Category: Tech

Review Of Audio-Technica’s ATH-SR30BT Headphones: Carving Out The Under-$100 Range

Initial searches for a good pair of headphones for traveling often reveal the extremes of ultra-premium like the Bose 35ii, or the uber-budget Taotronics. Nestled in between however is a growing class of headphones that are bringing premium sound quality under $100.

The Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT wireless, over-ear headphones fill out this sparse budget range, making them an attractive option for a wider audience of travelers. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

Bring Some, Not All Premium Features

The ATH-SR30BT headphones look and feel premium since Audio-Technica hasn’t cut many obvious corners on the design. These headphones seem a lot more expensive than they cost, with respectable sound quality for being both wireless and less than $100. More on the sound quality below but where Audio-Technica has cut costs is in places many non-audiophiles won’t notice too much.

audio technica ath-sr30bt

First of all, there’s no case in the box although you can get a sleek Greekria softshell for under $20. Aside from the headphones themselves, a single micro-USB charging cable is provided.

Also notably missing if you’ve gotten used to premium earbuds or headphones is active noise cancelling. It’s a feature you’ll find on more expensive devices like the Bose 20i – one that’s hard to fly without once you’ve tried it. Still, the ATH-SR30BT has noise-isolation, a fancy term for good soundproofing. Noise-isolation on the SR30BT is good – although you’ll still hear the outside world or jet engine noise – nothing compared to noise-cancelling yet the SR30BT punches above its price here.

Cutting From The Top

Wisely, Audio-Technica has kept the price of the SR30BT down by taking out features from the premium end of the spectrum. In other words active noise-cancelling, a case, an optional wired connection are all notable omissions common to headphones in the $300 range.

audio technica ath sr30bt wireless headphones

On the flip-side however, the lack on noise-cancelling (combined with Bluetooth 5) leaves the SR30BT using less energy consumption – resulting in 70 hours of battery life. That’s close to double that of any comparable noise-cancelling pair; which can be recharged full in 4 hours. The leather ear cups, matte finish, and metal accents all add to lightweight, mostly comfortable profile.

Fidgeting With Buttons

The button placements look, yet don’t feel, entirely intuitive. One of the main issues I encountered is the volume up and down buttons, which also double as song forward and back, are differentiated by long presses. When I say long press, it’s supposed to be 2 seconds although these are very sensitive. I found myself skipping ahead and back when I just wanted to turn the sound down, for example. The third button (for phone pickup, mute, voice assistant, etc.) also got in the way quite a bit; so if the beep before Siri casually reminds you how useless she is drives you mad, stick to controls from the device you’re connected to.

Buttons can be acclimated to but the longevity of the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT is in the best of its features: good sound quality, premium design, long battery life, and well under a $100 without cutting costs from the wrong places.

How Good Is This Portable USB Humidifier?

People who travel frequently often look for the portable versions of most things. (Myself included.) So, although you might not need a portable humidifier, you might want one for your home, and look for a travel-sized version. The USB-powered MZTDYTL is just such a device and I picked one up to review. You can see my full review terribly named MZTDYTL, which is designed for home, hotel, or car, in the video above.

Do You Still Need A Point And Shoot Camera When Traveling?

We’ve all got a smartphone in our pocket or hand right now that probably has a camera with a higher resolution on paper than many point and shoots on the market. Software on phones like the Pixel 3 have pushed the boundaries of what small lenses are capable of, so you might be asking yourself if it’s worth bringing a dedicated camera on your next trip at all?

You can see the answer to that question in the video above or read on.

Shrinking Markets

Recently, while doing a Road Tested! on the 4 year old Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS45 to see how well it’s held up, I realized the question became less about the camera and more about the technology itself. There are some clear advantages to traveling with only a phone and what they can’t do, bulkier DSLRs do better than point and shoots, similar prices. Small markets generally mean a more specific target market, here’s whether or not that’s you.

shot on pixel 2 andando tours

First, let’s start off with the current phone you’re using. For this article, I’m generally talking about flagship phones that are 1-2 years old at most. The iPhone X, 8, Samsung Galaxy 9, Google Pixel 2 and above – that class of phone. Older phones might be adequate but they don’t do a good job of bridging few large gaps with point and shoots listed below.

