the volume, and blasted some pop tunes. The beats in Katy Perry’s “Birthday” were punchy, the horns hit the right notes at the higher end, and Katy’s vocals were clear throughout. All-in-all, the sound wasn’t as immersive as a pair of adult ANC wireless headphones, but it’s an unfair comparison. A pair of adult noise-canceling headphones like the Skullcandy Hesh ANC can pump out more than 99dB, while models like the Sony WH-1000XM4 can reach 105dB.StudyMode
The BuddyPhones also has a function called “StudyMode,” which is designed to isolate voices during playback to make them sound clearer than other noises. Truthfully, I couldn’t detect a huge difference between regular and StudyMode, but I’m supportive of anything meant to help kids focus—no matter how minute. And a sliding button on the right earcup of the headphones makes switching in and out of the mode very easy.Music to our ears
Beyond using these headphones to listen to or watch school lessons and/or Mom-and-Dad-approved content, the BuddyPhones comes with a two-month subscription to Mussila. Designed by professional music teachers, the app is a great introduction to reading and playing music. Similar to the popular ABCMouse learning app, Mussila has a learning path that guides you through its curriculum with a mix of lessons and games. But it’s way more fun than that makes it sound. The games have kids doing everything from playing notes on a small piano on the screen to identifying which instrument makes what sound. I haven’t read sheet music since my days playing second fiddle (I played viola poorly through high school), and I found the games asking me to identify which notes correspond to the music being played an engaging refresher. Though my daughter was technically too young for the app—while the headphones are 3+, the Mussila app is for kids in elementary school—she was able to play the musical instrument memory game and tap the screen when the musical notes scrolled by at slow tempos. In addition to the music lessons, the app also lets you play music by tapping the notes on the scrolling sheet music (similar to “Guitar Hero,” though this app uses real music staff). We played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and an Icelandic folk song. You can also create your own music by dragging letter notes and quarter, half, and whole notes into a colorful grid.
The BuddyPhones’ boom mic can come off when it’s time to jam out. Andrew WaiteSo, who should buy the BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones?
If you’re looking for a pair of homeschool/study/smartdevice headphones for your child, or are hoping to get them interested in music lessons, the BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones are absolutely a sound choice. Of course, there are many other options when shopping for the best headphones for kids spending their days in the virtual classroom. For budding audiophiles, you could consider something like the Puro Sound Labs JuniorJams, which cap output at 85dB while delivering a balanced sound. Meanwhile, for a cheap pair of SPL limited kids’ headphones, the Mee Audio KidJamz 3 wired headphones sell for less than $20, while the JLab JBuddies Pro Wireless offers cordless listening for less than $30.
Still, for a set of kids’ headphones with mic truly geared toward hearing safety, the BuddyPhones are some of the best headphones tailored for kids’ educational and entertainment needs. Creating child-safety-conscious technology isn’t just a marketing ploy for ONANOFF—it’s built into the Icelandic company’s mission statement. Buying from a socially responsible company, which has won awards for its safe sound and has donated learning tools to underprivileged kids, provides great peace of mind. Getting the BuddyPhones School+ Wireless headphones for a child staring at screens for learning and leisure allows parents to check off at least one thing from their overwhelming list of anxieties.
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Aukey is a Chinese company more commonly known for producing charging accessories like in-car chargers and multi-port USB stations. But, it also builds headphones. I’ve been testing the wireless Bluetooth earphones while out running for a few months now. For $25, it’s really hard to argue against the Aukey Sport Bluetooth Headphone…
It’s important to note, for me, buying wireless earphones was about fitting a couple of specific needs. I use on-ear and over-ear headphones for regular daily listening, so I didn’t need something for every day. I needed a wireless pair for when I went running. It had to be wireless because I hate the feel of the audio cable tugging on my ear when jogging up and down, it also had to be cheap. I wasn’t going to go spending $100+ on a pair of headphones that would only be used 2-3 times per week for 30 mins at a time. They also had to stay in my ears, or they’d be completely useless. Audio quality wasn’t such a big deal since the music would be mixed with the sound of me panting, and my exercising app barking orders at me.
