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I broke up with wireless earbuds this year — here's why – Tom's Guide

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This is the year that I finally broke up with wireless earbuds. We tried much too long to make things work, but I’ve decided it’s time to face the music, even if I’m the only one who can hear it. Earbuds and I just aren’t meant to be.

I won’t go as far as diagnosing myself with whatever  phobia pertains to placing tiny objects in your ears, but something about cramming buds so close to my brain doesn’t sit right with me anymore. And I’m not sure it ever did. 

As my bank account can attest, I tried to not avail to find the best wireless earbuds for me. Jaybird X3, Powerbeats 2, Powerbeats Pro, first-generation AirPods and, most recently, AirPods Pro are some of the models I’ve flirted with. Despite the variety, each purchase spiraled into the same old story. 

At first the design would lure me in like a moth to a flame. I especially liked the look of Powerbeats Pro, and thought they’d seem stylish looped around my ears. I’m not sure what I was thinking with AirPods — they’re still hideous, though for a moment I fell for the trend. Either way, I’d soon realize my new wireless earbuds are just a pretty face.

These trysts went one of two routes: I’d either retreat in devastating discomfort after wearing the buds for more than a few hours, or they’d fall out of my ears before reaching that threshold. In the case of the truly wireless models, we’d part on more chaotic terms. Washing machines, street drains and crowded LIRR train cars are just some of the venues where my past earbuds met their demise.

Real headphones or bust

Besides being easy to lose or misplace, most wireless earbuds failed to impress me in terms of audio performance. I found myself cheating with cans and dismissing buds to random desk drawers and backpack compartments. I’ve been using the excellent Sony WH-1000XM4 and the luxurious AirPods Max recently, and it’s almost unfair to compare both to any in-ear models.

Not only over-ear headphones significantly more comfortable and less likely to fall off, they’re actually capable of creating all-encompassing listening experience and blocking out surrounding sounds, With concerts on hiatus, great headphones are as close as I’ve come to getting my fix of live music. 

The AirPods Pro come the closest to keeping up with real headphones, but I’m turned off by the call quality and can never seem to keep them charged.

I wouldn’t feel so entangled in my fleeting earbuds affairs if nearly every consumer tech company hadn’t launched a pair or three in the last 12 months that I at least wanted to try. And that’s before considering the best fake AirPods, or AirPods look-alikes, if you will. I do my best to keep an open mind about products but for the love of god, let there be less wireless earbuds in 2021.

I’ll admit wireless earbuds probably beat ear-covering headphones when it comes to working out. But again, why do we need so many options?

Yes, I know it’s absurd to wish wireless earbuds would vanish from earth Endgame-style. I recognize they’re practical for some people, but I am not some people. My wallet and I have been tempted and scorned as if wireless earbuds are the bad boyfriend I’ve gone back to far too many times. 

If you’d like to join me on blocking out wireless earbuds, check out our guide to the best headphones. There you’ll find plenty of unobtrusive, over-ear options worth your time and money.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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