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iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus review
6:39 pm | November 21, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Robot Vacuums Smart Home | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: November 2022
• Newer Roomba Combo J9 Plus now out
• Launch price: $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199
• Official price now: The same, though frequently discounted by circa. $200 / £200 / AU$400

Updated: January 2024. While it's no longer iRobot's leader of the pack, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus still stands as one of the best robot vacuums. Still, we imagine it'll move to a slightly lower position once we've been able to test the more premium Combo J9 Plus. The J7 Plus is regularly discounted at this point; as of writing, it's £749 / AU$1899, and we've seen prices drop to $899 in the US previously during Black Friday. Especially at this discounted price, it's well worth the money, offering one of the most thorough and intelligent cleans we've seen. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

One-minute review

The Roomba Combo J7 Plus (stylized as Roomba Combo j7+) is a revelation. It’s without doubt one of the best robot vacuums on the market right now, thanks to the fantastic features we’ve come to expect from iRobot, and the fact that it can mop too. It’s the first of its kind, introducing a new retractable mop pad mechanic that marks a significant improvement over the bottom-mounted mop pads we’re used to seeing on robovacs, with which there was a risk of dampening carpets. 

Otherwise, it mirrors the vacuum-only iRobot Roomba J7 Plus in almost every way – which is no bad thing, considering we were impressed by its intelligence, suction power, and design elements such as the dual rubber brushes that prevent hair from becoming tangled around the brush bar. Mapping is superb, and as the robot learns more about your home, it will suggest areas that might need more attention.

As one of the pioneers in the robovac market, it’s no surprise to see great quality from iRobot. While this model isn’t quite as premium as the Roomba S9 Plus in terms of its suction power, the J7 Plus still holds its own, collecting dust and debris from both hard floors and carpets with relative ease.

It’s an incredibly smart machine, armed with a full gamut of exciting smart features, including object and dirt detection. These are powered by built-in AI that can spot the most common items cluttering your home, and your pets, cleaning around them without incident. Plus, it can pick up particles as small as 0.7 microns and can detect and avoid pet poop, making it perfect for pet owners. Note that iRobot regularly updates its operating system, so you can expect to see new functions added to your bot in the future.

As with other iRobot models, the “Plus” suffix refers to the inclusion of a larger base station that facilitates automatic dirt disposal. After each clean, or whenever the 14oz / 0.4-liter internal dustbin is full, the vacuum will empty itself into a 57oz / 1.7-liter bag in its home base, which can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt, depending on how regularly you clean your floors. Using this feature does mean you’ll have to consider the longer-term cost of replacing the bags, however.

All of these features make the iRobot Roomba J7 Plus one of the most hassle and hands-free robot vacuum cleaners we’ve tested, and during our time using it, we also noticed a reduction in the amount of time we spent cleaning – a real boon when life gets in the way. However, this robot vacuum is very expensive at $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199, so you definitely pay for the privilege of a low-maintenance cleanup.

Keep in mind though that Roomba Black Friday deals are live now. You might find this model at a heavily discounted price.

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ sitting in its base

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ charging in its base (Image credit: Future)

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus price & availability

  • List price:  $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199 

The iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus robot vacuum and mop is currently available online, and can be bought directly from the iRobot store and Amazon for $1,099.99 / £999.99 / AU$2,199. As well as the self-emptying base, the Plus model comes with two AllergenLock bags, an extra filter, and a spare side brush. If you want to skip out on the base, the regular Roomba Combo J7 will set you back £799 / AU$1,699; as of writing, only the Plus package is available in the US.

There’s no denying this cleaner is expensive, and if this sophisticated robot vacuum’s many bells and whistles don’t appeal to you, it definitely won’t be money well spent. However, especially compared to budget-friendly vacuums, the intelligence and low-maintenance nature of this cleaner make it well worth the money for those with busy lifestyles or an aversion to cleaning. Plus, the mopping function adds only $200 / £100 / AU$400 to the price tag of the regular J7.

Of course, there are ongoing costs to consider, too. You’ll need to replace the self-emptying base station’s vacuum bags if you intend to use this feature regularly, and if you want a deeper clean with the mop pad than just using water, you’ll want to pick up some of the iRobot-approved cleaning solution, too.

Value: 4 / 5

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ with its dustbin removed

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ with its dustbin removed (Image credit: Future)

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus design

  • Self-emptying bin
  • Retractable mop pad
  • 14oz / 0.4-liter dust bin

In most ways, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus mirrors its regular vacuum-only sibling, the Roomba J7 Plus. It’s an all-black beauty with a matte black casing and a gunmetal disc on its flush top. Here, you’ll also find its very minimalist control system: one button you can press to pause and start the vacuum or hold for five seconds to send it home. Measuring 13.3 x 13.3 x 3.4 inches / 33.8 x 33.8 x 8.6cm (h x w x d), it has relatively good clearance but will struggle with some lower-down furnishings.

Of course, the big difference is the retractable mop pad, which sits on the top of the vacuum at the rear. When called upon, the mop pad lifts and tucks beneath the unit in an incredibly satisfying, smooth motion - it's a real feat of design. You can attach the mop pads to the arm easily by sliding and clicking in the snap-fit attachments.

The top-mounted mop arm on the Roomba Combo j7+ with a mop pad attached

Lifting the top-mounted mop arm on the Roomba Combo j7+ with a mop pad attached (Image credit: Future)

The front half of the vacuum is surrounded by a plastic bumper, which has a window through which the robovac’s detectors can sense its surroundings and obstacles. On its underside, there are two bidirectional wheels and one swivel wheel, a three-armed side brush to flick debris out of corners and away from walls, and dual rubber brush bars. These bars are designed to be flexible, working across floor types without damaging them, and preventing hair from becoming tangled. 

On the rear half, there’s the 14oz / 0.4-liter dust bin, which can be ejected by pressing the tactile panel next to it. This is also where you’ll find the liquid chamber – and, unlike some other robot vacuums and mops, the Roomba Combo J7 Plus is cleaning solution-compatible, arriving with a sample bottle of iRobot cleaning solution that won’t damage your device. iRobot’s help section suggests Bona Hardwood/Hard Surface Cleaner is safe to use, too. 

The rear of the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+, featuring a button to eject the dust bin and water tank.

The dustbin eject button can be a little tricky to operate, but it does make the unit more robust (Image credit: Future)

As with previous models, the Combo J7 Plus comes with plenty of swish features that are designed to make life easier. Instead of manually controlling suction, the clever robovac can detect dirtier areas and increase power if need be, which doubles as a great battery conservation feature if you want thorough cleaning but can’t supervise the vacuum to adjust its suction settings in dirtier rooms. The built-in camera helps the robot navigate intelligently, but also detects obstacles and hazards – from socks to stairs. And, of course, this model comes with iRobot’s Pet Ownership Official Promise – also known as P.O.O.P – to detect and avoid pet messes, thus preventing nasty clean-up jobs. 

This model includes iRobot’s Clean Base with automatic dirt disposal. Unfortunately, it can’t clean your mop pads or refill the water tank, but considering it does just about everything else, we’ll let that slide. The clean base measures 12.55 x 13.39 x 15.35 inches / 31.9 x 34 x 39cm and needs clearance of 1.5ft / 0.5m on each side and 4ft / 1.2m in front. Like the vacuum itself, the base is all-black with some textured accents, and a brown-leather tag provides easy access to the bin. 

Under the base hood, there’s a pre-fitted cleaning bag and one spare in a neat little compartment that reduces the need for extra external storage space – although additional space to house a spare mop pad and side brush would have been welcome. The vacuum bags can hold up to 60 days of dirt, according to iRobot, and the LED indicator on the front of the canister will turn red when the dirt bag is full. 

Design: 5 / 5

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ cleaning the edge of a rug

The Combo J7 Plus did well toeing the line between tile and rug (Image credit: Future)

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus performance

  • Fantastic pickup on both carpet and hard floor
  • Object detection works wonderfully
  • Mop works well once it soaks through

As we’ve highlighted earlier in this review, the iRobot Combo J7 Plus vacuums to the same high standard as the non-mopping J7 Plus model. It performs well on hard floors, collecting both fine debris and larger crumbs, although with larger spills in particular, the side brush will often make a meal of flicking the litter across the floor, which extends cleaning time. 

Large spills of fine powders such as those in our flour and biscuit test will be tracked across the floor by the bot, and when overwhelmed by such debris, the vacuum throws some of it back on the ground when making its way to the charging station to unload. When it returned to the floor to finish the job, it mostly collected the remnants; however, some of the oats that had been flung further afield were missed. Of course, the frequency with which your robot vacuum will be collecting large amounts of concentrated debris is fairly minimal. During a regular clean, the vacuum is very systematic and successful at sucking up standard household grime; we never once saw it creating any mess.  

Image 1 of 3

The floor with scattered oats and flour during the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+'s clean up of a heavy spill

The iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus systematically cleaned up the mess... (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

The floor with scattered oats and flour during the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+'s clean up of a heavy spill

... until it got too full, then it head home and made a bit more of a mess... (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

The floor with scattered oats and flour after the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ cleaned up a heavy spill

Considering the size and density of the mess, however, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus did a pretty good job at cleaning most of it up. (Image credit: Future)

As stated earlier, there’s no manual control option for suction power on the Combo J7 Plus. Instead, it intelligently detects the dirt level on the floor and makes adjustments itself accordingly. The bot will maintain a winding route around your home while cleaning, but if it detects a messier space, it will pause to go over it before resuming on its path. Similarly, when encountering an obstacle, the bot will pause, find a way around whatever clutter it has identified (we tested with socks, wires and toys), either avoiding the object to continue its journey from the next logical place, or intentionally nudging larger, non-furniture obstacles such as toys out of its way. 

The standout feature with the Combo J7 Plus is, of course, its mopping ability, and we were really impressed by how it performed. We were concerned that the mop pad wouldn’t dock neatly below the unit, or that its arms would be too delicate to deliver the pressure required to mop floors well. On the contrary, the Combo J7 Plus was capable of giving our floors a lovely shine-up, especially when we used the cleaning solution sample included with the vacuum. In the app, you can decide for each of your favorite cleaning modes whether you’d like to use a minimal, medium or maximum dose of liquid. 

There are a few drawbacks. First, the mop pad takes a while to soak through; in our test, we had to wait about 5 minutes during the cleaning process before we saw consistent, non-streaky results. If the water tank is full, it can also sometimes leave the odd drip mark. If you’re planning to use the mopping function regularly, note that you’ll lose some of the hands-free perks of the self-emptying base station. All of the mopping features, from replacing and cleaning the mop pads to refilling the liquid, are entirely manual.

However, there’s no doubt that the Combo J7 Plus offers a mopping experience that’s far superior to anything we’ve yet seen in a combination robot vacuum and mop. Once it gets going, the mop is great – and it left our floors shiny and mark-free.

The Combo J7 Plus treats carpets with care, giving them a thorough clean before moving on to mop and vacuum the floors. We tested our vacuum to see if we could trick it into mopping our bathroom rug, by moving it around before and during a cleaning cycle. However, the clever little bot was more than capable of identifying the change in texture and storing away its mop so as to not damage or dampen the carpet.

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ docking, and making a lot of noise while doing so

(Image credit: Future)

In general, the Combo J7 Plus was fairly quiet as it made its way around our home, registering a maximum of 68dB on our decibel meter – generally, it’s even quieter, but the volume rises by around 5dB when the vacuum natively boosts its suction. However, we had a nasty shock when it returned to base for the first time. The noise of the self-emptying function scared the living daylights out of us, registering a colossal 90dB – and while it lasts for only a few seconds, it’s loud enough that we’d strongly recommend against using it in any circumstance where you need to be noise-conscious. 

Performance: 4.5 / 5

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus app

  • Can set vacuum to clean while you’re out
  • Snaps any obstacles or errors
  • Works with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant 

If we were to summarise the iRobot app in three words, they’d be “peace of mind”. The app exists to make owning the Combo J7 Plus as easy and intelligent as possible, guiding you through the initial mapping phase, all the way through to voice assistant setup and map customization. There are tips and reminders, you can check the lifespan of the vacuum’s components, and you can even name your vacuum – we called ours Buttercup!

Since there are no advanced manual controls on the vacuum, the app plays a huge role in managing this robovac. It’s always preferable to give customers the option, but it makes sense to push people towards the app when you consider how many of those price-inflating features depend on user interaction.

Three screenshots from the iRobot app showing map setup, map clean zone suggestions and an instance of an obstacle halting the clean

The iRobot app is really fun, allowing you to do everything from  map setup, clean zone suggestions and explore obstacles encountered (Image credit: Future)

Mapping is excellent, and it doesn’t end after your robot’s initial mapping task; the Combo J7 Plus continues to learn. It can detect different surface types and provides estimations in the app of where different rooms start and end. Even in larger, split rooms like our testing environment, it was able to identify where the living room space ended and where the kitchen/dining room began. It also noted the area in my kitchen where I most often stand to cook as a cleaning zone that requires more attention, notifying me in the app that it had a new recommendation. 

The zoning feature also helped us solve a particular challenge we face with robot vacuums: doorstops. Living in an apartment with heavy fire doors that close without a doorstop isn’t the best setup for a robot vacuum that can’t open doors, and the bot doesn’t yet recognize doorstops as an obstacle, so it frequently dislodged them. However, with the zoning tool, we were able to fence off the area where our door is and stop the vacuum from imprisoning itself. 

App: 5 / 5

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus battery

  • Takes roughly two hours to recharge
  • Difficult to tell how much charge remains
  • Intelligent recharging while job is paused

Overall, the battery specs of the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus are something of a beautiful mystery; there’s no official word from iRobot on the length of the battery life, but we found it pretty difficult to drain. We were able to complete three full cleans (mopping and vacuuming) of our one-bedroom apartment and still have battery life to spare, so it can last at least 120 minutes.

