The best grilling gear

It’s not quite summer yet, but Memorial Day is often seen as the unofficial start of the grilling season. To help you prepare for the next few months, we’ve compiled a list of the best gear for your outdoor cooking adventures. Based on reviews and testing, we’ve selected three grills that will all help you stay on top of your BBQ game. There are other devices too, with items that should help you serve up delicious food all year long and expand your skills in the process.

Traeger Timberline and Timerline XL

Traeger Timberline grill on a patio surrounded by a wood fence.
Traeger

For its first smart grills for 2022, Traeger went all out. The company completely redesigned its high-end Timberline series, turning its premium pellet grills into outdoor kitchens. While the cooking chamber may look like any other Traeger grill, the company decided to put these new models on a rolling cart instead of four legs. Of course, this gives you more storage, but it also makes it easier to empty the pellet hopper. There’s a rail system on the front and sides of the grill to hold a range of accessories from paper rolls to sauce and rub compartments.

In terms of tech, Traeger swapped out the basic controls from its previous WiFi-equipped D2 grills in favor of a color touchscreen. There are more sensors inside to keep tabs on the cooking process in an effort to prevent flare-ups and the addition of lighting will help you see the cooking surface better after dark. The new Timberlines will also work with a specially-designed version of the wireless Meater probes (Traeger bought Meater in 2021), so you’re not reliant on the corded version that comes standard. Perhaps most importantly, the company added what it says is the first outdoor-rated induction burner for sauces, sides and searing.

Shop Timberline series at Traeger

Weber Genesis II EPX-335

Weber Genesis EPX-55 grill
Engadget

Last year, Weber introduced its first smart gas grills. After developing its Weber Connect platform for the SmokeFire pellet grills and the Smart Grilling Hub, the company brought its Wi-Fi-connected cooking to a more widely used fuel source. For 2022, the company has refined things a bit with PureBlu high-heat burners, sear zone, side table, expandable top cooking grate and "Nightvision" LED lighting. If the EPX-335 doesn’t suit your needs, these new grills come in three- and four-burner configurations with porcelain enamel or stainless steel finishes. Plus, there are both propane and natural gas options.

Of course, the main attraction here is the Weber Connect integration. Just like it does on the SmokeFire pellet grills and the Smart Grilling Hub, the technology can guide you through every step of the grilling process. A mix of instructions and videos inside the Weber Connect app offer assistance to grillers of all skill levels, right down to when to flip your steak. What’s more, the system offers real-time food temperatures and estimated readiness countdowns right on your phone so you can better time side dishes (and keep the hangry crowd at bay). On its gas smart grills, Weber Connect can also keep tabs on fuel level so you’ll know when it’s time to swap tanks. 

Buy Genesis EPX-335 at Weber - $1,700

Ooni Karu 16

Ooni Karu 16 pizza oven
Ooni

Ooni has built a stellar reputation for its pizza ovens, and rightfully so. The company’s gear is easy to use and it helps you create restaurant-quality wood-fired pies at home. Ooni’s latest oven is the Karu 16, which can accommodate multiple fuel sources and has room for larger pizzas. Out of the box this model can burn wood or charcoal, but Ooni sells gas burners for $100 and $150 (propane and natural gas versions).

In addition to overall size, the Karu 16 also has some conveniences that differentiate it from Ooni’s other ovens. First, a hinged door allows you to see what you’re cooking through a glass window. Second, there’s a front-mounted digital thermometer that shows the ambient temperature inside of the oven. Like other Ooni pizza cookers, the Karu 16 heats quickly, reaching 950 degrees Fahrenheit in about 15 minutes. And of course, the larger cooking area will allow you to make things besides pizza.

Buy Karu 16 at Ooni - $799

Thermoworks Thermapen One

The ThermoWorks Thermapen One thermometer taking the temperature of a piece of meat on a grill.
ThermoWorks

Over the years, a Thermapen has become my most-used grilling tool. I rely on it like a sous chef to make sure I’m cooking things to the correct temperature, especially chicken. It’s a versatile tool at the grill and in the kitchen. ThermoWorks Thermapen One is the follow up to its massively popular Thermapen Mk4. This new model shows temps lightning quick, giving you a reading in one second. ThermoWorks also improved accuracy and used a brighter display than the previous model. An automatically rotating screen makes the numbers easy to see no matter how you hold it, plus an auto-wake and sleep feature preserves battery life and IP67 rating protects it from accidental spills.

Buy Thermapen One at ThermoWorks - $105

Meater+

Meater+ thermometer
Meater

A wireless meat thermometer may seem like overkill when there are so many great (and affordable) wired options available. I too was skeptical at first, but I can assure you that not having to avoid those metal cables when you’re flipping or wrapping a large cut of meat is definitely worth the investment. For the Meater+, the Traeger-owned company extended the Bluetooth range from the original model. Each probe has two sensors, so you can keep tabs on both internal food temp and the ambient temperature of your grill. Stats are sent to the company’s app, and you can set target temps, view an estimated completion time or get some help with a cook if you need it.

Buy Meater+ at Amazon - $100

Anova Precision Cooker Nano

The Anova Precision Cooker Nano sitting in a pot of water cooking a piece of meat.
Anova

A sous vide device might seem out of place in a grilling guide, but hear me out. Since I started using an Anova as part of my steak process, I’ve massively upped my game. Steaks are tender and juicy, with edge-to-edge doneness that’s difficult to achieve on a hot-and-fast grill. Basically, I sous vide for a couple hours (or more) and then sear the steaks on a grill to finish them off. Perhaps the best part is you don’t have to invest a ton to get one of these app-connected machines as the Precision Cooker Nano covers all the essentials for $129.

