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Jabra’s Elite 45h May Be The Smartest Headphones Under $100

Jabra’s Elite 45h aren’t the best on the market – there are much more impressive and expensive headphones – but rather than water down premium features, the 45h have come up with their own. At less than $100, Jabra’s 45h are carving out a niche in the mid-tier headphone space for anyone shopping in this price range.

You can watch the full review in the video above or read on.

On The Surface

The Jabra Elite 45h come with a USB charging cable and carry case, neatly fitting inside since the ear cups can be turned 90 degrees. (Though oddly to only one side; when worn the ear cups face away from your body. Still, and improvement over the Jabra Move.) Those ear cups are comfortable, resting on your ears but softened with memory foam. In my use I was able to wear the 45h for about an hour before needing to readjust, though your use may vary if you’re already accustomed to on-ear headphones.

The ear cups provide “passive noise cancellation” which is essentially very good noise isolation (not to be compared to active-noise cancellation). The speakers in the Elite 45h are 40mm, largest in this class and the battery life is a very impressive 50 hours. A quick charge of 15 minutes will give you 10 hours of use; otherwise a full charge requires 90 minutes.

Jabra’s Clever Features

Out of the box, the Elite 45h have slightly above average sound quality, leaning toward being a bit bass heavy. They’re solid for this price but the real magic happens when you run MySound. Buried in Jabra’s Sound+ app, also very feature rich with a manual equalizer and custom sound presets, MySound is takes customization to a new level. Bringing in Jabra’s experience with microphones and hearing aides, MySound runs a series of hearing tests to turn the 45h’s sound to your ears.

jabra elite 45h

It works by entering your gender, age, and then plays a series of tones to your left and right ear. When you hear a tone, you tap the screen. The entire test takes about 2 minutes and once it’s over, the change in what you hear is dramatic. Music sounds louder (it’s not) and richer. You can make out more nuance from what you’re hearing, it’s like having a different pair of headphones.

On Ear At This Price

The Elite 45h aren’t perfect, for example the microphones often produce some mild feedback during phone calls, but they excel in new ways with features not seen thus far on sub-$100 headphones. New to the headphone space Jabra keeps innovating and the Elite 45h are a big step forward.

The 3 Best VPNs For Travelers In 2020

There are many reasons to use a VPN when traveling, but honestly, everyone should be on a VPN pretty much all the time. A virtual private network (VPN) can hide your Internet habits from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and protect your privacy online for starters. For travelers, VPNs can get you cheaper airfare or access the free Internet in places with censorship but being so closely tied to your browsing habits, you need to choose the right VPN.

Important VPN Caveats

A VPN is essentially a tunnel between you and the Internet as far as anyone trying to observe your Internet connection. Imagine a helicopter flying over you, it can see you’ve entered a subway station but not where you go after that. Likewise, ISPs will be aware your Internet traffic is going through a VPN but not much else.

VPNs encrypt the traffic going through them it however there is a point in the encryption-decryption process that would allow any VPN to see your Internet traffic. You have to trust your VPN not to do that. Ideally, you’re looking for a VPN that logs a little as needed to run their service and is regularly audited by independent security audit to verify any claims.

NEVER Use A Free VPN

Never. Free VPNs make money through advertising and selling your information since they have no intrinsic incentive to provide good privacy. Never use a free VPN. Fortunately, the paid options aren’t expensive especially when you consider the benefits.

1. ProtonVPN

From the same organization based in Switzerland that created the secure email service ProtonMail, ProtonVPN is focused on privacy. They collect only the information needed to provide service and support (which is fantastic by the way) all laid out in a very clear Privacy Policy. ProtonVPN’s servers are speedy and some tiers have a Secure Core feature for enhanced protection.

protonvpn

It’s also effective for getting access to Netflix but may not work in China (who have at the time of this article blocked them). *Cough* Paid plans also don’t block torrenting *cough* ProtonVPN’s mobile and desktop apps are intuitive to use and straightforward as well.

ProtonVPN’s a little more expensive than the competition – they do have a limited free version to try – but as one of the best overall VPNs, I would recommend their Plus service to cover all your devices.

2. NordVPN

Having recently reviewed their NordPass password manager, a few things stand out about NordVPN. They’re based in Panama outside the jurisdiction of these 5-14 Eyes. They’re also regularly audited by third parties, have over 5,000 servers in 59 countries, and NordVPN should work in China as well.

The interface is especially clean, almost minimalist, and it’s one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tried. Connections are solid (very little cutting out) and they have a good privacy record as well for their plans, which are heavily discounted for 2-3 year subscriptions.

3. ExpressVPN

expressvpn

For travel to China especially, ExpressVPN is a solid choice. ExpressVPN have a very good record on privacy, is audited regularly, and have VPN servers in 94 countries. Speed is also a particularly good on ExpressVPN (all VPNs will slow down your total Internet speed somewhat when in use). The only drawbacks I’ve found is their iOS version can be a little difficult to work with when switching connections. ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money back guarantee so you can see if it fits your particular needs.