The vacuum will automatically return to its base between jobs, or if it runs out of battery during a task, the spinning circular light around the button on its lid will let you know when it’s finished charging, shifting to illuminate just the lower half of the button. It does use a “very small amount of energy” when docked, says iRobot, but it’s possible to change its settings in the app to reduce this further. 

Battery: 5 / 5

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus score card

Should I buy the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

  • First reviewed: November 2022
iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus review
6:39 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Robot Vacuums Smart Home | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: November 2022
• Newer Roomba Combo J9 Plus now out
• Launch price: $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199
• Official price now: The same, though frequently discounted by circa. $200 / £200 / AU$400

Updated: January 2024. While it's no longer iRobot's leader of the pack, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus still stands as one of the best robot vacuums. Still, we imagine it'll move to a slightly lower position once we've been able to test the more premium Combo J9 Plus. The J7 Plus is regularly discounted at this point; as of writing, it's £749 / AU$1899, and we've seen prices drop to $899 in the US previously during Black Friday. Especially at this discounted price, it's well worth the money, offering one of the most thorough and intelligent cleans we've seen. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

One-minute review

The Roomba Combo J7 Plus (stylized as Roomba Combo j7+) is a revelation. It’s without doubt one of the best robot vacuums on the market right now, thanks to the fantastic features we’ve come to expect from iRobot, and the fact that it can mop too. It’s the first of its kind, introducing a new retractable mop pad mechanic that marks a significant improvement over the bottom-mounted mop pads we’re used to seeing on robovacs, with which there was a risk of dampening carpets. 

Otherwise, it mirrors the vacuum-only iRobot Roomba J7 Plus in almost every way – which is no bad thing, considering we were impressed by its intelligence, suction power, and design elements such as the dual rubber brushes that prevent hair from becoming tangled around the brush bar. Mapping is superb, and as the robot learns more about your home, it will suggest areas that might need more attention.

As one of the pioneers in the robovac market, it’s no surprise to see great quality from iRobot. While this model isn’t quite as premium as the Roomba S9 Plus in terms of its suction power, the J7 Plus still holds its own, collecting dust and debris from both hard floors and carpets with relative ease.

It’s an incredibly smart machine, armed with a full gamut of exciting smart features, including object and dirt detection. These are powered by built-in AI that can spot the most common items cluttering your home, and your pets, cleaning around them without incident. Plus, it can pick up particles as small as 0.7 microns and can detect and avoid pet poop, making it perfect for pet owners. Note that iRobot regularly updates its operating system, so you can expect to see new functions added to your bot in the future.

As with other iRobot models, the “Plus” suffix refers to the inclusion of a larger base station that facilitates automatic dirt disposal. After each clean, or whenever the 14oz / 0.4-liter internal dustbin is full, the vacuum will empty itself into a 57oz / 1.7-liter bag in its home base, which can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt, depending on how regularly you clean your floors. Using this feature does mean you’ll have to consider the longer-term cost of replacing the bags, however.

All of these features make the iRobot Roomba J7 Plus one of the most hassle and hands-free robot vacuum cleaners we’ve tested, and during our time using it, we also noticed a reduction in the amount of time we spent cleaning – a real boon when life gets in the way. However, this robot vacuum is very expensive at $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199, so you definitely pay for the privilege of a low-maintenance cleanup.

Keep in mind though that Roomba Black Friday deals are live now. You might find this model at a heavily discounted price.

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ sitting in its base

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ charging in its base (Image credit: Future)

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus price & availability

  • List price:  $1,099.99 / £999 / AU$2,199 

The iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus robot vacuum and mop is currently available online, and can be bought directly from the iRobot store and Amazon for $1,099.99 / £999.99 / AU$2,199. As well as the self-emptying base, the Plus model comes with two AllergenLock bags, an extra filter, and a spare side brush. If you want to skip out on the base, the regular Roomba Combo J7 will set you back £799 / AU$1,699; as of writing, only the Plus package is available in the US.

There’s no denying this cleaner is expensive, and if this sophisticated robot vacuum’s many bells and whistles don’t appeal to you, it definitely won’t be money well spent. However, especially compared to budget-friendly vacuums, the intelligence and low-maintenance nature of this cleaner make it well worth the money for those with busy lifestyles or an aversion to cleaning. Plus, the mopping function adds only $200 / £100 / AU$400 to the price tag of the regular J7.

Of course, there are ongoing costs to consider, too. You’ll need to replace the self-emptying base station’s vacuum bags if you intend to use this feature regularly, and if you want a deeper clean with the mop pad than just using water, you’ll want to pick up some of the iRobot-approved cleaning solution, too.

Value: 4 / 5

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ with its dustbin removed

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ with its dustbin removed (Image credit: Future)

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus design

  • Self-emptying bin
  • Retractable mop pad
  • 14oz / 0.4-liter dust bin

In most ways, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus mirrors its regular vacuum-only sibling, the Roomba J7 Plus. It’s an all-black beauty with a matte black casing and a gunmetal disc on its flush top. Here, you’ll also find its very minimalist control system: one button you can press to pause and start the vacuum or hold for five seconds to send it home. Measuring 13.3 x 13.3 x 3.4 inches / 33.8 x 33.8 x 8.6cm (h x w x d), it has relatively good clearance but will struggle with some lower-down furnishings.

Of course, the big difference is the retractable mop pad, which sits on the top of the vacuum at the rear. When called upon, the mop pad lifts and tucks beneath the unit in an incredibly satisfying, smooth motion - it's a real feat of design. You can attach the mop pads to the arm easily by sliding and clicking in the snap-fit attachments.

The top-mounted mop arm on the Roomba Combo j7+ with a mop pad attached

Lifting the top-mounted mop arm on the Roomba Combo j7+ with a mop pad attached (Image credit: Future)

The front half of the vacuum is surrounded by a plastic bumper, which has a window through which the robovac’s detectors can sense its surroundings and obstacles. On its underside, there are two bidirectional wheels and one swivel wheel, a three-armed side brush to flick debris out of corners and away from walls, and dual rubber brush bars. These bars are designed to be flexible, working across floor types without damaging them, and preventing hair from becoming tangled. 

On the rear half, there’s the 14oz / 0.4-liter dust bin, which can be ejected by pressing the tactile panel next to it. This is also where you’ll find the liquid chamber – and, unlike some other robot vacuums and mops, the Roomba Combo J7 Plus is cleaning solution-compatible, arriving with a sample bottle of iRobot cleaning solution that won’t damage your device. iRobot’s help section suggests Bona Hardwood/Hard Surface Cleaner is safe to use, too. 

The rear of the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+, featuring a button to eject the dust bin and water tank.

The dustbin eject button can be a little tricky to operate, but it does make the unit more robust (Image credit: Future)

As with previous models, the Combo J7 Plus comes with plenty of swish features that are designed to make life easier. Instead of manually controlling suction, the clever robovac can detect dirtier areas and increase power if need be, which doubles as a great battery conservation feature if you want thorough cleaning but can’t supervise the vacuum to adjust its suction settings in dirtier rooms. The built-in camera helps the robot navigate intelligently, but also detects obstacles and hazards – from socks to stairs. And, of course, this model comes with iRobot’s Pet Ownership Official Promise – also known as P.O.O.P – to detect and avoid pet messes, thus preventing nasty clean-up jobs. 

This model includes iRobot’s Clean Base with automatic dirt disposal. Unfortunately, it can’t clean your mop pads or refill the water tank, but considering it does just about everything else, we’ll let that slide. The clean base measures 12.55 x 13.39 x 15.35 inches / 31.9 x 34 x 39cm and needs clearance of 1.5ft / 0.5m on each side and 4ft / 1.2m in front. Like the vacuum itself, the base is all-black with some textured accents, and a brown-leather tag provides easy access to the bin. 

Under the base hood, there’s a pre-fitted cleaning bag and one spare in a neat little compartment that reduces the need for extra external storage space – although additional space to house a spare mop pad and side brush would have been welcome. The vacuum bags can hold up to 60 days of dirt, according to iRobot, and the LED indicator on the front of the canister will turn red when the dirt bag is full. 

Design: 5 / 5

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ cleaning the edge of a rug

The Combo J7 Plus did well toeing the line between tile and rug (Image credit: Future)

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus performance

  • Fantastic pickup on both carpet and hard floor
  • Object detection works wonderfully
  • Mop works well once it soaks through

As we’ve highlighted earlier in this review, the iRobot Combo J7 Plus vacuums to the same high standard as the non-mopping J7 Plus model. It performs well on hard floors, collecting both fine debris and larger crumbs, although with larger spills in particular, the side brush will often make a meal of flicking the litter across the floor, which extends cleaning time. 

Large spills of fine powders such as those in our flour and biscuit test will be tracked across the floor by the bot, and when overwhelmed by such debris, the vacuum throws some of it back on the ground when making its way to the charging station to unload. When it returned to the floor to finish the job, it mostly collected the remnants; however, some of the oats that had been flung further afield were missed. Of course, the frequency with which your robot vacuum will be collecting large amounts of concentrated debris is fairly minimal. During a regular clean, the vacuum is very systematic and successful at sucking up standard household grime; we never once saw it creating any mess.  

Image 1 of 3

The floor with scattered oats and flour during the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+'s clean up of a heavy spill

The iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus systematically cleaned up the mess... (Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

The floor with scattered oats and flour during the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+'s clean up of a heavy spill

... until it got too full, then it head home and made a bit more of a mess... (Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

The floor with scattered oats and flour after the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ cleaned up a heavy spill

Considering the size and density of the mess, however, the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus did a pretty good job at cleaning most of it up. (Image credit: Future)

As stated earlier, there’s no manual control option for suction power on the Combo J7 Plus. Instead, it intelligently detects the dirt level on the floor and makes adjustments itself accordingly. The bot will maintain a winding route around your home while cleaning, but if it detects a messier space, it will pause to go over it before resuming on its path. Similarly, when encountering an obstacle, the bot will pause, find a way around whatever clutter it has identified (we tested with socks, wires and toys), either avoiding the object to continue its journey from the next logical place, or intentionally nudging larger, non-furniture obstacles such as toys out of its way. 

The standout feature with the Combo J7 Plus is, of course, its mopping ability, and we were really impressed by how it performed. We were concerned that the mop pad wouldn’t dock neatly below the unit, or that its arms would be too delicate to deliver the pressure required to mop floors well. On the contrary, the Combo J7 Plus was capable of giving our floors a lovely shine-up, especially when we used the cleaning solution sample included with the vacuum. In the app, you can decide for each of your favorite cleaning modes whether you’d like to use a minimal, medium or maximum dose of liquid. 

There are a few drawbacks. First, the mop pad takes a while to soak through; in our test, we had to wait about 5 minutes during the cleaning process before we saw consistent, non-streaky results. If the water tank is full, it can also sometimes leave the odd drip mark. If you’re planning to use the mopping function regularly, note that you’ll lose some of the hands-free perks of the self-emptying base station. All of the mopping features, from replacing and cleaning the mop pads to refilling the liquid, are entirely manual.

However, there’s no doubt that the Combo J7 Plus offers a mopping experience that’s far superior to anything we’ve yet seen in a combination robot vacuum and mop. Once it gets going, the mop is great – and it left our floors shiny and mark-free.

The Combo J7 Plus treats carpets with care, giving them a thorough clean before moving on to mop and vacuum the floors. We tested our vacuum to see if we could trick it into mopping our bathroom rug, by moving it around before and during a cleaning cycle. However, the clever little bot was more than capable of identifying the change in texture and storing away its mop so as to not damage or dampen the carpet.

The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ docking, and making a lot of noise while doing so

(Image credit: Future)

In general, the Combo J7 Plus was fairly quiet as it made its way around our home, registering a maximum of 68dB on our decibel meter – generally, it’s even quieter, but the volume rises by around 5dB when the vacuum natively boosts its suction. However, we had a nasty shock when it returned to base for the first time. The noise of the self-emptying function scared the living daylights out of us, registering a colossal 90dB – and while it lasts for only a few seconds, it’s loud enough that we’d strongly recommend against using it in any circumstance where you need to be noise-conscious. 

Performance: 4.5 / 5

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus app

  • Can set vacuum to clean while you’re out
  • Snaps any obstacles or errors
  • Works with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant 

If we were to summarise the iRobot app in three words, they’d be “peace of mind”. The app exists to make owning the Combo J7 Plus as easy and intelligent as possible, guiding you through the initial mapping phase, all the way through to voice assistant setup and map customization. There are tips and reminders, you can check the lifespan of the vacuum’s components, and you can even name your vacuum – we called ours Buttercup!

Since there are no advanced manual controls on the vacuum, the app plays a huge role in managing this robovac. It’s always preferable to give customers the option, but it makes sense to push people towards the app when you consider how many of those price-inflating features depend on user interaction.

Three screenshots from the iRobot app showing map setup, map clean zone suggestions and an instance of an obstacle halting the clean

The iRobot app is really fun, allowing you to do everything from  map setup, clean zone suggestions and explore obstacles encountered (Image credit: Future)

Mapping is excellent, and it doesn’t end after your robot’s initial mapping task; the Combo J7 Plus continues to learn. It can detect different surface types and provides estimations in the app of where different rooms start and end. Even in larger, split rooms like our testing environment, it was able to identify where the living room space ended and where the kitchen/dining room began. It also noted the area in my kitchen where I most often stand to cook as a cleaning zone that requires more attention, notifying me in the app that it had a new recommendation. 

The zoning feature also helped us solve a particular challenge we face with robot vacuums: doorstops. Living in an apartment with heavy fire doors that close without a doorstop isn’t the best setup for a robot vacuum that can’t open doors, and the bot doesn’t yet recognize doorstops as an obstacle, so it frequently dislodged them. However, with the zoning tool, we were able to fence off the area where our door is and stop the vacuum from imprisoning itself. 