In order to make the most of your sous vide setup, you’ll want to also invest in a vacuum sealer. I have the FoodSaver FM2000. It doesn’t have some of the flashy features of more expensive units, but it covers the basics just fine. If you prefer something more robust with options like automatic moisture detection and bag storage, I’d recommend the FoodSaver V4400. Plus, you can use this to seal leftovers for the freezer or store other goods you don’t want air to get to. I’ve also found vacuum-sealed packs handy for reheating things like pulled pork. With sous vide, the meat doesn’t dry out like it would in the microwave. Sure, you could just use Ziploc bags, but I’ve done that, and a FoodSaver is worth the investment. 

Buy Anova Precision Cooker Nano at Amazon - $129Buy FoodSave FM2000 at Amazon - $115Buy FoodSave V4400 at Amazon - $199

Stanley IceFlow Tumblers

Stanley IceFlow tumblers
Engadget

I’d argue one of the most important grilling tools is a cold beverage. And as the days get hotter, you’ll need to plan your drinkware carefully so your monster cocktail or water supply remains at a frigid temperature. I’ve tried a number of insulated aluminum cups over the years, but Stanley has been the best. The company is known for its classic thermos, but its lineup of cups, bottles and more are affordable and do a great job of keeping drinks cold for hours at a time.

Stanley has a ton of options that serve as alternatives to popular brands like Yeti, but the IceFlow Tumblers have been my go-to this spring. The larger 30-ounce cup can keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours while the 20-ounce version can do so for up to seven hours. There’s a solid handle and the built-in flip-down straw means the drinking area isn’t exposed to the elements quite as much. At $25 and $30 each, these are a fraction of the cost of the most expensive options, and they have better ice retention than some of those too.

Buy IceFlow tumbler at Stanley - $30

Brumate Hopsulator Duo and Trio

Brumate Hopsultor
Brumate

Brumate’s Hopsulator products are warm weather essentials for me. I originally got one for the beach, but it has become a staple in my grilling arsenal too. The company’s Hopsulator Trio is a 3-in-1 option that holds 16-ounce cans or 12-ounce cans with a cold insert you keep in your freezer. It also comes with a lid so you can use it as a travel mug. The Hopsulator Duo also doubles as an insulated cup, but it’s designed for 12-ounce cans and doesn’t come with any cooling accessories. What’s more, Brumate has a third model for slim cans. So if hard seltzers are more your thing, there’s an option for you too.

Buy Hopsulator Trio at Amazon - $30Buy Hopsulator Duo at Amazon - $30

Breville’s PolyScience Control Freak is a pricey yet precise induction cooktop

As part of Cooking Week, we set out to test some of the most niche (and, in some cases, ridiculous) kitchen gadgets we could find. We wanted to know if these impressive-looking appliances actually do what they claim and if they’re worth the splurge. These are our findings.


There’s no denying the appeal of an induction burner or cooktop. They have some key benefits – with the biggest two being speed and efficiency. Whether it’s a single burner or a full cooktop, they heat faster than regular stovetops and offer more precise temperature control. They also have the added perks of not giving off as much residual heat, which is nice during the summer, and the surrounding cooking surface doesn’t get hot to the touch, which lessens burn risks. You can find a standalone burner for under $100 while a full replacement for your stove can run you a few thousand.

In between we have Breville’s PolyScience Control Freak: A $1,500 induction device that reaches exact temps quickly and holds them there. It’s a powerful standalone burner from Breville’s PolyScience line. This group of devices includes sous vide immersion circulators, vacuum sealers, a smoke gun and a speedy wine decanter. Gadgets and appliances for professional cooks or the pinnacle of the culinary curious at-home chefs. It’s not exactly stuff casual cooks would need, or likely even want.

However, the Control Freak’s performance is exceptional. The burner has a temperature range of 86-482 degrees Fahrenheit (30-250 Celsius). This gives you the option of everything from low-heat slow cooking to high-temp searing. You can do anything you would ordinarily stand over a stove for – and then some. The advantage of the Control Freak is that it holds an exact temperature for as long as you need it to. There’s also a 72-hour timer and Continue, Keep Warm, Repeat and Stop Cooking functionality. Plus, a probe allows you to make sure whatever you’re cooking is held at a constant temperature rather than just relying on the burner’s settings.

Beyond the usual checks for even heating and speed to boil water, I decided to put the Control Freak through its paces with one of my springtime culinary traditions: strawberry jam. The tl;dr version of the process is you bring smashed fruit to a boil (with or without lemon juice and/or added pectin to help it set). When that happens, you add an absurd amount of sugar and bring it back to a rolling boil, leaving it there for one minute.

Breville Polyscience Control Freak
Breville

Per Breville’s guidance, I set the temperature to 219 degrees and the heat intensity to medium, which controls how quickly the unit reaches your desired temp (low, medium and high). With all that sweetness, you don’t want to burn a batch by heating it too fast. I also plugged in the probe to monitor liquid temp directly. It probably won’t shock you to discover a large pot of smashed fruit takes significantly longer to reach a boil than water, especially when a batch is 10 half-pint jars. On my regular flat-top stove, this typically takes around 20 minutes. The Control Freak had the mixture boiling in less than half that. It was also quicker at bringing the jam back to a boil once I added all the sugar, which can take five minutes or more.

