Meta finally adds parental supervision tools in its VR headset

Meta is bringing parental supervision tools to its Meta Quest VR headsets, almost three years after the first release. Three years! Now, concerned parents can limit what can be accessed on the headsets, but the features aren’t quite ready yet.

Instead, parents will have to wait as Meta gradually rolls out its supervision tools. The first feature will be an expansion of the existing unlock pattern, starting in April.

In its current form, pattern unlock only works when the headset is first accessed. Meta is going to make it so you can set unlock patterns for specific apps.

In May, Meta says it will start age-gating apps in the Quest app store. Teens 13+ won’t be able to download age-inappropriate apps, as determined by the International Age Rating Coalition.

However, parents will be able to unblock individual apps if they trust their teen’s maturity levels.

Also in May, Meta’s suite of parental supervision tools will appear. Parent Dashboard lives in the Oculus mobile app and provides controls for blocking specific apps, access to Link or Air Link, and things like screen time statistics. It will also show any purchases the teen makes.

It’s a good start for Meta, who doesn’t exactly have the best track record on limiting harm to teens. Parental controls are only as good as the parent using them; so it remains to be seen how well they work once available.

 

Your earbuds are gross: Here’s how to clean them properly

It’s a bit stomach-turning when you think about the germs, viruses, grime, and other crud covering our devices.

Wiping away the crud
Compared to other gadgets, earbuds rack up an extraordinary amount of nastiness. They collect dirt and skin particles, earwax, grease, and sweat. They’re like portable Petri dishes for our biological debris. Yuck.

Luckily, it’s not hard to wipe it all away. First, grab a microfiber cloth. I like this 6-pack from EliteTechGear, which you can get for less than $10.

Lightly dampen it and wipe down the cord and body of each earbud. You can use these steps for your earbuds’ charging case, too, but avoid anything wet on the speaker area of your headphones.

If you prefer cleaning wipes as I do, grab a big affordable pack, so you never run out.

Pro tip: If you have white corded headphones covered in dirt and scuffs, use a pencil eraser to buff the dark streaks away.

When cleaning your earbud speakers, you need to be careful. Sharp objects like toothpicks or safety pins can do severe damage. A plastic tool, like a flosser, is a safer option for scraping earwax or other buildups from around the edge. Once you’re done, use a dry cloth to wipe away the junk gently.

One viral TikTok trick recommends Blu Tack, the reusable adhesive putty used to hang up posters, as a safer option. Sculpt it into a ball and press it into your earbud speakers. When you pull it away, it should have picked up all the junk inside your buds.

Here’s what you need to avoid
Whatever you do, don’t run water over your earbuds. Sure, you can use a slightly damp cloth or cleansing wipe – but make sure you soak up that moisture with a dry, soft, and lint-free cloth when you’re done.

Avoid metal or wire brushes. You’ll also want to skip chemical detergents. Plain water should be more than enough for the cord and body of your headphones or earbuds.

Of course, make sure to be super careful when you wipe — no rough tugging or harsh pulling over the mesh speakers. Avoid any cleaners here.

And once you’re done, be sure to dry your earbuds with a clean, soft cloth. Don’t charge them until you’re 100% sure they are moisture-free.

 

Denon Noise Cancelling Earbuds review

Pros
Comfortable fit
Excellent sound quality
Very good noise canceling
Very good transparency
Good call quality
IPX4 water resistance
Cons
No wireless charging
No EQ or control customization
No Bluetooth multipoint
Require frequent fit adjustment

Though late to the true wireless earbuds party, legendary Japanese audio brand Denon has taken the plunge with two new competitively priced models — the $159 AH-C830NCW with active noise cancellation (ANC) and the $99 AH-C630W. We check out the noise-canceling model to see how Denon’s first try at true wireless compares to similarly priced earbuds from the leaders in this space.

Familiar design

It’s pretty clear right from the get-go that Denon is making a play for the folks who like Apple’s AirPods Pro. Placed side by side, the Noise Cancelling Earbuds and AirPods Pro look very similar, especially given that the Denons come in white (you can choose black as well).

There are some subtle differences: Denon’s stems are a bit thicker, and capped in an elegant chrome-finished tip. And instead of Apple’s pinch controls on the stems, Denon uses the more common touch-based style that Apple uses on its first-and second-gen AirPods.

In the box, Denon includes three sizes of silicone eartips to help you get a good seal, and a short USB-C charging cable.

The relatively large charging case has a flat bottom so it can stand on its own, and it features an elegant, angled lid that’s easy to open and close. Unfortunately, getting the earbuds out of the case can be tricky. The super-smooth plastic used on the outer shell makes it difficult to get a good grip, so you must master the technique of using your thumb as a lever to nudge each earbud out of its socket high enough so that you can grip them with your index finger. Unlike the AirPods Pro, the case doesn’t support wireless charging.

