Vuzix is a leading developer of smart glasses and video eyewear. Their products are designed to let you view the future. They make watching a video, or playing a video game, more portable and exciting than ever before.
Daniel spoke with Director of Consumer Sales for Vuzix, Mike Hallett at CES 2016. They talked about the amazing Vuzix iWear Video Headphones. They come in two versions: an HDMI version and a wireless version.
Both versions of the iWear Video Headphones offer a virtual, private, personal, home theater that you can take on the road with you. They each give you a virtual 125 inch screen as viewed from 10 feet. They have full 3D capabilities, full headphones, and video. One unique thing about them is that they have been designed so the weight of the product rests on the back of your head (instead of on your face like other products do). This provides users with a more comfortable experience, whether they are using the product to watch a movie or to play a video game.
The iWear Video Headphones are available on the Vuzix website for $499.99. The new version of the iWear Video Headphones will be available in the summer of 2016.
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The headline above will be no surprise to anyone, but Audio-Technica are debuting enough new headsets at CES 2016 to keep any audio junkie happy and with about a week to go, Audio-Technica have revealed what’s in store for CES visitors.
To start with, there’s new SonicPro headphones coming out for turntable and Hi-Res Audio listening plus a new version of the highly-regarded ATH-MSR7 headphones, which won the Reviewed.com and USA TODAY 2015 Best Headphones of the Year award.
Next up, over-ear noise-cancelling headphones at under $100 will be announced at CES, complementing Audio-Technica’s recently introduced Bluetooth QuietPoint active noise-cancelling in ear headphones ATH-ANC40BT.
For gamers, Audio-Technica is introducing its best gaming headsets ever, with the closed-back ATH-AG1X and the open back ATH-ADG1X. These are both premium models providing great gaming-centric features and delivering an immersive sonic experience that draws listeners completely into the gaming environment.
For music lovers on the go, Audio-Technica’s Solid Bass headphones are pretty hard to beat. The six smartphone-compatible models include the recently introduced over-ear ATH-WS99BT and in-ear ATH-CKS55XBT Bluetooth wireless headphones. Making their debut at CES 2016 are the over-ear ATH-WS1100iS and in-ear ATH-CKS1100iS Hi-Res Audio compliant headphones, plus the ATH-CKS990iS and ATH-CKS550iS in-ear models.
Finally, for the audiophiles, Audio-Technica is introducing no fewer than five(!) headphones in its High-Fidelity series: the ATH-A2000Z, ATH-A1000Z, ATH-A990Z and ATH-A550Z closed-back headphones and ATH-ESW990H portable wooden on-ear headphones. All incorporate a host of significant upgrades to deliver extraordinary audio performance. Seriously, five new headphones!
For more info, Audio-Technica are at Booth 20656, South Hall Ground Level, Las Vegas Convention Center.
I’ve been looking at a few Mpow gadgets recently and so far, they’ve all done well, giving great performance for not much money. Next in line are the Mpow Cheetah Bluetooth 4.1 Sports Headphones to give them their full title. These are sport-oriented headphones, with a neckband to keep them in place. Let’s see if these are worth putting on the Christmas list for the January fitness programme.
The Cheetah comes in a small grey box that has a curious soft touch finish to it. While it feels pleasant, it’s actually quite hard to see what’s inside the box as black headphones on a grey background doesn’t work well. Getting into the box is another matter too: there’s a hidden magnetic flap which will keep you guessing for a few minutes.
Once inside, the Cheetah headphones are coiled neatly on top. These are the boring black ones though they are available with yellow, pink, blue and green highlights. Taking them out and removing the tray reveals a small instruction booklet, USB charging cable and three sets of silicon earbuds (small, medium and large). Looking at the left and right ear pods, the features are not unexpectedly sparse and the leftside one has nothing. The right pod has all the controls, including volume rocket, multifunction button, mic, indicator light and microUSB charge port. Unlike the Swift, the door over the charge port has a small flap which makes in much easier to get your fingernail under.
Charging is straightforward and takes about two and half hours from flat. There’s a red light on during charging which changes to green when the battery full. Similarly, the Bluetooth pairing is simple: hold down the multifunction button for five seconds until the Cheetah enters pairing mode and do the usual on the smartphone. Job done.
To get the headphones on, you untwirl them and put them round your neck before popping the earbuds in. To start with, I found the Cheetah headphones very uncomfortable – the earbuds just didn’t fit right. Then I realised I was wearing them the wrong way round. Twit. Once the headphones are in the correct ears, they’re much more comfortable. The neckband is sufficiently strong to keep them in place short of being physically ripped from your head, but it never feels like your head is in a vice. The neckband also keeps them round your neck if you need to take the headphones out for a few moments.
