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Electronics – Portable Sound And Vision – Headphones

The best gadgets to take on holiday

Looking for tough tech to take on holiday? Our expert testing can help you find the best durable gadgets, many of which are waterproof. Below, we’ve rounded up some suggestions on what to take with you – whether you’re going on a break abroad or closer to home – highlighting waterproof smartphones, ebook readers, headphones and more.

Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers[1] – perfect for the villa

Mobile phones

There’s no shortage of waterproof smartphones on the market nowadays, but more often than not durable mobiles are fairly pricey. Recently, we had our hands on the Samsung Galaxy S8+, which comes with the highest water-protection rating possible – IP68. It’s around ?780 Sim-free.

The ?650 LG G6 has the same level of protection, so both phones will survive a sightseeing trip in the rain.[2][3] You don’t always have to spend big for a water-resistant mobile, though. Samsung’s Galaxy A3 is available for under ?200, and it will survive a 30-minute dunk in 1.5 metres of water.

That’s an impressive trick for a budget-priced smartphone. See our Samsung Galaxy A3 review[4] for more details, or our smartphone reviews[5] page for other options.

Ebook readers

If you’d rather swap an action-packed schedule for a calm afternoon by the pool, try a waterproof ebook reader. The Kobo Aura One has a 7.8-inch display and an ambient light sensor, which automatically adjusts screen brightness based on the time of day.

This Kobo has enough space for thousands of ebooks, and its makers say it will be fine in up to two metres of water for up to an hour. To see if it’s a Best Buy model, head over to our Kobo Aura One review[6]. Find out which ebook readers our experts recommend with our ebook reader reviews[7].

Bluetooth speakers

Wireless Bluetooth speakers are great for holidays.

Most of them can be tucked neatly into a backpack, and many that we’ve tested are protected against the elements. Bluetooth support also means that anybody can pair their phone with the speaker quickly and easily. If you’re looking for a waterproof speaker, consider the Ultimate Ears Boom 2.

The tube-shaped Bluetooth speaker is water, dirt and shockproof, and it can be immersed in water up to one metre deep for thirty minutes. Right now, you can pick it up for around ?100, but we suggest you read our Ultimate Ears Boom 2 review[8] before taking the plunge. For buyers on a budget, take a look at our guide to the best portable Bluetooth speakers under ?100[9].

Action cams

For adrenaline junkies looking to film some unique videos, an action cam is the perfect companion.

We’ve tested the latest action cams from the likes of Garmin, Nikon, Olympus and GoPro, many of which can be used underwater for long periods of time. Our most recently tested GoPro, the Hero 5 Black[10], is waterproof right out of the box. You can dive down to 10m with no problems, and if you attach a protective case you can go even deeper.

It can shoot 4K video and comes with built-in image stabilisation – handy if you’re filming at high speed or with a shaky hand. For more on the latest action cams for your holiday, see our guide to the top five best action cams for 2017[11].

Headphones

If floating around on a lilo listening to music sounds good to you, we suggest you take a look at the Kitsound Outrun waterproof headphones. These wireless sets, priced at around ?30, feature built-in play and pause controls.

You’ll have to read our Kitsound Outrun review to see if the sound quality impressed our audio experts.[12] Meanwhile, Motorola has its own selection of waterproof headphones. The Motorola VerveLife VerveRider+[13] headphones can withstand being submerged in one metre of water for thirty minutes without any damage.

There’s a built-in mic and buttons that let you speak to Siri on your iPhone, or Google Now on an Android smartphone.

Head over to our headphone reviews[14] where our expert advice will help you pick the perfect set.

References

  1. ^ Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Samsung Galaxy S8+ (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ LG G6 (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Samsung Galaxy A3 review (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ smartphone reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Kobo Aura One review (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ ebook reader reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ Ultimate Ears Boom 2 review (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ the best portable Bluetooth speakers under ?100 (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ Hero 5 Black (www.which.co.uk)
  11. ^ top five best action cams for 2017 (www.which.co.uk)
  12. ^ Kitsound Outrun review (www.which.co.uk)
  13. ^ Motorola VerveLife VerveRider+ (www.which.co.uk)
  14. ^ headphone reviews (www.which.co.uk)

The Best MacBook Air Cases and Sleeves

Show off your personality while giving your laptop some protection. The MacBook Air is so slight that you run the risk of throwing it out with the trash. And Apple might be planning to indeed dump it1. But just because Apple’s laptop is thin, light, and covered in goes-with-everything aluminum doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take some knocks in life. After all, it’s designed to travel, especially with the 13-inch model’s2 17.5 hours of battery life and the 11-inch model3 providing the utmost in computing portability.

How you decide to protect your MacBook Air depends on where you’re taking it. A case or a sleeve can offer plenty of protection if you’re constantly jamming your computer into overhead bins on airplanes, but they are also a convenient way to tote your laptop back and forth from writing sessions at the coffee shop. Whatever kind of case you choose, you probably want it to show off your personal style or personality while it’s doing its job. There’s also price point to consider since the range of MacBook Air cases and sleeves goes from less than the taxes you paid on the laptop to nearly the price of it4 once you hit the designer stratosphere.

We’ve put together some of our top choices in 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air cases and sleeves. There are no-nonsense hard cases, bright sleeves with an artistic bent, distinguished-looking leather pouches, cheerful bags, and some futuristic fun among them. So browse through the gallery and if you come across any great finds of your own in your shopping travels, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

References

  1. ^ planning to indeed dump it (www.cultofmac.com)
  2. ^ 13-inch model’s (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ 11-inch model (www.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ nearly the price of it (zdbb.net)

Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook

Love ’em or hate ’em, chromebooks1 derive their appeal from their simple focus on productivity and affordability. When you add a durable design, it’s easy to see why chromebooks have gained a foothold in classrooms and businesses alike. To that end, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook (starts at $321.75; $704.25 as tested) combines high performance with the durable design of the ThinkPad series to deliver a no-frills experience. The model we tested is significantly more expensive than our current chromebook Editors’ Choice, the Acer Chromebook 142, and lacks extras you’ll find in other models, like convertibility and a touch screen, but it adds a bigger, higher-quality display and more processing firepower. Whether these additions warrant the heftier price tag, however, is up for debate.

