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Grell Audio’s TWS/1 earbuds sound as good as you want them to

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Grell Audio’s TWS/1 earbuds sound as good as you want them to

A new entrant to the true wireless headphone space you say? Sure, that might be a fairly common occurrence these days, but this one – Grell Audio – comes with some pretty strong heritage. Its founder, Axel Grell, is well known in the headphone industry for his extensive work at Sennheiser on some of the company’s most prestigious products. The TWS/1 is his first solo product under the Grell brand. Accordingly, we’re interested to see what the $200 wireless buds can do.

The TWS/1 has a modern look. The mostly circular design is only interrupted by a small, AirPod-like protuberance on each bud. Originally the plan was to have the outer casing entirely metal but physics and radio waves meant that some concessions (plastic parts) were needed. Overall, they maintain a premium feel that stands above that often found at this price point. They visually remind me slightly of the Jabra Elite 75t, but a little lower profile.

In terms of fit, that slightly more streamlined design means you don’t feel like something is balancing in your ear which can sometimes happen with more rotund models. As per usual they come with a charging case that promises four full charges of the TWS/1. The buds themselves offer around 6 hours per charge which holds true in my experience with ANC activated. Curiously, the buds are placed in the case with the right one to the left and vice versa. I’m not sure why this would be, but it does take some remembering (you’ll soon be reminded as the buds don’t fit the other way around).

In a world of me-too products, it’s hard to stand out. The easiest differentiator is price, then sound quality and or additional/premium features. It seems Grell Audio has tried to tackle all three of these, and with general success, I would say.

The price point puts the TWS/1 in an unusual category. Many premium brands are landing in the $250+ zone while more affordable options, like Google’s second-gen Pixel Buds or the aforementioned Jabra’s live in the $150 area. Budget options, south of $100, are also increasingly more common. This, then, pitches the TWS/1 at the overlap between high-mid and low-premium. I would wager this is entirely intentional as feature set and build quality skew higher end, but the barebones packaging and more accessible price indicate a more mainstream audience.

Grell Audio TWS/1.

James Trew / Engadget

As for sound quality, this is where things are a little more clear. In my testing, I was generally pleased with the default sound. It was perhaps a little on the thinner side for my personal preference with a slight weight on the lower end for a typically commercial sound. But Grell has partnered with SoundID – a third-party app that tunes select brands of headphones to your personal preference/hearing.

We’ve seen things like this before, most notably with Nura which takes this to a whole new level. SoundID is a little more understated in its approach. It still uses some form of hearing test, but rather than asking if you can hear certain tones, it simply plays you some music and asks “which do you prefer, A or B.” Once I completed this short test, the difference was night and day. With my own personal profile activated (it uploads to the headphones so it applies no matter what you are listening on), my usual mix of mid ‘10s indie and rave nonsense came alive.

I have a slight preference for dynamic range and beefier low and mid-high frequencies. At least, I presume I do because that was the biggest change in sound after completing the test and I instantly found them much more enjoyable. In the SoundID app, you can toggle between the default sound and your own profile and it really does make a huge difference. You don’t need the app to get good sound, but I’m going to guess that you’ll be happier with what it gives you.

Coincidentally, SoundID is also where you’ll get software updates for the TWS/1. I had one during my testing and it improved a few things including the slightly unresponsive touch controls. They’re still not reading my taps 1:1 but its about on par with most other touch-control buds I have used. Before the update, it was much more frustrating (or, maybe I just learned the technique?).

Those controls aren’t user-configurable, so you’re stuck with what Grell gives you. But, fortunately, that’s pretty much everything you’d want and without too many complicated tap or gesture combinations. Swiping forward or back on the left ear skips tracks, up or down on the right for volume, and so on. It was the single taps that I was having issues with which control play/pause on the right and transparency mode on the left – both of which are more annoying if not activated immediately.

This brings us on to smart(er) features. As mentioned, the TWS/1 has Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode – both of which are becoming increasingly standard. But there’s also a Noise Annoyance Reduction (NAR) mode. Grell explained to me during their initial announcement briefing that ANC is great for lower-frequency sustained noises, but doesn’t work as well for higher-frequency annoyances (think, crying baby on a plane). NAR is Grell’s own attempt at offering some reduction of these types of sound.

