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Razer Opus review: surprisingly competent wireless headphones

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Razer’s new $200 Opus noise-canceling, wireless headphones aren’t good enough to tempt me away from my tried-and-true $350 Sony WH-1000XM3. I’m not surprised by that, partially given the huge price difference. More so, I wasn’t expecting miracles given Razer’s comparative lack of experience in making headphones. However, they are good enough to make me doubt if my Sony’s are that much better to warrant costing almost double the amount. My answer to that question is yes, but nevertheless, that the Opus is making me question it at all speaks to their quality and value.

For the money, these come with almost everything I want in a set of headphones: comfort, good sound quality, and long battery life — with a few extra features as a bonus. For instance, the ear cups can swivel 90 degrees to rest on my chest, then into an even more compact form to fold up into the included hard case. These headphones can automatically pause when you remove them from your ears, as well.

As far as value is concerned, Razer nailed a lot of little details with the Opus and it’s easy to recommend them over most other $200 headphones with similar features. Though, if you’re looking for an excellent noise cancellation effect that blocks out a lot of noise, or full-bodied sound performance that is truly engaging, you’ll need to pay a little more for your headphones.

Razer’s new headphones are THX-certified, meaning that their default frequency wave is flat and unbiased toward bass or highs. Folks who work in music studios rely on reference headphones so they can trust that what they hear with them is actually reflected in the master recording and vice versa. (Note: that the Razer-owned THX gave the Opus its esteemed certification raised an eyebrow, though the team assured me that it put Razer’s headphones under the same tough scrutiny as all other manufacturers that stroll in for certification.)

Razer Opus laying sideways

The midnight blue version of the Razer Opus. A black-colored set will be released later this summer.

THX branding or not, a reference-style sound isn’t particularly exciting to listen to. Thankfully, the EQ settings can be adjusted in the Opus mobile app. The “amplified” EQ is more my speed, which punches up everything, particularly the lows and mids, to give it a more powerful sound. For $200, I think the Opus’ sound quality is on par with what I expected, if not slightly better. The Sony model that I referenced earlier has a bass-forward sound that makes everything sound warm. Some people (including myself) really like that kind of sound, others don’t. Even when you adjust Razer’s EQ to your liking, these stay true to their roots as reference headphones and avoid leaning toward having too much bass. It’s a very agreeable sound profile, not the kind that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

The noise cancellation is an area where the Opus doesn’t reach parity with more expensive headphones. I had to raise their volume up higher than I was comfortable with to block out most of the outside noise. Keeping the Opus at a normal volume with noise cancellation on, I can clearly hear my partner talking on the phone from across the room. If you’re in a relatively quiet environment, I think they’ll do the trick, but I’m not confident at all that these could dampen an airplane engine or the loud voices and noises you may want to get rid of during your commute.

Razer Opus controls

The controls are nothing revolutionary, but they work.

What’s also not so great is that these give off a subtle hiss to compensate for, perhaps, not having a good enough algorithm to cancel out the noise. On the contrary, if you’re someone who has experienced “eardrum suck,” as the reviewers at Wirecutter put it — or the feeling that your ears are being pressurized by noise cancellation — these are less likely to be uncomfortable. The downside being, of course, that they don’t cancel out enough noise for my use.

I’m accustomed to fussing with awkward touch-based controls on my Sony headphones, and adjusting to Razer’s button layout has been simple. Granted, there’s nothing ground-breaking here, such as Marshall’s multifunction joystick for controlling the volume, song selection, and play / pause, but the volume and pause key can be found in an instant. It’s even easier if you just want to pause or resume music; just taking them off of your head will do the trick. The button to turn the noise cancellation on and off is alongside the left ear cup. Like a number of noise-canceling headphones available now, the Opus has a feature that switches on the microphones to let you hear what’s happening around you. You just have to hold the noise cancellation button to toggle it on, then lift off to go back into the ANC bubble.

Razer Opus worn around the neck

The Opus headphones are about the same size as Sony’s WH-1000XM3, and they’re about as lightweight and comfortable.

The thing that I like most about the Opus is that, in a few important ways, I can rely on them like I do my Sony’s. They have long battery life that gets me through nearly an entire week of work. I can leave them on my head for hours without feeling discomfort, as well. Though, with noise-canceling headphones, you usually get what you pay for. And unfortunately, the Razer Opus headphones show their price tag when it comes to competing against high-end wireless headphones in the noise cancellation and sound quality categories.

