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In the last few weeks, we’ve been keeping ourselves busy with plenty of new videos and guides — and of course, a bunch of product reviews Chris Velazco spent some time trying out all the new features on OnePlus’ pricey new handset, the 9 Pro, while Billy Steele reviewed Master & Dynamic’s new MW08 earbuds. Cherlynn Low brought the new Nest Hub to her bedside to try out its new sleep tracking capabilities, and Nathan Ingraham stress-tested the new Sonos Roam speaker by throwing it across the room and dunking it in a bucket of water. I also tested several different baby monitors to find the best ones for your nursery, and Billy found the best wireless headphones for audio enthusiasts and casual listeners alike.
Unlike the Sonos Move, the new Roam speaker is much easier to take with you wherever you go. Nathan Ingraham found the $170 speaker incredibly portable due to its size — it measures just over six and a half inches tall and weighs less than a pound. He tested the Roam’s water-resistance and toughness by dropping it in a bucket of water and throwing it across the room. It kept playing through it all.
Nathan said that despite its tiny size, the Roam still sounds great without any distortion or getting overly boomy at high volumes. The speaker includes a tweeter and a mid-woofer instead of just a single driver, and that setup helps produce clear highs and mids as well as a satisfying bass thump throughout the volume range. He also found the 10-hour battery estimate right on target. Though he thought that two speakers playing in stereo provided a wide soundstage in a living room, he maintained that the Roam wouldn’t likely be loud enough for outdoor parties.
Chris Velazco has seen each smartphone from OnePlus get better, faster and more expensive. The company’s popular line-up now includes the OnePlus 9 Pro, a flagship smartphone that starts at $970. Featuring a 6.7-inch, 3,216 x 1,440 AMOLED display with 1,300 nits of brightness, the 9 Pro has one of the nicest screens Chris has seen on a handset and it worked well even in bright sunlight. With running on a Snapdragon 888 processor and with a variable refresh rate, Chris said there was very little it couldn’t handle, including playing Fortnite.
But that’s not the most remarkable upgrade the 9 Pro has to offer; Chris said the combination of the company’s partnership with Hasselblad and better sensors has made for a significantly improved camera experience. Chris said his photos were gorgeous and the Hasselblad contribution made for colors that were true to life. However, that all contributes to making the 9 Pro more expensive than ever, which might irritate OnePlus fans. Chris also counted the limited carrier support for 5G and a meh telephoto camera among the handsets drawbacks.
Master & Dynamic’s MW08 are the company’s best earbuds yet
Billy Steele has watched Master & Dynamic work through three iterations of true wireless earbuds to produce the MW08, which he calls the company’s best yet. The MW08 model keeps the same D-shaped design, but they’re smaller and don’t have much hardware sitting outside your ears. While a net positive, this also means the onboard controls are smaller as well, which Billy found cumbersome. Fortunately, the signature sound profile still impressed: Billy said the details were clear and crisp with a natural sounding tuning. The addition of 11mm beryllium-coated drivers helped produce a sound profile that Billy called the best he’s encountered on a set of true wireless earbuds.
The MW08 also have improved active noise cancelling (ANC) with two options: Max ANC and All Day ANC. These modes can be switched via the M&D Connect app, which is a new release from the company. M&D Connect also allows users to change ambient sound modes (of which there are two), adjust the auto-off timer and disable in-ear detection. But it doesn’t have a customizable EQ or any sound presets, nor does Master & Dynamic plan to add those features in the future. While the 12-hour battery life pleased Billy, he noted that the earbuds don’t feature any wireless charging.
The signature feature of the new $100 Nest Hub is a built-in radar sensor that detects motion to track the length and quality of your sleep. It can also sense your snoring and coughing and tell how bright or warm your room is. But Cherlynn Low found it isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. It has to be positioned near your head, at the same height as the mattress (which isn’t always convenient), and it requires at least an initial week of tracking before it can start to produce results on its Wellness panel. Though she says it’s impressive as a proof of concept, the data it collected as she slept didn’t turn out to be terribly insightful.
However, she was much more impressed by its capabilities as a smart display. At $100, it’s cheaper than the original model but the Google Assistant is faster, the audio was louder and clearer and it now offers dashboards and interfaces for smart home controls. The new Nest Hub can make Duo calls, play YouTube videos and search for recipes, too. She also liked that the Soli sensor could also be used for motion controls — for example, swiping your hand in the air to dismiss a timer alarm. Overall, Cherlynn says she would recommend it if you’re looking for a solid smart display, but don’t count on it being the best sleep tracking solution.