Design and Features

Measuring 0.78 by 12.69 by 8.77 inches (HWD), the ThinkPad 13 Chromebook is slightly larger, but thinner than the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook3 (0.87 by 11.9 by 8.5 inches). But aside from its larger screen (and smaller bezel), the ThinkPad 13 doesn’t veer far from the 11e in looks. The body is black plastic with a matte finish that feels smooth to the touch, but easily shows fingerprints after a few days of handling. With a Mil-Spec certified design, the chromebook is built to withstand the bumps and thumps of everyday commutes, as well as extreme environmental conditions such as temperature, pressure, dust, humidity, and vibration. At 3.1 pounds, the ThinkPad 13 is heavier than other rugged rivals like the Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS024 (2.64 pounds) and the Dell Chromebook 11 Non-Touch5 (2.7 pounds). Still, it’s easy to slip into your backpack and light enough that it doesn’t weigh down your average train ride or impede mobility.

The 13.3-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) screen comes with antiglare coating, and its full HD (1,920-by-1,080p) resolution is a step up from the 1,366 by 768 most chromebooks opt for to keep costs down. In fact, among recent chromebooks, the ThinkPad 13’s screen size is bested only by that of the Acer Chromebook 14 (14 inches; its resolution is also 1,920 by 1,080). The higher resolution is definitely a strong point and not a bad investment considering its just an extra $50. It’s not necessary for basic productivity tasks, however, and if price is a concern, this is one area where you can reduce costs. The ThinkPad 13 doesn’t come with a touch screen and isn’t truly convertible, but like the Asus C202 has a hinge that opens up to 170 degrees so that it lays nearly flat. Presumably, this makes collaboration easier, and if this is an appealing feature, then the full HD IPS screen comes in handy as you don’t have to worry about limited viewing angles.

The chiclet-style keyboard is easy to type on and follows the standard chromebook layout, which replaces the top row of function keys with system controls, as well as the Caps Lock key with a Search key. The one-piece touchpad is also responsive and simple to use, and supports multitouch gestures. The speakers, located at the bottom of the chassis, are decent and can get loud enough for a medium-size room. At full volume, you’ll hear some distortion with extremely high or low pitches, but since you’re unlikely to use a chromebook for more than casual viewing, this isn’t really a major problem.

On the right side, the ThinkPad 13 has a Kensington lock slot, two USB-C ports, a SM© USB 3.0 port, and a headphone/microphone jack. The remaining SM© USB 3.0 port and a four-in-one card reader are located on the left. There’s also a 720p webcam in the top bezel. For connectivity, the ThinkPad 13 supports dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0. Rounding out the features is 32GB of flash memory. That might seem low compared with what you get on traditional laptops, but because Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud storage and Web-based applications, most chromebooks come with either 16GB or 32GB. The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook comes with a one-year warranty.

Performance

The ThinkPad 13 Chromebook runs on an Intel Core i5-6300U processor (with integrated Intel HD Graphics 520) and 8GB of memory. With this configuration, the ThinkPad 13 can smoothly stream YouTube videos and handle 15 tabs with no lag. Because chromebooks are intended for light browsing and productivity tasks, this extra processing power, while nice, is not completely necessary. As with the screen resolution, this is an area where, depending on your needs, you could opt for less-powerful components to reduce costs.

See How We Test Laptops6

In our battery rundown test, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook lasted 9 hours, 46 minutes. That’s enough to get you through a full day of classes or work, and is a decent but not spectacular result among chromebooks. It’s more than we saw with the Toshiba Chromebook 27 (5:35), the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e (7:35), and the Lenovo 100S (8:09), but well behind the times of the Acer Chromebook R 118 (10:30), Asus Chromebook Flip9 (11: 15), Acer Chromebook 14 (11:50), Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02 (12:05), and the CTL J5 Chromebook10 (12:21).

Conclusion

As far as chromebooks go, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 is a solid performer on every level, but it simply costs too much for a Chrome-based laptop. That’s a big problem considering that affordability is one of the main reasons to buy a chromebook. (Not to mention that, for $700, you can definitely find a good midrange Windows 1011 laptop like the Lenovo ThinkPad 1312 or the Acer Aspire R 1413.) While the base configuration price is more reasonable, there are many less expensive alternatives that perform well. For instance, our Editors’ Choice pick, the Acer Chromebook 14, packs in a larger full HD screen, speedy performance, a metal body, and almost 12 hours of battery life and costs less than $300. So if you want some extra processing power and price isn’t a major consideration, the ThinkPad 13 may be the chromebook for you. Otherwise, you’re better served looking elsewhere.

References

  1. ^ chromebooks (uk.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ Acer Chromebook 14 (uk.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook (uk.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02 (uk.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ Dell Chromebook 11 Non-Touch (uk.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ See How We Test Laptops (uk.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ Toshiba Chromebook 2 (uk.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ Acer Chromebook R 11 (uk.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ Asus Chromebook Flip (uk.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ CTL J5 Chromebook (uk.pcmag.com)
  11. ^ Windows 10 (uk.pcmag.com)
  12. ^ Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (uk.pcmag.com)
  13. ^ Acer Aspire R 14 (uk.pcmag.com)
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