Wide Zoom

Because of the limited size of smartphones, manufacturers have had to come up with creative ways at implementing a zoom lens. Some use a two-camera setup (one for wide, the other telephoto) but in general, optical zoom on smartphones is limited. (Digital zoom – a software trick – isn’t very good, although the Huawei Honor View 20 I saw at CES was promising.)

panasonic lumix g7 g85

Obviously cameras with interchangeable lenses like the Panasonic Lumix G85 give you a lot of angle options but if you don’t want to carry the bulk, the ZS70K is a pocket-sized camera with a massive range. And not just zoom range but the often neglected wide-angle.

For travel photos, wide angles are generally more useful. Often, you can get closer to stuff but if there’s a ledge, crowd, or some other obstacle behind you, the wider the angle, the fewer steps backward you need to get one of the world’s largest buildings into view.

Some Considerations Being Eliminated

A few years ago the low-light performance of most smartphones was one of the big selling points for getting a dedicated camera (with its bigger lens). On Google phones at least, that’s not a problem anymore. See below:

Apple and other manufacturers will eventually copy catch up on this incredible software-enabled feature; not only keeping up with point and shoots but leaping well ahead of them.

Niche Functions

Still photos, portraits, action shots, and video are all equally on par with most point and shoot cameras. In many ways point and shoots can outperform a smartphone, but it’s probably not worth the weight or an additional $500. There are some exceptions though; like if you want a microphone jack to record high-quality audio (not impossible with phones either), use HDMI for output, or spare your phone’s battery life.

Additionally a point and shoot can also give you another angle to shoot from (i.e. multiple cameras), tend to sit up better without having to lean on stuff, and aren’t as tragic of a loss or theft than your precious smartphone. Ultimately, good point and shoot cameras worth buying are in the $500 range, bumping right up to cameras like the mirrorless G7. At those prices, unless physical size is extremely important for you, a slightly bulkier camera with lens options might be best, otherwise a new smartphone is likely all you’ll need to carry.

This is an updated version of a post originally written in 2017, a lot has changed in cameras since then.

A Roundup Of The Most Intriguing Travel Tech From CES 2019

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is over 3.2 million square feet (297,200 sq. meters) of the most current, upcoming, and concept technology, brands and startups alike want to share with the world. There were a lot of travel products at CES 2019 and starting in the first part of this video series, you can see the emphasis on wearables and enhancing experiences on the road.

Check out the video above for the second part of my visit to CES or read on for the most useful inventions that might help you travel smarter and easier in the near future.

Headphones

The audio industry seems to have two takes on headphones pitting portability against quality. Most headphones under $100 don’t have premium audio quality (the kind that’s hard to resist once you’ve heard it) so to keep costs down, companies like ToughTested are innovating with physical designs. The Bluetooth ProComm Flex 2 have a flexible neckband which is meant to withstand regular smashing into small backpack pockets.

toughtested procomm flex 2

On the other end of the audio spectrum, a newcomer to headphones is the audio development company Jabra. They debuted the Jabra Elite 85h at CES combining their audio expertise with artificial intelligence. Without a doubt the Jabra 85h have the best noise-cancelling of any headphone I’ve worn (including the Bose 20i). For air travelers, even without music playing, the 85h’s noise-cancelling will turn a plane in flight into a silent room if you want it to be. Using the AI, the Jabra 85h automatically tune the headphones to allow some sound in when it might be important, for example when there’s a gate announcement or at a crosswalk.

