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Sony SRS XB402M speaker review: The smart speaker that listens to you

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There are many portable speakers, but there remains a need for one that could offer more than just rich sound quality. That’s where Sony XB402M comes into the picture. It has all the abilities of an ideal portable speaker, however, there is more it is capable of offering.


The first thing that one notices is the speaker’s looks and design. Inside the body is nestled the angled speakers that help in creating the surround effect. The passive radiators boost the bass of the speaker. The lightweight speaker can be carried with just one hand, due to its design, and has fabric coating over the front grille that makes it look elegant and fit for modern home decor.

Sony SRS-XB402M speaker review


The speaker has soft touch buttons on the top with LED indicators. There is a dedicated button to control the pattern of the lights on the strip. I think it’s a good improvisation as in the case of SRS-XB32, it’s done from the Music Centre app which is a bit of a task. The SRS-XB402M has built-in lights that sync to the beat: they bring colour but take a toll on battery performance.


The speaker also boasts Sony’s LIVE SOUND feature that produces a three-dimensional sound experience. Although you may not feel much of a difference using this mode, it still gives an option to go for something different from the regular standard sound.


Alexa inside

But the most attractive feature is the in-built Alexa, the first Amazon Alexa speaker that Sony has brought in. The voice assistant is a key addition. Also, there is no need to keep the speaker plugged in to use Alexa, and that’s where SRS-XB402M holds and edge over most of the portable speakers.

Sony SRS-XB402M speaker review


The voice assistant was prompt in suggesting music, weather updates, and even played podcast. I could easily connect it to Spotify and Apple Music, too. It can also connect with smart lights and other smart devices.


The speaker comes with IP67 rating that makes it water-, dust-, shock- and rustproof. I did not have to worry about using it with a slight drizzle in this monsoon season. The battery life on a full charge is roughly around 10 hours with lights on and extra bass mode. The speaker also remains on standby mode for a good amount of time, so, you can easily start from where you left.


Price remains a key factor, and XB402M doesn’t come cheap. The speaker will cost you Rs 24,990. Sony is launching it at a discounted price of Rs 19,990 with a free MDR-XB450AP headphone worth Rs 2,490. That, in my view, is a sweet deal but it’s only valid till Aug 18, 2019.


Verdict






The XB402M can be an ideal addition to smart homes. I was really convinced with the sound experience, and that makes it a worthwhile investment. It’s not just for those who may like its smart features, but also for those who are finicky about the overall sound experience.




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What does Facebook’s plan to hire scribes mean for media industry?

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Facebook’s plan to hire professional journalists instead of relying solely on algorithms to deliver news is a positive step but is unlikely to shake up an embattled media industry, analysts say.


The social media giant said Tuesday it would build a small team of journalists to select the top national news of the day “to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.”

It comes as the US media landscape is plagued by job losses and newspaper closures, with organizations trying to figure out how to record profits in the age of free news.



Stories will appear in a section called the “news tab,” which will be separate from the traditional news feed that displays updates and content from users’ friends and relatives.


“In theory I see this as a really positive development. It is something quite promising,” Danna Young, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, told AFP.


Facebook’s journalists will be curating stories from news sites and won’t be editing headlines or writing content.


The California-based company has consistently said it does not want to be considered a media organization that makes major editorial decisions, and this announcement does little to change that, experts add.


“It’s not transformative because it’s not going to change necessarily the behavior of individuals who are referencing stories on their feeds,” said Young.


“That’s where the power comes from — individuals you know and trust putting their tacit stamp of approval on stories by sharing them,” she added.


The tab will be the site’s first news feature using human moderators since it shut down its ill-fated “trending topics” section last year after a scandal over allegations workers had suppressed stories about conservative issues.


Articles not deemed top news stories will still be collated using algorithms based on the user’s history, such as pages they follow, publications they subscribe to and news they have already interacted with.


“Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown told AFP in San Francisco Tuesday.


The news tab feature comes as Facebook embarks on a series of initiatives to boost journalism, with traditional media organizations accusing it of benefitting financially from their hard work.


Internet platforms are dominating the internet advertising space making it difficult for established news organizations to transition what were very profitable print advertisements online.


Facebook announced in January that it will invest USD 300 million over three years to support journalism, particularly local news organisations.


It has also funded fact-checking projects around the world, including one in partnership with AFP.


Facebook will reportedly pay some publishers to license news content for the tab but Mathew Ingram, who writes about digital media for the Columbia Journalism Review, doesn’t expect that to trickle down to hard-up organizations that need it the most.


“The companies they are going to choose are ones already doing well I assume. It might give them a little extra cash but I don’t see it driving a huge amount of traffic,” he told AFP.


Print journalism in the US is in free-fall as social media overtakes newspapers as the main news source for Americans.


Around 2,000 American newspapers closed in the past 15 years, according to the University of North Carolina, leaving millions of residents without reporters keeping track of what their local authorities are up to.


“The death of local news has such destructive effects for democracy. It’s a complex issue that Facebook alone cannot fix,” said Young.


The number of journalists working at US newspapers slumped by 47 per cent from 2008 to 2018, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last year.


The total number of journalists in newsrooms fell by 25 per cent, the group found, while consultancy firm Challenger Gray & Christmas says this is going to be the worst year for layoffs since 2009.


It’s a difficult time for Stephen Groves, who recently earned a master’s in journalism at New York University, to be looking for work. When he heard about Facebook’s plans, he was skeptical.


“Facebook is not a journalism company and so before working for Facebook I would want to see their commitment to ethical, robust journalism,” the 30-year-old told AFP.


The digital sector is also in trouble.


When Buzzfeed cut 200 jobs in January, 29-year-old Emily Tamkin was let go from a position she had held for just a few months.


“I’m personally not cheered by the fact that Facebook is swooping in and hiring journalists. If that’s the silver lining then we have a very big cloud here,” she told AFP.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




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Google ditches its desserts! Android Q’s official name is Android 10

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Breaking the 10-year history of naming Android releases after desserts, Google on Thursday announced it had officially named the next version as just Android 10.


“First, we’re changing the way we name our releases. Our engineering team has always used internal code names for each version, based of tasty treats, or desserts, in alphabetical order,” said Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management, Android, in a statement.



The naming tradition has become a fun part of the release each year externally too, like Android Lollipop or Marshmallows.


“As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world. So, this next release of Android will simply use the version number and be called Android 10,” Samat explained.


“While there were many tempting ‘Q’ desserts out there, we think that at version 10 and 2.5 billion active devices, it was time to make this change,” he added.


Now, this year is Android 10 and next year will be Android 11, and so on.


Google also changed the logo from green to black.


It’s a small change but Google found the green was hard to read, especially for people with visual impairments.


Google will officially start using the updated logo in the coming weeks with the final release of Android 10.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




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Bose adds Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2 to its smart speakers

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Google on Thursday announced an automatic software update that would bring the Google Assistant to all existing Bose smart speakers and soundbars.


The Google Assistant joins Amazon Alexa for voice control of smart home devices, and instant access to millions of songs and podcasts, help, information, and more.



Bose smart speaker owners can now also use Apple AirPlay 2 for simple streaming from Apple devices.


In addition, there is a small Bose smart speaker on the way. The Bose Home Speaker 300 can be pre-ordered on Amazon.in starting Thursday and would available from August 29.


Weighing a mere two pounds and measuring just over six-inch, the Bose Home Speaker 300’s acoustic package delivers powerful bass along with 360-degree sound – unlike conventional smart speakers that deliver a narrow beam of audio, the company said in a statement.


It would be sold directly from Bose stores, wholesale trade partners and online through Amazon.in for Rs 26,900.


 

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




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