These aren’t Razer’s magnum opus. But as its first set of noise-canceling headphones aimed at persuading people away from the Sonys and Boses of the world, the Opus is a solid, feature-loaded start.

Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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The Zens Liberty is the AirPower wireless charger that Apple couldn’t make

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Ever because the sudden cancellation of Apple’s AirPower wi-fi charger, tons of corporations have tried to fill the hole out there by providing their very own takes on the failed product. However with the Liberty wi-fi charger, Zens has succeeded the place Apple failed: it constructed a multiple-coil wi-fi charger that truly delivers on its promise.

AirPower-style wi-fi chargers are a dime a dozen nowadays: take two Qi charging pads, throw in a USB Apple Watch cable, and also you’ve bought one thing that appears like Apple’s failed charger. However the actual innovation of the AirPower charger wasn’t in its skill to cost an iPhone, a pair of AirPods, and an Apple Watch all of sudden; it was Apple’s attempt to make use of 21 to 24 charging coils (as an alternative of the usual one or two) to make a charger that wouldn’t require exact placement or alignment of the charging coils.

The glass-and-aluminum Liberty doesn’t look very like Apple’s canceled charger, nevertheless it does precisely what AirPower promised: simply drop your telephone or earbuds anyplace on the pad, and so they’ll cost, due to the 16 charging coils inside. There’s no transferring issues round to verify the coils are lined up, no sliding your telephone up and down, no anxious glances to see if the charging indicator goes on. It really works the best way wi-fi charging ought to all the time work.

It’s not simply the multicoil know-how, although: the Liberty additionally checks almost each different field for what makes a superb wi-fi charger. It will probably cost as much as two units on the pad at as much as 15W every, that means it’ll quick cost almost any smartphone at full velocity. There’s additionally an extra USB-A port on the highest for plugging in one other system (or, for many who need the true AirPower expertise, plugging in Zens’ custom €45 aluminum Apple Watch charger that’s designed to go along with the Liberty pad).

The Liberty is powered by an ordinary USB-C port, that means you’ll be able to simply substitute the cable for an extended or shorter possibility or swap out the brick if something breaks. (However you’ll want a 60W USB-C PD brick to provide sufficient energy.) And there aren’t any annoying glowing LED lights to let you already know that the charger is plugged in.

The Liberty charger isn’t excellent. For instance, placing your telephone all the best way to the facet may cause it to not cost. However that’s fairly simple to keep away from given the big charging service accessible and the truth that you’ll be able to see the place the coils are, no less than on the glass-top mannequin I examined. It’s large: with a footprint of 8.Eight x 5.three inches, it’s almost the dimensions of a commerce paperback e book, so that you’ll undoubtedly need to clear some room in your desk. There’s additionally a fan, as one would possibly count on from a charger that pulls this a lot energy, though it’s pretty quiet.

Then there’s the most important drawback with the Zens Liberty: the value. At €149 for the standard model (with a fabric cover) and €199 for the restricted version glass cowl mannequin that I attempted, you’re paying a hefty premium even in comparison with different (already costly) dual-device wi-fi chargers like Samsung’s $79.99 Duo Pad, Nomad’s $99 Base Station, or Mophie’s $69.95 Twin Wi-fi Charging Pad. And that’s earlier than paying the additional €45 for the Apple Watch charger — though, in concept, you can save right here by simply utilizing an everyday Apple Watch charger on the expense of the extra seamless look.

Happily, Zens isn’t the one firm trying to compete within the AirPower-esque multicoil house. Different contenders — like Nomad’s upcoming Base Station Professional — promise to perform the same “cost anyplace” feat, with assist for as much as three Qi units, though the present prototype that we noticed at CES was nonetheless buggy and unfinished, and there’s no launch date. Latest rumors point out that Apple may be taking a shot at a wi-fi charger once more, too.

The truth that different corporations are engaged on multicoil chargers means there’s hope for cheaper options down the road. However for now, Zens is the one sport on the town. Apple by no means introduced the value for its AirPower charger, so it’s laborious to match the Zens Liberty in that regard. However the excessive worth level is nearly becoming for a product that’s stealing Apple’s thunder.

The Zens Liberty is one in every of — if not the finest — wi-fi chargers I’ve ever used. However if you’d like the Apple-like AirPower options, you’ll need to be ready to pay Apple-like costs.

