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The Latest Home And Office Products – July 2013 (Part 4) : Philips SHB9100, BodyMedia Fit Core

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Philips SHB9100

Price: $130

Ratings: 4/5

Web: www.usa.philips.com

Philips’s SHB9100 Bluetooth stereo headset offers some compelling features. First, although it’s a lightweight, on-ear headset, the earpads are large enough to cover most ears. These comfortable, soft cushions also offer good passive noise isolation; during a recent plane trip, I found the noise isolation sufficient while I watched a movie on my iPad.

The design improves fit, and while the earpad material can make your ears warm, it’s easy to forget the earpads’ presence

The design improves fit, and while the earpad material can make your ears warm, it’s easy to forget the earpads’ presence

A second cushion behind each main one allows the earpads to pivot slightly for the particular angles of your ears and head. The design improves fit, and while the earpad material can make your ears warm, it’s easy to forget the earpads’ presence. The grip is fairly tight, but you won’t want to wear the SHB9100 while running.

Once you’ve “broken in” the SHB9100 with a few hours of listening, the audio quality is quite good. While the bass performance isn’t anywhere near that of the good set of wired, full-size headphones, I didn’t feel that I was missing much (compare to my expectations for portable headphones). Audio is clear and balanced, with good midrange and treble, plus very good stereo imaging. The highest frequencies can be a bit fuzzy, but most music I tested the SHB9100 with didn’t exhibit this issue.

The SHB9100 runs on a battery that you recharge with a USB-to-Mini-USB cable (included). Philips claims that the battery should last for 9 hours of use. Using the SHB9100 for about 2 hours a day, I got through several days without the battery waning. The SHB9100 also comes with a standard headphone cable, which you can use if the batteries run out – a nice touch.

The SHB9100 runs on a battery that you recharge with a USB-to-Mini-USB cable (included).

The SHB9100 runs on a battery that you recharge with a USB-to-Mini-USB cable (included).

My only complaint is that the audio quality on phone calls was disappointing. I could hear callers just fine, but they had trouble hearing me, even when I help my hand up in an attempt to channel my voice toward the microphone in the right earpiece.

Getting both comfort and good sound isn’t easy with Bluetooth headphones, but Philips’s SHB9100 offers a nice balance between the two.

BodyMedia Fit Core

Price: $120

Ratings: 2.5/5

Web: www.bodymedia.com

The Fit Core fitness tracker is a lightweight band that fits neatly around your upper arm

The Fit Core fitness tracker is a lightweight band that fits neatly around your upper arm

The Fit Core fitness tracker is a lightweight band that fits neatly around your upper arm. Its biggest strength is its ability to accurately track calories burned: Thanks to its sensors, it tracks not just your activity but also your body’s reaction. It also monitors steps taken and sleep duration.

Unfortunately, it has some major drawbacks. Because the Core does not display any information itself, you need to pay $7 a month to subscribe to the BodyMedia Fit Activity Tracker service. (When you buy the Core, you get three months of Activity Tracker for free.) You can opt to buy a $69 display, which syncs with the Core and gives you a quick view of your progress, but you’ll still need to pay for Activity Tracker if you want to see overall charts and trends.

The Fit Core fitness tracker is a lightweight band that fits neatly around your upper arm

The Fit Core fitness tracker is a lightweight band that fits neatly around your upper arm

Activity Tracker and the Core also work with BodyMedia Fit mobile app. But since the Core lacks built-in Bluetooth, the app lets you see your daily numbers only after you have synced your mobile device with the server by plugging it into your computer via Micro-USB – which defeats the purpose of having a mobile app.

If you’re watching your weight, the Core is an accurate calorie monitor. But the Activity Tracker subscription adds to the price and without it, the device is basically useless.

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