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Get these if you don’t want AirPods Pro

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Beats Solo Pro headphones

Beats

If you’re like some of my friends and colleagues (shout out to Joe Kernen) who say that AirPods and other in-ear headphones just don’t fit or feel comfortable, you should consider the new Beats Solo Pro headphones.

They have lots of the same features, like noise cancellation and support for speaking to Siri, but sit comfortably on your ears instead of in them.

Apple’s Beats brand is super popular, so these are likely to be big sellers during the holidays. Beats says it has sold more than 30 million Solo-branded headphones, and the Solo Pros push the brand forward with new features and a more premium design than earlier models. With noise cancellation, it’s poised to compete against the best from Sony and Bose, too.

Here’s what you need to know about the Beats Solo Pro.

What’s good

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Even though they’re sold under a different brand, you can think of the Beats Solo Pro as a larger alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro. They have many of the same features, have longer battery life and all work really well, but the design is different.

The highlight feature is noise cancellation, which wasn’t offered in the previous Solo3 model. (They’ll still be sold, but at a $100 discount.) Noise cancellation works really well and can be toggled on or off by tapping a small button on the side of the headphones. It’s good enough for blocking out the background noise of an office, or even the streets while you’re walking. When I needed to hear things, like a pilot’s announcement on a recent flight to Seattle, I was able to tap that same button to turn on transparency mode, which lets in the noise around you. It didn’t seem as loud as transparency mode on my AirPods Pro, which I used on the same flight, so sometimes I ended up pulling the earphones off entirely to hear what the pilot was saying.

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

My wife and I were able to watch a movie on the same iPad using Beats Solo Pro and a set of AirPods Pro. That’s because iOS 13 lets two sets of Apple Bluetooth headphones listen to the same iPad or iPhone. And each person can control volume individually. It sure beats using a headphone splitter. Also, like other Apple headphone products, once you pair your Beats Pro with a single Apple product signed-in to your account, such as an iPhone, you can easily use them on your other Apple devices, like an iPad or MacBook. No additional pairing is required. Just look for it in your list of Bluetooth devices.

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Music and movies sounded really good and nicely balanced. Beats is known for pumping up the lows (bass) in its products, but the company said it’s not really doing that anymore. Instead, it’s focusing on a more balanced sound so you can hear the mids and highs just as clearly. They sound awesome — just as good as my older Bose QC35s — and I think a bit better than even AirPods Pro. That’s probably because there’s more room in them for hardware.

I found the Beats Pro to be comfortable most of the time, but when I gave them to my wife for another leg of our flight, she said they got uncomfortable and hurt her ears a little. In general, though, the cups are soft, and I thought they were fine during long periods of listening.

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I like a bunch of other features about the Beats Solo Pro that show attention to detail. They’re made of nice, strong metal, for example, instead of plastic like the Solo3. They turn on when you unfold them and turn off when you fold them shut and place them back in the included soft carrying case. There’s Lightning charging, too, instead of the older microUSB technology, so you can use the same cable to charge them that you do for your iPhone.

And the battery life is great. They last much longer than AirPods Pro. They’re rated for up to 22 hours of battery with noise cancellation or transparency mode on, or up to 40 hours with those features off. That’s plenty for two flights across the country without having to worry about plugging them in, and I’ve been using them for about a week occasionally without having to charge them up.

Also, I like that Apple’s H1 chip lets you speak to Siri. I don’t often talk to myself in public but was glad I could ask Siri to call someone, bring up directions to my parked car with voice-guided walking navigation as I listened to music, and to start my playlist “Todd’s Good Tunes 2019.”

What’s bad

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Noise cancellation is good for most things, but like the AirPods Pro, it didn’t feel as strong as my Bose QC35 headphones. Bose has always been a go-to for frequent travelers, and I think the AirPods Pro are small enough that there’s a nice trade-off in size for a bit less noise cancellation. But the Bose QC35s are better at blocking out cabin noise and the engines of a plane than the Beats Solo Pro, so you may want to consider those if you fly a lot. If you don’t, the noise cancellation is good enough for pretty much everything else.

