Bose debuts QuietComfort 15 noise-canceling headphones
Tomorrow (Thursday), Bose puts on sale its new QuietComfort 15 noise-canceling headphones, which aim to be the "gold standard" of such devices. The price is $300.
The new device replaces one of the company's previous high-end models, the QuietComfort 2. It adds an external microphone to each ear cup, providing additional information to help cancel out more noise. It also improves upon the device's processing power as well as the design of the leather-and-foam ear cushions.
I tested the QC15s this morning under the supervision of Bose staff people. Stereos blasted a recording of a jet plane mid-flight. A sound pressure level meter measured a 90 decibel reading, well above an approximately 50 decibel reading for the ordinary noise level in a city store. I found that the QC15 headphones dramatically reduced the sound of the jet plane noise, noticeably more so than with the previous version of Bose headphones, the QC2.
Audio quality and headset comfort are what distinguish Bose's products from comparable high-end products. In a test of the QC15, sound reproduction of a song was note perfect, and the earcups rested gently around the ears rather than push down on the ears itself. The headphones are iPhone-compatible out of the box and are powered by triple-A batteries tucked discreetly into one of the earcups.
NYC: A pop-up shop for well designed, travel-themed products
Manhattan's Port Authority bus and subway terminal at 41st Street and 8th Avenue is always a hub of action. Now through late September, a "pop-up" shop called Areaware Design To Go is open on the ground floor of the north terminal. It features design products with a travel bent. Some cute items include first aid kits by Help Remedies (the compact, lightweight, and biodegradable containers have bandaids, allergy tables, and so forth), travel journals, canvas bags, and some funky souvenir items, like the "We Are Happy to Serve You" mug. Or, give that special someone a real piece of NYC—a pigeon feather in a glass vial. Areaware, curator of the shop, is a New York-based manufacturer of design products. So there are some other fun things, such as a orange elephant wall-hanging. Areaware also features a few things from up-and-coming artists in the American Design Club. Curious? Check it out through Sept. 26. The space, called Blank Sl8 (it's a partnership between the Times Square Alliance and the Fashion Center Business Improvement District), has a rotating schedule of retailers, so you never know what you might find. About Port Authority: Roughly 200,000 people pass through it on the average weekday. Redevelopment on all sides in recent years, including the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times building, has made the once seedy center a pleasant and safe place to visit.
Traxo: Plan your trips with a little help from your friends
Still not riding the social media wave? New social media site Traxo, currently in beta, offers an interesting twist. Organize your trip itineraries and connect with friends on the road. Traxo is first a trip organizer tool. After you sign up for free, the site will start pulling all of your travel information from 40 major U.S. booking sites, including Orbitz, Hertz, Travelocity, British Airways, and more—even major hotel groups like Starwood. Traxo remembers to check these sites for you periodically and update your trip itinerary, or add new trips as you book them. The social media part of Traxo comes after you've planned an itinerary. Say you're going to San Francisco. Traxo will search your "buddies"—people you've approved or invited as friends—for trips to the City by the Bay. When there's a match, Traxo tells you and your buddy that you'll both be there. Let the happy hours and dinner dates ensue! Traxo will also tell you buddies who have been to San Francisco recently (and who lives there permanently), so if you can't meet up with a buddy, at least you can get a great recommendation for lunch. The usability of the site is much like Facebook; there's a buddy approval system and an inbox, for e-mailing buddies for travel advice, etc. Speaking of Facebook, Traxo actively works with the social media megasite—you can import all your Facebook friends automatically into Traxo, and your trip itineraries can be published on your Facebook wall. There have been some recent concerns about privacy on social media sites (like Twittering your vacation plans, definitely a no-no). Traxo co-founder Andy Chen told me about Traxo's custom privacy controls, which you can set on a trip-by-trip and buddy-by-buddy basis. And for those vacations when you don't want anybody to find you? Put the setting at "private."
Bored? New site Goby searches for travel "experiences" in all 50 states
Goby (GO-be) launched today as a clever search engine for finding fun activities to do in neighborhoods throughout the 50 states. Goby searches across hundreds of vetted websites for the lowdown on attractions, activities, events, restaurants, and lodging. While Google has one search box for you to type a question in, Goby has three. It asks you three questions: What?, Where?, and When? If you have a rough idea of what you're looking for, such as "sports" in "Overland Park, Kansas," plug it in. The site will fetch for you relevant listings contextualized with an interactive map. Everything you need to know to plan a trip is right there. For example, Goby told us that there are free guided walks by an avid bird ethusiast in Overland Park Arboretum that we could take advantage of. Can your favorite travel website also retrieve detailed information like that? Probably not. Very few travel sites help you plan the "experiences" you may like to have at your destination. Kijubi, Gowalla, and UpTake are rare exceptions. Goby is far from perfect. Its largest flaw right now is that it still new and has kinks to work out. It needs to gather more info that's relevant for travelers to be truly thorough and authoritative. The pickings for activities at any given suburban location can sometimes be slim. For my search for "sports" in "Overland Park, Kansas," Goby delivered only 30 activities for all dates. But a look at regional newspaper would find broader listings. I'm still rooting for Goby, though. Expedia and other companies generally overlook the smaller communities of America in their travel listings. Goby excels at breadth of geographical coverage and at its inclusion in free and affordable activities. In another perk, Goby is the first search engine I've seen that fetches so many B&B; listings and presents them in an easy-to-read way. One more big flaw: It doesn't yet work on the Safari Web browser, as a reviewer for PC World has pointed out. Good luck, guys! EARLIER TripIt launches a free iPhone app for travel planning
This hotel offers free yoga even to non-guests
Hotel amenities are usually reserved for guests, but the ultra-trendy W Scottsdale lets you sign up for free yoga classes even if you haven't booked a room. The 224-room hotel has partnered with the Lululemon Athletica apparel company to offer the complimentary 60-minute Vino & Vinyasa classes twice a month. Each yoga class is held every other Wednesday on the hotel's infinity pool deck and followed by $3 wine specials. If you happen to be in town with your dog on the first Tuesday of every month, the pet-friendly W also runs free 90-minute doga classes, or yoga with dogs. Just bring a yoga mat and doggie treats to motivate your pet. Guests can naturally call dibs on the classes, but it's a refreshing option for visitors—at most hotels, these types of perks are reserved for those who stay overnight, buy a day pass, or book a spa treatment. Come late spring, the W will also open its pool to the public. Once a week, the hotel will host a free nighttime swim party complete with a DJ or live music (the infinity pool has underwater speakers). Towels will be provided so all you'll have to bring is a swimsuit. To claim a spot, RSVP, via 480/970-2100 or email the property. [whotels.com/Scottsdale] MORE HOTEL COVERAGE The World's Most Amazing Hotel Pools