App: 5 / 5

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus battery

  • Takes roughly two hours to recharge
  • Difficult to tell how much charge remains
  • Intelligent recharging while job is paused

Overall, the battery specs of the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus are something of a beautiful mystery; there’s no official word from iRobot on the length of the battery life, but we found it pretty difficult to drain. We were able to complete three full cleans (mopping and vacuuming) of our one-bedroom apartment and still have battery life to spare, so it can last at least 120 minutes.

The vacuum will automatically return to its base between jobs, or if it runs out of battery during a task, the spinning circular light around the button on its lid will let you know when it’s finished charging, shifting to illuminate just the lower half of the button. It does use a “very small amount of energy” when docked, says iRobot, but it’s possible to change its settings in the app to reduce this further. 

Battery: 5 / 5

iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus score card

Should I buy the iRobot Roomba Combo J7 Plus?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

  • First reviewed: November 2022
Rega Planar PL1 review: the best affordable turntable you can get
1:00 pm | November 20, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Hi-Fi Turntables | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: November 2022
• Launch price: $595 / £299 / AU$645

• Target price: $595 / £299 / AUS645

Update: February 2024. Although it's no longer Rega's latest progeny – that would be the flagship September 2023-launch Rega Naia the Planar PL1 is still the newest affordable deck from the revered UK firm. And most importantly, the 2021 proposition is still one of the best turntables on the market – because this is vinyl, not smartphone iterations. That said, for similar money today, you could get a more forward-thinking deck (see Victrola's record turntable with repeat function or the 2023 Victrola Stream Carbon which will work with your Sonos multi-room wireless setup) but for vinyl purists on a budget, the PL1 remains hard to beat. Take note though, its price rarely sees any discounts. If anything, its continued popularity is only sending the price one way, so if you find it retailing for even a fraction cheaper than the launch price, consider yourself extremely lucky… The rest of this review remains as previously published.


Rega Planar PL1: one-minute review

The Rega Planar PL1 is the latest version of an entry-level record player first introduced in 2005 – and this may be the best version yet, which is saying something. For very nearly 50 years now, Rega has been setting turntable standards – and at all price-points.

The Rega Planar PL1 is not a very luxurious item, no – paying out for this doesn't buy you something that looks deluxe. But everything about the Planar PL1 is fit for purpose, and where the real essentials are concerned, it’s worth every penny. The motor, bearings, tonearm and cartridge are all carefully designed and engineered, and the attention to detail here is apparent in the sound quality. 

In almost every way, the Rega explains what it is people love about the best turntables as a way to enjoy music and, by extension, why vinyl has dodged the coffin all these years. It presents music as a unified, integrated whole, as a tangible performance rather than as a collection of individual strands or events. It does great work making rhythms and tempos feel natural, it extracts an awful lot of fine detail without getting uptight about it, and it has the sort of dynamic heft that can make your hair stand on end.

Not every turntable brand considers this sort of money to be ‘entry level’, it’s true. But if you want to know why vinyl is still a preoccupation for so many music-lovers, and if you perhaps want to be lured into a lifetime of tonearm adjustment, cartridge upgrades and vinyl subscription services, well… you know what to do.  

Birds-eye-view of Rega Planar PL1

This 'entry-level' Planar may just be Rega's best version yet (Image credit: Simon Lucas)

Rega Planar PL1 review: price and release date

  • Released in 2021
  • $595 / £299 / AU$645

This version of Rega Planar PL1 was released in 2021 (it's taken a few different forms since the P1 launch in 20005). In the United Kingdom it costs £299 or thereabouts. In America it’s a rather more prohibitive $595 or so, while in Australia you’ll need to part with AU$645.

No matter the territory in which you’re shopping, there’s no denying this is quite a lot of money for what the manufacturer blithely calls an ‘entry level’ turntable. But then not every manufacturer has the hard-won reputation of Rega. 

Rega Planar PL1 review: Design

  • Matte white, black and walnut effect finishes
  • Well made and finished, with pre-fitted cartridge
  • Belt drive

‘Design’ is to overstate it somewhat, of course. Not much designing has gone on here – only the cheapest or the most expensive turntables try to do something other than follow the template that was set down three-quarters of a century ago. There’s a reason all turntables look like this, after all.

As an object, the Planar PL1 is perfectly fine. It’s properly made and quite nicely finished. But, as always with Rega, the bulk of your money is going on components and top-of-the-line engineering rather than on luxurious materials or other fripperies. 

The plinth is now available in three different finishes, and no matter which one you choose, it stands on three quite assertive feet that provide both stability and vibration-rejection. There’s also an ‘on/off/ switch under here.

On top, the latest version of Rega’s well-regarded RB110 tonearm is pre-fitted with an equally capable Rega Carbon moving magnet cartridge. The arm features new low-friction bearings, automatic bias adjustment and, just to prove Rega isn’t as hair-shirted as you might imagine, an integrated clip for keeping the arm secure when it’s not in use.

Close up of Rega Planar PL1 arm

The RB110 tonearm is pre-fitted with an equally capable Rega Carbon moving magnet cartridge. (Image credit: Simon Lucas)

Rega has fitted a synchronous motor with a reworked PCB and an aluminium pulley to drive the platter – technology that has trickled down from the company’s more expensive models. The platter itself is made from phenolic material, and is relatively high-mass, especially at the outside, in an effort to guarantee speed stability and assist the flywheel effect.

You might not expect much from the belt drive, but Rega has had just as much of a think about the rubber belt on this product as for the rest of the Planar PL1. The drive belt is moulded, cryogenically frozen, and then barrelled to ensure its cross-section is perfectly round. This is in an effort to provide accurate stability, too, and it apparently extends the lifespan of the belt by a margin at the same time.

Rega Planar PL1 drive belt

The drive belt is moulded, cryogenically frozen, and then barrelled to ensure its cross-section is perfectly round. (Image credit: Simon Lucas)

Rega Planar PL1 review: Sound quality

  • Open and convincing soundstage
  • Good dynamic heft
  • Impressive detail levels

What sort of records do you own? What sort of music do you like? Whatever it might be, the Rega Planar PL1 likes it too.

Really, it doesn’t matter the vinyl you play, the PL1 relishes it all. In this test we slipped on everything from Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends to Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus via Arrival by ABBA, all of which was easy to listen to – and that’s meant in the least pejorative, most positive sense.

The vinyl format hasn’t survived this long by accident. There are virtues to the way it presents music that make it the only way to listen, for some people at least, and the Rega Planar PL1 embodies all of them to a lesser or greater extent. 

The soundstage it describes, for example, is open, well-defined and easy to understand. It locks individual elements of a recording securely, and it allows each contributor to a recording all the breathing space they need in order to express themselves. Yet it manages to do this without letting anything sound remote, or estranged, or in any way dislocated. Recordings are delivered with a unity and a coherence that makes the word ‘performance’ entirely appropriate.

It’s equally confident where tonality is concerned. Bass sounds are robust, properly textured and loaded with detail. Yes, some other turntables (inevitably more expensive than this) can give the low end a little more speed and momentum, but the PL1 is no slouch in this regard. At the opposite end of the frequency range, treble sounds are similarly detailed and so similarly articulate. Again, there could conceivably be even more sparkle to the sound, but don’t imagine the Rega is in any way dull or blunt. And in the midrange, which is where the action is for singers and so on, the PL1 is just as eloquent, just as information-rich and just as direct as it is elsewhere.

Integration through the frequency range is smooth and convincing, and the Rega has the sort of low-end positivity that allows rhythms good expression. It’s helped by the dynamic headroom that’s on offer here – the distance from the quietest moments of a recording to the most raucous is considerable – as well as the harmonic variations the turntable can identify and describe. 

If we’re being picky (and we usually are),  the PL1 is a little too ready to indulge lush or luxuriant recordings. The Simon & Garfunkel album, for example, can sound a little less perky than is ideal – the Rega seems seduced by the warmth of its sound. But let’s not get carried away, this is a minor shortcoming, one we mention really for no other reason than it doesn’t suit us to be utterly uncritical.

Should you buy the Rega Planar PL1?

Buy it if…

Don't but it if…

First reviewed: November 2022

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones review
9:02 pm | November 16, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Fitness Headphones Gadgets Health & Fitness | Tags: | Comments: Off

Editor's note

  • Original review date: November 2022
  • Original price $149.99 (£128.00, AU$225.00)
  • Price now $99.00 / £84.99 / AU$127.99

Update: February 2024. The H20 Audio Tri Multi-Sport headphones are still a great buy over a year on, even with the advent of a Pro model. Onboard storage and streaming options, a cheaper price from launch and bone-conduction tech, which hasn't really advanced much, means it's standing the test of time very well. The rest of the review remains as previously published.

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: One-minute review

The H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones are a contender for our best waterproof headphones guide. Thanks to their dual Bluetooth/flash memory, these headphones are so versatile you’ll only need the one set for all your workouts, whether underwater or not. 

Fully waterproof, they have surprisingly good sound in most Bluetooth conditions and from the onboard 8GB flash drive for uninterrupted play while swimming. Bluetooth’s limitations in water mean you need both modes if you never want to be without sound. While you could jerry-rig a smartwatch to your swim cap or goggles, keep in mind you’ll need the two devices within three to four inches of each other.

As with most bone conduction headphones, they’re worn on the cheekbones – an improvement over the H2O Audio Sonar (one of our waterproof headphone picks) which need to be attached to swim goggles. 

Our main quibble is that the control buttons sometimes need a couple of attempts to perform how we want rather than working on the first try. Of the three function buttons, the main button controls a lot, so you need to be very precise with how you hit it and how long you hold it. This should improve after the button design change in the next production run. 

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $149.99 (£128.00, AU$225.00)
  • Where is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: SPECS

Interface: Bluetooth and onboard media player
Battery life: 8-9 hours play time
Storage: 8GB
Audio formats: MP3, WMA, and Apple iTunes’ M4A
Weight: 1.16 oz / 33g

Both on H2O Audio’s website and on Amazon, these versatile headphones are currently on sale at the time of writing. However, they retail at $149.99 (£128.00, AU$225.00). They’re manufactured in China and designed in San Diego, California. They ship internationally, though additional taxes and shipping fees vary by country. 

It’s rare to find waterproof headphones, especially at this price, with both Bluetooth and onboard memory so you can have uninterrupted sound regardless of the conditions. For example, Shokz OpenSwim headphones have only an MP3 player (no Bluetooth) at a cost of $149.95. On sale for $89 (from $129) are the Bluetooth-only YouthWhisper SuperQ3 bone conduction headphones. While Zygo Solo headphones allow you to stream flawlessly from your phone underwater via an FM radio transmitter, it’ll cost you $299 and you need to bring extra gear to the pool.

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Design

  • IPX8 waterproof rating means you can swim without worry
  • Stream via Bluetooth or from the onboard flash drive 
  • 8MB of storage of MP3, WMA and M4A files 

The H2O Audio Tri Multi-sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones have the maximum waterproofing rating – IPX8. That means they can withstand immersion in 12 feet (3.6 m) of water for an unlimited time (so you’ve lost one more excuse for cutting your workout short).

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Fairly typical for bone conduction headphones, these have two round transducers that sit below your temple, hooks that go over the top of each ear, and two rectangles that sit behind your ears with the controls and battery. The device is mostly black, though you have your choice of Caribbean blue, hot pink, or black for the band that wraps behind your neck. No need to worry if you expect to be tossed around in the waves, they come with a little rubber leash to secure them to swim goggles or a wetsuit zipper. For regular wear, you likely won’t need it – they stayed comfortably in place for us during a jog and while swimming laps. 

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Charging the headphones and downloading files to the 8GB flash drive is through a compact proprietary cable that pairs four metal circles on each device via a magnet. While you can’t sub one of your dozens of other cords in, you don’t have to worry if water will seep into the charging port. 

Once the cable connects your headphones to your computer, a window instantly pops up to transfer files. Our headphones arrived with two dozen songs already loaded, and we can attest that Janis Joplin belting out “Me and Bobby McGee” energizes for several extra laps in the pool. It’s easy to drag and drop whatever MP3, WMA, or M4A (iTunes) files you like into folders and organize them by type, workout, or however you like. Note that you can’t download files from subscription services like Spotify or Apple Music because they’re copyright protected (but you can stream them via Bluetooth). 

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Three buttons manage the controls. With a click, two buttons raise or lower the volume; holding one skips to the next or previous track (or forward or back a few seconds on podcasts). In memory mode, a double click of a volume button skips to the next or previous folder. The main button turns power on and off, pauses and restarts play, and toggles between Bluetooth and memory. In memory mode, the main button also controls shuffle play and, in Bluetooth mode, answers calls as well as activates voice assistants. 

The battery lasts eight to nine hours though playing at higher volumes will drain it more quickly. You’ll know your headphones are fully charged when their light turns from red to blue. A polite British lady announces the battery status when you turn the headphones on and she gives you an hour’s worth of periodic warnings when the battery level is low. She also confirms when you’ve toggled successfully between Bluetooth and memory modes. 

  • Design: 5 / 5

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Performance

  • Easy to download to the 8GB memory and organize files how you want
  • Great sound, though a bit bass-y underwater
  • Button controls can be a bit finicky 

Because the H2O Audio Tri Multi-sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones stream sound two ways, you only need this one set for all your sports needs. Overall, sound quality is quite good, especially for music and podcasts, though a bit echo-y for phone calls. In the air, both music and podcasts sounded great and were surprisingly rich, whether streaming by Bluetooth or from the flash drive. Underwater, podcasts’ sound quality was just as good as in the air. For music underwater, we would have liked more treble and less bass, but it wasn’t a deal breaker (and we were happy that the bass wasn’t so strong that our cheekbones vibrated, as with some other bone conduction headphones). 