Connections

Denon says the Noise Cancelling Earbuds are Class 1 Bluetooth devices, which usually means they should get better range than non-Class 1 devices. But I found the range to be about average — 30 to 40 feet indoors and 50 to 60 feet outside. Within these distances, the connection was very stable and latency was never an issue while watching videos.

Android users get Google Fast Pair, which makes the initial connection as easy as flipping open the case lid and tapping the connect button on your phone’s screen.

 

JABRA ELITE 7 PRO REVIEW

Jabra has carved out a stellar reputation for its range of truly wireless earbuds over the years. The company decided to overhaul its lineup of TWS earbuds with the launch of three new models – the premium Jabra Elite 7 Pro priced at Rs 18,999, the sporty variant dubbed the Jabra Elite 7 Active with a price tag of Rs 15,999, and finally, the entry-level Jabra Elite 3 priced at Rs 6,999. Jabra sent us the Elite 7 Pro and the Elite 3 for review. In this article, we will be reviewing the former. The Jabra Elite 7 Pro sports the same price tag as the Jabra Elite 85t that launched in India late in 2020 and it shares a lot of features with the Elite 85t for that reason. However, Jabra is positioning the Elite 7 Pro as the successor of the older Jabra Elite 75t. In comparison to the Jabra Elite 75t, the Elite 7 Pro comes packing some upgrades in terms of IP rating, wireless charging, and more. At this price range, the earphones compete against stellar options in the market such as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods 3. However, owing to Jabra’s strong reputation and history in the true wireless space, we were cautiously optimistic when testing these earphones. Did these new earbuds meet our expectations or not? Let’s find out.

JABRA ELITE 7 PRO: BUILD AND COMFORT

With the Elite 7 Pro, Jabra has gone back to their tried-and-tested design formula of rounded earbuds – that they used and popularised in the Elite 75t and 65t lineup – over the semi-open oval-shaped design that the company adopted for the Elite 85t. This design creates a much more secure fit as compared to the Elite 85t but you may get the plugged-up ear feeling that some users may dislike. The earbuds have to be twisted and locked in place to create a snug, secure fit.

Both the earbuds and the charging case are significantly smaller than the Elite 85t; which makes them more portable, but also makes the buds easier to lose. However, we prefer this design language over the clunkier one of the Elite 85t. According to Jabra, the shape of the earbuds has been designed “using data from 62,000 ear scans”. The earbuds are extremely comfortable and don’t cause any fatigue even after hours of usage. You also get a snug and secure fit that helps during activities such as gymming, running, walking, and more.

The earbuds have a matte-black finish that looks understated yet elegant. They are also rated IP57, so you don’t have to worry about dust or water damage. The charging case’s hinge, however, isn’t very robust since it is only reinforced by plastic, so keep that in mind.

JABRA ELITE 7 PRO: PERFORMANCE
Since the Jabra Elite 7 Pro is positioned as the successor to the Elite 75t and not the 85t, these earbuds come packing 6mm drivers. The Elite 75t also housed 6mm drivers, but Jabra has stated that the 6mm drivers used this time around are re-engineered. In contrast, the Elite 85t housed much larger 12mm drivers that brought in oodles of punch, especially in the low-bass region. The Elite 75t has a similar frequency response curve in the bass region as the Elite 85t but due to the smaller drivers, you can feel a drop in low-bass impact and also, overall volume levels. The Jabra Elite 7 Pro has a pleasant V-shaped sound signature with emphasised lows and highs. The mids are, surprisingly, accurately produced which results in detailed vocals and lead instruments reproduction.

The lows have a nice weight to them without sounding boomy or muddy. These buds won’t extract as much detail in the sub-bass region as compared to the Elite 85t, however, it’s pretty good for casual listening. These earbuds do sound much more controlled in the bass region in comparison to the Elite 75t. Another thing in the Jabra Elite 7 Pro’s favour in comparison to the Elite 85t is that the mids are better reproduced so the problem of auditory masking isn’t as jarring as on the Elite 85ts. So, vocals sound engaging in the mix without being overshadowed by the lows. The highs are also pretty decent, however, there’s a prominent drop-off post 6kHz that robs some detail from cymbals and hi-hats. Also, the region from 2kHz to 4.5kHz sees a spike on the graph that results in bright-sounding highs that may become slightly fatiguing to listen to over extended periods of time.

As for imaging, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro impresses with the accurate positioning of elements in tracks within the soundscape. However, the soundstage is mediocre, at best, mainly due to the smaller driver size and the closed-off design. This contrasts with the Elite 85t’s wide soundstage due to the semi-open design. Overall, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro is warm sounding pair of earbuds that produce pristine mids and decent highs as well. So, genres such as pop, EDM, rap, and hip hop should be right up the Elite 7 Pro’s alley but these buds aren’t well-equipped enough to excel with classical and rock tracks.