The Aukey Bluetooth headphone ships in a minimal, brown cardboard box and comes with a number of useful extras. There’s a pouch for stowing the earphones when not in use, 3 pairs of ear buds in small, medium or large, plus several different types and sizes of ear hooks. There’s also a small USB to Micro USB cable for charging and — of course — the earphones themselves.
With the included equipment you can swap out ear buds until you find the ones that best fit inside your ears, and swap out ear hooks until you find the ones that keep the earphones in your ears. In my experience, it took about 3-4 runs with different combinations to find the best solution for me, but once I found it, I was more than happy with the fit. In the end, I settled with a pair of small earbuds and a pair of shark fin-like hooks. I found the bigger earbuds would slip out of my ears constantly during a run, the small ones stayed snug and tight.
Trying to beat a time on my 4K run, sweating, my asthmatic lungs panting and a right ear bud that kept slipping out made for a pretty angry runner with the wrong fit. If it wasn’t for my planned review, I would have thrown them into a river. But I’m glad I stuck with them until I found the right bud/hook pairing. Once I did, the earphones stayed in my ears consistently and didn’t fall out once — that’s no exaggeration. Even with the slightly bulky plastic casing, they were light enough that they didn’t even feel like they’d dislodge themselves from my ears.
Design-wise, the earphones are pretty unremarkable. That’s to say, you get exactly what you think you’d get for $25. All the components sit inside an upside-down tear-shaped plastic housing, with Aukey’s brand name stamped on to a small, neon-colored plastic panel on the side. They don’t feel particularly well made, as they’re very plasticky, but again, you expect that for the money. They’re pretty much exactly what I thought they’d be.
On the right earphone, Aukey’s managed to squeeze in the power/pairing button as well as a volume up/down rocker made from a more rubbery material and a microphone for making handsfree calls. To say they’re fiddly to use would be an understatement. I found my fingers tripping over the volume buttons, or my thumb accidentally pressing the power button quite often. I found it far easier just adjust the audio level on my phone rather than fiddling with an earphone. Saying that, once connected, I was pretty impressed by the sound. They were clear, and listening while running was good enough. Vocal tones came through well.
Once more, my praise of the audio comes with the caveat: these earphones are cheap, and they’re not for audiophiles. But audiophiles know that already, they’d likely not dream of spending less than $100 on a pair of earphones, especially not wireless ones. As far as sound quality goes, I was pretty pleased. The bass wasn’t so overpowering that it killed the middle and treble tones, likewise, it wasn’t too wooly. Treble levels were at a decent enough level, although the overall sound was lacking a little in clarity.
I’m not an in-ear headphone kinda person; when I’m listening to audio casually, I like to feel enveloped by sound. I also really don’t like having things inserted in my ears. But, for exercising, on-ear or over-ear headphones aren’t the most practical solution. They also look a bit silly. So, to have a cheap pair of wireless earphones I could rely on to deliver music and ‘motivation’ from my running app was valuable. I didn’t want a pair that cost a fortune, since I’d only use them when running. Likewise, I didn’t want a pair that was so terrible I’d hate even running with them. The Aukey set perfectly fit my budget and feature requirements.
You can buy the earphones from Amazon for just $25, and you’ll almost certainly not regret spending that little on a pair, as long as you manage your expectations. They’re no JayBirds, but they’re perfectly acceptable for the price. At time of writing, you can even get $10.00 off using code SS38IIUM at checkout.
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All four products in the announced Apple W1 lineup of wireless headphones and earbuds are now available: the Beats Solo3 headphones, the Powerbeats3, the BeatsX and the truly wireless Apple AirPods.
Wireless headphones are becoming the defacto choice for Apple users, with the iPhone 7 dropping the analog headphone jack. Apple Watch can also only pair with wireless music devices.