Pressing the multifunction button powers up the headphones. A voice announces “Power on” and “Your headset is connected” but doesn’t give battery time. The volume rocker works as expected for sound levels, and long pressing the volume buttons is supposed to skip forwards and backwards. On my phone, it skipped forwards ok, but skipping backwards didn’t work properly – it would only go to the beginning of the track, not the previous track. The multifunction button played and paused the track.
For calls, the Cheetah has various tricks, including double pressing the multifunction button for last number redial, and long pressing the – volume rocker to mute calls. In use, callers came through clearly and people said that they could hear me well. As with the Swift, the Cheetah announces the phone number of the caller.
In terms of audio quality, Mpow has again proved that it can deliver great sound at low cost. As with the Swift headphones, I listened to a selection of tracks using a OnePlus 2 smartphone playing from a range of music services, some streamed, some downloaded. There was good presence and clarity, with reasonable high frequency reproduction and effective bass. I did feel that the Cheetah needed a bit of volume to perform at its best but even with that, these are good headphones. Perhaps not as good as the Swift but considering these are aimed at the sporting activity, they’re outstanding value priced at around US$25 or GB£19.
If you are looking for headphones to wear when working out, running or cycling, the Cheetah headphones are perfect. Sound quality is good, they aren’t going to fall off and at the price, you aren’t going to be too bothered if they get trashed by accident. Just make sure that you put them on the right way round.
When it comes to headphones, I’m a firm believer in that you get what you pay for. Undoubtedly there are diminishing returns above a certain price point but the bundled headphones that used to come with mobile phones were complete rubbish in terms of both their build quality and audio characteristics. Fortunately, those days are past and most respectable manufacturers provide usable headphones.
On review here are the Mpow Swift Bluetooth 4.0 wireless headphones which are marketed as “sweatproof, jogger, running, sport…earbuds…with AptX mic hands-free calling”. With an RRP of GB£30, they are often found for sale at about half that, say GB£15, which is a fantastic price for Bluetooth wireless earbuds….if they sound good. My daily listeners are Sennheiser CX300s, so the Swift’s have got their work cut out here. Let’s take a look and first up is a short unboxing video.
As can be seen from the video and the pictures, the Swift headphones are of the earbud type, with a loose ribbon cable connecting the two ‘buds. The cable doesn’t grip the neck like some models and the ribbon cable keeps tangles to a minimum. The headphones come in a good range of colours, with a choice of black or white for the body and then a selection of highlight colours, including blue, yellow, magenta, green and pink.
Being Bluetooth headphones, the Swift earbuds are quite big on the outside of the ear containing the wireless electronics, rechargeable battery and the mic for hands-free calling. On the left headphone there’s a covered microUSB port for charging that comes with a personal warning that fingernails are required to get the port cover off. The coloured flash on this headphone doesn’t do anything, whereas over on the right, it acts as an action button, turning the headphones on and off, play / pausing music and taking calls. There’s also a volume rocker and microphone on the right side. When doing some activities with the action button, there’s a voice confirmation such as “Power on” or “Connected” which can be handy when trying to figure out what state the headphones are in.
While all the buttons worked, I disliked using the buttons, partly because I have big fingers and the buttons are small, but mostly because I don’t like the sensation of the earbud moving within the ear when I tried to press the buttons. YMMV, as they say.
Bluetooth pairing was so straightforward, it’s hardly worth mentioning…hold down action button, select Swift on phone in Bluetooth settings, job done.
Standard earbuds are notorious for falling out during the movement and with the extra weight on the headphones, one might think that the Swifts would drop out of the ear at the slightest twitch. Fortunately Mpow has this covered with a couple of retaining options.
First, the Swift headphones come with three sizes of earbud for small, medium and large earholes. Second there are three sizes of ear loops that catch on the inner part of the ear and finally there are hooks which lock into parts of the ear for a really firm hold. Both the loops and the hooks easily slip over a round section on the headphones. For retainability, the hooks are impressive, though you do need to spend a little time get them in the right place the first time. Once locked behind a suitable part of the outer ear, they easily keep the Swift headphones in place, even while running. Obviously they’re still going to come out if something catches on the lead (which is a good safety feature) but short of deliberately taking the Swifts out, they’re staying in. For extended listening, I did find the Swifts a little more tiring than other earbuds, possibly simply because of the extra weight.
