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Category: Tech

Jabra’s Elite 85h Noise Canceling Headphones Are Designed With AI For Frequent Travelers

For many travelers, especially those who fly often, headphones are essential for music, listening to movies, and being a polite way to tell the person next to you to shut up. Headphones with active noise canceling go one step further and turn an airplane cabin into a quiet room, no chatty grandfathers or constant hum of jet engines.

Active noise canceling (ANC) is a feature reserved for premium headphones but Jabra’s Elite 85h is a jump into the market, bringing artificial intelligence with it while undercutting the competition. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on.

What’s Different About The 85h?

I could easily go on a long explanation of why you should get headphones with ANC. Most people at first look at the $350 plus costs with their eyes rolling like slot machines into the back of their brains. Until you use a pair. ANC uses microphones in the headphones to analyze external sounds to cancel them out. Effectively, it’s like being in a very quiet room whether you have music on or not. The technology is pronounced, effective, and reduces stress from all the ambient chaos in airports, subways, and the motors that run them. Jabra is clearly marketing these headphones for travelers, so much so, that when I first tried them at CES earlier this year, they demoed the 85h in a mock-subway car.

jabra elite 85h

So, what’s different? Well, first the price. The Elite 85h are $300, solidly less expensive than the Sony and Bose competition.

The second, is the artificial intelligence. Yes, you read that correctly.

Headphones With AI

Normally, ANC is a feature you enable and disable manually. When you’re on the go it’s common to do so otherwise you might miss gate announcements or the flight attendant explaining meal options. The Elite 85h on the other hand analyzes your surroundings automatically, tuning the ANC to let vocals through when needed. This SmartSound feature is controlled through the Jabra+ app where you can set public, private, commute, and other various scenarios with their sound profiles.

Here’s where the experience gets a little less seamless – you have to connect the Elite 85h to your phone over Bluetooth, then connect the Jabra+ app to get the full use of the AI. Once it’s set, you’re mostly done with configuring, but remember to grab the app. Your phone will show two Bluetooth connections to the Elite 85h, not entirely elegant but more of a quirk than a complaint.

jabra elite 85h

The SmartSound AI once you’ve configured it, means less fiddling with buttons or taking headphones on an off. Personally, I think this is the very beginning of smarter headphones in the near future.

The Regular Parts Are Good Too

Overall, the ANC isn’t quiet as crystal clear as the Bose QuietComfort again, more of a nitpick than a deficiency. Sound quality of the Elite 85h is great, these are fun headphones to listen music through. Jabra’s roots also show throughout the Elite 85h. Beautiful but functional Scandinavian design like their entry-level Move, the Elite 85h automatically pause music when you take them off. Turn the ear cups in, and the headphones turn off. No power button.

USB-C charging gives you 5 hours of battery life with a 15 minute top up, or 36 total hours with ANC (41 without) after a full 2 hour charge. There’s an optional headphone jack, plus 8 microphones built-in for ANC and excellent call audio. Jabra is known for making headsets and if you call relatives who are hard of hearing, they’ll appreciate the crispness of your voice.

There’s a lot to like about the Elite 85h, they’re comfortable to wear, come with a form-fitting case, and impressive AI ANC. Usually when a company jumps into a market, they make splashes with gimmicks or products that aren’t full realized. What’s most impressive about the Elite 85h is how complete, and in many ways, better they seem to be at less cost than the Sony WH1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort 35.

I’ll follow up with a Road Tested! review in a few months to see how durable they are but if budget has been keeping you from getting a pair of headphones with ANC, you should take a very close listen to the Jabra Elite 85h.

TipFox Tells You How Much To Tip At Restaurants, Bars And More Worldwide On Your Phone

tipfox app

One of the most satisfying moments of an international trip is sitting down at a restaurant for your first meal. A moment that’s often followed by a confusing calculation of how much tip to leave for your server? Do you need to leave a tip when paying with credit card? Do you even tip at all?

TipFox is an app I developed for Android and iOS to answer those questions for you,at restaurants, bars, and for other common services.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Covered By Country

From the map view TipFox shows you whether or not tips are generally expected, rounded up, not common, or just used in certain circumstances, all at a quick glance. From there, you can tap to get more information about a country’s tipping practices at restaurants, bars, for specific services (e.g. tour guides), taxis, plus descriptions on tipping etiquette as well on the details page.

There’s also a comment section to ask questions, add information, and connect with other travelers.