We don’t know what the future holds for the W1 chip, perhaps more manufacturers will be allowed to use it, but the product range is already diversified with what’s available today, spanning different form factors, audio quality, convenience, innovation and price points.
The W1 chip gives wireless headphones seamless pairing to Apple products with instantaneous setup, syncing the configuration across your iCloud account to all your other devices.
Headphones and earbuds with W1 are also a great choice for Apple Watch users: the sound output will automatically switch been the Watch and the connected iPhone, as you use either device.
W1 devices also offer best-in-class range and battery life. W1 builds upon the Bluetooth class 1 standard so they work with any Bluetooth device, not just Apple products. The seamless pairing features are exclusively available when connected to Apple products however. This makes W1 Bluetooth earphones and headphones one of the best choices for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch owners.Apple & Beats Wireless Headphones Compared
$299: Amazon (on sale for $219), Best Buy, Apple
Closed back on-ear headphones with incredible range and battery life
Available in Black, Gloss Black, Gloss White, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Violet & (PRODUCT)RED
The Beats Solo3 headphones take one of Beats’ trademark products and enhance its wireless capabilities with the W1 chip. As the largest W1 form factor available, it follows they also offer the best sound with large on-ear cans providing strong bass and loud maximum volume, although lower registers are slightly drowned out.
The W1 chip enables incredible battery life for wireless headphones, rated for up to 40 hours of playback time. Remaining battery can be checked on the hardware itself by looking at the fuel gauge LEDs. Alternatively, iOS will display the % in the Batteries widget. Wireless range is also significantly boosted to over 100 feet thanks to the W1, easily outstripping the typical 30 feet range offered by most Bluetooth headphones.
The Solo3 include a Fast Fuel quick charge feature, 5 minutes of charging provides 3 hours of music playback. There’s integrated on-ear controls for play/pause and beam-forming microphones for taking calls and talking to Siri. If you run out of power, you can use the 3.5mm headphone jack as a fallback in old-fashioned (yet reliable) wired audio mode.
Find out more: Hands on with Beats Solo3 wireless
$199: Amazon, Best Buy, Apple
Secure-fit wireless earphones, with sweat and water resistance
Available in White, Black, Blue, Red & Yellow
Earphones trade some of the audio quality for convenience. The Powerbeats3 are far more portable than the large Solo3 headphones, and are positioned as wireless earphones for fitness and exercise. They feature sweat and water resistance, earhooks to keep the buds securely in place on your head and an overall lightweight body. This design keeps them stable, safely on your ears, during very intensive workout sessions. They come bundled with four interchangeable eartips to choose the best fit and comfort. You can even adjust the length of the dangling wire, to stay out of your way whilst exercising.
The Powerbeats cable include an inline remote and mic to control your playlist without digging for your phone. Like most Beats products, sound is bass-heavy but overall the buds reproduce the sound spectrum with good detail for earphones.
Find out more: Hands on with Powerbeats3
$149: Best Buy, Apple
Modern neckband lightweight earbuds
Available in White, Black, Blue & Grey
Unlike the others, the BeatsX are an entirely new wireless earphone design from Beats. The buds sit in your ears whilst the cable rests on the back of your head, like a modern take on a neckband. Although the pictures are somewhat deceiving, the product is drastically smaller.
The two earbuds are connected by a wire; when listening to music, the cable rests naturally behind your head as a loose neckband. The band is weighted to hold it in place naturally. When stashed in a pocket, the earbuds magnetically snap together to reduce the amount of tangled wires. BeatsX charge via a (bundled) Lightning cable, offering a solid 8 hours battery life.
If you are worried about the buds falling out, the box includes wingtips that can be attached to clip to your ear, so they stay in place. Even without the wingtips, the earbuds fit snugly into your ear and the BeatsX should be suitable for most activities from sitting down at home to jogging around the park. They are not rated as sweat or water resistant, though. Sound quality is decent with surprisingly good mid and high range audio, again lending on heavier bass. Maximum volume is noticeably lower than AirPods.