Now, moving on to the microphone, this is one area Jabra earphones consistently blow us away. This time is no different. The Jabra Elite 7 Pro houses four microphones with a VPU (voice pick up) sensor in each bud. These sensors use bone conduction technology to transmit your voice via the vibrations in your jawbone, according to the company. Jabra’s algorithms then cancel out other ambient sounds such as wind and voices. During our testing period, we were supremely impressed with the Jabra Elite 7 Pro’s microphone quality. Be it calls or voice recordings, the speaker’s voice sounds crystal clear with barely any distortion. Ambient sounds are also reduced drastically making this one of the best microphone systems we’ve come across on a TWS pair of earbuds.

While the microphone impressed us thoroughly, we were disappointed by the choppy wireless connectivity. The earbuds come with Bluetooth v5.2 and 33 feet of wireless range. In our testing period of two weeks, the earphones’ wireless connection suffered from many lags and stutters and there was also the occasional connection drop altogether, which did get frustrating over time. A firmware update did alleviate the issue slightly, but we still experienced the occasional lag and stutter after that as well, although it was considerably less frequent. This could be an issue with our particular review unit but we had a similar experience on the Elite 75t as well. We also noticed that a few other reviews (global reviews) also complain about the same issue, so keep that in mind.

JABRA ELITE 7 PRO: FEATURES
One of the most enticing features of the Jabra Elite 7 Pro is Active Noise Cancellation. We raved about the ANC quality of the Jabra Elite 85t and we were expecting to do the same for Jabra’s latest and greatest. However, we were met with disappointment since the Active Noise Cancellation on the Elite 7 Pros isn’t half as effective as the 85t’s ANC performance. Not only do these buds struggle with cancelling out mid and high-end sounds, they also surprisingly struggle with cancelling out all low-end sounds such as the hum of an AC. The buds’ saving grace on this front is excellent passive isolation facilitated by the snug seal provided by the earbuds. In fact, we could barely tell when the ANC mode was not and when it wasn’t, which speaks volumes for how ineffective the ANC is on the Elite 7 Pros. We’d even go as far as to advise you to turn on ANC mode altogether to save some juice.

The Elite 7 Pro also comes with a HearThrough mode that heightens environmental sounds, allowing users to be aware of their surroundings. This mode worked pretty well and sounded quite natural as well, although they don’t come close to how natural the AirPods Pro’s Ambient Mode sounds. But it is pretty comparable to the Sony WF-1000XM3’s ambient sound mode. Both ANC and Hearthrough modes are adjustable; users can choose the intensity of these modes via the Jabra Sound+ app.

Aside from Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode, another excellent feature on the Elite 7 Pro is Jabra Sound+ app support. Jabra’s Sound+ app has consistently been one of the most versatile accompanying apps for headphones in the market. The app comes with a 5-band customisable EQ that allows users to customise the sound as per their liking. You can also switch between noise-cancellation modes, check battery levels on the earbuds as well as the charging case, choose between music presets, listen to some white noises, and more. The app also allows you to customise earbud controls for music playback and calls, however, there is no option for adding volume controls which is disappointing.

The Sound+ app also has a fit test feature that lets you know if the eartips you’re using is providing you with an adequate fit. There’s also a MySound feature that customises the sound according to your hearing profile but we didn’t hear a major change even after using this. Nevertheless, this should be of great help for people who have any kind of hearing impairment. The app also lets users name their headset, personalise ANC according to their preference, find a lost earbud that’s connected to your phone, update the firmware and more. It is an extremely feature-laden app that honestly, not many others on the market can beat easily.

As for other features, the earbuds allow mono earbud usage where you can use either earbud independently of the other. There’s also Voice Assistant support which you can set up within the Jabra Sound+ app. Sadly, there’s no multipoint connectivity support right now which Jabra earphones are usually known for. However, Jabra has mentioned on their website that this feature will make its way on these earbuds sometime in January 2022, so any day now, hopefully. The earbuds’ charging case is also Qi-compatible, so you can charge it wirelessly on any Qi wireless charger. Lastly, the earbuds are rated IP57. So, you can use these earbuds in most conditions without having to worry about damage from elements such as dust and water. Whether you take them with you during trekking, running, walking, or to the gym, the earbuds should do just fine.

