“They don’t feel as bad as they look.” Maybe it’s the polarizing nature of Apple’s AirPods design — which, to be fair, has waned since they debuted last year — but I couldn’t stop myself from internally repeating this self-affirming mantra while I tested the $250 Bose SoundSport Free over the past week. They’re Bose’s first crack at truly wireless earbuds, and they’re surprisingly good at some of the basics. But while I know I shouldn’t care that, from behind, they make me look like a cybernetic insect, it’s just hard not to be aware of how big these things are when I have them in my ears. Luckily, that doesn’t ruin the fantastic sound these earbuds are capable of producing. Unfortunately, a few other things might. Off the top, credit to Bose for getting the most basic thing right about truly wireless earbuds: they work really well. I know that sounds silly, but companies are still having trouble … [Read more...] about Bose SoundSport Free review: truly wireless earbuds never sounded so good
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) sent an open letter to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) today urging the industry's self-regulatory body to "review the completeness of the board's ratings process and policies as they relate to loot boxes and to take into account the potential harm these types of micro-transactions may have on children." Loot boxes—which offer randomized in-game rewards, often in exchange for real money—concern Hassan for the "psychological principles and enticing mechanics that closely mirror those often found in casinos and games of chance," as the letter reads. While acknowledging "robust debate over whether loot boxes should be considered gambling," Hassan argues that "they are both expensive habits and use similar psychological principles" and thus deserve extra scrutiny. "The potential harm is real." Hassan urged the ESRB in the letter to examine whether loot boxes are being marketed "in an ethical and transparent way that adequately protects … [Read more...] about US Senator demands review of loot box policies, citing potential harm [Updated]
When we review a car, we often find ourselves at the mercy of the elements. In the case of the 2018 BMW X3, that turned out to be a good thing. A rapid succession of bitter cold, unusual warmth (for Chicago), rain, ice, snow, and then more bitter cold over a period of seven days taught me that the X3 is an excellent cold-weather car. The interior warms up very quickly for a car of its size (with a heated steering wheel that becomes hot to the touch), the handling in snow and ice is exemplary, and it's a great car if you need to give someone a jump start. But that's just part of the picture for the X3. Generation next The 2018 model year marks the beginning of the third generation for BMW's mid-sized crossover-slash-SUV. And the X3, with its high driving position, definitely feels like more of an SUV than a crossover. On the outside, there are not many differences between the 2017 and 2018 X3. The 2018 model is a couple of inches longer and a half-inch wider. The added length appears to … [Read more...] about 2018 BMW X3 review: The ultimate crossover machine?
Back in the day — like 2014 — sous vide immersion circulators didn’t have Wi-Fi. Some didn’t even have apps. How did we possibly cook our steaks in such primitive conditions? Fast forward a couple years and companies such as Anova and Nomiku have dropped the price and included more features in their sous vide devices. The Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi has internet connectivity, as its name suggests, meaning you can control it via an app even away from home. The previous Anova was Bluetooth only, and we reviewed it back before its app was available. The new version of the cooker looks almost identical, but the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity and an in-depth app are definitely welcome changes. Electrolux recently purchased Anova — yet another sign that sous vide is going mainstream. (Not sure what sous vide is? Here’s our explainer.) Does the new cooker add anything beyond connectivity? We took a few delicious weeks to test its full … [Read more...] about Anova Precision Cooker Wi-Fi review
Gaming keyboards seem to be enjoying a revival as of late. Five years ago, Logitech felt like the only game in town, joined only by a few niche brands. Now some of those brands, like Razer, have become household names among gamers. Perhaps enticed by that success, more and more keyboards are debuting from companies that you’ve probably heard of, but don’t associate with gaming keyboards. This includes names like Gigabyte, Corsair, and Cooler Master. Maybe worried that the Cooler Master name doesn’t relate to peripherals clearly, the company has been releasing keyboards and mice under the CMStorm brand. Some of the new products, such as the mid-range Storm Spawn and Storm Sentinel mice, have been well received by consumers so far. The company is still just sticking its toes into the water with keyboards, however. One of its early offerings is the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid, a mechanical gaming keyboard that promises the tactile pleasure of a mechanical switch at a low … [Read more...] about Cooler Master CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Review