Find out more: Hands on with BeatsX
$159: Amazon, Best Buy. Apple
Small truly-wireless earbuds, more than 24 hours of battery life with charging case
Available in White
Unlike the Beats lineup, the Apple-branded AirPods have a much more balanced sound with even reproduction across low, mid and high ranges with a balanced treble and less bass. You will find better overall sound quality from the Solo3 but that’s to be expected — AirPods capitalize on its unique selling points, namely the novel form factor.
AirPods are truly wireless, with each earbud completely independent of the other. This means there are no cables at all when playing music; the buds just sit on your ears. Comfort and fit will vary from person to person but it seems that most people can wear AirPods just fine. With no wires, AirPods work in either stereo or mono depending if you put both buds, or just one, in your ears.
They also include sensors to detect when they are inserted or removed, enabling music to pause and resume automatically. Wireless also means buttonless with no place for an inline remote; instead, you can double-tap the buds for Siri voice control … probably the biggest downsides of this design. AirPods charge in their carry case, which doubles as a portable battery back. You can expect to get five hours in one go from the AirPods and the Case can recharge the buds about four times over, for more than 24 hours of total playback time.
Find out more: Hands on with Apple AirPodsBest For Audio Quality?
Due to the laws of physics, bigger is always better where speakers are concerned. The Beats Solo3 are unquestionably the best W1 wireless headphones for sound quality with large drivers providing consistently strong and clear sound, with the trademark Beats bass. This should be unsurprising as the cans dwarf the other models here.
From the remaining three earphones, the Powerbeats offer the best overall sound but are again bulkier than the BeatsX or AirPods. AirPods have impressive sound for how small they are, easily besting EarPods, and are superior to the BeatsX thanks to their louder maximum volume and a more evenly distributed balanced sound signature.Best For Battery Life?
On raw numbers, the Beats Solo3 headphones again win here with 40 hours music playback. Again, size acts in their favour: bigger chassis means bigger batteries. 40 hours is staggeringly good in the wireless headphones space and will last most people a week between charges.
That being said, the AirPods also offer close to that number if you include the recharging capabilities of the AirPods Case. You can get 24-30 hours from the AirPods without needing to find the charge cable. The Case also tops up the AirPods incredibly fast, so unless you plan to listen to music for more than 5 hours straight — with no breaks — the AirPods earbuds almost have ‘infinite’ battery.Best For Workouts And Exercise?
Both the BeatsX and the AirPods are decent as gym or jogging headphones. BeatsX come with wingtips in the box to stop them falling out. Even with no cables or any supports, the AirPods can stay in most people’s ears surprisingly well.
However, the BeatsX weighted neckband will flop around constantly whilst doing serious exercise which is annoying. Wearing AirPods during active workouts is like taking a risk that they will probably be fine, but there’s a 1 in 100 chance they fall out of your ears and bounce around the floor.Best Value For Money?
The cheapest are the BeatsX, at $149, obviously, and that price includes a carry case and four alternative eartips. However, the best value in my opinion has to be the AirPods, which come in just $10 more at $159. As long as the buds fit your ears, the AirPods feel like a very futuristic piece of consumer technology.
AirPods are price competitive in the truly wireless space, whilst also offering best-in-class battery life and portability. The AirPods case fits snugly inside the inner change pocket in most jeans. Compared to the others, AirPods also have some neat tricks like the auto-pause feature and the ability to output either stereo or mono sound, depending if one or both earbuds are in use.What Should You Buy?
If you are looking for the best sound above all, then the Solo3 are the only W1 wireless option (you may want to consider other wireless headphones with better sound from other brands as well, but they won’t have the same range or battery life). The Solo3 also have the widest range of color options, if that is important.
