Tech review: Weckler on the latest gadgets
Our Technology Editor reviews the Lindy BNX-60 headphones and the Apple Watch Series 2.
Noise-cancelling headphones are amazing value
Price: €120 (Lindy.ie)
Rating: 4 stars
Whether or not you agree with Apple's decision to take away the 3.5mm headphone port in the iPhone, it will certainly give an additional shot in the arm to wireless headphones.
The good news is that decent wireless headphones have become much more affordable over the last year or two. Nowhere is this seen more than in the area of noise-cancelling cans.
Normally, you'd be looking at something over €300 for this proposition. But with Lindy's latest BNX-60 headphones, they've managed to keep it within touching distance of €100.
I've had the headphones for a couple of weeks and have nothing but good things to report.
They're flexible, comfortable, give good audio and block external sounds through active noise-cancelling technology.
The headphones have a number of useful controls, including a volume dial and buttons to pause, forward or dial back a track. There's also a 3.5mm jack port in case you want to physically connect it to an older audio device.
And you can choose whether or not to use the noise-cancelling feature via a dedicated switch.
The whole thing can be recharged using an ordinary MicroUSB charger, of the sort used by most Android smartphones.
Some of the finishes on the headphones are distinctly generic and plasticky. But this has to be taken in the context of their ridiculously competitive price. In any case, there isn't much compromise on the two things that really matter: audio and comfort. If you're on a budget, this is an absolute bargain.
Apple Watch upgrade time well spent
Apple Watch Series 2
Price: from €449
Rating: 4 Stars
For most people, the big question with an Apple Watch (or any smart watch) has always been the 'why'. In Apple's new, upgraded Watch, there is a new answer to this: fitness. It has added three new things to the Watch: GPS, waterproof status (to 50 metres' depth) and extra battery life.
The first two of these now make the Watch a much more natural companion for those who want to track or programme their walks, jogs, runs, cycles or swims. The third element - extra battery life - is just plain useful. The Watch now lasts reliably for two full days (or close to three days in a basic mode) without requiring a charge.
It comes with a decent workout app, as well as pleasant mindfulness extras such as its Breathe app.
Will the fitness-friendly GPS and waterproof status give the Watch more appeal to people who were scratching their head as to why they needed one? Probably.
I'm actually not the type of person who would buy it for this reason, as I grumpily regard health alerts as nagging sirens rather than life-affirming reminders. But many people like to have a little help with their health and fitness programmes. And the Watch now provides this in fairly unsurpassed fashion.
It still does all of the other stuff Apple originally thought we'd use it for, too. For me, its notification system is very helpful in reducing the number of times I have to take my large phone out of my pocket. You can use it for Siri voice commands, which is starting to get genuinely useful.
Here, the new Watch's engine improvements are a big help. It's a lot faster than the previous model thanks to a much more powerful chip. This is actually really important - while I liked the first Watch, it was painfully slow sometimes at doing things. (The WatchOS 3 software upgrade, which is available to any Apple Watch, also helps this a lot.)
The screen on the new Watch is also considerably brighter than the old model.
Those who may be thinking of upgrading will be comforted by the fact that the chargers and strap connections are the same fit, meaning those nice leather straps you may have invested in can still be used.
It still comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm. The 42mm model I got was a space-grey colour. I got a 'midnight blue' sport band and the combination looks (and wears) really great.