Also, they take up more space on your head and in your bag than a set of AirPods Pro do. So, if you don’t mind in-ear headphones like AirPods, then I recommend just getting those. But, if you like on-ear headphones because buds don’t normally fit, then these are the next best option with many of the same features.

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

And at $299.95, they’re not cheap. But noise canceling headphones often aren’t. You should expect to pay at least that, or more, for a similar set from Sony or Bose. And you won’t get as easy pairing as you do with the Beats Solo Pro, support for “Hey Siri” or the easy pairing between multiple Apple products. And, if you fly with someone else, you won’t be able to listen to the same iPad or iPhone at the same time as them if you’re using a non-Apple product.

Should you buy the Beats Solo Pro?

Apple Beats Solo Pro headphones

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Yes. They’re great and do exactly what Beats says they’ll do. But most people should buy AirPods Pro because they’re $50 cheaper, more portable and have similar features. Again, if you don’t want buds, then these should be next on your list. And if you fly a lot, consider the latest from Bose or Sony. The newer QC35II model launched for $350 but are regularly on sale for $279.95.



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Hyderabad: Aggregator to pay 50,000 to customer who missed train as driver took longer route | Hyderabad News

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HYDERABAD: A district consumer forum has directed aggregator Dot Cabs to pay little over 51,000 to a consumer who had to miss his train as the cab driver took a ‘longer route’ to reach the Secunderabad railway station.
The complainant, KVV Prasad Rao, submitted that he and his family members booked a cab from Dot Cabs Pvt Ltd on September 19, 2016, to travel from Kukatpally Housing Board to Secunderabad railway station to catch a train to Kakinada. He submitted that they boarded cab at around 6 pm to catch Kakinada Express, which was bound to depart at 8:45 pm. He alleged that though he requested the driver to take them via Kukatpally, Balanagar, he took them via Hitech City, Jubilee Hills, and Punjagutta.
Rao claimed that the cab driver reached Begumpet railway station at 8:20 pm and advised them to board MMTS at the station to reach the Secunderabad railway station platform directly. After informing the customer service of the cab aggregator, they boarded MMTS, but only reached the station by 9 pm.
Alleging that they had failed to catch the train due to Dot Cab’s negligence and had to incur additional expenditure by boarding a flight to Rajahmundry to reach their native place, he filed this complaint.
The representatives of Dot cabs, in their written version, contended that there is no negligence on their part as the driver reached their location by 5.30 pm, but the complainant and his family boarded it only at 6 pm. They claimed that the driver opted for the fastest route and alleged that they got down at Begumpet station despite having sufficient time (35 minutes) in hand to reach their destination by cab. They added that they are not liable for any loss/damage as their terms and conditions.
During the trial, the bench noticed that the driver had chosen a longer route to reach the Secunderabad railway station and gave wrong advice to catch a local train at Begumpet station to reach Secunderabad. “The conduct of the cab driver of the opposite party in choosing a long route and giving wrong advice amounts to deficiency of service. The opposite party is bound by the action of the cab driver who is none other than its employee,” said the bench.





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People getting rid of Fitbits after Google

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Fitbit Insire HR

Todd Haselton | CNBC

When Mike Carpenter learned Google’s latest acquisition would be Fitbit, the maker of a device he wore at all hours of the day except in the shower, he left his Fitbit Charge 3 on the table at his office where he was working that day. He, and others like him, haven’t picked theirs up since.

On Nov. 1, Google said would be buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion in hopes of boosting its hardware business getting a foothold in the health space. Google explicitlysaid in the deal announcement that it won’t sell their personal or health data. Despite that assurance, some Fitbit users say they don’t trust the company, and are shedding the product altogether.

“I’m not only afraid of what they can do with the data currently, but what they can do with it once their AI advances in 10 or 20 years,” Carpenter told CNBC, saying he didn’t believe the company’s privacy assurances. “Health insurance companies would love to get their hands on that data and their purposes wouldn’t be advertising so is that what they are going to do with it? They didn’t spend the money to not utilize it in some way.”