For portability and sleekness, the AirPods are incredible. If you are looking for something to take to the gym day-in day-out, the Powerbeats are designed for that. Ultimately, what you should buy is a personal decision and depends on what you do in your daily life.
In general, I think the majority of people — who aren’t audiophiles — want something small and portable. As long as AirPods fit, they are probably the best universal answer; a good test to see if the AirPods will be comfortable is to try a pair of wired EarPods which are very similar shaped. The truly wireless nature of the AirPods is unique, and they are competitively priced. If they just aren’t compatible ergonomically, then look to the BeatsX for a good balance of sound quality and convenience.
An issue with buying AirPods right now is that they are still out of stock, backordered up to six weeks. eBay remains one of the only options if you want to get your hands on AirPods soon.
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Since the Coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, there has been an explosion of home and office devices with UV lights claiming to disinfect everything from your gadgets, to keys, wallets, and even groceries. That does sound better and more convenient than using sanitizers and alcohol sprays on everything you own. So, when Samsung sent over its own UV sterilizer that’s also a wireless charger, I was definitely intrigued.What’s in the Box
First things first, let’s take a look at what you get inside the box.
Wireless charger and UV sterilizer
User Manual (read this, okay?)
USB Type-C cable
You don’t get a lot of stuff here, but Samsung has provided everything you need to actually start using it. Given you have a USB power adapter that you can use, and I’m presuming you do.Design and Build
My first thought on looking at this device? Functional.
It doesn’t look remotely like something Samsung made. There’s no branding anywhere on this absolutely white box with an extremely functional design. Not to take anything away from it though, because there’s really no need for a UV sterilizer to have design flair.
However, seeing as this is something Samsung sees you using every day to charge your phone while sanitizing it, I would have liked it if it looked less like something you stole from a hospital near you. Like I said, it’s functional looking, and it’s not something I’d keep on my bedside table, partly due to the size, and mostly because that’s not the use-case intended for this device anyway.
To be fair though, this is a very well-built device. It feels sturdy to use, the lid closes shut magnetically for a firm hold, and there’s really nothing to fault as far as the build quality is concerned.
Also, I happen to be a sucker for devices without unnecessary branding, and this definitely checks that off the list.
Design-wise, there’s a single button in the front to activate the UV lights, an LED indicator to let you know when the device is done sterilizing your smartphone, and a USB Type-C port on the back to power the charger and the lights.
When you open this thing up, it looks even more like hospital equipment. The creamy-gray sort of color inside looks really meek, and the design elements used on the charging pad itself are quite uninspiring.
On the design front, Samsung hasn’t (and it didn’t need to) put too much of an effort here. The only issue with that decision is that the device looks less and less like something I want in my living room. And, sadly, that’s where you’ll probably be using it to keep it handy for cleaning your phone when you get back from the market, or work.UV Cleaning
Since this is a UV sterilizer, I think it’s only fit that we discuss that particular aspect before we talk about anything else (read: wireless charging).
Inside the sterilizer are two UV lamps that emit UVC radiation (253.7nm) to kill 99% of bacteria. That’s an important wording, because if you’re wondering about COVID protection, that’s a virus. Based off some online reading, researchers have posited that Far-UVC radiation can kill airborne Coronavirus in about 25 minutes.
Moreover, even if it was, researchers estimate that it takes 25 minutes for Far-UVC radiation to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the Samsung UV Sterilizer only uses UV light for 10 minutes in one go. I’d recommend you go and read this research paper to learn more. You can also read the FDA FAQ page to learn more about UVC radiation and its effects on the Coronavirus and other viruses.
Still, it’s difficult to mention outright whether the Samsung UV sterilizer is a useful protection against COVID-19 because of the lack of research around UVC light of different wavelengths that can effectively kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
It can, at the very least, destroy 99% bacteria from the surface of your smartphone, or other objects that can be safely placed inside the box.