Because water blocks Bluetooth signals, sound did go in and out while swimming in Bluetooth mode when our head was even just a couple of inches below the surface. The headphones performed better at the end of the pool nearest where our phone was sitting and less well 60 feet away at the pool’s other end. Keep in mind that the headphones must be in Bluetooth mode to receive phone calls. 

Swimming is why you want headphones with a built-in MP3 player. In memory mode, the sound was great and didn’t cut out at all whether we swam on the surface or dived to the bottom of our four-and-a-half-foot-deep lap pool. 

Our biggest complaint is that the control buttons of the H2O Audio Tri Multi-sport are a bit finicky, especially the main button which controls play, pause, toggling between Bluetooth and memory modes, and a few other functions. Sometimes it took a few tries to get the device to do what we wanted; occasionally we gave up and just pulled out our phone to get the sound to restart rather than continue to try to hold the button for the exact right number of milliseconds. Now, most people won’t do the extent of toggling and control adjustments that we do during testing, but keep this in mind if you frequently want to skip ads, pause and restart play, or switch back and forth from Bluetooth to memory mode. In circumstances when your hands aren’t free (or dry) to use the controls on your phone, make sure you’ve downloaded enough podcasts or music to the flash drive so you don’t need to toggle and then don’t touch the controls once it’s playing how you like it. 

We’re told that H2O Audio is updating the design for the next production run to make the control buttons bigger so that they’re easier to press. This is likely to reduce the problem significantly.  

As with all bone conduction headphones, you’ll need to turn the sound up in noisy environments because, unless you also wear the supplied earplugs, nothing blocks your ears. The open-ear design is a safety advantage – you want to hear the cyclist or car zooming up behind you or if another swimmer is trying to pass. Unlike with other bone conduction headphones we’ve tried, there was very minimal sound bleed (and, phew, no complaints from the noise-sensitive person we share home and office space with). 

The 8GB storage is a fairly standard size and generally means you can store 1500 to 2000 songs. Downloading files onto the headphones was drag-and-drop easy – our biggest challenge was finding MP3 podcasts and songs in a Bluetooth world. 

  • Performance: 3.5 / 5

Should I buy the H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport?

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport Waterproof Open Ear Headphones

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

H2O Audio Tri Multi-Sport: Report card

  • First reviewed November 2022

How we test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress review 2023
2:00 pm | November 13, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Health & Fitness Mattresses Sleep | Comments: Off

Loom & Leaf mattress review in brief

  • A 12" memory foam mattress that comes in 2 firmness levels
  • Superb pressure relief can help alleviate aches and pains
  • Prone to trapping heat, despite its cooling tech

The Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress was introduced in 2015 as an affordable alternative to Tempur-Pedic's line of high-end beds – and despite a gradual price increase due to the cost of living crisis, it still is. The Loom & Leaf sits on the higher end of the mid-range bracket; a queen retails for around $2,300 for either a relaxed firm or firm feel. Fortunately, regular mattress sales knock up to $250 off.

The Saatva Classic holds the number one spot in our best mattress guide, so how does its all-foam counterpart stack up? We slept on a relaxed firm Loom & Leaf mattress for three weeks and found its most impressive feature to be its pressure relief. In fact, our lead reviewer experienced a marked improvement in her lower back pain as a result of sleeping on the Loom & Leaf, and it occupies a well-earned top position in our best mattress for back pain roundup.

This 12" mattress has a 5lb core of body-hugging memory foam plus multiple high-density foam layers for perfectly cushioned support, no matter your sleep position. The middle third of the mattress is reinforced with a gel-infused foam lumbar crown for lower back support to keep everything properly aligned.

Unlike the more buoyant Saatva Classic, you'll feel 'hugged' by the Loom & Leaf mattress. The quilted foam pillow top gives it an even plusher feel, which may turn off sleepers who like a firmer, flatter surface. It's also not designed to support sleepers weighing over 300lbs, so a hybrid like the Saatva Classic may be a better option there.

Still, the Loom & Leaf is a quality-made bed. Handcrafted in the USA, long-time customers praise its durability and long-lasting comfort. What's more, Saatva offers a lifetime warranty with the Loom & Leaf, which suggests the brand's confidence in the integrity of its materials and construction. 

There are some cooling materials within – a 2in layer of perforated gel memory foam and a breathable cotton cover. Whilst we were comfortably dry during short-term naps, the Loom & Leaf is prone to trapping heat during longer stretches of sleep. We'd recommend a specialized cooling mattress over the Loom & Leaf is overheating is your primary sleep concern.

However, motion isolation here is excellent, which should appease sleepers who share a bed with a restless partner. Meanwhile, edge support falls somewhere in the middle of the scale, although we tested a twin-sized bed – we imagine larger sizes of the Loom & Leaf have more stable edges.

If your budget doesn't quite reach Tempur-Pedic proportions – but you can afford more than a Nectar or Tuft & Needle – the Loom & Leaf is a solid choice, especially if pain relief is your main priority; another alternative would be the Saatva Memory Foam Hybrid. Unlike most beds purchased online, the Loom & Leaf arrives flat and includes free in-home set-up. You'll also get a full year to trial it at home so you can test it throughout all seasons. (Just beware of a $99 return fee.)

Loom & Leaf mattress review: price & value for money

  • A queen Loom & Leaf mattress retails for $2,395
  • Regular sales knock between $200 and $250 off 
  • Includes white glove delivery but returns cost $99

The Loom & Leaf mattress sits in the higher bracket of the mid-range market, even with steadily-growing MSRPs. A queen now retails for $2,395, which is a $200 increase from when we tested it in November 2022. Fortunately, regular Saatva mattress sales knock between $200 and $250 off list prices, and there are Saatva coupons available too so it it should always be possible to save. 

Here's the official pricing for the Loom & Leaf mattress:

  • Twin MSRP: $1,195
  • Twin XL MSRP: $1,575
  • Full MSRP: $2,295
  • Queen MSRP: $2,395
  • King MSRP: $2,745
  • Cal King MSRP: $2,745
  • Split King MSRP: $3,150
  • Split Cal King MSRP: $3,150

Standard with every handcrafted Loom & Leaf mattress is in-room delivery and setup, with the option to remove your existing mattress if needed. Also included is a 1-year mattress trial plus a lifetime warranty – each an industry-best amenity. However, you'll be on the hook for a $99 returns fee if you want to send it back.

The Loom & Leaf was introduced as an affordable alternative to Tempur-Pedic's prestigious line of NASA-developed mattresses. Even in light of rising costs due to inflation, that's still the case today. A queen Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Adapt mattress retails from $2,749 and comes with much shorter trial and warranty periods (90 nights and 10 years, respectively). 

A closer competitor to the Loom & Leaf is the GhostBed Luxe, a luxury foam cooling mattress. It's a cheaper option upfront thanks to frequent sales of 50% off (a queen GhostBed Luxe is currently marked down to $1,485). However, GhostBed offers 101 nights to try it out, compared to a full-year trial with the Loom & Leaf.

During Saatva's Black Friday mattress sale, we saw queen-sized Loom & Leaf mattress drop to $1,795 after $400 off – not all that close to the $1,499 we were hoping for. However, ongoing supply chain issues have contributed to a rise in retail prices across the industry; thus, it's unlikely we'll see prices that low any time soon, although we have an eye on the upcoming 4th of July mattress sales for some worthwhile Saatva savings.

See the Loom & Leaf mattress at Saatva
If you have regular backaches or sore joints, the Loom & Leaf's superb pressure relief will be a godsend. You won't have to worry about hauling this heavy foam mattress into your room, either, as white glove delivery comes standard. Choose from either a relaxed firm or firm feel, depending on the level of support you need. A lifetime warranty applies, and you'll have a full year to trial it at home – just beware of the $99 fee if you elect to send it back.View Deal

Loom & Leaf mattress review: design & materials

  • A 12-inch foam mattress with six layers and 2 level of firmness
  • The top three layers focus on lumbar support and temp regulation
  • The bottom half of the bed is built for all-body support and stability

The 12-inch Loom & Leaf mattress features six layers. The first three layers focus on providing lower back support and cooling, whilst the bottom three layers emphasize all-body support and stability. 

It's topped by a tufted cover made from breathable organic cotton. Below that are two layers of gel-infused foam for cooling. There's a thin strip across the middle third of the bed for specialized lumbar support, followed by a 2-inch layer of perforated foam that takes up the whole length of the mattress.

Loom & Leaf mattress layers

(Image credit: Saatva)

The second half of the Loom & Leaf mattress features a 2.5-inch foam core for that body-hugging feel found among the best memory foam mattresses. Directly underneath that is a 2-inch layer of transitional foam that determines how firm the mattress will be. A 5.5-inch base of support foam helps keep everything in place.

The Loom & Leaf's cotton cover is treated with a botanical antimicrobial treatment that's meant to limit the growth of bacteria and allergens. However, investing in one of the best mattress protectors will help prolong the lifespan of the mattress by safeguarding it against spills and bed bugs.

loom & leaf mattress thread

(Image credit: Future)

The Loom & Leaf is a beautifully-made handcrafted mattress. However, we did spot were a few stray threads in the stitching – a possible byproduct of each mattress being hand-sewn. However, this didn't impact performance either way, and we were able to carefully remove the threads.

Saatva includes a lifetime warranty with its Loom & Leaf mattress, which indicates that the brand has a lot of faith in the integrity of its product.

Loom & Leaf mattress review: firmness & comfort

  • Comes in either relaxed firm or firm
  • We tested a relaxed firm and rate it a 7 out of 10 firmness
  • Suits all sleep styles but some might find it too plush

The Loom & Leaf mattress is available in either a relaxed firm or firm feel. We tested a relaxed firm mattress and rate it a 7 out of 10 on the firmness scale. That skews on the higher end of Loom & Leaf's self-assessment (5-7 out of 10). Meanwhile, the firm version of the Loom & Leaf mattress is rated an 8 out of 10 on the firmness scale.

Per Saatva, a relaxed firm Loom & Leaf mattress suits all sleep styles – and based on our experience, we're inclined to agree. In addition to our lead reviewer, we had six individuals of varying body types and sleep preferences try the Loom & Leaf mattress. Regardless of their weight, stature, or dominant sleep position, every one of our testers found it cozy and supportive in all the right places, with very little required needed to break it in.

The Loom & Leaf's reinforced middle-third relieves pressure in the lumbar and pelvis without too much sinkage, which benefited our stomach and back sleepers. Meanwhile, our side sleepers felt the mattress contour to their shoulders, hips, and knees almost immediately. Combination sleepers liked how quick the mattress was to adapt to their shifting positions. 

loom & leaf mattress firmness and comfort

(Image credit: Future)

Whilst everyone in our testing group found the Loom & Leaf cozy, those who are accustomed to sleeping on a firmer bed found the quilted pillow top a bit too plush for their liking. Conversely, participants who sleep on a softer mattress at home acknowledged the Loom & Leaf was firmer than what they're used to but still plush enough for them to rest comfortably.

Our lead tester found it led to a marked improvement in her back pain. Since we first reviewed this mattress, Saatva has added a more luxurious mattress for back pain to its lineup – head to our Saatva RX mattress review for more on that. 

The Saatva Loom & Leaf mattress is best suited for sleepers who weigh 300lbs or less, regardless of firmness. (Nobody on our testing panel exceeds that max weight.) Thus, larger bodies will want to go for a mattress that's built to sufficiently support them. One of our favorites, the hybrid DreamCloud Mattress, is excellent for this.

Loom & Leaf mattress review: performance

loom & leaf mattress performance

(Image credit: Future)
  • Sleepers with back pain will benefit from excellent pressure relief
  • Very low motion transfer makes it great for co-sleepers
  • Prone to trapping heat so it doesn't always sleep cool

We put a twin relaxed firm Loom & Leaf mattress through its paces for three weeks, which is the average time it takes for most bodies to adjust to a new bed. Areas of performance we evaluated include pressure relief, motion isolation, temperature regulation and edge support. 

In addition to feedback from our lead reviewer and six additional testers, we've also analyzed hundreds of user reviews from verified Loom & Leaf customers to provide a complete look at what it's like to sleep on this luxury memory foam mattress. Here's what we discovered...

Pressure relief

To test the pressure relief of the Loom & Leaf mattress, we placed a 56lb kettlebell in the center of the mattress – as well as slightly off center, closer to where one's knees would lay. This allowed us to compare the level of support between its reinforced lumbar crown and the rest of the mattress.

The mattress compressed by roughly three inches when we dropped the 56lb weight in the dead center of the mattress. There wasn't as much give when the kettlebell was moved off-center – about two inches there. In either scenario, the mattress quickly returned to form without any obvious impressions on the surface once we removed the weight.

Our human testers praised the Loom & Leaf mattress for its superb pressure relief – especially our average-sized lead reviewer, who is recovering from a lower back injury. Despite being a natural side/front sleeper, she found the most comfort whilst lying on her back. Thanks to the Loom & Leaf's concentrated lumbar support, she no longer wakes up in any significant pain.

Loom & Leaf mattress pressure relief

(Image credit: Future)

As for the rest of our back sleepers, they felt well-supported throughout – but especially in their lumbar. The reinforced middle also helped our stomach sleepers remain properly aligned without any significant dips in the pelvic area. The side sleepers of our group noted how soft the Loom & Leaf felt along their hips and shoulders. Our combination sleepers liked how quickly the bed adapted to their movements.

All of our testers experienced a 'sink-in' feeling – albeit some more than others. Though everyone was generally comfortable resting on the Loom & Leaf, the taller members of our group (5ft9in and above) said they sank too deeply into the mattress after a few moments. However, the majority of our group (5ft7in and below) said it felt more form-fitting than anything.

If you're not keen on the sink-in feel of a memory foam mattress, check out the firm version of the Saatva Classic. Like its all-foam sibling, this hybrid bed has a tufted top but with a more subtle contouring of the joints.

  • Pressure relief score: 4.5 out of 5

Motion isolation

Since a twin mattress is only designed to comfortably accommodate one person, we conducted a series of drop tests using a 10lb weight and an empty wine glass.