Of course, boiling isn’t the only thing the Control Freak can do. Breville offers a web-based “app” (it’s a glorified mobile website) to guide beginners through the cooking process based on your desired technique or main ingredient. You can find temperature and heat intensity information, if you should use the probe and recommended cookware. This “app” doesn’t connect to the device, so it’s a reference rather than a controller. Still, it will help you do anything from sous vide to scrambled eggs. I tested the latter and the results were perfectly moist and soft, cooked low and slow the way God intended. There’s so much to explore here, and I didn’t come close to scratching the surface, but I was still impressed.

Besides the price, the other potential downside for some people is the size. At 13.7 x 18.5 inches, the Control Freak is a beast. Most of that extra area beyond the cooking surface houses the display and controls. It also weighs almost 25 pounds. So, when you’re not using it, it will need significant storage space. Breville does include a nice case with the unit, so you won’t have to worry about tucking a pricy stainless steel appliance with a ceramic glass top in a cabinet unprotected.

In the end, I was consistently impressed by the Control Freak’s speed and efficiency, as well as its ability to hold precise temps. And while I can certainly see why someone who needs to meet exact cooking parameters would get a lot of use out of it, the price puts it out of reach for many. Unless you’ve got some serious kitchen ambitions or deep pockets to fund your cooking gadget arsenal, a much more affordable induction burner will suit most people fine. Just know that if you do splurge, the Control Freak has proven it can handle meticulous cooking and consistently deliver stellar results. There’s no doubt it’s a high-performance machine, but for most cooks, it’s like opting for a Bugatti when a Prius will get the job done.

Sony’s LinkBuds S are $200 noise-canceling earbuds with Auto Play

It hasn't been a great spring for Sony in terms of new product leaks. The company's new flagship headphones, the WH-1000XM5, broke cover early, as did its latest earbuds. Today, the company officially announced the LinkBuds S: a set of $200 true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC) and a host of handy features. Sony says they're designed for a "never off wearing experience," with transparency mode allowing you to tune into your surroundings as needed. 

Joining the open wear LinkBuds that debuted earlier this year, the LinkBuds S have a more "traditional" closed design. The shape is similar to Sony's other recent earbuds, the flagship WF-1000XM4 and the $100 WF-C500. The LinkBuds S are much smaller though, making them more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time, which also serves Sony's mission of all-day use. In fact, the company claims the LinkBuds S are "the world's smallest and lightest, noise-canceling, hi-res" true wireless earbuds. And the IPX4 rating means they can withstand workouts too. 

Inside, 5mm drivers deliver "powerful bass and stunningly clear vocals," according to Sony. The company's Integrated Processor V1, which is also on the WH-1000XM5 headphones, works to maintain sound quality, minimize distortion and bolster noise cancellation. The LinkBuds S also support high-resolution listening via Sony's LDAC codec and DSEE Extreme upscaling. The latter technology recovers finer details that are typically lost to compression of digital audio content. A low-latency mode is on the way for gaming and Sony is working with Niantic to bring spatial audio and head tracking to the AR mobile game Ingress.

Another key difference from the first set of LinkBuds is the addition of ANC. On the LinkBuds S, there's enough noise-blocking ability to reduce background clamor, but Sony is clear the tech isn't as robust as the WF-1000XM4. While this new model doesn't let the outside world in by design, it's equipped with transparency mode to get that job done. What's more, the company's Adaptive Sound Control can be configured to change noise canceling and ambient sound settings based on your activity or location. Plus, Sony's handy Speak-to-Chat feature is available here, which automatically senses your voice, pauses the audio and activates ambient sound mode when you begin to talk. 

Sony LinkBuds S
Sony

The main feature Sony is hyping for the LinkBuds S is called Auto Play. True to the rumors, this tool automatically plays or resumes audio based on your activity when you put the earbuds in or complete a call. If you're on a walk, for example, you can have a specific playlist selected for that behavior. Auto Play is limited right now in two ways. First, it's only available in the Sony Headphones Connect app on Android right now. The company plans to bring it to iOS in early June. Second, it only works with Spotify and soundscape app Endel. 

For calls, Sony says its Precise Voice Pickup Technology "optimally controls the microphones on both earbuds." Combined with a mesh cover for the mics, the company explains that you can expect clarity walking down a busy street or on a windy day. These claims vary widely from product to product, so we'll be sure to put this through its paces during our review. Other convenience features include compatibility with voice assistants, a full suite of customizable touch controls and support for both Google Fast Pair and Windows Swift Pair. 

In terms of battery life, Sony says you can expect up to six hours of use with active noise cancellation enabled. There's another 14 hours in the charging case too, but the company didn't specify any non-ANC listening times. The case doesn't support wireless charging, but it does offer a quick-charge option. Just five minutes will give you an hour of use. 

The LinkBuds S are up for pre-order starting today with general availability starting May 20th. You'll have black and white color options to choose from at most retailers, but Best Buy will carry an exclusive beige (Ecru) version. This $200 model will sit in the middle of Sony's true wireless lineup, with the flagship WF-1000XM4 at the top and the affordable WF-C500 below. The open design LinkBuds also occupy the mid-range for $20 cheaper, and Sony plans to deliver the Auto Play functionality to that model via firmware update. 

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2022 Ford F-150 Lightning first drive review: Worth the wait

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The Ford F-150 is an insanely popular truck, so the debut of the electric version is an important moment for the US automaker. Our colleagues at Autoblog went behind the wheel for some initial impressions of the F-150 Lightning.