Obviously, without lab equipment, it’s impossible for me to objectively tell you how good the Samsung UV sterilizer is at doing its job. However, I am inclined to believe Samsung about the claim, since UVC light is known to disinfect viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.
Obviously, you can open the case while the sterilization is on-going, and it will automatically turn off the UV lights.
Also, since this is UV cleaning, only the surfaces exposed to the light will be sterilized. That means for the most part, the back of your phone will mostly not be sterilized. However, you can always flip your phone over and keep it back inside to sterilize the back as well.Wireless Charging
As for the other application of this device, it has a wireless charger built in, which can charge Qi-compatible smartphones at up to 10W. That’s not the fastest wireless charging speeds, even for Samsung phones (the Note 20 Ultra, for example, supports 15W wireless charging).
Still, it’s a good inclusion. It keeps your phone juiced up while you sanitize it with UV light. Plus, in case you’re wondering, while the UV treatment automatically ends after 10 minutes, your phone will keep charging afterwards as well, so you can leave it inside until you need it again and it will be clean and charged.
I used the wireless charger with my iPhone (needless to say I’m used to slower wireless charging speeds) so it wasn’t an issue. That said, if you’re using a phone with faster wireless charging, you might wanna use its dedicated wireless charger to actually charge the phone. The UV sterilizer is great for disinfecting your phone while charging it, but not necessarily as a standalone wireless charger.
Then again, that’s not Samsung’s primary objective with this device, so 10W is definitely a decent charging speed for it.
That said, I did test the charging speeds with the new S21 Ultra 5G. I placed the phone on the wireless charger at 15% battery, and in 30 minutes the phone went up to just 24%.Samsung UV Sterilizer and Wireless Charger: Should You Buy?
All things considered, the Samsung UV Sterilizer and wireless charger is definitely a handy device to keep your smartphone clean while also charging it. True, there are doubts in my mind about the efficacy of the UV light in killing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, at the very least, it will rid your smartphone of bacteria like E. Coli and others.
Buy the Samsung UV Sterilizer and Wireless Charger (Rs. 3,599)
Weighs just 61 grams
Has a highly accurate sensor
Design is comfortable and aids performanceCons
Button configuration is dull
Has only one RGB lighting zoneOur Verdict
The HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless is arguably the best wireless esports mouse currently available, being incredibly lightweight and featuring a precise 16,000 dpi sensor that takes no prisoners in high performance games.Best Prices Today: HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless
The HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless is built on the back of its wired counterpart’s esports pedigree, sharing all the same features, including a low vertical profile that relaxes your grip through your wrist, making it easy to perform wide, sweeping movements without feeling cramped.
This review is part of our best wireless gaming mice roundup. Go there to learn more about how we test wireless mice and to find reviews of other top contenders.HyperX Pulsefire Wireless: Design and build
The wired version of the HyperX Pulsefire Haste made waves in the esports category last year, showing off a symmetrical design and a chassis that weighed just 59 grams. Thankfully, HyperX has made a wireless variant that does the original justice without compromising performance or ergonomics.
HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless gaming mouse in matte black.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Measuring just 4.9 x 2.6 x 1.5 inches, the HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless sports a compact shape that fits just about any sized hand, being neither too chunky nor too long. Its slim body nestled into my hand snuggly, so movements felt quite precise. The low profile was also easy on my wrist—I found that I clenched a lot less while aiming, which improved my comfort.
HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless sports four PTFE glide skates on its underside and four extras come in the box.HyperX Pulsefire Wireless: Gaming performance
The Pulsefire Haste Wireless connects to your PC via a 2.4GHz wireless connection, providing a decent 1,000Hz (1ms) polling rate, which is the minimum you’d expect in an esports gaming mouse these days. In my testing, the wireless signal was consistent even in fast-paced games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. There was also no perceptible lag—which I find essential in wireless gaming mice.