Mentioning Honorable Mentions

A few things about all of these VPNs listed above. They’re all called ‘no log’ VPNs which means they don’t track (outside of what’s needed to provide service and support) – claims which have been verified by an independent security audit. Without those independent audits from credible security experts any VPN claiming no logs – or anything else – has to be taken with a big grain of salt.

Another good option is VyprVPN, like the others offers steep discounts for longer subscriptions (usually over a year) or monthly plans. You’ve also got the option to try these VPNs usually either with a limited free version or trial period so you can choose the best VPN for your travels.

For those of you already using a VPN, this site will let you check to make sure it’s not leaking any info about you. To get the most effectiveness however, set your VPN to always on and don’t forget to secure your mobile devices as well.

Cleer ALLY PLUS Provide Budget ANC Earbuds For Travelers

For a long time active noise canceling (ANC) was a feature limited to bulky, expensive headphones. For travelers, the trade off has been a difficult one but ANC, when done right, is a technology that’s hard to travel without once you’ve used it. Cleer’s ALLY PLUS are a pair of ANC earbuds which have recently dropped in price and come with respectable ANC as well.

You can watch my full review in the video here.

Why ANC?

Most headphones have some sort of noise isolation – a pretty broad term meaning they block outside sounds so you can hear your music or podcast better. Noise isolation is somewhat inherent in headphones; they are, after all, sitting in or over your ears while simultaneously producing sound directly into them.

ANC uses reverse sound waves (analyzed by the microphones in the earbuds) to silence the outside world. When done effectively, it can make the cafe or airplane you’re flying in become a silent room. The ALLY PLUS aren’t as effective as the Bose QuietComfort or Jabra Elite 85h with its ANC. The outside world isn’t completely shut off but its the best ANC under $200 in an earbud I’ve tried. The battery life is decent, package small, and sound quality good enough to be a solid budget ANC option for many travelers.

DJI Osmo Action 2020 Review: Getting Better With Age

It’s rare that a tech product improves with time but since its release last year, DJI’s Osmo Action has gone from a cheeky upstart to a real contender for best action camera. Through a series of firmware updates DJI has corrected a lot of the initial problems present when the Osmo Action was first released still, those patches might not be for everyone.

To find out how good the DJI Osmo Action is in 2020 you can watch the video above or read on.

Breaking Ground

The most noticeable feature of the DJI Osmo Action is its front facing screen. The first 4K action camera to have a screen on the front as well as back, this valuable hardware feature had some issues. Notably lag and screen timeouts which, among other defects, have been fixed through firmware updates.

A front facing screen is invaluable in many situations though most obviously for frequent vloggers. Making sure you’re in frame with action cameras, although they typically have wide fields of view, is cumbersome without a way to see for yourself. Speaking of field of view, the Osmo Action lens can capture 145 degrees – not quite as wide as others but not as fish-eye looking either. Depending on your preference this can be a pro or con but I would say if you do a lot of helmet mounted filming (e.g. skiing, motorcycle) wider would be preferable.

Low Light Is RockSteady

Not surprisingly for a company that makes gimbals the Osmo Action’s RockSteady stabilization feature is impressive. RockSteady keeps your video looking smooth even if you’re bouncing down a mountain on skis. Additionally, the Osmo Action’s low light performance is impressive for an action camera; allowing you to see the darker parts of an image by not going overboard on contrast.

dji osmo action

Indoors are generally not good shooting conditions for the small lenses of action cameras but the Osmo Action does better than most. Colors are also represented vibrantly without over-saturating and skin tones look excellent. The microphone is decent, enhanced with a firmware update, or can be enhanced with hardware.

Lots In The First Gen

The Osmo Action is a look at the future of action cams with its front facing screen, solid stabilization, and image quality aiming to be a good camera that doesn’t necessarily have the word ‘action’ before it. Clearly a work in progress as the first action camera by DJI, the Osmo Action is improves and adds features with each software update every 1-2 months.

Still, users who don’t want to bother with firmware updates you might be better off looking at a fully baked competitor. You won’t get the latest cutting edge features but won’t have to deal with updating software. For travelers who want a front facing screen, good low light quality, plus a more realistic field of view the Osmo Action is really the top choice – but only if you remember to update its firmware on a very regular basis.

Is The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L Backpack Worth The Price?

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is a highly anticipated backpack for its features but controversial due to its price. A custom-designed collaboration between vlogger Peter McKinnon and NOMATIC, the Camera Pack aims to solve many problems with one-bag travel… for $599.

Many of you might expect that price puts the McKinnon Camera Pack 35L as a purely luxury item but for many travelers, certain functionality will justify the cost. You can watch the video above to see more or read on.

Unpacking The Price

Before many of us carried full offices on our backs, the primary piece of luggage we paid for was the check-in kind. Over the past 15 years though, laptops, cameras, drones, and other expensive items (with batteries that aren’t allowed to be checked) have made our carry-on more essential.