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Twenty Thousand Hertz

Part two of the story behind the iconic Windows start up sounds continues with the company's decision to retire the audio in Windows 8. If you missed the first episode, former Microsoft lead UI designer Jensen Harris and sound designer Matthew Bennett discuss the clips. That episode covers the "Ta-da!" from Windows 3.1 through Windows 7, including the chime Brian Eno created for Windows 95.

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The final FIFA-branded soccer game from EA Sports will be FIFA 23 as the two parties will part ways after working together to build the iconic series. The Athletic explains why FIFA's decision to make its own games (yes, plural) could prove to be a costly mistake.

McLaren will join Formula E in 2023

Team news is starting heat up ahead of Formula E’s Gen3 debut next season, and today one of the bigger expected announcements was made official. Ahead of the Berlin E-Prix, McLaren Racing announced its move to Formula E for season nine, committing to fielding a team when the series’ new spec makes its first competitive laps. Rumors began to swirl weeks ago that the company was coming to the all-electric racing series. 

True to the reports, McLaren will acquire the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team. Current team principal Ian James will remain to ensure "a smooth transition." Mercedes-EQ is the current world championship team and driver Nyck de Vries won the individual series title in 2021 to complete the double trophy season. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown explained that it was "satisfying" to provide a new home for the "class-leading" Formula E team that Mercedes has built. No word on a driver line-up just yet, but de Vries' stablemate Stoffel Vandoorne will move to DS Penske next season.

“McLaren Racing always seeks to compete against the best and on the leading edge of technology, providing our fans, partners and people with new ways to be excited, entertained and inspired,” Brown said in a statement. “Formula E, like all our racing series, fulfills all those criteria."

McLaren is certainly no stranger to Formula racing. As the second-oldest active team in F1, the constructor made its debut in 1966 at Monaco. It amassed eight constructors championships in the 70s, 80s and 90s with 12 individual drivers championships. Its most recent trophy-winning season was 2008 when Lewis Hamilton won his first championship (and did so in quite dramatic fashion).

McLaren also has experience racing EVs as it competes in the off-road Extreme E series. The racing series is still in its infancy after it first debuted in 2021, however, like Formula E and Formula 1, Extreme E is also sanctioned by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile). McLaren also fields two cars in IndyCar as Arrow McLaren SP, an open-wheel series it returned to in 2021 after a 40-year break. The team is a joint effort between Arrow Electronics, McLaren Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

McLaren joins Maserati as a major manufacturer entering Formula E next season. Maserati announced in January that it would participate in the series, and in April it revealed a partnership with the Monaco-based ROKiT Venturi Racing. Nissan also recently took full ownership of the e.dams team it has partnered with since 2018. In the lead up to this weekend's Berlin E-Prix, German team ABT Sportsline revealed plans to return to Formula E next season and Avalanche Andretti announced it would run Porsche powertrains starting in 2023.

Sony WH-1000XM5 review: In a league of their own

The rumors were (mostly) true. Sony did indeed have a follow-up to its stellar WH-1000XM4 ready for a proper debut. Today the company announced the WH-1000XM5 ($400), its latest flagship noise-canceling headphones equipped with all of the things we’ve come to expect from Sony’s 1000X line. This time around the company gave its premium cans a big exterior redesign. In the process, it massively increased comfort while also expanding the incredible performance in terms of noise cancelation and overall sound quality.

Design

One of the biggest changes for the 1000XM5 is the design. Sony slimmed down the headband while keeping the underside soft and cushiony. My only gripe with the new look is that you can see where the housing for the adjustable arms ends and the softer padding begins. You only see it when you take the headphones off, but it’s noticeable.

Sony also connects the headband to the ear cups in one spot on the M5, rather than the U-shaped bracket that mounted to the M4 in two places. There’s still plenty of swivel and rotation for the ear cups, so there’s no sacrifice to movement. In fact, I’d argue these changes give this new 1000X a more modern look, than all of the previous models. The lineup has a similar design up through the M4, so Sony was overdue for a big overhaul.

Despite only being four grams or 0.14 ounces lighter than the WH-1000XM4, this new version feels like it weighs a lot less when you put them on. The weight distribution is better, plus the synthetic leather ear cups are quite cushiony. I had no problem wearing these for hours at a time and at no point did I feel pressure around my ears or on the top of my head.

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

The outside panel of the right ear cup still houses the touch controls. Here you can play/pause with a double tap, skip tracks with a horizontal swipe or swipe vertically to adjust volume. Tap and hold summons your voice assistant and when you get a call, simply double tap to answer. All of those touch controls work well too, reliably accepting taps and swipes without error. On the edge of the left ear cup, there are physical buttons for power and noise cancellation. The former can also put the headphones in pairing mode and give you a battery level update while the latter cycles through a combination of ANC, ambient sound and off.

Software

As is the case with most of Sony’s earbuds and headphones, the Headphones Connect app is where you tweak settings and enable a host features. When you fire up the software, a battery life percentage is prominently displayed on the right side, with tabs for Status, Sound, System and Services just below. The first, Status, gives you access to the finer details of Adaptive Sound Control or Sony’s handy automatic switching of noise canceling settings based on activity or location.

Of course, if you choose to have things change based on where you are, you’ll have to give the app permission to track your whereabouts. If you do, you can set the M5 to automatically enable ambient sound when you’re at the office, for example. Adaptive Sound Control can also be configured to change the EQ and enable/disable Speak-to-Chat for a particular location or activity.

