Apple officially announced that its big hardware spring event will take place next week, on April 20th, but that doesn’t mean this past week wasn’t huge — it was. A ton of new gadgets were announced. From DJI’s latest drone to fancy new bookshelf speakers, solar-powered headphones to several new webcams. Here’s what you need to know.
JBL 4309 Bookshelf Speakers
The JBL 4309 studio monitors are essentially smaller and more affordable versions of the company’s high-end 4349 studio monitors, which run for $7,500. Each 4309 loudspeaker is decked out with the company’s 1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch mid-bass driver and twin-firing reflex ports, so that it sounds as dynamic as its larger sibling. And each speaker looks stunning, with a blue baffle, wooden veneer (either walnut or black walnut) and cloth grille — they’ve already been given a 2021 Red Dot Design Award. The JBL 4309 studio monitors will be available for purchase this June.
Canon EOS R3
Canon announced the development of the EOS R3, the company’s most high-end mirrorless camera to date that’s most definitely aimed to compete against the Nikon z9. It will be the first EOS series camera to be equipped with the company’s new 35mm full-frame, back illuminated, stacked CMOS sensor. It will also have a DIGIC X image processor “for high-speed image processing that realizes high-speed continuous shooting of up to 30 frames-per-second.” And, according to the released photo (above), it will have a pretty robust body with a built-in vertical hand grip. No price or release date have been announced.
Roku Voice Remote Pro
Roku announced three different new(ish) products this week. There’s its new entry-level 4K player, the Express 4K Plus, which replaces the Roku Premiere. There’s the Streambar Pro, which is basically a renamed version of the Smart Soundbar (now defunct). And, most notably, there’s the Roku Voice Remote Pro. It’s the first Roku remote that comes with a rechargeable battery and offers hands-free “Hey Roku” voice commands. It also comes with a headphone jack and a dedicated button for Apple TV+. The Roku Voice Remote Pro costs $30 and will work with any Roku TV or streaming device.
Bang & Olufsen’s newest high-end wireless speaker, the Beosound Emerge, is designed to blend in with the other books on your bookshelf (although it kind of looks a little like a shrunk down version of the Flatiron building). It’s a relatively small powered speaker supports a number of wireless connectivities, including AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Chromecast and Bluetooth. It can be set up to work as a smart speaker that responds to “Hey Google” voice commands, too. It will be available this fall in either black or gold (the latter will cost an extra $200).
Spotify Car Thing
Spotify has officially announced its first-ever gadget. It’s called Car Thing (yes, really) and it’s essentially a glorified Spotify remote for people who have cars with no built-in Bluetooth. The other feature that makes it better than just using your smartphone to control your Spotify music in your car is voice control — it responds to “Hey Spotify” voice commands to play sounds or playlists, as well as play/pause and skip tracks. In addition to voice commands, you can control Car Thing via its navigation buttons, large knob and touchscreen.
Car Thing is a very limited device, but the cool thing is that Spotify is offering it to Spotify Premium subscribers for free — but you have to apply for one through Spotify and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get one.
Price: Free (plus shipping)
Microsoft Modern Webcam
Microsoft’s newest webcam is a pretty basic option. It supports an HD video (not 4K) and connects to your computer via USB-A (not USB-C). It comes with a privacy shutter and has a built-in LED light that will indicate when it’s on. If you’re looking for a fairly affordable option that will upgrade your laptop or desktop setup, this looks to be a solid option. It will be available this June.
DJI Air 2S
The DJI Air 2S is the next-generation version of the DJI Air 2 that was announced last year. The big upgrade is that the Air 2S has a 1-inch sensor, which is twice the size of Air 2’s size and similar to the sensor in the company’s flagship Mavic 2 Pro, allowing the Air 2S to take much higher-resolution photos. It can also shoot better video, 4K at up to 60fps instead of the Air 2’s 4K at up to 30fps. The big downside? The DJI Air 2S is $200 more expensive than the DJI Air 2.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
The all-new Surface Lap 4 has the exact same design as the 2019-released Surface Laptop 3. The big difference is that Microsoft is allowing you to choose which processor you want: either an 11th-generation Intel processor or AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series. The advantage of the AMD processor is that it promises incredible battery life (up to 19 hours). The Intel models are a little more expensive and don’t get the same battery life, but improved performance and, thanks Intel’s Iris Xe graphics card, better graphics.
Plugable USB-C Voltage and Amperage Meter
If you’re interested in finding out how much power your device is getting while it’s charging, this $30 accessory is exactly what you want. It connects between your device and your USB-C charging cable, and then measures the voltage, amperage and the directional flow of the electrical current — and it shows you what’s happening in real time. And don’t worry, it won’t affect data transfer of your USB-C cable.
Anker PowerConf C300 Webcam
Anker is getting into the webcam market. The PowerConf C300 is a 1080p webcam that connects to your computer via USB-A. The neat thing about it is that Anker has integrated an AI chip that enables what the company is calling “smart framing,” which allows the webcam to keep you in focus as you move around the screen. The PowerConf C300 is available right now.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Generation)
Amazon has announced the second-generation versions of its 2019-released Echo Buds. The company claims that the new wireless earbuds have a 20-percent smaller design and they have improved active noise-cancellation (but they’re not Bose branded like the first-generation Echo Buds). They also support USB-C charging instead of micro-USB. Also, similar to Apple’s AirPods, you’ll be able to purchase the new Echo Buds with or without a wireless charging case. They’ll cost $120 or $140 with the wireless charging case, but right now Amazon is running a promotion, dropping each for $20 — that’s right, you can get the new wireless earbuds for $100.
Urbanista Los Angeles ANC
The coolest thing about Urbanista’s new wireless noise-canceling headphones, the Los Angeles ANC, is that there’s a chance you never have to plug them in to charge. Yep, they’re solar powered. The headphones are made of a Powerfoyle solar cell material that can charge with any kind of light — even ambient light — so you don’t have to be wearing them outside on a sunny day. The headphones will cost around $200, although there’s no word yet on when they’ll be available.
Price: ~ $200
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