Underwater Drones

The majority of travelers aren’t using flying drones yet but the underwater drone category might quickly surpass them in popularity. One big disadvantage of underwater drones is that radio waves move very poorly in water. Navatics MITO gets around the problem with a 130 foot (40 meter) tether attached to a floating buoy.

navatics mito

Alternatively, the PowerDolphin stays on the surface of the water while the RoboFish has two modes, an on-surface mode controlled through a phone app plus an sonic remote you place into the water to direct this cute drone.

Capturing Your Vacation Virtually

Nobody likes sitting through your vacation photos (says the guy who blogs for a living) but the Vuze XR might change that. Pocket-sized, the Vuze XR captures 180 or 360 degree footage you can live stream to Facebook or YouTube but even better, use to create your own virtual reality experience of a trip. Using the VR myself at CES to see what the Vuze XR was capable of, I was impressed how well it could recreate a trip of say, your day wandering around the streets of Istanbul.

vuze xr

With Wheels

Moving on to the technology that actually moves you, BMW showed me their electric iNext car, with embedded touch sensors in the seats, smart lights that follow what you’re looking at, and yes, it drives itself. (The car in some form is scheduled for release in 2021.)

Gyrolift showed off a Segway-inspired wheelchair that allows travelers with disabilities to move over sand, dirt, city terrains and generally get around much easier, as well as adjust their height easily when needed. (I could see this being useful, among other things, to better read signs often posted at standing eye-level.)

modobag

  • Most Fun Product – The Modobag. Although I’m not completely convinced as to how practical it is, riding this motorized suitcase without a smile is impossible. Also, I’ve got a $300-off coupon code for you CES2019 good through March this year.

Travel Vlogging

Some other products that stood out were the Shure MV88+, the best microphone this size I’ve tested and one that can double as a voice-over as well as on-the-go microphone for a larger camera or smartphone. Speaking of smartphones, Huawei unveiled their Honor View 20, with it’s AI ultra-clarity feature best seen in the video above, that could help you read far away signs.

There are still a lot of other gadgets I haven’t covered year, from airbag vests and air-purifying masks for cyclists, space tourism opportunities, and flying vehicles. One thing is clear though, the trend is for inexpensive electronics to become more creative as premium products refine at the highest levels, with a shrinking market in between.

The Best Travel Tech At CES 2019

The Consumer Electronics Show shows off a lot of upcoming tech every January in Las Vegas. I’m here at CES this year and while there’s still a lot to digest and two days to go, I wanted to show you some of the most interesting travel tech I’ve come across so far. You can see some of the best travel tech at CES in the video above covering virtual reality vacation videos, underwater drones, sophisticated artificial intelligence powered headphones, and more!

Review Of The Google Home Hub And A End Of Year Giveaway For You

Hello and welcome to the end of the year! I’ve got a full post coming up looking back on 2018, but here’s a preview of a small announcement for 2019. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for and so much of it is because of you. Your support of this blog over 10 years has made what was a crazy dream into a continuing crazy reality. Commenting and sharing blog posts, spreading the word about my travel apps like WiFox, and giving me great local advice – I can’t say thank you enough.

2019 Year Of Giveaways

One way though I’ll try is by making 2019 the year of giveaways – and I’m starting a bit early. If you’ve watched the video above, you know I’m currently giving away a Google Home Hub. To enter, all you have to do is subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave a comment on the video here. To get even more chances to win, here’s a page I set up to earn additional entries.

The next giveaway will happen by the end of the year so that subscription on YouTube might win you a trip, bag, and well, hopefully provide some travel and tech entertainment as well. Many of you let me know on Facebook what you’d like to win and I’ll be working on getting some of those for prizes as well.

Thank you again for 2018 and cheers to 2019. From me to you, a Happy New Year with a lot of travel and the pursuit of one crazy dream, no matter how big or small. If in some way I can help be a part of it, my inbox is always open to you. It’s the least I can do – certainly you’ve done the same for me.

travel smarter,
-Anil

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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