Sony Headphones Connect app
Billy Steele/Engadget

The Status panel will also allow you to see which devices are currently connected since the M5 allows you to link up to two simultaneously. And lastly there’s a media player here, which I’ve never touched across several reviews. The Sound tab gives you access to Ambient Sound Control, the ability to enable/disable Speak-to-Chat, the equalizer and audio presets. If you recall, Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses the audio and activates ambient sound when it detects that you’re speaking. In my experience, it could sometimes be fooled by coughs, but that’s not the case anymore. You can also configure the headphones for 360 Reality audio, in addition to switching Bluetooth connection quality and employing DSEE Extreme. That latter uses AI to reproduce the frequency response that’s typically lost to compression.

System is where you can enable multipoint connectivity, change voice assistants, disable the touch control panel and add functionality to the noise canceling button. You can also opt for that last control to activate Spotify Tap with either a double or triple press. And last but not least, Services is where you connect various apps for easy access. If you want to use Spotify Tap, for example, you’ll need to sync it with Headphones Connect here.

Sound quality

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

Sound quality has never been an issue with the 1000X line, and it’s definitely not on the M5. In fact, it’s yet another thing Sony upgraded on these headphones. New 30mm carbon fiber drivers handle the audio, including tracks in LDAC and DSEE Extreme. I thought the M4 was well-tuned for a range of genres, but the bass seems punchier here. Whether it’s the electronic collisions of The Glitch Mob, the grungy blues of Jack White or the driving bass in Kendrick Lamar’s catalog, the lower range is both pleasant and powerful, expanding the overall soundstage.

The difference between the M4 and the M5 is in the finer details. There’s more depth, making everything seem more immersive. But there’s also more clarity, so the subtleties can shine. I’m talking about things like the texture of someone strumming an acoustic guitar or Jack White’s iconic distortion soaring above the other instruments. Everything is still balanced, and the bass only provides the proper amount of oomph. Switch over to something entirely acoustic like bluegrass and the bass remains in check so the picking, and the highs, can cut through unhindered.

What’s more, activating DSEE Extreme doesn’t make a huge difference in the sound quality. On other Sony devices, that algorithm’s ability to recover some of the detail lost to compression makes a noticeable impact. On the M5, the results are subtle, and on some songs I had a hard time picking up on any change at all. It’s quite impressive.

I only have one complaint about sound quality, and it may actually be a Bluetooth issue rather than a true audio problem. When listening to music or watching a video on my MacBook Pro, I would occasionally experience quick dropouts or skips. It didn’t happen often and, oddly, I never heard it when playing something on my iPhone. The audio stutters a bit just for a second, like you’re watching a video on a bad internet connection, and then it continues. I tested both WH-1000XM5 units sent to me and noticed the issue on both. I’ve reached out to Sony for more info on the potential cause.

Active noise cancellation

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.

Sony had already developed highly effective noise cancellation for its 1000X line and automated it so the feature could change based on your activity or location (Adaptive Sound Control). Those automatic tweaks are still in play on the M5, but the company has taken its overall noise-blocking setup a step further. First, it doubled both the number of processors and the number of microphones that handle noise canceling duties. In addition to the QN1 that was inside the M4, Sony also employs a separate V1 chip to lend a hand. There are now eight total ANC mics, up from four on the previous model. Plus, there’s an automatic noise canceling optimizer that ensures peak performance based on wear and your environment.

So, what does all of that mean when you’re actually wearing the headphones? Well, Sony says the entire setup is much better at blocking higher frequencies than the WH-1000XM4, which covers things like human voices. Indeed, the M5 is more effective at silencing nearby chatter and TV noise. It’s not entirely effective at combating baby screams (I have a 15-month-old at home), but most speech and what I’d consider a normal television volume went unnoticed. That makes the ANC on the 1000XM5 a clear upgrade over the M4.

Call quality

Despite working just fine for calls, the WH-1000XM4 isn’t equipped with dedicated voice microphones. Sony installed four beamforming mics on the M5, which it says helps this new model deliver the best call quality yet for the 1000X series. Those components work alongside AI-driven noise reduction to make this happen. Companies make lofty claims about voice quality all the time and it rarely pans out, but Sony actually delivers.

Both video and audio calls are crisp and clear, as your voice sounds noticeably better than other earbuds and headphones. With most of the competition, you typically sound like you’re on speakerphone at best. It’s much better than that on the M5, and the headphones do a great job handling background noise too. Constant roaring from a sound machine is easily silenced and things like voices, music or a nearby television are also reduced.

Battery life

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

Unfortunately, one rumor that didn’t pan out is the 1000XM5’s battery life. Reports indicated that Sony had added another 10 hours on top of its already 30-hour listening time. That’s not the case, you’ll still only get 30 hours of use with active noise cancellation. Sony did upgrade things when it comes to the quick charge feature. Instead of 10 minutes for five hours of use like on the M4, you get three hours of playback in three minutes.

After just over 21 hours of testing, Sony’s app read 38 percent battery remaining, so I’m pacing slightly ahead of the promised figure. The battery percentage in the macOS Bluetooth menu confirmed the status at that point too. During my tests, I had active noise cancellation turned on and did a mix of music streaming, video live streams, video calls and turning the headphones off a few times. Even though more is always better, 30 hours is plenty on the M5 and it’s enough to get you through a few work days or an international trip that includes long flights.

