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New Google Pixel Buds 2020: better, but good enough? And more tech news today
Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, April 28.
1. New: Google Pixel Buds 2020, $179, good but not best
Google’s new Pixel Buds have launched and the good news is Google appears to have come a long way since its original Pixel Buds, first seen in 2017, which were overpriced and imperfect.
- At the time, the OG Pixel Buds, per SoundGuys review, were considered a swing-and-a-miss. The best feature was the Google Assistant integration, but the earbuds had bad battery life, poor sound, and were annoying to use. The Assistant couldn’t save them from mediocrity, but it was a nice addition.
- Now the true wireless Pixel Buds 2020, V2/second edition/updated version/Plus have been overhauled.
- But, to be clear, they’re still called Pixel Buds, and now they’re $179, and promise all-round improvement: fast-pairing on Android, better mics, “Adaptive Sound” for better audio, real-time translations, and Find My Device for peace of mind.
So, are the new Buds good?
- Reviews are out and the consensus is that these are now proper, serious Pixel headphone hardware. The wireless charging case is good, touch controls work well, smart features are reliable and good.
- In short, the combination of comfort, sound, and usability is right up there with the competition.
- Where they look to fall down is in higher-end features, like absolute sound quality and bass, and with no active noise canceling. Plus, and many features won’t work with iPhones for various reasons; there’s no app to go on iOS, for starters.
- One excellent feature is the venting system that helps stop that plugged-ear feeling, but the cost of that is letting in ambient noise, which I’ve found I don’t mind so much as I don’t like a complete disconnect. But it might be annoying in loud places (if we go back to loud places like offices, buses, and planes, again.)
- Some reviewers said the silicone “stabilizer arc” hurt after three hours or so of use, but most said they were very comfortable.
- Battery life looks to be the biggest negative. Google promises five hours on the earbuds themselves, the same as Apple AirPods, but others in the market have wildly better battery life so do watch out for that.
- The new Buds don’t have much punchy bass either, which you might be a fan of.
- CNET likes them most with an 8.5/10, Engadget handing out an 83/100, while The Verge left them on a 7.5. TechCrunch is muted: “At $179, the new Pixel Buds are priced close to the middle of the pack. That feels about right.”
- Android Police was most scathing, with a 7/10 score, of the opinion that they’re for people who like cool features, but not for people who use them to survive long shifts or regular cross-country flights. Plus, a small faint static could be heard, only noticeable from intense usage.
- I don’t think these are going to stop many iPhone users buying AirPods or AirPods Pro given the lack of iOS compatibility for advanced features
- But for anyone with an Android who hasn’t already got a set, this will lead to plenty of close comparisons: the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ win for battery life and the Jabra Elite 75t are great. Look for updates to this best earbuds list as the Pixel Buds are put through their paces.
- The two Buds drain battery at different rates, at high enough differences to find it disconcerting, reported in many reviews.
- The Pixel Buds aren’t really available widely yet. Even though they were first announced back in October last year, you can only buy the Clearly White model in the US, from loads of stores, but that’s it.
- Not in Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, or the usual markets yet…
- And no one can yet buy the Almost Black, Quite Mint and Oh So Orange, with Google only saying they’ll be available “in the coming months”. Months!
Extremely bonus: Here’s how to get the new Google Pixel Buds 2 for $140 ($40 off), right now. Lots of talk about this deal with stock coming in and out. But it works, if it works. Good luck!
2. Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 price leak points to only mild discount from Fold 1 (Android Authority).
3. LG Velvet quietly launched in Korea ahead of May 7 event (Android Authority).
4. Qualcomm announces Quick Charge 3 Plus with faster charging and affordability (Android Authority).
5. DJI announces new DJI Mavic Air 2 with 34 minute flight time: Bigger camera sensor, 48MP photos, a brand new controller, goes for $799, and everything you need to know. And here’s drone guy Jonathan Feist’s hands-on and first impressions: “If you don’t read the rest of this review, just know that the mid-range DJI Mavic Air 2 is dope!” (Drone Rush).
6. Apple has also reportedly delayed 2020 flagship iPhone mass production, but September launch still looks likely (CNET).
8. In-depth look at how Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 single-camera phone uses machine learning to generate a portrait effect, using a single 2D image (Halide).
9. A new Tesla update is out, and it says some cars can automatically stop for traffic lights and stop signs, within limits. The Teslas must be equipped with the most recent Hardware 3 package and the fully optioned Autopilot package that the company has marketed as “full self-driving,” while the feature called Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control, enables the vehicles to recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs (TechCrunch).
10. “Because trees have been around for millions of years, insects like beetles and moths literally look like sticks and leaves in order to blend themselves from predators. How long do you think it will take for insects to look like man-made objects, and what object will it be?” (r/askreddit).
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