We dropped the weight about 25in away from the glass to simulate three scenarios: a partner switching positions in bed (4in high), a partner getting in or out of bed (8in high), and a partner jumping in our out of bed (12in high).

Loom & Leaf mattress motion transfer drop test

(Image credit: Future)

The wine glass stayed in place after the 4in drop, suggesting you won't be disturbed if your partner tosses and turns. There was a very slight jiggle after the 8in drop but again, nothing to suggest your sleep will be interrupted if your partner wakes up earlier than you do.

The most movement we detected was following the 12in drop – a slight jiggle of the wine glass. However, we don't believe a sleeping human will be terribly bothered by their partner jumping in or out of bed when sleeping on this mattress. 

Our verdict: the Loom & Leaf mattress is an excellent choice for couples who share a bed with a restless partner or operate on varying schedules. Low motion transfer is a hallmark of many memory foam beds, and this is no exception.

  • Motion isolation score: 4.5 out of 5

Temperature regulation 

The Loom & Leaf isn't a proper cooling mattress, but it does feature a 2in layer of gel-infused perforated memory foam and an organic cotton cover to draw away body heat. Plus, the memory foam lumbar crown is infused with cooling gel to help improve circulation in the lower back. 

Our testing panel slept comfortably dry when taking short naps. However, our lead tester had a handful of nights when which she woke up slightly sweaty. Bear in mind we tested this mattress during a change in seasons from warm to cool, sleeping on a set of lightweight poly-cotton sheets with a mid-weight comforter.

Loom & Leaf mattress temperature regulation

(Image credit: Future)

Relative to other full-foam mattresses our head reviewer has slept on, the Loom & Leaf falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to temperature regulation. If you overheat at night, a mattress that's designed specifically to address that concern may be your best bet.

Memory foam is known to trap heat, but fortunately there are specially-designed foam beds with cooling tech that will allow you to stay dry without sacrificing that 'hugging' feeling. A couple of memory foam cooling mattresses we could recommend the Nectar Premier Copper and the Cocoon by Sealy Chill. 

  • Temperature regulation score: 3.5 out of 5

Edge support

To test the edge support of the Loom & Leaf mattress, we placed a 56lb kettlebell on the edge of the mattress, in the middle of the perimeter. The edge compressed by about two inches and the top layer bulged slightly – thought it quickly returned to form when we removed the weight.

We also had our human testers sit on the edge of the mattress –on either corners and in the center perimeter. Reactions were mixed here. Most of our panel felt well supported whilst sitting on the corners, but not as much when we moved toward the middle of the bed. Overall, it was comfortable enough for us to get up out of bed without sinking too deeply into the mattress – a plus for those of us with injuries. who need to take our time getting in or out of bed.

loom & leaf mattress edge support weight

(Image credit: Future)

It's important to note that memory foam mattresses aren't typically renowned for their superior edge support. (Although there are outliers, like the budget-priced Siena Memory Foam mattress.) Much like its temperature regulating properties, the Loom & Leaf's edge support falls somewhere in the middle relative to other memory foam mattresses our head tester has tried. 

We're also going to consider the possibility of the Loom & Leaf featuring more reinforced edges with its larger sizes. One may believe that edge support on a twin bed isn't as much of a priority compared to a queen or king; however, we feel it's an important factor regardless of size. 

  • Edge support score: 3 out of 5

Loom & Leaf mattress review: Customer experience

  • Free white glove delivery as standard, optional free old mattress removal
  • Very long trial and warranty
  • Fee for returns

There was very little we had to do on our part when it came to setting up our Loom & Leaf mattress. We just had to confirm the best date and time for the drivers to come by and set up the mattress.

Saatva partners with a local logistics company to send a couple of crew members to deliver and unwrap the mattress – as well as place it on your frame or foundation. The Loom & Leaf mattress arrives flat, not compressed and vacuum-sealed in a box like most mail-order mattresses. We were able to lay on it almost immediately after set-up.

Our lead reviewer is recovering from a lower back injury, so she was appreciative of this complimentary white glove delivery, especially since a twin Loom & Leaf mattress weighs 61lbs. Meanwhile, a queen is 93lbs and a king is a hulking 116lbs.

There's also free removal of your existing mattress if you need it; just make sure to select this option at checkout. Since we had already donated our previous mattress to a friend, we had no need for this service.

Foam mattresses are prone to off-gassing, which emits a 'chemical' scent that's otherwise harmless. The Loom & Leaf is no exception. Although it didn't arrive vacuum-sealed in a box, we still noticed an obvious smell emanating from the mattress. Cracking a window after 30 minutes helped dissipate this odor, and it was hardly noticeable by the time we went to sleep later that night. 

Like most of the best memory foam mattresses, Saatva uses CertiPUR-US-certified foam in its Loom & Leaf mattress. 

  • Customer experience score: 4.5 out of 5

Loom & Leaf mattress specs

Loom & Leaf mattress: customer reviews

Our 7-member testing panel features individuals of various heights, weights, and sleep preferences – but it's still a small sample size. Thus, we analyzed user reviews for the Loom & Leaf from the Saatva website, the only outlet from which this bed can be purchased.

The Loom & Leaf mattress has a near-flawless 4.9 stars out of 5 from almost 600 reviews as of November 2022. Reviews can be filtered by rating and whether there are images attached. Fortunately, the built-in search is quite intuitive, so it's possible to find what you're most interested in knowing about this mattress. 

The 5-star ratings make up almost 95% of all customer reviews. A lot of the most helpful positive comments come from sleepers who say sleeping on the Loom & Leaf mattress helped reduce or eliminate their aches and pains. Several couples have sung their praises for the high level of motion isolation.

Negative feedback is few and far between for the Loom & Leaf. The most common theme among the less-than-stellar reviews is the level of perceived firmness being too hard, although it's not always clear which firmness level those customers tried. 

Because we only tested it for three weeks, we also scoured the customer reviews for feedback from long-time users, to get some idea of how durable this mattress might be. The consensus among consumers who have owned their Loom & Leaf mattress for at least two years is overwhelmingly positive. They report no obvious indentations or sagging and feel it's as comfortable as the first weeks they slept on it.

Should you buy the Loom & Leaf mattress?

For most sleepers with back pain or joint pain, we highly recommend the Loom & Leaf mattress for its superb pressure relief (especially along the lumbar) and all-around support. Plus, the complimentary white glove delivery will save you the hassle of possibly trying to maneuver such a heavy mattress on your own, saving you from further injury.

No matter your sleep style, the relaxed firm Loom & Leaf mattress should provide you with the right blend of comfort and support. Back and stomach sleepers may want to opt for the firm option for a more subtle give. Regardless of firmness level, the Loom & Leaf mattress has a quilted pillow top that'll satisfy sleepers who enjoy the 'hug' of foam. 

If you sleep warm, the Loom & Leaf might not always provide the temperature regulation you need as it's prone to trapping heat overnight. For an all-foam cooling model, we recommend the Cocoon by Sealy Chill mattress. It's one of the least expensive name-brand beds that's also among the best cooling mattresses on the market.

The Loom & Leaf mattress sits at the high end of the mid-range market but it's an affordable alternative to a Tempur-Pedic mattress if you're seeking pain relief. Plus, you'll receive a 1-year trial, a lifetime warranty, and complimentary in-home set-up.  You may pay more upfront for a Loom & Leaf than a Nectar or Tuft & Needle memory foam mattress, but you'll likely save in the long term since the quality of Loom & Leaf's build and materials will mean not having to replace it as often.

First reviewed November 2022

Bose Smart Soundbar 600
6:00 pm | November 12, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Editor's note

• Original review date: November 2022
Current entry-level Bose Dolby Atmos soundbar
Launch price - $499 / £499 / AU$799
Target price now - $399 / £399 / AU$799

Update February 2024. The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 remains the entry-level Dolby Atmos model in the company’s soundbar lineup, slotting in beneath the mid-range Smart Soundbar 700, which recently received an official price cut. The 600 has also been getting regular discounts, with the new price target sitting at $399 / £399, though its price remains the same as at launch in Australia. At its new discounted price, the Smart Soundbar 600 is an excellent value for a compact soundbar with upfiring speaker drivers that can deliver convincing Dolby Atmos height effects. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Bose Smart Soundbar 600: One-minute review

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 ($499 / £499 / AU$799)  is the company’s new more compact and more affordable Dolby Atmos model, slotting in beneath the Smart Soundbar 900 ($899 / £1399 / AU$799). 

While it's priced around half as much as its larger sibling, the 600 offers up a mostly similar feature set, but from a more limited speaker array. A total of five drivers, including two up-firing ones, are used to deliver Dolby Atmos soundtracks, allowing the 600 to provide stiff competition to the best soundbars that use virtual Atmos processing in the same price range.

It may be small, and not that expensive, but the 600 sounds both bigger and better than one would expect. Overhead Atmos effects extend above the TV screen, and the audio presentation extends well out to the sides, in the way you expect from the best Dolby Atmos soundbars. Bass depth and power are not things you’d expect from a compact soundbar, meaning there’s not much of either, but the sound balance here is both natural and pleasing, while the imaging it manages with stereo music is surprisingly wide and precise.

As for features, the Soundbar 600 is fairly packed, with its Atmos support helped along by TrueSpace processing for music and regular stereo and 5.1 soundtracks. Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and Bluetooth are all onboard for streaming, and there’s also built-in Alexa and Works with Google Assistant voice control support.

The Bose’s connection options go a bit further than some budget bars in providing both HDMI eARC and optical digital inputs. Everything can be controlled using the full-featured Bose Music app, and a basic hardware remote adds to the bar’s voice control capabilities.

Given the price, this is a solid, high-quality hunk of soundbar, with the sleek industrial design the company is known for. You have the option to extend it with a wireless subwoofer (or two) from Bose, along with wireless surround speakers, though at a fairly substantial cost.

Setup is easy and app-guided, and there are plenty of adjustments to tune the sound to your liking. Overall, this is a fine entry-level Dolby Atmos soundbar option offering great value, and one you should be looking at if you want to add real Atmos sound to your TV without spending an arm and a leg.

Bose Soundbar 600 on TV stand with blue screen in background

Top-mounted drivers on the Soundbar 600 are used for Dolby Atmos overhead effects, while side-mounted speakers help to widen the soundstage. (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review: Price & release date

  • Released in October 2022
  •  $499 / £499 / AU$799 

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 was released in October 2022 and sells for $499 / £499 / AU$799. Sometimes, the latest Bose promo codes can bring prices down.

Pricing for the Soundbar 600 is slightly higher than for the Sonos Beam Gen 2, a model that Bose appears to be directly competing with. Similar to the Beam, the Soundbar 600 doesn’t come with a subwoofer for extended bass, but it does offer Wi-Fi for wireless streaming, as well as the ability to be paired with an optional wireless subwoofer and surround speakers.

Where the Bose beats the Sonos in terms of features is its inclusion of up-firing speakers for Dolby Atmos – the Bose, in contrast, uses virtual processing to simulate height effects in Atmos soundtracks.

Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review: features

  •  Dolby Atmos with up-firing speakers 
  •  HDMI eARC and optical digital connections 
  •  Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Bluetooth wireless streaming 

The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 is a compact, all-in-one soundbar that supports playback of Dolby Atmos soundtracks and uses proprietary TrueSpace processing for upconverting both stereo and regular 5.1 channel sources for Atmos presentation. DTS:X is not supported. A remote control is provided, and both setup and control can be carried out using the Bose Music app. The Soundbar 600 can also be expanded via the company’s optional wireless surround speakers and subwoofers (up to two).

A total of five transducers are used in the Soundbar 600: two side-mounted ones that combine with a center-mounted tweeter to deliver an expanded stereo image, and two top-mounted ones for Dolby Atmos overhead effects. Both driver size and amplifier power aren’t specified by Bose.

Connections on the Soundbar 600 include an HDMI eARC port plus an optical digital audio input for connecting an older TV that doesn’t support HDMI ARC/eARC. A second HDMI input to provide a passthrough would be a nice addition, though that’s something that isn’t always found on budget soundbars – the Sonos beam doesn't include one.

Wireless streaming options on the Bose include Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth. The Bose Music app also integrates a range of services including Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, and Sirius XM for streaming over Wi-Fi. 

Support for Alexa is onboard for hands-free operation over basic controls like volume and track skipping, as well as access to music apps supported by Alexa. The Soundbar 600 also works with Google Assistant, giving you similar functionality when a Google speaker is connected to the network. With the Soundbar 600 set up for Alexa support, you can also use its Voice4Video feature to control functions of a connected Smart TV – everything from turning it on and off to playing and pausing video playback and changing channels.

Along with Dolby Atmos, the Soundbar 600 features proprietary TrueSpace processing. This takes incoming stereo, mono, and 5.1-channel sound sources and upconverts them for an Atmos-like immersive presentation using the soundbar’s full speaker array.

  • Features score: 4/5

Bose Soundbar 600 underneath a TV in a beige room

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review: sound quality

  • Great dialogue clarity 
  • Spacious presentation of Dolby Atmos soundtracks  
  • Somewhat light on bass 

Before I dove deep into evaluating the Bose’s performance, I simply used it as the soundbar for my TV setup in a relatively spacious room. 

Basically, I had no serious complaints: movie and TV dialogue was routinely clear and full-sounding, music and sound effects were rendered in a spacious manner that extended the presentation well beyond the confines of the bar itself, and even music sounded well-balanced and with decent stereo separation – something many soundbars fail to deliver.

On action movies with Dolby Atmos soundtracks like John Wick 3, Bose’s bar created a believable sense of atmosphere in scenes with rain, the water appearing to fall from above the TV’s screen. Other demo-worthy Atmos scenes, like those from District 9 and Godzilla (2016), sci-fi films where there are plenty of helicopters flying overhead throughout, were well-served by the Soundbar 600, with the sound easily scaling up to match the onscreen action, and also extending above and beyond it.