The competition

When it comes to alternatives, Bose immediately comes to mind. The company offers the pricey 700 which does an excellent job blocking noise although the overall sound quality isn’t as good as what Sony has conjured. The 700 is slightly cheaper at $379, but if you’re looking to save even more money, the QuietComfort 45 is a great choice. Bose updated its classic QC headphones last year with improved ANC and longer battery life, among other things. Plus, that model is $329. Neither of these beat Sony when it comes to the complete package that is the 1000XM5, but they’re worthy alternatives nonetheless.

If you’ve read this far and think the previous 1000X model seems more compelling, you’re in luck. Sony is keeping the WH-1000XM4 around for the time being. It will still be $350, unless you find it on sale, saving you $50 over the cost of the brand new version. Indeed, those headphones have been our top pick since their debut. And even though they’re likely to be dethroned in our next buyers’ guide update, they’re still very good headphones and won’t be obsolete anytime soon.

Wrap-up

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

The WH-1000XM5 is evidence that even the best product in a given category still has room for improvement. Sony has consistently impressed us with its 1000X line, but the upgrades it delivers on the M5 are some of the biggest in the history of the series. It managed to make its sound even better while blocking more noise than it has before. Plus, there’s a new look that isn’t only an aesthetic improvement but is more comfortable too. The only gripe is the price, which is $50 more than the previous model at $400. But when considering the entirety of what you’re getting, the cost is perfectly reasonable. Sony was already on top, but with the WH-1000XM5, the company put even more distance between itself and the rest of the pack.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 will be available in black and silver color options for $400. Pre-orders begin today on the company’s website, Amazon and Best Buy and the headphones will be widely available on May 20th.

Sony WH-1000XM5 review: In a league of their own

The rumors were (mostly) true. Sony did indeed have a follow-up to its stellar WH-1000XM4 ready for a proper debut. Today the company announced the WH-1000XM5 ($400), its latest flagship noise-canceling headphones equipped with all of the things we’ve come to expect from Sony’s 1000X line. This time around the company gave its premium cans a big exterior redesign. In the process, it massively increased comfort while also expanding the incredible performance in terms of noise cancelation and overall sound quality.

Design

One of the biggest changes for the 1000XM5 is the design. Sony slimmed down the headband while keeping the underside soft and cushiony. My only gripe with the new look is that you can see where the housing for the adjustable arms ends and the softer padding begins. You only see it when you take the headphones off, but it’s noticeable.

Sony also connects the headband to the ear cups in one spot on the M5, rather than the U-shaped bracket that mounted to the M4 in two places. There’s still plenty of swivel and rotation for the ear cups, so there’s no sacrifice to movement. In fact, I’d argue these changes give this new 1000X a more modern look, than all of the previous models. The lineup has a similar design up through the M4, so Sony was overdue for a big overhaul.

Despite only being four grams or 0.14 ounces lighter than the WH-1000XM4, this new version feels like it weighs a lot less when you put them on. The weight distribution is better, plus the synthetic leather ear cups are quite cushiony. I had no problem wearing these for hours at a time and at no point did I feel pressure around my ears or on the top of my head.

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

The outside panel of the right ear cup still houses the touch controls. Here you can play/pause with a double tap, skip tracks with a horizontal swipe or swipe vertically to adjust volume. Tap and hold summons your voice assistant and when you get a call, simply double tap to answer. All of those touch controls work well too, reliably accepting taps and swipes without error. On the edge of the left ear cup, there are physical buttons for power and noise cancellation. The former can also put the headphones in pairing mode and give you a battery level update while the latter cycles through a combination of ANC, ambient sound and off.

Software

As is the case with most of Sony’s earbuds and headphones, the Headphones Connect app is where you tweak settings and enable a host features. When you fire up the software, a battery life percentage is prominently displayed on the right side, with tabs for Status, Sound, System and Services just below. The first, Status, gives you access to the finer details of Adaptive Sound Control or Sony’s handy automatic switching of noise canceling settings based on activity or location.

Of course, if you choose to have things change based on where you are, you’ll have to give the app permission to track your whereabouts. If you do, you can set the M5 to automatically enable ambient sound when you’re at the office, for example. Adaptive Sound Control can also be configured to change the EQ and enable/disable Speak-to-Chat for a particular location or activity.

Sony Headphones Connect app
Billy Steele/Engadget

The Status panel will also allow you to see which devices are currently connected since the M5 allows you to link up to two simultaneously. And lastly there’s a media player here, which I’ve never touched across several reviews. The Sound tab gives you access to Ambient Sound Control, the ability to enable/disable Speak-to-Chat, the equalizer and audio presets. If you recall, Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses the audio and activates ambient sound when it detects that you’re speaking. In my experience, it could sometimes be fooled by coughs, but that’s not the case anymore. You can also configure the headphones for 360 Reality audio, in addition to switching Bluetooth connection quality and employing DSEE Extreme. That latter uses AI to reproduce the frequency response that’s typically lost to compression.

System is where you can enable multipoint connectivity, change voice assistants, disable the touch control panel and add functionality to the noise canceling button. You can also opt for that last control to activate Spotify Tap with either a double or triple press. And last but not least, Services is where you connect various apps for easy access. If you want to use Spotify Tap, for example, you’ll need to sync it with Headphones Connect here.

Sound quality

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

Sound quality has never been an issue with the 1000X line, and it’s definitely not on the M5. In fact, it’s yet another thing Sony upgraded on these headphones. New 30mm carbon fiber drivers handle the audio, including tracks in LDAC and DSEE Extreme. I thought the M4 was well-tuned for a range of genres, but the bass seems punchier here. Whether it’s the electronic collisions of The Glitch Mob, the grungy blues of Jack White or the driving bass in Kendrick Lamar’s catalog, the lower range is both pleasant and powerful, expanding the overall soundstage.