Wi-Fi adapter for the HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless gaming mouse.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Sadly though, the Pulsefire Haste Wireless doesn’t come with Bluetooth functionality—a feature that can save your bacon if you misplace your dongle.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Another good reason for the Pixart 3335 sensor is that it helps give the Haste Wireless a longer battery life— it’s rated for 100 hours. The Pixart PAW3335 is a low-powered version of the PAW3388, and its low-power consumption seems like a good fit for a mouse you’re likely to take with you on the road.Playing with HyperX’s Ngenuity software
HyperX’s Ngenuity software, where you can personalize your preferences.
Dominic Bayley / IDG
Here I easily changed parameters like the mouse’s polling rate and DPI settings, choosing between the supplied options, or in the case of DPI, adding my own settings. If you’re prone to lifting, you can even change the mouse’s lift-off distance, choosing between either low (1mm) or high (2mm)—which is a neat trick that can help keep you competitive.Conclusion
The HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless is an excellent wireless version of the HyperX Pulsefire Haste, pulling out all the stops when it comes to performance, comfort, and style. At 61 grams it’s also one of the lightest wireless gaming mice we’ve tested to date.
18 easily programmable buttons
Weighs only 89 grams
Quick and responsive
Dual Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4Ghz wirelessCons
Some buttons on the side grid are hard to reachOur Verdict
The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is lightweight and quick, and includes plenty of customizable options for serious MMO/MOBA gamers. It’s one of the best mice we’ve tested.Best Prices Today: SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless
The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is a rare find among gaming mice in that it has 18 programmable buttons but weighs just 89 grams. These two factors alone should delight gamers—especially MOBA and MMO players looking for more buttons to deploy commands and macros. Even better, the Aerox 9 Wireless backs this up with a quick 18,000 CPI sensor and dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The secret sauce to its lightweight design is a honeycomb-mesh covering that runs almost the entire length of the mouse. Apart from keeping its weight in check, this design also gives the Aerox 9 Wireless a futuristic look, and provides a brilliant birds-eye view of the flashy RGB lighting inside.
The Aerox 9 Wireless is also extremely comfortable—as long as you use a palm or fingertip grip. If you’re more of a claw-grip player, this mouse probably isn’t for you, since its punctuated top can be a little awkward against your fingertips.
This review is part of our best wireless gaming mice roundup. Go there to learn more about how we test wireless mice and to find reviews of other top contenders.SteelSeries Aerox 9 design and build
Opening the box, my first impression was that the mouse is fairly large, but has a minimalist profile. There are no fancy curves, flaps or flares like you might see in other gaming mice.
The 18 buttons seem very well placed for one’s fingers. Apart from the two main ones on the top, there’s a button that’s easily reachable by your middle finger at the top-center behind the mouse wheel. This button lets you cycle through five different CPI profiles that adjust the mouse’s sensitivity levels.
The mouse wheel itself has three buttons in one, including both left and right tilt buttons, but the main body of buttons is a grid of 12 located on the left-hand side. This grid is accessible via your thumb and is colored gray, which contrasts nicely with the mouse’s black matte aesthetic.
The Aerox 9’s top mesh design will be familiar to gamers who’ve used the similarly designed SteelSeries Aerox 5. If you haven’t, you’d be forgiven for thinking it compromises functionality. This is simply not the case. Despite its plenitude of holes, the mouse is remarkably sturdy. The top mesh didn’t move an iota when I tested it, holding its form during intense gameplay.
The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless boasts a honeycomb top that helps the mouse achieve its 89 gram lightweight design.
The RBG lighting is also a winner. It’s internalized in the mouse body, but it’s no less impressive than in mice that have external RGB lighting. It’s split into three pyramidal zones, which produce some dazzling effects as the light ripples around the mouse’s inner circuitry.
Being able to peer inside and see all that circuitry unnerved me a little at first, since I often keep a cup of coffee just inches away from my mouse pad and was a little concerned about spillage. But according to SteelSeries, the internals are protected by an IP54-rated Aquabarrier, which helped put my mind at ease.
