The market for totally wireless earbuds is really maturing fast, with many entries from both new and established companies. Jaybird recently joined the crowd, with its own Run earbuds. The Logitech-owned company has long been a really solid competitor when it comes to Bluetooth headphones, and its Freedom and X-line, and in fact made some of the very first wireless sport earbuds that proved you could also get good sound with Bluetooth.
Now, the Run proves that Jaybird can play well in the totally wire-free market, too. It’s the company’s first attempt at the category popularized by Apple’s AirPods, but it’s a strong first effort: The Run come with sound that’s on par with Jaybird’s other headsets, and they also benefit from the company’s ample experience helping to provide the right fit for a variety of ear shapes and sizes.
Jaybird also gave the Run four hours of battery life under normal conditions, along with and additional 8 hours of charge built into the battery case they ship with. The header’s also sweat-proof and water-resistant for workouts in all conditions, and you can alter the sound with the companion Jaybird app for mobile devices, or use the ‘Find My Buds’ feature to locate them if you happen to misplace one or both (this comes in very handy, I can tell you from personal experience).
The best thing about the Jaybird Run, however, is how quickly you’ll forget you’re wearing them. They’re incredibly comfortable (especially if you spring for the Comply foam tips that are available as an aftermarket add-on), and they produce a pleasing, full sound that’s suited both to music and to spoken work playback including podcasts and audiobooks. And Jaybird also does what the company does best, engineer these for use in sweat-heavy conditions including outdoor runs, which is how I used them for the bulk of my testing.
Jaybird also put button controls on the Run, with each earbuds’s primary surface acting as a pressable physical control. You can use the left bud to activate either Siri or Google Assistant with a single press, and you can also play and pause music or podcasts with a button press of the right. This will also allow you to accept a call, and you can double press to skip to the next track on the right bud.
If there’s one thing I would’ve liked to see Jaybird add, it’s volume control via some means of additional button presses. You can tweak settings for the buttons in the companion app to change a single press on the right to be volume up, and a single post on the left to be volume down, but that means sacrificing the play/pause and Siri/Assistant features, which isn’t ideal.
Otherwise, these are a great offering in the totally wireless earbud category. They’re flexible, produce good sound, are as durable as the rest of Jaybird’s lineup and maintain a good solid connection with your Bluetooth smartphone or other device. And at $179, they’re not all that expensive when compared to other headphones in this segment. Jaybird definitely isn’t first in with this emerging space, but they took the time and made a good product that you’ll almost certainly enjoy using.
Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.
This week’s video: “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug ft. Millie Go Lightly
Lizzie: This week, like every week now, has lasted an entire calendar year, except with way fewer music videos than you might expect in that time frame. Taylor Swift dropped another lyric vid, Charlie Puth did whatever it is Charlie Puth does, and MGMT came back. But then we got this video for Young Thug’s country experiment off his most recent album, Beautiful Thugger Girls, and we remembered that the end of the year is also a good time to tell your loved ones that you love them via a series of elaborate gestures.
Kaitlyn: During this week’s One Video selection process, I think I did an okay job pretending I didn’t have a personal stake in which way the chips fell. “Who cares? Just pick a video, Lizzie!” That was me. But the truth is that Beautiful Thugger Girls is absolutely the best thing that happened to me this entire year — in spite of the fact that I was intimidated by a bunch of wasted frat bros at a live performance of it in June, which was irritating because I’m no longer in college and because this album is about and for women. Boys are very bad at reading the room, if you haven’t heard.
After a long week during which a handful of shitty men were served their just deserts, this music video is appropriate because it represents a just dessert for the women of the web. Thank you, Young Thug, and thank you for this donut and fork.
Who are Young Thug and Millie Go Lightly?