The difference between the M4 and the M5 is in the finer details. There’s more depth, making everything seem more immersive. But there’s also more clarity, so the subtleties can shine. I’m talking about things like the texture of someone strumming an acoustic guitar or Jack White’s iconic distortion soaring above the other instruments. Everything is still balanced, and the bass only provides the proper amount of oomph. Switch over to something entirely acoustic like bluegrass and the bass remains in check so the picking, and the highs, can cut through unhindered.

What’s more, activating DSEE Extreme doesn’t make a huge difference in the sound quality. On other Sony devices, that algorithm’s ability to recover some of the detail lost to compression makes a noticeable impact. On the M5, the results are subtle, and on some songs I had a hard time picking up on any change at all. It’s quite impressive.

I only have one complaint about sound quality, and it may actually be a Bluetooth issue rather than a true audio problem. When listening to music or watching a video on my MacBook Pro, I would occasionally experience quick dropouts or skips. It didn’t happen often and, oddly, I never heard it when playing something on my iPhone. The audio stutters a bit just for a second, like you’re watching a video on a bad internet connection, and then it continues. I tested both WH-1000XM5 units sent to me and noticed the issue on both. I’ve reached out to Sony for more info on the potential cause.

Active noise cancellation

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.

Sony had already developed highly effective noise cancellation for its 1000X line and automated it so the feature could change based on your activity or location (Adaptive Sound Control). Those automatic tweaks are still in play on the M5, but the company has taken its overall noise-blocking setup a step further. First, it doubled both the number of processors and the number of microphones that handle noise canceling duties. In addition to the QN1 that was inside the M4, Sony also employs a separate V1 chip to lend a hand. There are now eight total ANC mics, up from four on the previous model. Plus, there’s an automatic noise canceling optimizer that ensures peak performance based on wear and your environment.

So, what does all of that mean when you’re actually wearing the headphones? Well, Sony says the entire setup is much better at blocking higher frequencies than the WH-1000XM4, which covers things like human voices. Indeed, the M5 is more effective at silencing nearby chatter and TV noise. It’s not entirely effective at combating baby screams (I have a 15-month-old at home), but most speech and what I’d consider a normal television volume went unnoticed. That makes the ANC on the 1000XM5 a clear upgrade over the M4.

Call quality

Despite working just fine for calls, the WH-1000XM4 isn’t equipped with dedicated voice microphones. Sony installed four beamforming mics on the M5, which it says helps this new model deliver the best call quality yet for the 1000X series. Those components work alongside AI-driven noise reduction to make this happen. Companies make lofty claims about voice quality all the time and it rarely pans out, but Sony actually delivers.

Both video and audio calls are crisp and clear, as your voice sounds noticeably better than other earbuds and headphones. With most of the competition, you typically sound like you’re on speakerphone at best. It’s much better than that on the M5, and the headphones do a great job handling background noise too. Constant roaring from a sound machine is easily silenced and things like voices, music or a nearby television are also reduced.

Battery life

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

Unfortunately, one rumor that didn’t pan out is the 1000XM5’s battery life. Reports indicated that Sony had added another 10 hours on top of its already 30-hour listening time. That’s not the case, you’ll still only get 30 hours of use with active noise cancellation. Sony did upgrade things when it comes to the quick charge feature. Instead of 10 minutes for five hours of use like on the M4, you get three hours of playback in three minutes.

After just over 21 hours of testing, Sony’s app read 38 percent battery remaining, so I’m pacing slightly ahead of the promised figure. The battery percentage in the macOS Bluetooth menu confirmed the status at that point too. During my tests, I had active noise cancellation turned on and did a mix of music streaming, video live streams, video calls and turning the headphones off a few times. Even though more is always better, 30 hours is plenty on the M5 and it’s enough to get you through a few work days or an international trip that includes long flights.

The competition

When it comes to alternatives, Bose immediately comes to mind. The company offers the pricey 700 which does an excellent job blocking noise although the overall sound quality isn’t as good as what Sony has conjured. The 700 is slightly cheaper at $379, but if you’re looking to save even more money, the QuietComfort 45 is a great choice. Bose updated its classic QC headphones last year with improved ANC and longer battery life, among other things. Plus, that model is $329. Neither of these beat Sony when it comes to the complete package that is the 1000XM5, but they’re worthy alternatives nonetheless.

If you’ve read this far and think the previous 1000X model seems more compelling, you’re in luck. Sony is keeping the WH-1000XM4 around for the time being. It will still be $350, unless you find it on sale, saving you $50 over the cost of the brand new version. Indeed, those headphones have been our top pick since their debut. And even though they’re likely to be dethroned in our next buyers’ guide update, they’re still very good headphones and won’t be obsolete anytime soon.

Wrap-up

With upgrades to design, sound quality and active noise cancellation, the WH-1000XM5 keeps its place above the competition. These headphones are super comfortable as well, and 30-hour battery life is more than adequate. The M5 makes it clear that Sony won’t be dethroned anytime soon.
Billy Steele/Engadget

The WH-1000XM5 is evidence that even the best product in a given category still has room for improvement. Sony has consistently impressed us with its 1000X line, but the upgrades it delivers on the M5 are some of the biggest in the history of the series. It managed to make its sound even better while blocking more noise than it has before. Plus, there’s a new look that isn’t only an aesthetic improvement but is more comfortable too. The only gripe is the price, which is $50 more than the previous model at $400. But when considering the entirety of what you’re getting, the cost is perfectly reasonable. Sony was already on top, but with the WH-1000XM5, the company put even more distance between itself and the rest of the pack.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 will be available in black and silver color options for $400. Pre-orders begin today on the company’s website, Amazon and Best Buy and the headphones will be widely available on May 20th.