Images by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

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HBO TV Show About Female Skateboarders – Variety

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“Betty” appears to be like like how being a young person feels. Shot throughout a vibrant New York Metropolis summer time, the present zips alongside its characters as they weave by way of visitors, throughout parks, over bridges on their skateboards. When it slows down, it’s to soak up the view, have fun, shoot the shit. However inside minutes it’s inevitably off and operating into the blinking solar once more, winding down the town streets with such visceral verve that you may virtually really feel the wind whipping by way of your personal hair by way of the display.

From director Crystal Moselle, the brand new HBO collection introduces a gaggle of freewheeling teenagers who need nothing greater than to simply skate on their very own phrases — a surprisingly tall order because of the numerous skeptical dudes surrounding them. (The present’s title of “Betty,” in truth, comes from the mocking nickname a few of the boys throw at lady skaters who dare intrude on their turf.) Moselle enlists a number of of the identical skaters slash actors she did for “Skate Kitchen,” her critically acclaimed movie a few pack of decided, confident, casually cool ladies and the actual freedom they really feel when dashing by way of the town on their boards. Over six half-hour episodes, although, she and author Lesley Arfin (“Love”) get to not solely discover their lives in additional element, however indulge in additional visible and narrative grace notes that make falling into the Bettys’ world that a lot simpler and extra immersive. 

Janay (Dede Lovelace) is sharp and no nonsense on the subject of defending what she loves, however equally joyful when she will get to bask in it. Her pal Kirt (Nina Moran) is the chillest particular person on the planet — suppose “The Huge Lebowksi’s” Dude in a teenage lady’s physique — till she perceives the slightest trace of a menace to her buddies, at which level she turns into a bulldog on the offensive. Within the pilot, Janay and Kirt stumble right into a collection of misadventures and three new buddies (their transition from strangers to comrades in arms is so quick it nearly doesn’t matter — who cares once you’re having that a lot enjoyable, that rapidly?). Honeybear (Moonbear) is a wildly fashionable filmmaker who appears mysterious at first blush, however as she turns into extra used to her new buddies, it’s clear that she’s simply sensible and shy, extra snug observing others than being noticed. Indigo (Ajani Russell) dispenses weed vape pens and untouchable cool, a strategic hustle hiding her wealthy lady roots. Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a talented skater with a gleaming mop of hair whose fashion icon is Charlie Chaplin, matches proper in, however however takes longer to confess as a lot because of her lingering have to show her price to boys who won’t ever absolutely embrace her as one in every of their very own. 

Each actor is the type of good that’s more durable to soak up at first; they’re so instantly snug of their roles and rhythms that the present typically feels extra like a documentary than a scripted present. However it’s, and an particularly well-plotted one on condition that it solely has six episodes to provide everybody a decently satisfying arc. Camille realizes that clout with the boys isn’t price pretending that her emotions don’t matter after they’re clearly damage. Indigo will get a better take a look at the distinction between her selecting to disregard her security internet and her buddies having to scrape by. Honeybear learns find out how to be susceptible with each her buddies and an intriguing lady on the skatepark who, Kirt helpfully confirms with a giddy yell, “is GAY.” Even Kirt will get a revealing second of self-actualization, although after all hers comes courtesy of some extraordinarily potent mushrooms. They develop, however in believably awkward spurts. They’re is likely to be daring as hell, however they’re nonetheless children simply attempting to determine themselves and the world round them. 

That’s what makes Janay’s storyline, probably the most bold of the bunch, so spectacular. When she finds out that one other lady has accused her greatest pal, Donald (Caleb Eberhardt), of assault, Janay goes right into a tailspin that begins vindictive, however finally ends up extra cathartic than she ever would’ve thought. The way in which “Betty” prods this bruise, with out pretense or by placing extra grownup phrases into teenage characters’ mouths, is wise and compassionate. It has Janay determine her personal emotions with out dashing a neat conclusion or simplifying an extremely advanced scenario. It lets her be a teen lady, intelligent and prickly and brittle and courageous — a Betty in all the most effective methods. 

“Betty” premieres Friday, Might 1 at 11 p.m. on HBO.