Grell Audio TWS/1.

James Trew / Engadget

In practice, I found it hard to pinpoint the difference that NAR makes. With ANC, it’s easy to hear the low rumble of the road outside my apartment decrease in volume. It’s maybe not the most powerful ANC I have heard but it does the job. With NAR, whatever the ear equivalent of squinting is, proved to be a little more indeterminate. It does seem to slightly improve the listening experience in combination with ANC, but it’s also hard to tell how much of that was me willing it to do so. It’s an interesting concept though and one that I hope Grell can continue to improve over time.

Other small perks include a “mono” mode (listening with just one bud). This isn’t as common as it should be in my opinion and it adds more flexibility for those that want to maintain some spatial awareness without having to wear both buds. It’s also, obviously, how some people prefer to handle their calls, too (reliving the Bluetooth headset days).

Another small added bonus is wireless charging “compatibility.” It’s not something I was able to test, but the more things that support it the better? Or, at the very least, it’s a nice perk for those already invested in the wireless charging world.

All in, Grell has given price, features and sound quality enough consideration that the result is a promising first product from an emerging brand. The price point, in particular, strikes a good balance between signaling premium ambitions without putting it too far out of reach for mainstream casuals. I’d love to see some further advances on the NAR technology and the controls could still be more responsive, but if you’re looking for a fresh set of true wireless headphones that are customizable to your taste, these are a great place to start.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Check out the shopping experience at Amazon’s new retail clothing store

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Check out the shopping experience at Amazon’s new retail clothing store

Amazon does very well with its online clothing sales, but physical clothes stores still sweep up most of the business.

Keen as ever for a piece of the pie, the e-commerce giant has unveiled plans for its first-ever retail clothing store for men and women, selling garments, shoes, and accessories from well-known brands as well as emerging designers.

The 30,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar store will open at The Americana at Brand — an upmarket shopping complex in Glendale, Los Angeles — later this year.

As you can see in the video below, Amazon Style stores will only have one sample of each item on the store floor. If you want to try something on, you simply use the Amazon Shopping app to scan its QR code, select the size and color, and it’ll be sent directly to the fitting room. Inside the fitting room you’ll find a large-screen tablet that lets you call for more colors or sizes.

You can also scan to buy and collect the item almost immediately from the pickup counter. Scanning items will also prompt Amazon’s algorithms to suggest similar items that you might like to try.

“Customers enjoy doing a mix of online and in-store shopping, and that’s no different in fashion,” Simoina Vasen, the managing director of Amazon Style, told CNN. “There’s so many great brands and designers, but discovering them isn’t always easy.”

Vasen also said Amazon Style will sell “everything from the $10 basic to the designer jeans to the $400 timeless piece” in a bid to meet “every budget and every price point.”

While Amazon made its name with online shopping, in recent years the company has explored the world of physical stores with a range of openings.

It started off with bookstores in 2015 before launching the first of many cashier-free Amazon Go stores that use cameras to track your purchases so you can simply grab and go without having to line up. But it didn’t stop there. Amazon Fresh grocery stores have been popping up in states across the country, while it also launched a store called Amazon 4-star selling products that have received high ratings on its online store.

It also acquired Whole Foods in a $13 billion deal 2017, and last year was reportedly looking into the idea of opening a chain of discount stores, though the pandemic apparently prompted the company to put the idea on hold.

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How to enable TPM 2.0 on your PC

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How to enable TPM 2.0 on your PC

One of the controversial requirements to run Windows 11 is a TPM 2.0 chip. This chip, usually found on your PC’s motherboard, is a security chip that handles encryption for your fingerprint, other biometric data, and even things like Windows BitLocker. It’s usually turned on by default on most PCs, and found in most modern systems purchased in the last few years.

Yet if you’re not sure if TPM 2.0 is turned on (usually the Windows 11 updater will check for you), you can check for it manually and then enable it in a few steps. Here’s how.

Windows 10's Security Menu.


Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

Check for TPM using the Windows Security App

Before diving into our guide, you might want to check for a TPM 2.0 chip on your PC. You can do this manually through the Windows 10 settings. This will let you know if you can continue with the Windows 11 install process.

Step 1: Open Windows 10 settings with Windows Key and I on your keyboard. Then go to Update and Security.

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Step 2: From Update and Security click Windows Security followed by Device Security and Security Processor Details. If you don’t see a Security Processor section on this screen, your TPM 2.0 chip might be disabled or unavailable. If you see a spec that’s lower than 2.0, then your device can’t run Windows 11.

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Windows 10's Security Options.


Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

Get to BIOS to enable TPM

Once you verify or confirm that you have a TPM 2.0 chip on your system, then you’ll need to get into your PC’s BIOS to enable it. You can do this directly through Windows without the need for a keyboard combination on boot. Here’s how.

Step 1: Go into Windows 10 Settings. Head to Update and Security, followed by Recovery and then Restart Now. Your system will restart.

Windows 10's Advanced Security Options Menu.


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Step 2: On the next screen, you’ll want to choose Troubleshoot, followed by Advanced Options and then UEFI Firmware Settings. Click on the Restart button, and this will boot your PC into the system BIOS to check on TPM 2.0.

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Dell's BIOS settings.


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Enable TPM 2.0 in the BIOS

Now that you’re in the System BIOS, you’ll want to look for a specific submenu. On most systems, the TPM settings can be found under settings labeled Advanced Security, Security, or Trusted Computing. Navigate to these menus using either the keyboard combinations listed on the screen or the mouse if your BIOS supports it.

If you’re unsure about which menu to get into, you can visit the links below. Each link will take you to a PC manufacturer’s page with guidance on how to enable TPM 2.0.

Step 1: Once you’re in the respective menu in the BIOS, you can check the box or flip the switch for one of the following options. Sometimes TPM 2.0 can be labeled differently as one of these options: Security Device, Security Device Support, TPM State, AMD fTPM switch, AMD PSP fTPM, Intel PTT, or Intel Platform Trust Technology.

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Step 2: If you’re not sure if you’re checking the right box for TPM 2.0 settings, then you might want to check with the support documents for the company that made your PC. We linked to some of those above.

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Step 3: Once you enable TPM 2.0, you can exit the BIOS using the commands listed at the bottom of the screen. Usually, the Esc key will do the trick, and you’ll be prompted to Save and Exit. Your system will then restart and boot you back into Windows.

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Now that you confirmed that your PC has a TPM 2.0 chip, you can proceed with the Windows 11 installation process. We have a guide on how you can do that, and another piece that explains the differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What we want from the new foldable

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What we want from the new foldable

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has been my daily driver for a while now –and I love it. Unfolding it to get a bigger display still feels futuristic every time I do it. The cameras get the work done, and it is an amazing mobile device for productivity. But despite being the best of its kind, all things can use some improvement, and that’s the case for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as well.

Here’s what I hope Samsung improves on with the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

A wider cover display … with a caveat

From left, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Oppo Find N open from the back.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Front displays on foldables are meant to get things done quickly, without having to go to the next step of unfolding the phone. For instance, replying to that message on WhatsApp, checking the time, swiping through notifications, and anything that requires little effort. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 flies through quick tasks on the slim 6.2-inch display — unless I have to quickly type something on it.

Typing on the cover display of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a troublesome task. Due to the slimness of the screen, you don’t get the usable width on the keyboard, which results in a lot of typos that end up frustrating me. Making the cover display wider solves the problem of typos, but also leads to a wider foldable display.

Based on my experience with the Oppo Find N, it might not be a good idea despite the usability improvement. The web is built to operate vertically. You scroll down on stuff, be it your Twitter feed, TikTok, Instagram Reels, reading on a browser, or anything else. Personally, I’ve yet to come across an app or a webpage where I prefer a wider aspect ratio to a taller one. I like the taller aspect ratio of the Fold 3 rather than the wider aspect ratio on the Find N.

If Samsung could shrink the size of the left bezel on the cover display and increase its width, while keeping the dimensions the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I’ll be glad. If not, I’ll just unfold the display to type quick replies as I have been doing.