Other TipFox Features

TipFox is designed to be straightforward so you can spend more time enjoying your meal, guided tour, or haircut, without the pressure of worrying about not leaving an adequate tip. As a traveler you want to be polite and not under-tip staff who may rely on those wages. At the same time, it’s important to not be taken advantage of by a taxi driver who’s counting on the fact you might not know that tipping is an uncommon practice locally.

tipfox app

Within the app, information is included for services like hairdressers, guided tours, hotel staff, and more. TipFox is also continuously updated when you have an Internet connection, works completely offline, and can find where you are if you allow location services.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Available On Android And iOS

TipFox is available for download for iOS on the App Store and on Android on Google Play for $1.99. Access to the information within the TipFox and all updates are free for life. (iOS users there are also discounts available if you’ve already using any of my other apps). I want to help make the mechanics of traveling easier for you, so you can focus on traveling. You can let TipFox worry about of how much to leave on a check – giving you more time to do everything else.

travel smarter,

The Aer Travel Pack 2 Is Nearly Tech Backpack Perfection

Backpacks, especially the larger kind, tend to be made either for cloths or computers but rarely both. There are plenty of smaller backpacks like the Swissgear Scansmart 1900 (my full review) that have plenty of pockets but good luck trying to fit an extra sweater in there. (Planes are COLD and airplane blankets never washed.)

Aer’s Travel Pack 2 though is very close to perfection for digital nomads who carry an office on their back and has become the main carry-on bag I use. You can watch my full review in the video above or read on for some brief highlights.

Right Size

Versatile backpacks have a large, empty front pocket. Electronics bags similar to Dell’s Premier (full review here) try to guess the most common slots and pockets you’ll use. For travelers with a lot of electronics though, cameras, drones, and other bulky items are inefficiently stored unless you can do the organizing.

aer travel pack 2

The Travel Pack 2 has a good combination of large pocket with organization… almost. First, the main compartment is spacious at 34L but front-loading unlike the Thule Subterra’s open-top design. It’s nearly an ideal big compartment, except Aer has put in a shoe compartment common to other bags this size.

  • Dear Aer, look, this is clearly a tech bag, the shoe compartment isn’t needed and the pocket eats into space many need for camera lenses, microphones, that sort of thing. We can still put shoes in a bag and jam them into the Travel Pack 2 if needed.
  • And as Mr. Robot as those compression straps look (I’ll admit they come in handy on occasion) they make opening the main compartment cumbersome. Maybe placing them at an angle would solve this problem.

Otherwise, the build quality, intuitive front organizational pocket, and slim design make this a very enticing bag for travelers with a DSLR or drone, or some combination or large electronics. Plus those who want to be able to pack an extra shirt or two as well. Brrr.

These $50 Blitzwolf BW-FYE4 Are Everywhere On Amazon And They’re Not Too Bad

Blitzwolf is clearly dumping their advertising budget into the BW-FYE4 wireless earbuds because they’re all over Amazon right now. I picked up a pair and as you can see in the video above, they’re surprisingly good for $50 – ideal for travelers who want very, very, small headphones but don’t want to advertise “I’ve got Apple Airpods” everywhere in the world.

Review Of The Audio-Technica M50xBT: Studio Sound Cuts The Cord

The Audio-Technica M50xBT are simply a more portable version of a classic headphone with a very specific purpose – to provide studio quality sound – especially useful for video editors. That’s not to say the M50xBT aren’t a great pair of headphones but rather, if they’re the only headphones you’ll be using, it’s important to consider a few things.

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

More Or Less Portable

Over-ear headphones are always going to be larger than earbuds like the Bose QuietComfort 20i (my full review) so for any traveler, the size considerations have to bring notable advantages. In general, going over the ear means a more natural sound (our ears have funny shapes for this reason) and being larger, longer battery life for wireless listening.

Studio-headphones like the M50xBT are designed to give a very flat sound profile, ideal for editing sound from music or in videos. A pair of headphones like the ATH-SR30BT (my full review) on the other hand pump up the bass and treble, giving a pleasurably distorted nightclub sound.

A good analogy is the different in photo quality of a phone versus a traditional camera – phones automatically pump up the colors to be vibrant, higher-end cameras tend not to. The less manipulation done by the device leaves more room for a human editor later on.

audio-technica m50xbt

Know What You’re Getting Into

You won’t be disappointed by the M50xBT at all, they are very good headphones. But for frequent travelers who aren’t at all interested in editing audio, something like a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 or Sony WH1000XM3 with active-noise canceling or Jabra Move without it will be better suited for you.

Everyone else, the M50xBT give you the option of a headphone cable for low-latency but when you do go battery, it’s got around 40 hours for wireless listening. (Apple’s Airpods for comparison run only about 5 hours.) I did have to change the factory ear cups on the M50xBT with these Brainwavz pair – something to keep in mind if the M50xBT get uncomfortable after a while.

Overall, these are a reliable pair of studio headphones where Audio-Technica did the smart thing, don’t try to change much but give you the option to cut the cord when needed.

Gear Travel Bloggers Carry: Jessie Festa Edition

It’s no secret I can’t get enough travel tech gear and I’m very curious to see what other travelers have in their backpacks as well. On a recent trip to New York City I got a chance to meet up with Jessie Festa to show you the photography gear she packs on every trip. You can see all of the electronics in Jessie’s backpack in the video above.


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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