While the Bose’s sound was mostly dynamic, even in my relatively large room, sound effects like the stomping of Godzilla through the streets of Honolulu lacked the bass oomph I know to be there – compact, all-in-one designs like the 600 can only do so much in the deep bass department. Even with that limitation, the bass the Soundbar 600 managed was clean and well-controlled, and it helped to add excitement to scenes from John Wick 3 where the protagonist fights would-be assassins in tightly enclosed spaces.

Music also sounded good on the Bose, and that’s not something you can say for every soundbar. Listening to the new stereo mixes on the just-released The Beatles' Revolver box set (streamed from Tidal to the soundbar from my iPhone using Chromecast), Tomorrow Never Knows had a dense, psychedelic, swirling presentation, and Good Day Sunshine had a full quality, with the Motown-esque horn section accompaniment sounding brassy and crisp. Overall, music had a too-crisp balance on the Bose bar, but I’d attribute that to the missing bass octaves, and I can’t say I found the sound to be fatiguing overall.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review: Design

  • Basic, compact form-factor
  • Excellent build quality 
  • Small, throwaway remote control 

The Soundbar 600 has the basic bar-like form factor as many other soundbars, and comes only in a black finish. At 27 inches wide by 2 inches high and 4 inches deep, it’s a fairly sleek and compact design for an all-in-one unit.

Given the Soundbar 600’s approachable price, build quality is excellent: a metal mesh grille surrounds the bar’s front and sides, and the back panel has left and right ports (to enhance bass output) and a metal sink to prevent the built-in amplifier from overheating. Lifting the Soundbar 600 up in your hands, its impressive heft tells you it’s been designed to last.

Bose’s included remote control is a compact type with basic buttons to operate power, volume, mute, and input selection. Those same functions can be carried out via the Bose Music app, and there are also touch controls on the soundbar’s top that let you power it on/off and activate or deactivate the built-in microphone for voice control.

Bose Soundbar 600 rear panel inputs

The Bose's inputs include HDMI-eARC and optical digital connections. (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 5/5

Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review: Usability and setup

  • HDMI eARC connection 
  • App-based setup and control 
  • No alphanumeric front panel display 

With only HDMI eARC and optical digital ports available for connecting to a TV, setup is simple enough and will be based on which of those your TV provides. Using the HDMI eARC connection, of course, gives you access to advanced features like Dolby Atmos sound – something optical digital connections don’t support – and HDMI CEC control, which lets you adjust the soundbar’s volume level using the TV’s remote control, among other things.

Bose’s remote control is basic and tiny enough that it’s easy to forget about (there’s a high likelihood it will disappear into your sofa’s cushions at some point). For the most part, I used the Bose Music app for setup and control, which works well and is easy to navigate. 

This guides you through initial setup, where you – annoyingly – first need to create a Bose account. Once that’s done, the app discovers your Wi-Fi network and links the Soundbar 600 to it. The next step is to add info to the app for any supported music services, a list that includes: Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, and Sirius XM. Other services not supported by the app can be streamed wirelessly to the Soundbar 600 using AirPlay, Chromecast, or Bluetooth.

App-based controls include center channel (dialogue) and height channel level, plus bass and treble adjustments. There’s also a wall EQ setting meant to adjust the sound for on-wall installations and a Dialogue Mode to enhance voice clarity on TV shows and movies if that’s ever an issue.

Like other budget soundbars, the Sonos Beam included, the Bose 600 lacks a front panel LED alphanumeric display, instead using color-coded lighting sequences to provide feedback to remote control commands. As usual, I couldn’t be bothered to memorize these, instead relying solely on the app for all of my adjustments and tweaks save for volume using the TV’s remote.

Bose Soundbar 600 remote control held in hand against green background

Bose's small remote offers basic controls, but you'll want to use the company's control app for setup and more advanced adjustments. (Image credit: Future)
  • Usability and setup score: 4.5/5

Bose Smart Soundbar 600 review: Value

  •  Great overall value 
  •  Offers features the competition lacks 

At $499, the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 is bumping up against some strong budget bar competition. The main one is the Sonos Beam Gen 2 ($450), but there are many others in the under $500 range from companies like Denon, Polk Audio, Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizio.

Where the Bose distinguishes itself and provides value is its use of actual up-firing speakers to convey Dolby Atmos overhead effects, as well as its effective TrueSpace processing of sources with a lesser channel count. Its control app, while not at the same level as Sonos’ app, is also sophisticated, and there’s ample streaming support, with Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and Bluetooth all onboard.

What’s lacking here is bass, which is something you can get with even modest soundbar systems that include an external subwoofer. Adding one of the company’s wireless Bass Modules ($499) should address that shortcoming, but then it bumps the system price up to $1,000 – a range where you can find other compelling options, including the all-in-one Sonos Arc.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Bose Soundbar 600 on table under TV in living room setting

(Image credit: Bose)

Should I buy the Bose Smart Soundbar 600?

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Also consider

Bitdefender Password Manager Review: Pros & Cons, Features, Ratings, Pricing and more
2:36 pm | November 11, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Bitdefender is one of the big names when it comes to personal security, so it’s no surprise that the firm’s suite of products includes a password manager.

Bitdefender Password Manager includes an impressive range of mainstream features and security protocols, and because this app comes from a wider security provider it’s also available as part of Bitdefender’s extensive all-in-one security packages – that’s not a viable option from dedicated password manager software.

We’re going to find out if Bitdefender Password Manager is worth using as a standalone product or as part of your wider security regime – and if it’s worth a place on our list of the best password managers

Bitdefender Password Manager: Plans and pricing

Bitdefender’s mainstream security status means it’s got a straightforward pricing structure – something we always appreciate.

If you want to buy Bitdefender Password Manager as a standalone product then you don’t have to choose from different tiers with different features. Instead, you simply pick the period you need: a one-year plan usually costs $29.99 / £24.99 / AUD$50 and is frequently discounted, while the monthly plan is poorer value at $2.99 / £2.49 / AUD$5 per month.

You can also buy a family version called Shared, which has up to four accounts for twice the price rather than quadruple. For many families, this will be satisfactory, but other companies offer family plans for up to five or six, so Bitdefender’s is a bit limiting on that front.

You’ll arguably find even better value from Bitdefender’s all-in-one plans. If you buy Bitdefender Premium Security it’ll cost you $63.47 / £49.99 / AUD$95.27 for your first year, and you get Password Manager, protection against malware, viruses, adware and spyware, unlimited VPN traffic and multi-layer ransomware protection. It’s valid for up to 10 devices and automatically renews at the end of the term.

Pay $76.16 / £59.99 / AUD$114.32 for a year of Premium Security Plus and you get all of those features alongside credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, and identity theft protection

Those packages are far more expensive than conventional, standalone password managers, but they offer a far broader array of features – and, if you do just want Bitdefender Password Manager alone, it offers good value from its annual pricing.

Bitdefender Password Manager setting up

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Password Manager: Setup

This is a mainstream product, so it’s very easy to start. Once you’ve created an account, you need to pick a master password for account recovery – and Bitdefender immediately evaluates its strength.

Once that’s done, you can copy or download your recovery key and install the app. It’s available as an extension for Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and as iOS and Android apps. That’s it, though: while that support covers most people, there’s no desktop app or support for more obscure browsers.

Bitdefender’s app can import passwords from other key apps, like 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass, Bitwarden, and Sticky Password, and it’ll also import directly from Chrome and Firefox. It also supports CSV, XM, and text files, which can sometimes be a bit more hit-and-miss. That’s another area where Bitdefender impresses, although other apps go even further in terms of direct app and browser support.

Bitdefender Password Manager password generator

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Password Manager: Interface and performance

Bitdefender has a good range of mainstream password management features. It can automatically save your login details and payment cards, autofill all your details, and it’s got a module to search and identify weak, duplicated, or leaked passwords – so you can get on top of potential security risks.

When you want to add new accounts you can add notes, generate a secure password and have it evaluated by the app within the same window, and also enable automatic login and choose which accounts are your favorites for faster future access – it’s a very intuitive method. The password generator is good, too: you’re able to use special characters and specify if you want your new password to be easy to type. This isn’t unique to Bitdefender, but some other generators use a take-it-or-leave-it approach.

The interface is straightforward, too: the extension opens in a small window at the top of your browser and different tabs show you passwords and security reports. There’s an option to secure all of your browsing instantly. Delve further into the main menu and you’ll find the password generator, payment card details, and settings.

We really like the different categories of data you can store in Bitdefender’s password manager, including identities like driver’s licenses and passports. While there are some that have specialized sections for IDs (like Dashlane), the majority overlook this simple addition that can make booking flights online a smoother process.

This tool is good-looking, minimal, and easy to use, and its range of features tackles everything you’ll need for everyday password protection. Fortunately, the web experience reflects the mobile app experience so you should be able to jump between any device and pick up where you left off.

You’ll only want to look elsewhere if you need more robust organization and management settings for business use, for instance, or broader platform support. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with good cybersecurity credentials, Bitdefender is one of the companies we would suggest.

Given the company’s overall outlook on privacy and security, and the fact that it’s geared toward regular consumers, it’s a shame that Bitdefender hasn’t yet announced any plans to bring passkey support to the password manager. Admittedly, rollout has been slow and major operating systems have held some elements of widespread adoption back (that will change in 2023), but many major rivals including Dashlane, NordPass, and 1Password have all declared their commitment to the passwordless login method that’s slowly emerging across the Internet.

Bitdefender Password Manager securing account

(Image credit: Bitdefender )

Bitdefender Password Manager: Security

We have no qualms with Bitdefender’s security credentials. Your data is protected using AES 256-bit encryption and bolstered with SHA512 and BCRYPT, and all of your data is encrypted and decrypted locally – so no one at Bitdefender can access that information.

As with most other apps, you can use biometric login and various two-factor authentication methods for secure sign-ins. Bitdefender can automatically log you out after a period of inactivity. Users can also specify a PIN to lock the software quickly.

Bitdefender Password Manager add account

(Image credit: Bitdefender)

Bitdefender Password Manager: Support

Bitdefender has a comprehensive knowledge base that includes articles, tutorials, and videos that cover all of its products, so it’s a good start if you’re having issues with Password Manager.

Beyond that, an active forum is a good destination for anyone who needs help. A neat wizard can also direct you to potentially helpful articles before you have to get in touch with support. If you do need to make contact, there’s 24/7 chat, a form for sending an email and 24-hour worldwide phone support in English. It’s a very comprehensive offering.

Bitdefender Password Manager: The competition

BitDefender’s mainstream abilities mean it rubs right against apps like LastPass and 1Password. There’s not much between them, although LastPass is better for organization management and 1Password is improved for families. However, both of those alternatives are a bit pricier than Bitdefender’s tool.

If you’d like password management as part of a wider security package, then the Norton password manager and the Kaspersky password manager products are your best alternatives. When it comes to password management, there’s little between Bitdefender and Norton, while both are better than Kaspersky. 

If you’re not necessarily after the full cybersecurity package but you want to get access to a VPN, the newly launched Proton Pass is free of charge, though it’s available as a paid premium version and as part of an entire Proton package with VPN.

Bitdefender Password Manager: Final verdict

Bitdefender Password Manager doesn’t have the high-end abilities or business features you’ll find elsewhere, but it impresses in several other key areas. It’s got good mainstream abilities and great support, and if offers decent value in all of its guises.

If you need everyday password management with plenty of support the standalone product is ideal, and the all-in-one security packages are impressive too.

We've listed the best business password managers.

Amazon Kindle (2022)
12:59 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: November 2022
Add supported pricing tiers available
• Launch price: $119 / £94 / AU$179
• Official price now with ads: $99 / £84 / N/A
 

Updated: January 2024. The standard 2022 Kindle is an ereader that'll basically suit everyone. It's small, light, has a good battery life and represents an overall evolution over the models that came before it. It can now be had for a cheaper starting price in the US and UK if you're willing to put up with adverts. But paying a little more still gets you a very fine Kindle, hassle-free. Do bear in mind you can get a great price on the standard Kindle when seasonal sales are in full swing, but it's still great at full price. The rest of this review remains as previously published.

Amazon Kindle (2022): One-minute review

Over 15 years after Amazon launched its first Kindle ereader, the retail giant has launched the latest Kindle (2022) model. Because Amazon is so huge these days, from turning into a shop where you can buy almost anything, while also making its own smart home Alexa-powered devices and even creating its own high-budget TV shows (such as the recent Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power), it can be easy to forget that it started out life as an online bookstore.

Still, with the Kindle range, it shows that books can still be a passion for the company, and with the launch of the Kindle (2022), you’d be forgiven for expecting an extremely accomplished ereader, considering the expertise and budget behind it.

The good news is that with the latest Kindle you get just that. While it lacks some of the bells and whistles offered by other ereaders – and even the more expensive Kindle models in Amazon’s growing range – if you want a simple and dependable device for reading ebooks on, the Kindle (2022) could be an excellent choice.

A higher resolution screen makes ebooks look fantastic, and as the most compact Amazon ereader, the Kindle (2022) slips easily into bags and some pockets, making it a good choice for travellers. However, the small screen size can be uncomfortable to read on for some people, as well as difficult to grip onto.

For people looking for a main ebook reader for home, the Kindle (2022) probably won't be the best ereader for your needs. However, starting at $99.99 / £84.99 / AU$179, it's one of the better value ereaders out there. It also comes with double the storage space (now 16GB), extended battery life, and its integration with Amazon's store and services remains excellent – as long as you don't mind buying from Amazon. If you do mind getting locked into Amazon's ecosystem, then look elsewhere. You'd be missing out on a decent and affordable compact ereader however.