The trend of people throwing or threatening to throw out their Fitbit devices comes as Google faces a perception problem that has spanned everyday users and regulators alike. The company has paid data privacy fines in the EU and made recent strides into the stringently regulated healthcare industry, which has caused the public to re-think seemingly harmless tools. Privacy groups this week began pushing regulators to block the Fitbit acquisition, which the company originally hoped to close in early 2020.

Google didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“I only recently got it and now I’m thinking I don’t need Google watching literally my every step or my every heart beat,” said Dan Kleinman, who said he is getting rid of his Fitbit Versa.

Some people cited Google’s 2014 acquisition of Nest Labs, which, at the time consisted of smart home thermostats. Since then, the company has tied Nest’s technology, branding and device accounts to its digital assistant and smart speakers.

“I use a lot of Google services and think they do a decent job, but I’m not interested in adding my health data to their systems,” said Fredrik Matheson who got rid of his Charge 3 after the announcement. “The moment my wife — who is not in tech — heard Google had agreed to acquire Fitbit, she asked me to figure out which watch she should replace her Fitbit with.”

Twitter users have been tweeting about their plans to get rid of their devices upon hearing of the acquisition.

“With news of the acquisition of your company, I intend to sell my Fitbit & delete my account,” said a tweet from Tanya Janca, which received several hundred retweets and likes. “I like your product and have enjoyed it many years, but I value my privacy much, much more. The aggregation of data possible makes me extremely uncomfortable.”

Some critical users say they’re now considering Fitbit’s main rival, the Apple Watch, while others longed for the early days of low-tech fitness tracking.

“This may push me to pay for an Apple Watch, and jettison my current Fitbit (assuming I even still want a thing strapped to my wrist collecting data about me),” tweeted author Stephen Anderson. “Can we just bring back Pebble?”

Carpenter and Kleinman later pointed to the news about Google’s partnership with health giant Ascension, saying they were glad they made the decision to leave their Fitbit devices behind. “Google could know which medications I take, and what any medical diagnosis’s I have,” Carpenter said. “It makes me feel sick to my stomach.”

WATCH NOW: Why Google keeps selling hardware



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Icebreaker’s science tender sea trials underway — Australian Antarctic Division

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The Nuyina’s science tender undergoing sea trials in Norway.

Final sea trials for the science tender of Australia’s new icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, are underway in Norway this week.

Australian Antarctic Division Icebreaker Project Manager, Nick Browne, said the 10.3 metre-long vessel was uniquely designed to support scientific research in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.

“The science tender will enable scientists to undertake marine and geoscience work in open water and ice, independently or in parallel with the Nuyina’s scientific systems,” he said.

“The vessel is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, including a multibeam bathymetric echo sounder to map the sea floor, a sound velocity profiler for oceanographic work, and moon pool for the deployment of instruments through the hull.

“It also has an A-frame on the stern to deploy towed scientific equipment and small trawls, and a side davit rated to deploy scientific instruments in rough seas.”

The science tender will be able to operate in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and is fitted with two five-cylinder diesel engines and Duoprop drives for exceptional handling and acceleration power. 

The vessel can accommodate four scientists and two crew and has a range of 150 nautical miles at 12 knots, with a maximum speed of 20 knots in sea state 3.

Testing is being conducted in the fiords around Alesund, Norway and will continue over the next three weeks. The test area provides sheltered water with a range of shallow and deep regions required to demonstrate the full capabilities of the acoustic instruments being tested.

The milestone represents another step forward in the commissioning of Australia’s new icebreaker. Last month, the landing barges, made by local Tasmanian business Taylor Bros, were successfully tested on the Derwent River in Hobart.

The Nuyina is also fitted with two further tenders that will be used to transfer personnel and supplies, supporting the important resupply activities of the new ship.

Sea trials for the RSV Nuyina will commence in February. The icebreaker is expected to arrive in Hobart next year, ahead of the 2020-21 Antarctic season.



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