Tech review: Weckler on the latest gadgets
Our Technology Editor reviews Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0 and HP Spectre X360 13.
The best wireless headphones for €400
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0
Rating: 5 Stars
You might call this one a long-term review: I've had these headphones now for over six months and I thought it might be worth pointing out what I like about them and why I currently default to them when using headphones.
First of all, wireless headphones have huge ergonomic advantages over physically tethered ones. They also have a built-in feature I regularly use: a hands-free microphone that lets you make and take calls without holding your phone up to your mouth.
That said, these Sennheiser headphones have a few other advantages. Their physical styling is about the best on the market, with just the right amount of understated fashion and design. This is obviously in the eye of the beholder, but I'd take these over candy-coloured DJ lookalikes any day of the week.
They're also quite comfortable, which is a crucial consideration. I have a rather big cranium and any unevenness will dig in mercilessly - but the leather used is soft and adaptive. These aren't the cushiest on the market (Sony, arguably holds that crown), but they're just fine.
And the Momentum headphones have active noise-cancelling technology on board. This means that they cut out a great deal of the external clattering and chattering around you to let you focus on whatever your Bluetooth audio source is. Indeed, you don't even need to have something playing - you can simply turn the headphones on and you'll get the advantage of the noise-cancellation. (I use this a lot.)
The quality of the playback is very good for wireless headphones. There are some useful physical controls on the headphones, including a volume button and track controls.
Battery life is about the same as any other pair of Bluetooth wireless cans I use - you'll get a week from a single charge if you listen for around an hour a day. It's rechargeable using a standard Micro USB cable.
Finally, the headphones fold up so you can bring them around in a bag (they come with their own carrying case).
A lovely laptop with a handy twist
HP Spectre X360 13
Price: €1,300 from HPshop.ie
Rating: 4 Stars
It's taken a while, but 'convertible' laptops are starting to bring some real extra functionality to portable PCs. Take HP's 13-inch Spectre X360, which I've been playing with for a couple of weeks. Other than some high-end technical specifications, which I'll get to in a second, its main appeal is the screen flexibility that its hinge affords.
Basically, you can flip the screen right around until it backs onto the keyboard. But all points in between make it functional, too - you can stand it up as a single screen if you want to for presentations or simply to watch movies on. Obviously, HP's intent is that this also makes it useful as a 'tablet', although I still have reservations about Windows-based tablets - Windows was, and remains, an awkward operating system for touchscreen operations. It's simply not optimised for this form of input: try to toggle quickly through applications using just the touchscreen features and you'll see what I mean.
To be fair, if you never used any of the Spectre X360's tablet touchscreen features, you'd still have a pretty powerful, slick laptop. The super-slim form factor is gorgeous, with a silver metallic body making it feel like a cross between a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro.
The trackpad on it is huge - almost seven inches across. The backlit keyboard is very comfortable to type on, too.
If you like your physical connections, this laptop has them all with three USB ports, a HDMi port and a memory-card reader. There's also a volume button on the side of the laptop as well as a shortcut key to the home screen. The bright 1080p screen is excellent (it's configurable up to 4K), with very decent speakers built in.
My test laptop had 128GB of storage memory, an Intel i5 chip and 4GB of Ram (although the specs HP gives out appear to stipulate 8GB of Ram as standard).
If I was to pick any holes in it, it might be its weight. At 1.5kg this is a little heavier than some other similarly sized skinny laptops out there.
But otherwise, if you need to stick with Windows and are looking for some flexibility, this is an excellent buy.