Finally, it brings us to audio quality and Mpow may force me to re-evaluate my initial premise that you get what you pay for as the Swifts are really very good. I listened to a selection of tracks using a OnePlus 2 smartphone playing from a range of music services, some streamed, some downloaded. There was good presence and clarity, and while the high frequency wasn’t perfect the bass was effective without being overpowering. Seriously, the Swifts weren’t far off the Sennheiser CX300s, which surprised me.
There’s the additional benefit of being able to take phone calls with the Swifts too. When a call comes in, the Swifts announce the incoming phone number which is a great feature for when the phone is in the bag or otherwise out of view. Callers generally said that they could hear me clearly but it was obvious that I was hands-free.
Overall, the Mpow Swift headphones are great value. They seem well made, sound great and stay in the ear, even when exercising. At GB£15, they’re not throwaway but you aren’t going cry too much if you damage or lose them during sport. Recommended if you are looking for Bluetooth sport headphones.
Thanks to Mpow and Patuoxun for the review Swift Bluetooth 4.0 wireless sport headphones.
As more and more people are consuming audio like music and podcasts on the go, the need for headphones has increased. But many headphones are either easy to lose or they stop working after a short period of time. I know I’ve been stuck many times over the years having to face a long bus ride with a fully charged media player and a portable set of headphones that no longer work, no matter how much I manipulated the audio cord and connection jack. Now, getting that next pair of headphones might be as simple as firing up the nearest 3-D printer.
These headphones are the work of designer Maxime Loiseau and they use an innovative design in terms of an electronic device being created with 3-D printing. The process uses what’s called “roll to roll” manufacturing, making the parts very thin. In fact, these 3-D printed headphones are made from only eight pieces, where a typical set of phones could require up to 50 individual parts.
Since these headphones are made with “printed electronics,” there’s need for only one wire for each headphone. And if you’re worried that these headphones will sound weak, don’t. The speakers are made with piezoelectric cells that provide quality comparable to traditional headphones.
The headphones are powered by Bluetooth and they use a lithium-ion battery. The battery is also made as part of the 3-D printing process. These headphones were presented during New York Design Week 2015. They are likely to go thru some tweaking and modifications before hitting the production line. Check out this video to see the production process in action.
Kingston Tech followed up their popular HyperX Cloud gaming headset earlier this year with the Cloud II, which brought a newly designed USB sound card audio control box with 7.1 virtual surround sound to the already impressive feature set of the original HyperX Cloud headset. GNC favourably reviewed the first HyperX Cloud back in December.
The new control box has independent audio and microphone volume control plus a central toggle for the surround sound 7.1. The Cloud II headset generates virtual 7.1 surround sound with distance and depth to enhance the gaming, movie or music experience. Shoot them before they shoot you!
At launch, the Cloud II headset offered choice of two colour finishes, red and gun metal (grey). There’s now a third option, pink, which is presumably intended to appeal to female gamers.
Whatever your opinion of “pinking”, it’s good to see that Kingston is looking outside of the stereotypical gaming audience.
In other good news, the Cloud II has taken up the price point of the original and is priced at a little under GB£80. The original Cloud still available too but it’s now priced below £50, making the latter a real bargain.
Another bargain for GNC readers in North America and Europe. There’s 25% off the Ingress editions of Sennheiser’s Momentum On-Ear headphones with the checkout code IngressPromo2015.
Using UK prices, the 1st gen Momentums were originally £170 and are currently on sale at £130. A further 25% brings them down to only £97.49, which is a veritable bargain for headphones of this standard.
The discount will be available from 15 May to 31 May 2015 and the promotion is running in Germany, UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the United States. Prices will vary.
At Gadget Show Live, I had the chance to chat with Michael from Sennheiser about their current headphone range including the Urbanites and the latest iteration in their classic Momentum series. The second generation Momentum M2 maintains the original’s high fidelity while improving the headphones’ comfort. The Momentum Wireless is ideal for the traveller with Sennheiser’s active noise-cancellation technology, NoiseGard, and the AptX codec for high definition wireless transmission.
Having previously reviewed the Momentum On-Ears and being extremely impressed with the audio, I imagine the over-ear version is even better.
Sennheiser has had three of their products win the Red Dot Award for product design. The Red Dot award saw almost 5,000 entries, from 56 countries, in 2015. Submitted products in 31 different categories are evaluated on their degree of innovation, ergonomics, product periphery, functionality, durability, self-explanatory quality, formal quality, symbolic and emotional content and ecological compatibility.