Interior designing a suitcase or backpack that will primarily hold clothing isn’t very intricate and the reason by hiking backpacks aren’t ideal for most travelers. Clothing requires a large empty space since the contents can get jostled around and won’t be access until you arrive at your destination. Exterior durability on a bag like the Timbuk2 Copilot is where a lot of the cost goes.

mckinnon camera pack

Modern backpacks, often filled with over a thousand of dollars of equipment have a much more difficult task. They need to efficiently keep interior contents in place, allow for easy frequent access, plus have a rugged exterior that’s light. Oh, and be carried on your back comfortably at the same time. Missing those marks is why some backpacks fail.

McKinnon’s Answer

For those of us who travel with a lot of electronic or photographic equipment, a carry-on is vital gear meaning we often have to check-in a bag for less important stuff like underwear. For longer or international trips, the carry and check-in combo isn’t too much of a encumbrance however on a weekend or day trip even, using a single bag is ideal.

For those of you who only travel with a laptop, then it’s likely you already have enough space in your backpack for a weekend’s worth of clothes. Now add in a DSLR like the G85, maybe some lenses or a drone and forget about it. The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is the solution to this issue Peter was facing.

Segmented Spaciousness

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L itself isn’t $599 – that’s the cost with all the accessories specifically designed for this bag. Without those accessories, the backpack is $399, on par with something like a GORUCK GR2. Much less expensive generic versions of the accessories (a battery pouch for example) can be found on Amazon to save money. Of all the accessories, the Camera Cube Pack – a larger organizer that turns into a daypack and can be used with any bag – is the one to take a look at ($129).

Segmented into two sections, one for bulky electronics and the other for clothing, the 35 liter Camera Pack expands to 42 liters. At nearly 3 kilograms (~6 pounds) the Camera Pack 35L is heavy but might meet your needs. You’ll need to evaluate the Camera Pack 35L based on these 3 things in this order:

  1. Materials – The importance of durability increases with frequency of travel.
  2. Design – How are those materials are arranged to organize your specific gear.
  3. Features – Frequent international travel means a quick access passport pocket will be useful, or loading straps for examples. These are the little things that determine the ease of use for you in particular.

camera pack 35l

Where the McKinnon Camera Pack is trying to differentiate itself is in higher level aspects of design and heavily on features and in many ways it will check a lot of those boxes for many travelers. There are though less expensive alternatives, like the Thule Subterra 34L or Aer Travel Pack 2 which have excellent quality with designs applicable to many people.

A bag with a lot of specific features, functions, and pockets means it will have a very specific user base. Given that NOMATIC has a generous 30 day return policy, the McKinnon Camera Pack 35L might be worth testing if it’s within your budget. Remember, your electronics bag is the most important piece of gear you travel with since it protects all of your most valuable belongings.

The McKinnon Camera Pack 35L is a heavy bag that comes loaded with features and might solve one very big problem in one-bag travel – a bag that can actually be that.

What Are eSIMs? Easy Mobile Internet For Travel

This post was sponsored by Airalo who wanted me to share with you the benefits of eSIMs using their service. [What is this?]

The latest version of mobile SIM cards make it easy to get data plans around the world through an app – and it may already be built into your phone. eSIMs are the next generation of subscriber identity modules that differ from plastic and gold physical SIMs by being software based.

What this means for international travelers is getting mobile data from country to country is as easy as a few clicks using Airalo.

How eSIMs Work

You’re probably familiar with standard SIM cards, that piece of removable plastic you slide into in a slot on your phone. eSIMs serve the same function – to identify your phone to mobile networks – but eSIMs are physically embedded in your phone’s hardware. When you need to change your SIM, say, for when you’re visiting France from Canada, instead of swapping out a SIM card, all you need to do is open an app.

Benefits For Travelers

Some of the immediate up sides to eSIMs is you don’t need to go to a physical shop or deal with local restrictions. All you have to do is go to an eSIM provider like Airalo, which has plans in over 100 countries worldwide. Set up an account with Airalo, then download their app and choose your next destination. You’ll be presented with a variety of (mostly) data plans, which vary by duration and total data (e.g. 3GB).

airalo esim

You do need to do all of this while you have a wifi connection but otherwise you can get all the cards you’ll need ahead of your travels. Airalo even provides regional eSIM cards such as Europe plus you can keep your original SIM card active if you want, for example, to get calls on one line but use data with the other.

Convenient Service, Quirky Setup

Because eSIMs are fairly new (only working with these latest flagship phones) mobile operating systems make installing an eSIM clunky at best. Once you’ve purchased your eSIM from a provider like Airalo, you’ll be presented with a QR code you need to scan from your phone. In other words, you can’t install the eSIM using only the Airalo app since you need to scan the QR code from your mobile’s cellular settings.

airalo

The most obvious options are to point your phone at your laptop to scan the code after logging into your Airalo account. Taking a picture of the code displayed on your phone with another phone (what are travel buddies for) and scanning that, or using two mirrors in a hotel room has also worked for me.

No More Airport SIM Stops

There are other issues like having to change APN codes which will be too much hoop jumping for users who aren’t too tech-savvy. Despite these issues eSIM services are getting better but the technology is already the best option for travelers. You no longer have to wait in airport lines for mobile data when you can have Internet right when you land. Using Airalo is a bit more expensive than purchasing a local SIM and phone numbers aren’t available for most plans; however the convenience means you probably won’t bother with physical cards again.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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