Archive for August 7th, 2017

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Brainwavz B200 Audiophile grade earphones review

IMG_0581I must confess that I was not familiar with the brand when I was given word that their latest headphones were coming to us for review. They operate in the audiophile circles of the headphone world, but their aim is to keep the cost of their products at the more reasonable end of the spectrum. When I was given these in ear headphones, all I knew was that they were audiophile grade and cost £156.

The first thing that struck me when I was handed the box is that it smacked of neither audiophile nor £156. It is a pretty basic box with minimal amounts of styling, made from fairly thin card and a plastic tray inside. It looks remarkably like an early DVD box set or an Amiga game. This is not always a bad thing, however. Regular readers will know that I have mixed feelings about packaging. Sure, I like some swish presentation to give a premium feel as much as the next guy, but at the same time, I do not like the idea that a product has its price bumped by £20 just to get a swanky box that will ultimately be thrown out anyway.

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In the box, you get a rather nice, rigid carry case that feels very well constructed, with dividers to house the spare tips for the ear buds. There are 2 sets of small, medium and large tips included plus a bonus set of “premium” memory foam tips that honestly feel kinda like chewing gum. The headphones themselves are extremely lightweight and there is good reinforcement at the joints, but I couldn’t help but think that the wires were worryingly thin. Making tech super lightweight is great, but sometimes it can leave products feeling a little flimsy, even if that is not the case.

After a few minutes of experimentation, I figured out how to wear the headphones and which one went in which ear – yes, I know how to wear headphones – but the B200’s feature a neat design where the cable loops over your ear thanks to a semi rigid sleeve over the wire so you put them in your ear with the wire pointing up. It takes one or two goes to get the technique down, but it’s not tricky. For me, the premium tips were an absolute winner. They feel weird, but once you squish them and push them into your ears, they are incredibly comfortable and do an excellent job of cancelling out ambient noise. The loop design means that the weight of the cable is not applied directly to the ear bud, so there is not the usual battle of earpiece retention vs gravity. The result it that these headphones stay in place exceptionally well. I was able to enjoy a brisk walk on a windy evening and never once had to push the headphones in to keep the fit nice and snug. Brilliant!

As usual, I let the B200’s burn in for a day or two before really testing the sound quality on them. It’s a very natural sound, nicely balanced, which is my personal preference. There is plenty of bass, but it is not an auditory assault like on some sets. Mids and highs are nicely separated with a good amount of crisp detail which gives a satisfying breadth to the sound and again, nothing seems overly forced. The benefit of a neutral sound is that it lends itself well to a wide variety of musical genres and I found that the B200’s handled any track I threw at them in their stride. Listening to podcasts where the focus is on people speaking, the voices do not sound overly bass heavy and resonant which music focused headphones have a tendency to do. These are really nice headphones.

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Brainwavz offers a 24month warranty on the B200’s(“should any problem arise due to a defect in workmanship”) which shows a reassuring level of faith in their products and quality control. This is not something to be underestimated. I do maintain some concerns about how fine the cable is on these headphones and I did notice that they do tangle up quite easily because of the loops, but at least if there is a weakness there, Brainwavzshould look after you and that is reassuring. Whilst they are reasonably priced for headphones at this level, £156 is still a significant chunk of money so a little reassurance is a very good thing!

If you haven’t heard of Brainwavz, I would certainly you encourage you to check them out. They certainly don’t look as flashy as some of their peers, they may perhaps lack some of the prestige feels, but there is absolutely no escaping the excellent performance or the phenomenal comfort of these headphones.

The Brainwavz B200 are for sale on Amazon here for £149.50.

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By August 7, 2017 Read More →

Building a career in the technology sector

In today’s world, many people are tech-savvy citizens. With smartphone usage on the rise and Internet access providing people with everything from supermarket shopping orders to TV shows whenever they want to view them, technology is booming.
When it comes to business, there’s a huge employment market available for those producing, supporting and developing all the new technologies that are used every day. It’s believed that there are over 47,000 digital technology companies in the UK alone, so training in this sector can open a wide variety of doors in your professional life.
Here is a look at what you’ll need for a successful career in the tech industry, what roles you can take up and how you can make the process as easy and streamlined as possible.

Varied range of jobs

Once you’ve set your heart on a career in the technology sector, your next step is to work out where you’ll specialise and which of the industry’s many jobs is right for you.

If you’re a strong communicator and good at problem solving, then a job as an IT technician might be right for you. This role involves working in environments such as companies, classrooms and other places where there are lots of non-technical computer users who need assistance, and you’re likely to find yourself responding to requests for technical help and sorting out issues with hardware and software.

There are also many roles in tech that are less customer-oriented. If you’re interested in modern technology but also have a keen eye for aesthetics, then you can combine your skill sets and become a website or software designer, tester or developer. Alternatively, if you’re good at the art of persuasion but want a tech-focused career, then you can join a company sales team and help promote their tech products.

Of course, before any of the software and hardware in schools and offices can be used. it also needs to be programmed. The earliest point in the life cycle of a tech tool is the development phase, and if you’re a strong critical thinker who is adept at using logic to solve problems, then a career in computer programming or coding might be suitable for you.

Qualifications and education

The qualifications required to kickstart your career in technology vary greatly. This is because there are so many different types of jobs in the tech sector, and the knowledge required is different every time.

To work as an IT technician, for example, there is no set qualification required. However, there are several IT professional bodies that offer qualifications to help you develop your skills, such as the Diploma in ICT Systems Support or the Diploma in ICT Systems and Principles. There are lots of apprenticeships available for IT technician jobs, so this might be an ideal route if you’d prefer to get practical experience.

For roles with more rare skill sets, you may need more specific qualifications. If you’re looking to work as a coder, then knowledge of major programming languages such as PHP or Python is essential, and some employers will also require a degree-level education in computer science.

If you’re looking to work in a tech sector role less directly related to key software and hardware infrastructures, then you may need a different qualification altogether. For example, if you’re looking to work in user experience, then skills related to design may be a stronger bet.

Become self-employed

Jobs in IT are increasingly becoming more contract-based, meaning that you’re required to work on a specific project for a set amount of time rather than as a permanent employee.

This offers a lot of flexibility and means that you can sample a wide variety of jobs but can also create administrative headaches. Contractors usually have to register as self-employed, and this means that you become legally responsible for your own tax affairs.

Registering with an umbrella PAYE (pay as you earn) company is a good option, as it essentially hands the responsibility over to a third party who will sort out all your tax affairs. This way, you don’t have to worry about time-consuming tasks such as filing returns to HMRC, while the clients whom you apply to work for are more likely to give you contracts, as they don’t have to deal with your tax affairs either.

Britain’s burgeoning tech sector is one of the most attractive industries for job seekers, not least because of the potential that it has for growth. Whether you’re looking to put your technical knowledge to good use in a support role or work on development projects of all shapes and sizes, employment in this sector is guaranteed to be meaningful, fulfilling and a lot of fun as well.

Posted in: Editorial