Amazon Kindle 2022 inside its sleepcover

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kindle (2022) review: Price and availability

  • Costs $99.99 / £84.99 for ad-supported model
  • No ad-supported version for Australia (RRP of AU$179)
  • More expensive than last model

The new Kindle (2022) is Amazon’s most affordable ereader, and costs $99.99 / £84.99 for the model with adverts on the lockscreen – there's no ad-supported version of the Kindle in Australia. For the non-advert version, you’ll need to pay $119.99 / £94.99 / AU$179. 

While this makes the Kindle (2022) the cheapest current model, it does represent a price increase over the previous model, which sold for £69.99 / $89.99 / AU$139.

It remains more affordable than its chief competitor, the Kobo Clara 2E, although the rival offers a few more features that the 2022 Kindle misses out on. If you’re a regular user of Amazon's different services, though, then the Kindle’s integration with the huge retailer will likely appeal.

  • Price and availability score: 4/5

The USB-C charging port under the Amazon Kindle 2022

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kindle (2022) review: Design and display

  • Smallest Kindle yet
  • Ideal for travelling
  • May be too small for some

The Kindle (2022) comes with a new design, and some changes are very welcome… and some less so. It’s now smaller and lighter than ever before, and weighs just 158g, with measurements of 6.2-inches x 4.3-inches x 0.32-inches (157.8 x 108.6 x 8.0 mm).

This makes it an excellent choice for travellers who want to take something to read while they globetrot. The Kindle (2022) can easily slip into a bag, or even a pocket, and you’d hardly notice it’s there. For short-haul flights where you’re limited to the amount of luggage you can bring on board, this could again be a great feature, as it takes up less space than even a rather slim book.

However, some people may not enjoy holding and reading on such a small device. It doesn’t feel as secure to hold as some of the larger, and more expensive, ebook readers out there, and the lack of a textured rear panel can make it feel a little hard to grip onto. There are Kindle cases on sale that can mitigate this, but without one, the Kindle (2022) can feel a little too slight for some people.

That’s not to say the build quality is lacking, however. Quite the opposite, in fact, as despite its budget price, the Kindle (2022) feels like a well-put-together device.

Kindle branding on bottom bezel of theAmazon Kindle 2022

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The design is minimalist, with a single power button and a USB-C port for charging. Most of the controls for the Kindle are done via the 6-inch E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen.  The USB-C is a new addition, and means you can quickly charge the Kindle (2022) – and you can use any USB charger to do so.

The new blue color is a nice change from the standard black or white designs of other ereaders and, thanks to an update that happened in April 2021, you can set the cover of book you're currently reading to display on the sleep screen instead of cycling through a few wallpapers that were available on Kindles by default.

The screen itself has had a lot of attention lavished on it. It’s now got a 300ppi (pixels per inch) high resolution screen that is crisp and sharp on the 6-inch display. As an e-ink screen, it feels comfortable to read on, though we ended up making the text smaller to fit more of a page onto the 6-inch screen.

The screen has an adjustable front light for reading in the dark, and the Dark Mode  option makes it more comfortable to read in low-light conditions. However, the front light cannot be adjusted for temperature, meaning you're stuck with white/blue light at all times, so people sensitive to blue light may find the Kindle (2022) less appealing for bedtime reading.

Unlike more expensive Kindles, the standard Kindle (2022) isn’t waterproof, but it does have a handy sensor that lets you know if there’s moisture in the USB-C port, so you can unplug it and wait for it to dry. We tried it out during the review, and it does indeed work.

In some markets the Kindle (2022) also comes with a ‘Kid’ version that features a rugged cover, one year subscription to Amazon Kids+ and an extended two-year guarantee (the standard model has one year).

  • Design and display score: 4/5

Amazon Kindle 2022 in dark mode

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kindle (2022) review: Specs and performance

  • Good looking (yet small) screen
  • 16GB capacity should be more than enough

As well as the improved screen, the Kindle (2022) also features twice the storage space of its predecessor. While the new 16GB capacity may seem a little low when compared to a phone or tablet, ebooks don’t take up much digital space, with an average ebook file size of 2.6MB. That means there’s room for well over 7,000 books – so even the most ardent bookworm won’t have to worry about space. There’s no microSD card slot, so you can't expand the storage space, but we can’t see many people needing to.

You can also download and listen to audiobooks using Amazon’s Audible service, and these obviously take up a lot more space than an ebook – though 16GB will still be able to handle a ridiculous amount. There are no built-in speakers, so you’ll need to pair a Bluetooth device, which can be done through the interface. We did find this to be a bit difficult to set up, with the Kindle becoming unresponsive at one point, but once paired, it works well.

Of course, the main reason you’d want to use the Kindle for is reading ebooks, and the good news is that it does this very well. The e-ink screen is comfortable to read on and, while the dark mode makes things comfortable at night, we didn’t find it was bright enough to read on without a light on. However, in both dark rooms and out in sunlight, the non-reflective screen performed well. 

However, at 6 inches, we felt it was too small to read at the default text size, as it meant we had to keep flipping pages (done via tapping the side of the screen you want to turn the page to). Making the text smaller fitted more of the text on the screen, which reduced the number of times we had to turn the page – but some people may find the text size too small to read comfortably. As an ereader for travellers, this is great, but people reading at home may wish they’d gone for something bigger.

Amazon Kindle 2022 control panel on top of screen

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The interface has been refreshed, and it takes a bit of getting used to. The minimalist design means there’s no buttons apart from the power button, and so if you haven’t used a Kindle before, you may be confused about how to get to your library. A nice touch is that when the Kindle (2022) goes into sleep mode, you can set the sleep screen to show the cover of the book you’re currently reading – though if you buy the ad supported version you’ll see adverts instead.

As you’d expect from an Amazon device, the Kindle is heavily integrated with the retail giant’s services. Once you’ve connected it to your Amazon account, you can buy Kindle ebooks and audiobooks through the Amazon website on other devices, and they will appear on the Kindle almost immediately, as long as it has an internet connection. This makes setting up the Kindle and filling it with books very straightforward, especially if you already have a Kindle library. You can also buy books directly through the Kindle’s interface. However, we prefer doing it on another device with a larger screen, such as a laptop.

While this means the Kindle is an easy and convenient gadget to use if you’re already invested in Amazon’s ecosystem – and many people are – but if you don’t use them or like Amazon as a company, then you may find the Kindle’s heavy reliance on Amazon frustrating. You can load non-Amazon ebooks onto it, but it’s not as easy and organizing them into collections aren't possible, leaving your library looking a tad dishevelled. So this really is only worth considering if you’re an Amazon customer. 

When you purchase a Kindle (2022), you get three months of Kindle Unlimited free, essentially a Netflix-like subscription service for ebooks, which at least gives you a chance to check out the service and get access to a huge range of books before you spend any extra money. That said, you won't find a lot of big names (authors or publishers) on Kindle Unlimited but there is plenty to discover if you aren't too fussy about what you like to read.

  • Specs and performance score: 3/5

The settings pane on the Amazon Kindle 2022

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kindle (2022) review: Battery life

  • Better battery life than before
  • Drains slightly faster in dark mode

Amazon has not only upped the internal storage on the 2022 edition of the Kindle, but has also improved the battery life. Whether that’s due to improved efficiency of the same old battery or if it’s a bigger capacity is unclear as Amazon doesn’t ever reveal its battery secrets, but our guess is the latter.

The older 10th generation Kindle from 2019 offered up to four weeks of reading (according to Amazon’s own estimates), but we got about two weeks of reading for an hour each day on a single charge. Now, however, we’re getting a full 30 hours of reading – basically, four weeks of reading an hour each day.

In fact, we think you could get more. Our tests showed that there’s marginally more drain when using the Kindle in dark mode, and we measured battery life with the screen set to the usual view and dark mode. Not just that, we also set the front light to 7%, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth always on, a mix of browsing Kindle Unlimited, the Kindle Store and using VoiceView (we were really curious how it sounded). If you aren’t going to be doing so much on your Kindle, you could push that battery a little more, and that’s pretty impressive.

Amazon has updated the charging port to USB-C in keeping with the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite (and other ereader) models and this makes the battery top up quicker. In our tests, the Kindle went from 9% to full in 1 hour 25 minutes. This, however, includes a little bit of trickle charging, which is actually better than what any of the latest Kobo ereaders manage. Where trickle charging on the Kobo Libra 2, for example, is super slow (an hour to go from 92% to full), the Kindle went from 9% to 93% in 1 hour 10 minutes, then another 15 minutes to finish the remaining 7%.

  • Battery score: 4/5

Should I buy the Amazon Kindle (2022)?

The rear panel with the Amazon smile logo on the 2022 Kindle

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if…

 Don’t buy it if…

Amazon Kindle (2022) report card

Also consider...

If our Amazon Kindle (2022) review has you considering other options, here are three more ereaders that are great alternatives.

First reviewed November 2022

How we test

We pride ourselves on our independence and rigorous review-testing process, offering long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
6:39 am | November 7, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2: one-minute review

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II come from the brand that practically invented noise cancellation. However, Bose’s initial venture into the true wireless earbuds space didn’t quite hit the same mark as its over-ear cans did, quickly losing out to the likes of Sony and Apple. 

However, the master is back in form, with Bose’s second-gen QuietComfort Earbuds II (let’s call them QCE II for simplicity’s sake) getting a lot of what is important just right.

And it starts with a completely overhauled design that makes the new model so much more comfortable to wear as compared to the predecessor. The gen 2 is smaller, lighter and finally seems to be competing with Sony… although there are smaller buds out there.

Size definitely matters when it comes to true wireless earbuds, but so does the performance and Bose has actually improved on what it had with the older QC Buds. In fact, we thought the first-generation Bose QuietComfort Earbuds had pretty good active noise cancellation (ANC), and we weren’t entirely sure how the adaptive nature would perform in the new buds, but it’s remarkably effective... provided you get the fit right. High frequency sounds like sirens still get through, but not as much as they did with the older model.

And the improvements to ANC haven’t come at the expense of overall sound quality. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s even better this time round. Each bud adapts the sound to the contours of your ear canal to make what you hear beautifully balanced with very clear details and textures. Like the ANC performance, this is, again, dependent on how well the buds fit your ear.

While there’s a lot to commend Bose on, there’s not been a huge improvement on battery life – with the case only getting a bit more juice than before – and call quality is also nothing to phone home about.

The big improvements, however, come with a higher price tag than the first-gen’s launch price. And although it matches the launch price of the Sony WF-1000XM4, the rivals can now be had for a lot less in several markets.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 inside open case

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Update (February 2023): On February 17, 2023, Bose began rolling out a new firmware update that adds a feature the company is calling Independent Single-Bud Use. This allows you to use the buds independently of each other, meaning you'll be able to continue listening to your tunes when you take one of them off (which would initially pause the playback) or switch them if one runs out of juice.

We've tested this update and added it to the Features section below. 

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review: price

  • Announced September 2022
  • Launch price: $299 / £279 / AU$429
  • Costs more than Apple and Sony rivals

It might have gone unnoticed, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II were announced on the same day as Apple debuted the iPhone 14 range and the AirPods Pro 2 – September 8, 2022 to be precise. Still, it got some fanfare at the New York Fashion Week where the launch event was held.

At the time of writing, only a single color option is available – Triple Black – with the Soapstone edition to arrive at a later undisclosed date. 

At launch, the QCE II will set you back $299 / £279 / AU$429, which is a lot more than the current, now-reduced price of the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the launch price of the AirPods Pro 2, both of which can compete with the Bose. 

While it’s easy to justify the premium price tag in relation to the QCE II’s upgrades over its predecessor, we could also take into account inflation rates around the world. That said, it's still pretty steeply priced but, that said, it didn’t take long for the Bose QC Buds to get discounted during big sale events, and we’re expecting the same to happen with the second-gen model as well. So if you’re not in a rush, you could wait for sales like Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday to pick up for less.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 case beside a phone

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review: Features

  • CustomTune audio
  • Excellent ANC prowess
  • Bluetooth 5.3

Bose has figured out a way to customize both the audio response and noise cancellation of the QCE II to the individual user’s ear canal. The company calls this proprietary tech CustomTune and it uses an audio signal – which is picked up by a mic inside each bud – to automatically calibrate ANC and sound frequency that best suits your ear. Bose doesn’t specify the details of the frequency response, but after having used the QCE II for a while now, we’re estimating they go from ‘extremely deep’ to ‘very high indeed’.

The sound itself is delivered via a couple of 9.3mm full-range dynamic drivers – one per bud, obviously – and the buds use Bluetooth 5.3 for wireless connectivity. The only codecs supported are SBC and AAC, which is a little surprising as we were expecting Snapdragon Sound compatibility because of Bose’s involvement with Qualcomm (the QCE II use the Qualcomm S5 Audio chipset). Perhaps that might change in the future via over-air firmware updates.

Key Specs

Colors: Triple Black; Soapstone yet to arrive
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3; 9.1m range
Codec support: SBC, AAC
ANC: Yes; adaptive
Water resistance: IPX4
Battery life: 6 hours (buds); 3 extra (charging case)
Weight: 6.2g (per bud); 59.8g (charging case)

The first major firmware update we did get was the rollout of a feature called Independent Single-Bud Use. This allows you to use a single bud to listen to music or take calls instead of pausing playback as it did before. This also allows for playback to continue if the Bluetooth connection between each bud drops. And, finally, if you find one bud has run out of juice before the other, you can swap to carry on listening. 

You can even change ANC modes when using a single bud, although since you can hear your surrounds anyway, the ability to do so is moot.

Another missing feature we were hoping would have made its way to the QCE II is multipoint connectivity which allows you to pair with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. To be fair, though, this is more common in wireless over-ear headphones and hasn’t quite made its way to the true wireless models, but it would be nice to have.

As would wireless charging. This also is a bit of a surprise considering rivals have cases that now support wireless charging and the Bose is a pretty premium set of buds to forgo this feature.