Sennheiser’s URBANITE series impressed the Red Dot jury with their robust and fresh design. The on-ear model URBANITE and the over-ear model URBANITE XL deliver a rich bass sound. They have stainless-steel hinges, a robust folding and sliding mechanism, and super soft ear pads. Together, this ensures great durability and maximum comfort. The color-coordinated, fabric-covered headbands round off their urban look.
Sennheiser earned another Red Dot award for the new models of its SPORTS series (which was launched at CES in January). All four SPORTS models, the MX 686 SPORTS, CX 686 SPORTS, PMX 686 SPORTS, and OCX 686 SPORTS feature reinforced, tangle-free oval cables, with cable sleeves that reduce structure-borne noise.
The Red Dot jury especially liked the SPORTS series rugged ergonomic design that conforms to the body while securing maximum freedom of movement. They deliver excellent sound and provide individual comfort for indoor and outdoor activities. They are made with high-tech materials that ensure comfort, are water resistant, durable, and provide maximum hygiene.
Sennheiser’s new digital wireless models, the RS 175, RS 185, and RS 195 also received a Red Dot award for functional aesthetics and clear design. Their ergonomic shape and around-ear design ensures excellent wearing comfort (even for long periods of use).
The RS 195 can help address specific personal hearing needs. Dedicated pre-sets and modes can increase speech intelligibility and tailor the sound to the user’s preferences to enhance the listening experience.
Earlier in the month on GNC, I reviewed Creative’s E1 Portable Amplifier, which improved the listening experience for headphone wearers. To go with the E1, I have the Creative SB Inferno Gaming Headset, aimed squarely at gamers with a detachable flex mic and in-line controls. Priced at a penny under GB£40, the Inferno sits at the lower end of Creative’s range so expectations need to be set appropriately. With all this in mind, let’s take a look.
The Inferno headset comes inside a mainly black and red box with a transparent window on one side, showing off the goods inside, all held neatly in place with a lightweight plastic moulding.
Inside the box, there’s the red-infused SB Inferno headset. From the outer shells to the inner driver covers and the audio lead, it’s all red. It’s a good strong red which may not come across in the photos.
The Inferno has a TRRS 3.5 mm jack (that’s the one with three black bands) and works out of the box with smartphones and tablets. For more old school devices with separate sockets for headphones and microphone, then there’s a splitter in the box too. Sadly, this doesn’t carry the red colouring and is boring black but on the plus side, the Inferno works with Sony’s PS4, connecting into the controllers.
Interrupting the red cable is the in-line control for adjusting the volume and turning the microphone on and off. With no controls for pause / play or FWD / RWD, it reminds us that the Inferno is primarily a headset for gaming rather than music listening.
The flexible boom mic plugs into a socket on the left had ear cup and there’s a little shim to ensure correct insertion. It’s easily detached when not required – just pull.
But enough of the features….what is the Creative SB Inferno HyperX like to use? To start with, the headphones are very comfortable to wear. The headband is a little bit too plastic for my taste but it does make the Inferno lightweight and doesn’t exert too much sideways pressure on the head. The cloth padding on the band and the ear cups is good and I wore the Inferno for several extended sessions without ear soreness. The Inferno has what I would describe as “snug” closed cups, meaning that the cups fit neatly over the ears and there’s not much movement inside the cup. I like this but it obviously depends on the relative size of your ears.
Sonically, I used the headphones for gaming, music and IP telephony. Overall, I thought that the Inferno provided even, balanced sound to the extent of being unexciting but the Creative headset is a clear step up from the average junk out there. With music listening, much of the sound came through but it certainly could have been a bit richer – it simply didn’t have the “wow” factor and was too flat for real appreciation. A little bit more bass and more depth across the board would be a big improvement.
As I’ve said in reviews before, these headsets are great in office. One minute you are listening to music, the next minute you are taking a phone call with no need to fumble around taking the headset off while picking up the phone. Voices were clear and callers could hear me well.
For games playing, the headset was good with the action coming across clearly from bullets to bombs. Machinery clanked away and steel screeched against concrete. Again a bit more oomph in the bass department would have been an improvement but there’s enough clarity to hear noises off. For the gamer, this can mean the difference between fragging or being fragged.
Overall, the Creative SB Inferno is right on the money. At an RRP of £39.99, the Inferno delivers nicely to the price point giving a decent gaming headset. It’s not for audiophiles but it doesn’t set out to be sonically superior, so I think the Inferno would have a good claim to be the best entry-level gaming headset.
Thanks to Creative for providing the review headset.