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‘Stray’: Film Review – Variety

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The Turkish phrase zeytin, which suggests “olive,” generally doubles as a complimentary adjective used to outline a pair of deeply expressive, dark-colored eyes. With that context in thoughts, the Istanbul road canine a lot of Elizabeth Lo’s virtuosic characteristic documentary debut “Stray” tracks couldn’t have been extra appropriately named. From the primary second Lo, an award-winning filmmaker of principally documentary shorts, graces the display with a closeup of Zeytin, it’s the canine’s eyes that register. Possessing a dramatic display high quality along with her hanging gaze, elegant lashes and playfully twitching and elevating eyebrows, Zeytin steadily lends the movie a bit of her incorruptible purity that without delay enchants and strengthens spirits.

Because of the mutt’s magnificent orbs, one feels a soul-baring affinity with the fearless Zeytin as she searches for kindness whereas wandering and conquering the streets of Istanbul. It’s a troublesome city, however the younger outcast rapidly proves to be a savvy survivor, who’s in some way managed to make sense of that metropolis’s one-of-a-kind chaos which “Stray” portrays with gorgeous, head-spinning precision. For starters, Zeytin remarkably appears to know cross the road even on the bustling outskirts of Galata and the Golden Horn, whom to schmooze for meals and whose chatter to snoop on.

In equity, these city achievements aren’t distinctive to Lo’s lead canine. Marked by its uncommon stance on the earth by means of its governmental assist of untamed road canines, Turkey is full of untouched unbiased pups that peacefully reside on their very own phrases. It hasn’t all the time been this fashion nevertheless — the nation has had mass killings of strays since 1909 — however due to in depth and efficient protests, it’s now unlawful to euthanize or confine strays in Turkey. Consequently, just like the Istanbul road cats playfully portrayed in Ceyda Torun’s “Kedi,” canines of the identical metropolis have additionally been defiantly roaming freely for fairly someday and are at one with the communities the place they reside.

In that regard, Zeytin just isn’t alone in her excursions — in her pack are additionally the caring doggie Nazar and timid pet Kartal, in addition to a trio of homeless, heartbreakingly adrift Syrian refugee boys who take it in the future at a time, sheltering in building websites, sleeping in dilapidated buildings at night time, sniffing glue and discovering some sense of homey consolation and belonging within the nonjudgmental canines’ presence. In order Lo follows the group of vagabonds going about their days within the unforgiving metropolis, not lacking a single element about the way in which canines transfer, play and relaxation — generally, solitary, different occasions, alongside the boys — the movie’s title “Stray” step by step assumes a twin emotional and political connotation that encompasses a couple of species. Together with her low-to-the floor, intimate digital camera and richly assembled sequences that add as much as 72 financial minutes (she can be the cinematographer and editor right here), Lo inspects each the faultlines and fringes of the Turkish society and ponders profound philosophical questions regarding humanity. All through the principally wordless “Stray,” we surprise with compassion and appreciable self-critique whom the society uplifts and helps vs. whom it chooses to ignore and deem invisible.

Whereas the reply the movie suggests isn’t all the time nice, Lo refuses to succumb to perennial doom and gloom, and as a substitute, highlights thrives of kindness wherever she stumbles upon them. The children and canines generally go unnoticed, and generally get dismissed with distressing meanness; however different occasions, they get a style of human generosity, too. In numerous scenes that burst with neorealistic touches and microcosmic portraits, folks both exit of their strategy to feed the pups, who’re in any other case used to digging by means of trash or preventing over a bone, or give them somewhat head scratch and a nourishing smile. Lo decisively stays observational and non-manipulative it doesn’t matter what the state of affairs is, an angle that positions her movie nearer in character to “Los Reyes,” Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut’s 2019 documentary on a pair of Chilean strays that hang around at a skate park in Santiago, moderately than the extra stagey and talky “Kedi.”

In that, “Stray” organically builds its narrative, amplified by the work of “Leviathan” sound designer Ernst Karel that molds echoes of ezan (name to prayer), gridlocked visitors jams, ladies’s day road protests and personal café chatters of mates and {couples} into an city musical opus with an odd and singular magnificence. Finishing Lo’s thoughtfully knitted, humor-infused canvas are numerous quotes from dog-loving Greek thinker Diogenes of Sinope, sprinkled over the movie by means of sporadic title playing cards. “Human beings reside artificially and hypocritically and would do properly to check the canine,” considered one of them reads. Putting among the many higher ranks of movies for canine lovers, “Stray” efficiently takes this mission to coronary heart, revealing within the course of not solely the wholesomeness of people’ four-legged greatest mates, but in addition the soulful voice of an thrilling new filmmaker with immense ethical queries on her thoughts.

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