Lizzie: Young Thug is a rapper from Atlanta whose first major label contract with an Atlantic Records imprint gave him a measly advance of just $15,000, while his entire contract was reportedly worth just $30,000, according to BuzzFeed. Since his first mixtape, I Came From Nothing, was released in 2011, Thugger has released 17 mixtapes, and made way more money. Beautiful Thugger Girls is about falling in love.
Kaitlyn: Millie Go Lightly is a 23-year-old British singer who was relatively unknown before she appeared on Beautiful Thugger Girls. She helped write “Family Don’t Matter,” and she was also featured on another track, “She Wanna Party.” After this album came out, I followed her on Instagram and would recommend the experience. She has some good content and she loves Young Thug.
What’s special about “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug ft. Millie Go Lightly:
Lizzie: Well, for one, Young Thug actually showed up to this video shoot, unlike the video for his 2016 song “Wyclef Jean,” in which the director was forced to imagine a world with shadowy Young Thug stand-ins.
And unlike “Wyclef Jean”’s classic “cars and bikinis” theme, “Family Don’t Matter” is set on a farm, where Young Thug apparently owns and cares for a stable of horses. The horses are also a form of transportation for Thug, who takes his beloved on a nighttime carriage ride to a feast laid out on bales of hay.
Kaitlyn: What’s special about “Family Don’t Matter” is that it features a beautiful song that makes me feel amazing inside, but also that it looks like a clip from The Bachelor. Young Thug woos his love interest with a rose, a donut, a candlelit barn, a private music performance, red wine, and hand-holding. He’s wearing a positively ridiculous and gorgeous sweater that former Bachelor, notorious yarn enthusiast, and possible sociopath Nick Viall would likely be jealous of.
Also, the horses in this video have exceptionally expressive eyes if you ask me — a young woman who once took horseback riding lessons for two years but quit because she found most horses to be sort of bland and unfeeling and never felt the mystical horse-girl bond promised to her by The Saddle Club novels or the Australian television program The Saddle Club.
How long everyone should watch “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug ft. Millie Go Lightly:
Lizzie: Whole thing! Fudge it.
Kaitlyn: Lizzie is right. And when you’re done with this video, maybe you’ll feel moved to listen to “Me Or Us,” a cozy, croony guitar ballad from Beautiful Thugger Girls that features a sample from the 2005 Bright Eyes song “First Day of My Life.” This advice, of course, is only for women, while men should think about spending their afternoon doing something different and not fun.
If you’re looking for a budget smartphone, ZTE has another option for you — the Blade X, which is available on Cricket Wireless.
ZTE has announced yet another budget-friendly phone, this time on Cricket Wireless. The phone is called the ZTE Blade X, and it offers some pretty decent specs for its $119 price-tag.
The company has launched a number of low-cost phones in the past few months, including the ZTE Blade Vantage, which comes on Verizon for only $50, and the ZTE Tempo X, which is also available on Boost Mobile for only $80. The new Blade X seems to be basically a rebranded version of the Blade Force on Boost Mobile, offering more or less the same specs and coming in at a slightly lower price.
The new Blade X seems to sit in the upper end of ZTE’s budget-friendly phones, offering a Qualcomm 425 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage — though that storage can be expanded with a microSD card slot. On the back, you’ll get a 13-megapixel camera, while the selfie cam sits in at 5 megapixels. That’s probably the main difference between this phone and the Blade Force, which only offers an 8-megapixel camera. You’ll also get a headphone jack, and a hefty 3,000mAh battery, which should offer plenty of juice to get you through the day. The display is 5.5 inches, and has a resolution of 1,280 x 720, which obviously isn’t flagship level but should be enough for most people’s needs.
ZTE is shaping up to be a pretty serious contender in the U.S. budget phone market. The company seems to be slowly but surely launching a budget option on each and every carrier, and That’s likely to continue, especially as we head into the holiday season.
“The ZTE Blade X continues our mission to deliver affordable premium devices that deliver an exceptional experience at a price that fits within consumers’ budgets,” said Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, in a statement. “We created the Blade X with features for the entertainment-loving consumer in mind. With top display features and superb audio sound, the Blade X comes complete with standout features for its category.”