Google’s Matter smart home standard is launching this fall

Google plans to finally launch its new smart home industry standard called Matter this fall. Devices will all connect quickly and easily using Fast Pair and the platform will support a variety of voice assistants and networking protocols. Those include Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri as well as WiFi, Thread and Bluetooth LE. While Fast Pair feature has been used for headphones and audio gear, the company is working to use it for more things, including syncing lightbulbs and smart plugs with Android and Nest devices. You'll be able to scan a code with your phone to get things rolling, which should be quicker and easier than the current method for adding new gear to your arsenal. 

The company first announced Matter in 2019, although back then it was known as Project Connected Home over IP (Project CHIP). At I/O 2021, Google announced a redesign to its smart home Developer Center to include all the tools developers would need to make product compatible with the standard. Matter was delayed until 2022 last August and the fall timeline now means Google has pushed it out yet again. The delayed launch was supposed to happen in the first half of this year. Still, after all of the roadblocks, the promise of a more seamless process for adding devices to your smart home from a wide range of companies is a compelling one.  

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Google’s Matter smart home standard is launching this fall

Google plans to finally launch its new smart home industry standard called Matter this fall. Devices will all connect quickly and easily using Fast Pair and the platform will support a variety of voice assistants and networking protocols. Those include Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri as well as WiFi, Thread and Bluetooth LE. While Fast Pair feature has been used for headphones and audio gear, the company is working to use it for more things, including syncing lightbulbs and smart plugs with Android and Nest devices. You'll be able to scan a code with your phone to get things rolling, which should be quicker and easier than the current method for adding new gear to your arsenal. 

The company first announced Matter in 2019, although back then it was known as Project Connected Home over IP (Project CHIP). At I/O 2021, Google announced a redesign to its smart home Developer Center to include all the tools developers would need to make product compatible with the standard. Matter was delayed until 2022 last August and the fall timeline now means Google has pushed it out yet again. The delayed launch was supposed to happen in the first half of this year. Still, after all of the roadblocks, the promise of a more seamless process for adding devices to your smart home from a wide range of companies is a compelling one.  

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first earbuds with active noise cancellation

On top of all of today's other big I/O news, Google is adding a new set of true wireless earbuds to its lineup of audio accessories. The Pixel Buds Pro are the first earbuds from the company with active noise cancellation (ANC) and soon they'll support spatial audio when paired with a compatible Pixel phone. However, noise blocking and immersive sound aren't the only big features Google has packed into these $199 buds. 

Inside, there's a new custom-built six-core audio processor powered by Google algorithms that blasts sound through custom drivers. The company says all aspects of the setup, including the active noise cancellation, were tuned by its in-house audio engineers. A feature called Volume EQ feature adjusts lows, mids and highs when you change the volume level to maintain a balanced sound profile. If you turn down the volume, for example, the buds automatically increase the bass while also keeping mid-range and treble in check. Touch controls give you the ability to play/pause, skip tracks, adjust volume and activate (or deactivate) noise cancellation. Like both the Pixel Buds and A-Series, the Pro is IPX4 rated so you shouldn't have any reservations about using them during a workout.

Google has also accounted for the fact that everyone's ears are different. Even though the company says it scanned thousands of ears to find a shape with the most comfort for the most people, the included tips may not work perfectly for all users. With a tool called Silent Seal, Pixel Buds Pro can adapt to your ears to maximize the effectiveness of the ANC. Google says the earbuds also monitor pressure inside your ear canal and they can relieve it as needed to keep you comfy. 

Multipoint connectivity is a must for earbuds and headphones these days, allowing you to switch seamlessly between your phone and a computer or tablet. Pixel Buds Pro offer this feature, swapping from the last two Bluetooth devices you've connected them to — including TVs and iPhones. There's also hands-free access to Google Assistant so you won't have to reach for your phone to summon some help with a range of tasks. And yes, the list of chores still covers real-time translation for 40 languages. Transparency mode is another handy feature, allowing outside noise to come in when you need to be aware of your surroundings or have a quick chat. 

Pixel Buds Pro
Google

Speaking of voice, Google has employed bone conduction to help pick up your speech during calls. Combined with beamforming microphones, a voice accelerometer and wind-blocking mesh covers, the company says you can expect clear calls even in less than ideal environments. Mileage varies greatly claims like this from earbuds companies, so we'll hold off on any proper judgement for now. 

Google promises up to seven hours of use with ANC on or up to 11 hours of listening with it turned off. That second figure is more than double the battery life of both the 2020 Pixel Buds and the Pixel Buds A-Series, neither of which have true noise cancelling abilities. Even if you opt for ANC mode, you still get two more hours than Google's previous two sets. The case, which looks similar to one that came with the most recent models, supports wireless charging (Pixel Stand or Qi-certified accessories) and adds 13 hours of noise-cancelling use. Lastly, there's a quick-charge feature that gives you one hour of ANC listening time in five minutes. 

The Pixel Buds Pro will be available for pre-order on July 21st for $199. They're expected to start shipping on July 28th. And if you do decide to make a purchase, you'll be able to choose from Coral, Lemongrass, Fog and Charcoal color options. 

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Update 4:06PM ET: This post has been updated with correct pre-order and launch dates. We apologize for the error.