JABRA ELITE 7 PRO: BATTERY LIFE
The Jabra Elite 7 Pro comes with 8 hours worth of wireless playback time on the buds alone and 30 hours of total playback time with the charging case, according to Jabra. This number proved to be pretty accurate as per our tests as well. With ANC set to max, we got a little over 8 hours of playback time on the buds alone. The charging case was able to provide 2-3 additional charges as well. The battery life on these buds is impressive. It beats the AirPods Pro’s 4.5 hours of battery life on the buds with ANC on and it matches up to the Sony WF-1000XM4’s 8 hours of playback time on the buds.

The earphones also support fast charge as well, so plugging in the earbuds for 5 minutes will net you an hour’s worth of listening time. The charging case is Qi-compatible as well, so you can use any Qi-enabled wireless charger to quickly power up the buds. All in all, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro can go without a charge for days, especially if you only use the earphones for about 4-6 hours every day.

JABRA ELITE 7 PRO: VERDICT
If you’re looking for a premium pair of truly wireless earphones with excellent microphone performance and a warm-sound signature, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro is a compelling choice under 20K. Although the earbuds are priced at Rs 18,999, you can get these for as low as 13K during sales. At that price, the Elite 7 Pro becomes one of the best TWS we can recommend with a pleasant sound signature, great battery life, tons of customisation options via the Sound+ app and IP57 water and dust resistance. The one area where these earbuds falter though is Active Noise Cancellation. There are many options on the market that provide better ANC quality in the same price range including the Sony WF-1000XM4, OnePlus Buds Pro, and even Jabra’s own Elite 85t.

For a limited time these Epos headsets are around 25% off

Gaming headset manufacturer Epos broke away from its partnership with Sennheiser back in 2020 to make some of its own excellent branded cans, like the Epos H6Pro gaming headset. That being said, you can still find most of the range of very well received cross branded peripherals on shelves. While the new range of Epos headsets are definitely grabbing our attention, at these prices so are these slightly older Sennheiser | Epos branded deals.

Epos’s official store is selling the Game One, as well as the Game Zero at a pretty significant discount in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the UK but not in Australia. Both the open and closed eared variants of the cross branded headsets are currently going for $‌129 USD, $‌159 CA, €‌129 Euro, or £109 GBP. All were much closer to the 200 mark in each currency before the discount, costing $‌179 USD, $‌199 CA, €‌179 Euro, or £159 GBP.

Both the Game One and Game Zero are black wired headsets with red highlights and sport a flexible boom style mic arm. The only real difference is that the One is an open headset while the Zero is closed. They come with 2 year warranty and either headset should also qualify for free shipping, so that’s an extra bonus.

The listing also says stock is limited so it could be that Epos is getting rid of whatever they have left. This could be the last time we see these readily available so if any were catching your eye it’s a good opportunity to get in.

Beloved by audiophiles, Sennheiser was a huge name in headphone audio which gave the Epos brand partnership a boost when it launched. Since the split, Sennheiser has sold its entire consumer product business to Sonova for $243 million USD, and will instead be focussing on its pro line up.

 

 

Apple’s upcoming VR/AR headset could cost buyers over $2,000

Apple hasn’t shared any official details on its upcoming mixed reality headset, but that’s not stopping the rumor mill from spinning. In a recent entry into the Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports Apple’s VR/AR headset could cost consumers over $2,000.

At this point, we should expect this. Apple doesn’t necessarily offer its products for the budget-minded, so the report of this device costing over $2,000 seems right in line. But Gurman’s take on Apple’s headset makes more sense:

Apple typically charges a bit more than its competitors for products, locking in margins that have helped it become one of the most profitable consumer-electronics companies ever. The new headset won’t be an exception, but the main reason why the company has discussed price points above $2,000 is because of some of its internal technologies.

Speaking of internal technologies, the headset will reportedly feature an M1 Pro chip or something similar.

This is the same chip the company uses in its new line of MacBook Pros, which explains why the headset’s cost will sit more on the pricey side of things. Gurman explains a bit further:

I’d expect two processors inside of the device, including one on par with the M1 Pro in the MacBook Pro. Combine that with multiple displays—including super-high-resolution 8K panels—an interchangeable prescription lens option and advanced audio technology, and the costs add up. And don’t forget seven years of internal development expenses that need to be recouped. (…) My belief is that the chip inside the Apple headset will be on par with the M1 Pro, making it better than the M1.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on here, which helps justify the high price tag. Apple is essentially putting the same computing power it uses for its new MacBooks in a headset you slap on your face. That’s pretty impressive.

With all of this said, this is just one reporter’s account on the matter based on anonymous sources, so there’s no telling if these details are accurate. But given Gurman’s track record with Apple leaks, they’re usually spot-on for the most part.

We should hear more from Apple in the coming months. Apple usually reserves these kinds of announcements for its annual WWDC developer conference. And if we don’t hear anything about the headset then, we should expect to learn more in late 2022, early 2023.