Welcome to the latest installment of Staff Picks. Each week, we’ll tell you about the tech we’re currently testing — everything from cameras to headphones, 2-in-1 laptops and home appliances — as well as the grail items we wish we could buy. For our last selections, click here.
Sennheiser MKE 2 Elements
This bulbous GoPro microphone has to go a long way to solve a knotty problem — generally lousy audio quality from the otherwise excellent action camera. The omnidirectional mic is affixed to its own housing, which replaces the back door on the Hero4 waterproof housing. (It only works on that specific camera.) You plug it into the USB port via a flat, flexible circuit board, close up the whole affair, and you’re good to go.
I tried it out on a drive in an Acura NSX to a Cars & Coffee event last weekend, with the camera mounted outside the car. At low speeds it was great — I could hear the engine sound beautifully, as well as that of other cars, and while pulling in I could pick up chatter from spectators around the car. At high speeds, it’s all wind noise, which is to be expected. The camera is fully waterproof, so you’ll be able to grab excellent audio even in rough, wet conditions. Sennheiser hinted that a similar mic is in development for the Hero5, which would be excellent. In the meantime, this mic has breathed new life into my once-shelved Hero4. – Eric Adams, Contributing Tech Writer
Samsung Galaxy S8
I’ve been using the Galaxy S8 for the past few weeks and it looks and feels completely different from any other smartphone — that’s including the iPhone 7, Pixel and last year’s Galaxy S7 Edge. It’s lighter, slimmer and — with its curved edges — easier to hold. I love the Google Pixel, and the S8 is certainly an upgrade on that (especially where looks are concerned). I only wish the S8’s rear-facing scanner was more like the Pixel’s (i.e., bigger, central and compatible with gestures). Then it’d be perfect.
Read my full review of the Samsung Galaxy S8, here.
– Tucker Bowe, Tech Writer
UE BOOM 2 Phantom Wireless
With summer on the horizon, it’s time to get a proper waterproof, shockproof Bluetooth speaker. My favorite is the UE Boom 2. I’ve dropped it to the bottom of pools, used it in the shower and synced up 4 of them for surround sound at a house party. It’s super versatile, looks great, sounds great and just flat-out is great. If you don’t want to do more research, trust a techie — get this speaker for summer. You won’t be disappointed. – Matthew Ankeny, Tech Editor