One surprising benefit of the unique “open top” design was that my hand got less sweaty on hot days. Without a solid lump of plastic beneath it, the extra aeration proved very comfortable in extended gaming sessions.SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless Performance
SteelSeries has armed the Aerox 9 Wireless with its highly capable proprietary 18,000 CPI TrueMove Air sensor, which includes 400 IPS tracking and 40G acceleration. Admittedly, it isn’t as quick as the Razer Naga Pro’s 20,000 DPI optical sensor. Still, it’s proven itself worthy in other competitive SteelSeries gaming mice and it performed well in my tests.
Trying out the Aerox 9 Wireless in Call of Duty: Black Ops, it felt light and easy to move. The sensor had no problems keeping up with my rapid hand movements, be they long or short. The mouse’s tracking also seemed highly accurate, and pinpointing targets was a breeze. Plus, the solid, high-shaped top provided plenty of stability in my palm grip when I needed to make repetitive movements.
Helping the Aerox 9 glide smoothly across my desk are PTFE glide skates on the underside. There’s one in the front and back, as well as one around the mouse’s sensor. These worked like a dream, even when I wasn’t using a mouse mat.
The honeycomb design gives the Aerox 9 extra aeration, making it very comfortable in extended gaming sessions.
The main buttons felt comfortable, too. They have a contoured center that cradled my fingers perfectly in a natural grip. However, they aren’t the widest of buttons, and gamers with large fingers may prefer a little more room here.
To test the side grid of buttons (which are without mechanical switches), I mapped commands in an old favorite MMORPG, Gloria Victis. On the whole, the grid was a pleasure to use and greatly simplified my gameplay. The majority of buttons were easy to find and responsive. However, I did find myself having to stretch my thumb out to reach for buttons 3 and 6—this despite SteelSeries having neatly arranged the buttons in three clearly defined lines. Still, this was never a major problem that affected my gameplay.
On the upside, the grid buttons are quite firm, so you’re unlikely to trigger them by mistake when you don’t want to.
Aerox 9’s dual connectivity includes both Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4Ghz wireless options. As a laptop reviewer, I found this functionality incredibly useful for jumping between laptops. I could keep the dongle inserted for gaming in one rig and use Bluetooth while writing a review on another. You will need to make sure your laptop has a USB-C port to plug in the Wi-Fi dongle, though.
The SteelSeries Aerox 9 is rated for 150 hours of battery life, which is a decent amount of time that won’t see you rushing to plug it in every time you play. The caveat is that that battery life is the maximum when RGB lighting is switched off, so expect it to drain down a lot faster when lighting is activated.SteelSeries GG Software
If you typically find yourself spending time customizing a gaming mouse, make it this one. With so many buttons to map, the Aerox 9 Wireless can be a game changer in MMO/MOBA games where you seldom have enough. Conveniently, the 18 buttons can be assigned commands or macros at the level of the SteelSeries GG app, rather than having to fiddle around within each game’s controls menu. This will save you a heap of time.
For Gloria Victis I mapped out commands for Interact, Kick, Display Map, Sheathe/Unsheathe Weapon and Bandage Ally, and I still had many more buttons left over that I could have programmed in. This took just two minutes but made a world of difference to my gameplay.
Here we see all the programming options for mapping buttons to Gloria Victis.
RGB lighting zones, mouse sensitivity and responsiveness can also be quickly changed in SteelSeries GG. For mouse responsiveness, you can fine tune and adjust the polling rate and the mouse’s acceleration or deceleration to find a desired setting.SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless: Should you buy it?
The SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless is an ingeniously designed wireless gaming mouse that features 18 programmable buttons but weighs just 89g. The mouse’s extensive button options, quick sensor and dual connectivity should make it a highly attractive mouse for both competitive and casual gamers, especially MMO and MOBA gamers who can map commands and macros all day long. We can’t recommend it highly enough.
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