Longer-lasting battery and faster charging

Typing on the closed Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Fold 3 battery life is above average, but not the best. If you push it to the limits or have a busy day without access to Wi-Fi, it’ll drain the battery before you get to bed. And unfortunately, the fast-charging support is limited to 25 watts.

With Chinese smartphone manufacturers raising the bar on fast charging to a mind-boggling 120W, I hope to see the Galaxy Z Fold 4 offer up to 45W fast charging at least. I’m fine with a 4,400mAh battery if I get support for fast charging that can get my phone from 10% to 60% within 35 minutes or so. Samsung has done it before with the Galaxy S20 Ultra, so there’s no reason it can’t bring 45W fast-charging support to the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

An upgrade to 11W fast wireless charging would also be much appreciated.

Make it lighter

Galaxy Z Fold 3 outer display showing ParkyPrakhar Twitter.

The first thing you realize when you start using the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is its weight. Depending on how you hold the phone, your pinkie finger could feel strain when using it folded for longer durations. That shouldn’t be the case with any foldable. It unfolds! Use it that way.

A reduction in the current 271-gram would be a welcome change and provide some relief to people’s pinkie fingers. I have had no major issues with the weight on my current Fold 3, but a lighter model would just feel better in the hands.

Better app optimization

An open Galaxy Z Fold 3 with apps on the screen.
An open Galaxy Z Fold 3 with apps on the screen. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This one has much more to do with Android app developers than Samsung, but apps could definitely use some optimization. And by app optimization, I don’t mean a full-screen Instagram (although, you can do that in the Samsung Lab in Settings).

Apps like WhatsApp, which is used by billions of people, need to step things up. On the Galaxy Z Fold 3, if I’m clicking a photo from the app, it magnifies everything. The viewfinder doesn’t give you an accurate estimate of what your photo is going to look like. Everything is blown up and magnified – even on video calls! If the user at the other end is holding the smartphone at the usual distance, you’ll see a cropped version on the folding display.

I hope WhatsApp can push out an update that fixes things, especially when its sister app — Instagram — has it all figured out in the Stories section. Instagram Stories don’t crop or magnify your image in the viewfinder.

There’s a decent chance the situation will start to improve with Android 12L, but a lot still rides on app developers implementing these changes.

Creaseless folding display

A Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 device with the display turned off lying on some leaves.

The crease on the Fold 3 folding display is much like the notch on Apple devices – you stop noticing it after a while. However, it is still noticeable when there’s a dark background, especially when reading something on the Kindle app, which is a common use case for me. Despite the crease bothering me sometimes, I love reading on the Fold 3.

On the other hand, the Oppo Find N‘s foldable display doesn’t have a deep crease like the Fold, though that might change after long-term use. But out of the box, the Find N has a much more seamless foldable display that looks and feels more pleasant to use. I just wish Samsung could figure out a way to minimize the crease to make my reading experience more pleasant.

Better UDC selfie shooter on the inside

Galaxy Z Fold 3 on a pavement.

When Samsung debuted the 4MP under-display camera (UDC) on the Fold 3, it was making a huge bet by adding an innovative new feature while also sacrificing usability. It’s beautiful to have a 7.6-inch display without any cutout bothering you and makes full-screen content appear more thrilling.

However, the quality of the selfies taken from the UDC isn’t great, as we noted in our review. Fortunately, Samsung is likely already working on a next-gen UDC with better image quality output, and I hope it debuts on the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Built-in dock for S-Pen

Samsung introduced the capability of S-Pen support from its Note lineup to the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, both of them missed out on a huge functional design feature that the Note had – a place to keep the S-Pen. If the Galaxy S22 Ultra renders are anything to go by, Samsung is already working on a place you can slot the S Pen without needing to shell out for a special case. That’ll make the S22 Ultra feel much more like the presumably defunct Note series, while the Z Fold 4 could get this slot, too, and serve as a more effective note-taking slate.

When will Galaxy Z Fold 4 launch?

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has largely replaced the Galaxy Note lineup, which used to serve as the second flagship series lineup for Samsung. Now, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is expected to launch alongside the Galaxy Z Flip 4 toward the end of 2022.

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