According to Bose, the QCE II offers up to six hours per charge on the buds alone, with an additional three top-ups in the case. That’s not really a huge improvement over the previous generation, which also gave you up to six hours on the buds, but just two additional top-ups in the case. 

We didn’t quite get to wear the Buds for a full six hours, but we had ANC at full bore every time we used it and, after two hours of use, we lost just 20% of battery on the buds (down to 80% from a full charge) – meaning you could get more than the listed six hours.

Bose promises that the charging case will juice up the buds in an hour if they’ve been fully drained, while a quick 20-minute top-up will get you about two hours of playback if you’re impatient.

One Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 outside its case with one inside

The new earbuds have a slimmer case and redesigned app. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Where the QCE II really shines, however, is noise cancellation. Bose boldly claimed that the QC Buds II have “the world’s best noise cancellation from any headphone”, and we will have to agree wholeheartedly. So, how has Bose managed to achieve this? With some fancy mic work – four in each bud (one inside) that sense unwanted noises – and an “exclusive” algorithm in a “proprietary” chip that’s able to cancel out the sounds in “a fraction of a millisecond”. While we can’t measure this claim, we can vouch that it works remarkably well. The QCE II will score top marks from us just on its ANC performance.

Another feature we really like is the ActiveSense technology that comes into play when the QCE II is in ‘Aware’ mode. This automatically adjusts the noise cancellation so your music isn’t entirely drowned out by loud environmental noises, while also letting you hear what’s going on around you. Auto Transparency is also pretty neat to have when you need to talk to someone. This comes automatically into play when you remove any one bud and the ANC level on the other is adjusted to its lowest level. Put the bud back on and you go back to how your ANC was set without you needing to do anything else.

The Bose Music app hasn’t changed at all but, not that long ago, received an equalizer to help you adjust the music to your liking, something that was missing when the older QC Buds first launched. Pairing the QCE II is super easy, and the app lets you save ANC modes (up to four) and reconfigure some touch controls – it’s full of instructions and very simple to use.

Features score: 4.5/5

Hand holding a Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 fitted with ear tip and stabilizer band

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review: Design

  • 30% smaller than previous generation
  • More compact and lighter charging case
  • May not fit everyone too well

Unlike the original QuietComfort Earbuds, which were – let’s not be coy – absolute units, the new QC Earbuds II are altogether more realistically sized. This reviewer has been using the older model since they launched as her everyday earphones and the new ones are an absolute revelation to her ears in comparison!

Bose claims that the second-gen buds are 30% smaller than the previous model, which in itself indicates that there’s been a complete design overhaul. The QCE II are from the ‘dangly stem’ school of design, but the stem is brief and, thanks to three different ear tip and ‘stability band’ options, they’re comfortable and secure. That said, they didn’t feel very secure when we first started using them and it took some physical shakes and jumps to convince us that the buds weren’t going to fall out.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II worn in man's ear

(Image credit: Simon Lucas / Future)

Of course, there’s a fit test on the Bose Music app to help you, but it takes a little while to build up that sense of security. While you might know what ear tip size works for you from previous buds you’ve used, it’s not easy to figure out which stability band is right for you. We found we had to try them all with our choice of ear tip, while also repositioning each bud in the ear with each band to come to a decision. This might sound tedious, but it doesn’t take long to find the right fit.

Perhaps it’s the all-in weight of 6g per earbud (as compared to 8.9g previously) that gives the false sense of insecurity, but it doesn’t do any harm either – that's fairly light for this kind of bud. Even the ear tips and stability bands are super soft, so the QCE II are really quite comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

And the build quality is everything you’d expect from a product costing a premium and, well, from Bose, including the IPX4 water resistance rating we saw previously.

Even the charging case has been given a revamp – it’s now taller, thinner and lighter compared to the one holding the older QC Buds, despite having a slightly bigger battery inside. Even with the size change, it’s still a sturdy case and much easier to open than its predecessor.

Design score: 5/5

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review: Audio performance

  • Beautifully balanced sound
  • Very clear details
  • Not the best call quality

Excellent ANC aside, Bose has also improved on the sound quality with the QCE II. When we tested the older model, we thought it lacked bass, which Sony handled really well. Now, however, that’s been rectified and whatever CustomTune is doing behind the scenes makes the serenading of the new buds very enjoyable indeed.

Branding on the stem of a Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Generous 9.3mm drivers are hidden in the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II's body. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The soundstage is beautifully balanced and you can pick up an exceedingly high amount of detail that wasn’t possible in the older buds. This is particularly evident when it comes to the low end, where bassy elements like kick drums and double bass get a pretty good amount of attention. For example, when listening to Miles Davis or John Coltrane you can pick out the double bass among the piano (mids) and the saxophone or cymbals. Bass drums when listening to the blues, pop or rock don’t get drowned out, with pretty much every instrument holding its own against the vocals. And at no point did the vocals get drowned out by the instruments. 

We even upped the bass on the EQ to see how it would handle the change and listening to Klergy’s Caught In The Fire was glorious. From JJ Cale to Royal Deluxe, Sarah McLachlan to Beth Hart, even Beethoven and Mozart… there was nothing we could fault. Strings don’t drown out the lows, winds hold their own and the piano sounds wonderful – there were times when it felt like we were in a concert hall with great acoustics sitting right in front of the orchestra.

How exactly CustomTune is working or what it's doing is unclear as there’s no way to switch it off for a point of reference, but that’s fine by us. Honestly, we didn’t need to adjust the EQ at all, we did it out of curiosity – in short, you put on the QCE II and let them just do their thing.   

Call quality, however, is a little lackluster. In fact, we found the older Bose QC Buds does a slightly better job in comparison. Even though Bose claims external sounds are filtered, this doesn’t happen in real-world use, particularly when it’s a little windy. The Sony WH-1000XM4 handle wind a little better, and other external sounds like traffic and loud chatter does seem to filter through when using the QCE II.

The SelfVoice feature, which you can adjust on the app, lets you hear yourself quite well, but most people we spoke to while using the QCE II said that we sound like we’re on a speakerphone.

Sound quality score: 5/5

One Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 outside its case with one inside

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review: Value

  • ANC performance is worth it
  • Balanced sound is bang on
  • High price for a set missing wireless charging

As we've mentioned earlier, the Bose QCE II aren't cheap. While the best-in-class ANC performance and the excellent sound justify a small markup over the older model, the lack of wireless charging and no support for high-definition wireless audio makes the $299 / £279 / AU$429 price tag a little hard to swallow.

Then again, inflation has also come into play and, honestly, if you truly value noise cancellation and great audio, you might find the Bose is right on the money. Our advice, however, would be to wait till these get discounted at a major sale and then the QCE II will definitely be worth it.

Value score: 4/5

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 case in black

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Should I buy the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2?

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

Also consider...

[First reviewed November 2022]

How we test

Here at TechRadar, we hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to reviewing and testing products. Not only do they undergo an initial thorough review, but if it’s still on the market, we’ll update and maintain our reviews to ensure they still maintain correct information.

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JBL Reflect Aero
10:37 pm | November 5, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Audio Computers Gadgets Headphones | Tags: | Comments: Off

JBL Reflect Aero: One-minute review

The JBL Reflect Aero may look like most sports headphones on the shelves with their circular frame fringed with wing tips to help keep them in place when you’re exercising. However, there’s more to these headphones than meets the eye.

The one obvious thing that sets them apart from other workout headphones is their waterproofing. With an IP rating of IP68, these wireless earbuds aren’t just water-resistant. You can dive down 1.5 meters in salt or fresh water with them on for 30 minutes, and they’ll keep on blasting those tunes (although you do have to account for the fact that Bluetooth signals don’t travel well in water).

But wait, there’s more. JBL doesn’t stop there. It also packs the headphones with other premium features like active noise cancellation, touch controls, in-ear detection, and up to 8 hours of battery life (24 hours total with the charging case). That’s already a lot for that sub-$150 / £150 price without factoring in their great sound quality and the fact that you can actually customize their touch gestures to offer volume control.

Even though they're only a year old, the JBL Reflect Aero are still one of the best waterproof headphones sets you can get on the market right now.

JBL Reflect Aero: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $149 / £119
  • Where is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US and the UK
JBL Reflect Aero: SPECS

Interface: Bluetooth 5.2
Battery life: 8 hours per earbuds, 24 hours total with case
Noise cancellation: Active Noise Cancellation
Water resistance: IP68
Weight: 0.5 oz (13g) per earbud

The JBL Reflect Aero are surprisingly affordable for what they offer. These true wireless earbuds will set you back just $149 / £119.

Granted, that price tag isn’t in the budget range, but it still puts these earphones in the mid-range market, making them more affordable than the Sony WF-1000XM4, Apple AirPods Pro 2, and even the Beats Fit Pro. To be fair, those three models deliver superior sound and better ANC. But, none of them are submersible and have an app with a 10-band EQ so you can really customize the sound.

All things considered, the JBL Reflect Aero are definitely the best value out of all those headphones. They’re a terrific proposition not just for swimmers and active users, but also budget-minded consumers seeking some premium features.

  • Value: 5 / 5

JBL Reflect Aero on a white table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

JBL Reflect Aero: Design

  • Ear tips not the best for smaller ears
  • Touch controls are amazing
  • JBL Headphones app expands functionality

Design-wise, the JBL Reflect Aero aren’t that different from other sports earphones. In fact, they look very similar to the Beoplay E8 Sport earphones from Bang & Olufsen, except those are a little clunkier and definitely not suited for smaller ears, and the JBL Reflect Aero have that nice honeycomb pattern on the side that faces your ears. 

So, we won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the design and focus instead on the details that set them apart. Their charging case, for example, comes with a strap that lets you wear it around your wrist or secure it to your backpack so they don’t pop out when you’re on the move.

Perhaps the best aspect of the JBL Reflect Aero’s design is the touch controls, which we have to commend for being responsive and customizable, with helpful sound prompts. You can even program two of those touch gestures to control the volume – something that the popular AirPods Pro line didn’t offer until the release of the second generation, months after the JBL Reflect Aero hit the streets.

To make these more inclusive of different ear sizes, these earphones come with not just silicone tips in three sizes but also three different-sized wing tip pairs. Unfortunately, those ear tips could stand to be a little smaller. Their smallest size might still be a little too big for users with small ears (or ear canal openings).

The JBL Reflect Aero come with app support, that app being the JBL Headphones (not to be confused with JBL Portable, which is for JBL speakers). You certainly do not have to download the app to use the earphones, but it’s well worth having. Not only does it expand their functionality, but also allows you to personalize their sound using the 10-band EQ, which lets you significantly customize those frequencies.

  • Design: 4 / 5

JBL Reflect Aero in reviewer's hand

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

JBL Reflect Aero: Performance

  • Ambient Aware is good, ANC only ok
  • Very good sound quality, bass a little weird
  • Mic has less low-end and no background noise rejection

There’s a lot to unload in terms of the JBL Reflect Aero’s performance as they do most things well. The Ambient Aware feature (JBL’s transparency mode), for example, is great. We’ve found that it lets you hear enough of your surroundings to have a conversation with another person while music is still playing at about 50% volume. 

You can also pair two devices at the same time, so you can easily switch between your phone and your laptop, for example, when you’re getting a call on your phone while watching a movie on your laptop. There’s also the very reactive in-ear detection that’s very good at detecting when you’ve taken an earbud off or put it back on. Meanwhile, the mic sounds good for making phone calls – so you can rest assured that the person on the other end is hearing you clearly.

As far as sound quality (with the in-app EQ off), the vocals come through clearly and uncolored (not filtered). The high end in general sounds very clear and detailed, if a little on the bright side.

The rest are just ok, decent at best. The active noise cancellation is nothing to write home about as it doesn’t really block out higher frequency sounds – anything that’s in the mids or highs. The only way it works well is when you’ve got music playing at a louder volume.

While you can connect to two devices at once, you can only listen from one input at a time. Plus, you also have to stop or pause one source, wait a couple of seconds then play the other one, which can be inconvenient when you’re in a rush. The mic is also limited in its frequency range so there’s less low-end, and it doesn’t have background noise rejection.

As far as the sound goes, the mids sound a little recessed. In Gemma Hayes’ “Hanging Around,” the guitars sound polite when they should be more in your face as it is a rock song. They just don't hit as hard as they should. The low end is a little weird. In Taylor Swift’s “Maroon” and Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever,” the low end comes out thick and powerful. Yet in Japanese Breakfast’s “Paprika,” the bass sounds anemic. 

Our guess is that the bass frequencies are inconsistent as if there’s a valley in the frequency curve somewhere in the low end. And, because the bass in “Maroon” and “Happier Than Ever” is distorted and getting into the mid-range a little, it’s not being affected by that dip. On the other hand, because the low end in “Paprika” is pure bass, it’s losing a chunk of it due to that dip.

Be warned: if those silicone ear tips do not fit properly in your ears, these headphones will sound terrible. The overall sound isn’t going to sound full and rich, with the mid-range sounding recessed, the bass being very restrained, and the high end not delivering the same level of detail. Be sure that those ear tips completely plug your ears before playing music or watching videos.

We’re pointing out those shortcomings to make it clear that the JBL Reflect Aero don’t sit at that premium, audiophile level, which means they’re not going to have the most superior sound or the most high-end features. However, that only really matters to folks who are much more discerning or used to pricey headphones.

As they stand, the JBL Reflect Aero are great sounding, feature-rich earbuds that, despite a few quirks, make good workout companions – especially if water is involved. With their IP68 rating, these can be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes without any effect on performance. Having tested this ourselves, we can confirm that only do they survive being submerged in water, but they also continue to play music. And, so long as your phone is nearby, and you’re not doing deep dives, you can swim laps with these on. Let’s see other earbuds do that.

  • Performance: 4 / 5

Should I buy the JBL Reflect Aero?

JBL Reflect Aero on a white table

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

JBL Reflect Aero: Report card

  • First reviewed November 2022

How we test

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

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