As mentioned, the phone comes in at $119, and you can get your hands on it yourself by heading to the Cricket Wireless website.
This week, a bipartisan group of US senators took the first steps toward regulating online political advertising in a manner similar to the way the government already regulates these ads in traditional media. Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Mark Warner (VA), joined by Republican Sen. John McCain (AZ), say their Honest Ads Act will protect against foreign interference in elections by requiring platforms like Facebook to make details about ads’ buyers, pricing, and targeting publicly available.
Advocates cheered the move, which they said represented a long-overdue step to apply the same standards of transparency and fairness to online ads that have long been the norm for print, radio, and television. At the same time, the bill’s passage is far from certain: so far, it has just one Republican supporter in Congress, and the tech companies that would be affected have deployed a phalanx of lobbyists.
“It goes a long way,” said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for transparency in political advertising and helped to draft the legislation. “Opacity by design is not an acceptable status quo for the technology giants that shape public knowledge and discourse with limited accountability,” he wrote in a blog post after the bill’s introduction. “We’re excited to see bipartisan support for more transparency and accountability online.”
The Honest Ads Act would require large platform companies like Facebook and Google to retain copies of the political ads they serve and make them available for public inspection. The companies would also have to publish information about who bought the ad, how much it cost, and what rates they were charged. The act would apply to any platform with more than 50 million monthly users, and anyone who spent more than $500 a year on online ads.
Publicly, tech companies are voicing support for some form of regulation — while stopping short of offering a full-throated endorsement of the Honest Ads bill’s actual provisions. “We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising,” said Erin Egan, vice president of US public policy for Facebook, in a statement. “We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own and we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution.”
Facebook has already committed to making copies of ads publicly available. It also pledged to make more prominent disclosures about who paid for the ads on the advertisements themselves. It’s part of the company’s nine-point plan to reset Facebook’s relationship with democracy, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out last month after mounting pressure to act.
But while the company isn’t commenting beyond Egan’s statement, it’s likely Facebook would oppose several provisions within the act. For one thing, the company has a long history of opposing regulation of its ads. For another, the requirement to disclose the pricing for every political ad goes beyond what is required for print and broadcast ads. (The the equal-time rule does require radio and television stations to offer equivalent time to political candidates if they ask for it, and at the same price, though those prices are not generally accessible to the public.)
The requirement to post targeting information could meet resistance as well. Until now, politicians have been able to target different groups of voters in stealth, using so-called “dark posts,” which appear only in the News Feed and don’t have permanent links. Forcing candidates to admit they’re targeting different messages at voters — especially inconsistent ones — could have a chilling effect on their use of Facebook’s ad platform.
But the bill’s sponsors say such disclosures are essential to protect against foreign interference in US elections. “Who wouldn’t want to know if the ad that’s appearing next to your story was actually paid for by a foreign power?” Warner said yesterday. “I don’t know what opposition there would be to that kind of disclosure.” (It’s actually illegal for foreigners to buy election ads.)
Now the question is how much momentum the bill can generate. In addition to the Sunlight Foundation, it received endorsements from advocacy groups, including the Campaign Legal Center, Issue One, the Brennan Center of Justice, Common Cause and Public Citizen. And The Washington Post reported that a companion bill was introduced in the House Thursday by Reps. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat, and Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican told the Post he is “very interested” in the Honest Ads Act. “Social media advertising had to be regulated, it’s the wild wild west,” said Graham, a longtime McCain ally. “When it comes to disclosing who pays for online advertisements, he continued, “You’ve got to try to apply the same rules you would to radio and TV.”
For Klobuchar and Warner, that represents a good start. But the real battle is only beginning. And with lobbyists ramping up their involvement, much of the fight over transparency in advertising will play out behind closed doors.