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The Coros Pace 2 Is My New Favorite GPS Running Watch

The Coros Pace 2 Is My New Favorite GPS Running Watch

After years of testing GPS running watches from a slew of brands, I had accepted what felt like a hard fact: When it comes to fitness, all of Garmin’s watches are so far ahead of the pack that it would be almost impossible for any other company to catch up. I’ve seen many companies try and fail. If I wanted to track a workout or map a run, I’d probably strap on a Garmin.

However, a year or so ago, one company started making me pause. Coros, a California company that started out making bike helmets, of all things, began sponsoring some athletes with serious star power. The celebrity pro ultrarunner Coree Woltering, who ran the fastest known time on the Ice Age Trail and won hearts on the World’s Toughest Race, wears a Coros. So does Eliud Kipchoge, the world record holder for the marathon.

It’s like watching every Nike-signed athlete suddenly migrate to a completely different shoe. What is Eliud Kipchoge doing? But it wasn’t until I saw Des Linden set a new world record with a Coros watch that I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to test the tech. Coros sent me its Pace 2, and—surprise!—it’s now my new favorite running watch too.

Feathery Friend

Let’s start off with the most striking feature. The Pace 2 is light. It weighs 29 grams, which is lighter by a few grams than its closest obvious competitor, the Garmin Forerunner 45. It’s so light that I barely even noticed I was wearing it.

Coros watch
Photograph: Coros

You also have the option to switch out the perforated silicone band for a nylon one to save even more weight, although I prefer the convenience of soaping and rinsing a silicone band to handwashing the sweat out of a nylon one. (And yes, I know it’s disgusting, but if you’re having irritation on your wrist under your fitness tracker, you probably need to wash that strap.)

The Coros watch has two buttons, as compared to Garmin’s five buttons. One of the buttons rotates like a digital crown to scroll through activities, while one other button selects the highlighted option, and the last one navigates back to the previous step. Operation is very simple.

The screen is simple too. Rather than the Garmin’s crisp, clear, light-up memory-in-pixel display that you can tinker with and customize, the Pace 2 has a basic LCD screen. You can choose different faces and select your color scheme, but your choices are limited. Honestly, I prefer it that way. And sports watches don’t have to have the best possible screens. An LCD is usually fine.

An LCD screen is also a low-energy component, which I found especially helpful when I went camping. My family is outdoors a lot, and nothing is more annoying than going on an impromptu trail run to discover that your battery has died. The Garmin Instinct Solar I tested last year could supplement several days’ worth of battery life with solar charging, but it turns out that you don’t need to worry about recharging your battery—by any means—when the battery itself is epically long-lived.

The New Nintendo OLED Switch Is a Small but Punchy Upgrade

The New Nintendo OLED Switch Is a Small but Punchy Upgrade

After months of fan speculation, Nintendo today confirmed rumors that a new Switch console is on the way. Nintendo’s updated OLED model for the Nintendo Switch will arrive October 8, the same day as the highly anticipated Metroid Dread.

The OLED model—no cute or snappy name yet—replaces the Nintendo Switch’s 6-inch 720p LCD panel with a 7-inch OLED screen. LCD screens rely on a backlight for illumination, while individual pixels on an OLED screen produce their own light, which means the screen offers myriad advantages: better viewing angles, deeper blacks, and higher brightness levels that should help make playing outside in direct sunlight less of a squint-fest. Notably, Nintendo’s announcement does not mention 4K, which last-gen consoles like the Xbox One S and X and the PlayStation 4 Pro all boasted. (The standard Switch model outputs at 1080p when it’s docked.)

At $350, the new model will cost $50 more than the standard Switch but does come with some quality-of-life improvements beyond that OLED display. A built-in ethernet port will make a huge difference for anyone who plays online Switch games like Super Smash Bros. Ethernet connectivity will cut down on frustrating lag between players competing in multiplayer titles. And instead of the widely maligned dinky, fragile back-stand of the current generation, the OLED model has a wide, adjustable stand for tabletop mode, for anyone who wants to play Switch games with friends on airplanes or at coffee shops. It’s a long, rectangular bar that spans most of the console.

The new Switch will also have 64 GB of internal storage and “enhanced audio for handheld and tabletop play,” but Nintendo did not elaborate on what exactly that entails. It comes with white Joy-Cons and a white dock or Joy-Cons in the traditional red and blue. (Nintendo says that old Joy-Cons work on this model as well.)

The OLED model doesn’t appear to be a significant step forward for Nintendo hardware. Many of these upgrades simply take the Switch to a bar of quality it arguably should have cleared when it released in 2017: The Switch released with a puny 32 GB of storage, requiring many consumers to invest in expensive SD cards. Its battery life is listed at 4.5 to nine hours—the same as the base Switch model, despite the upgraded display—with your mileage varying depending on the game. All of which might be appealing if you’re new to Switch, but without 4K, or even a greater variety of hardware color options, it’s hard to justify as an upgrade. An exception might be if your Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are borked, an endemic problem that has sparked more than one lawsuit. Nintendo is not changing the Joy-Con controller configuration or functionality with the new OLED model.

Nintendo has been in a creative rut for some time now. As the era of Splatoon 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 approaches, that same stagnation appears to apply to its hardware as well.

Updated 12:17 pm ET, 7/6/2021: This story has been updated to include more information about the Joy-Con controllers for the OLED model.

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Amazon’s New Buds Make It Easier to Summon Alexa Than Ever

Amazon’s New Buds Make It Easier to Summon Alexa Than Ever

If you’re in love with Alexa, Amazon’s first-generation Echo Buds were a great pair of headphones. Sure, they didn’t have the same sound quality or noise-canceling abilities as premium options from Apple and Samsung, but they were cheap, decent, and worked better with Amazon’s voice assistant than any other pair.

With its second generation, the Seattle-based tech giant refines its buds to something even more competitive. Wireless charging and noise-canceling join a brand-new pair of 5.7-mm drivers and beamforming microphones to create what’s probably the best overall experience in wireless earbuds below $150.

Add to that some of the best app integration available today, and the new Echo Buds are some of my favorite jack-of-all-trades headphones.

New for Gen Two

The new Echo Buds don’t really resemble their predecessors, apart from being made from the same matte plastic. The old case was more flat than tall, with the earbuds sitting at an angle inside, while the new wireless charging case is tall and thin.

They look and feel more streamlined. The buds themselves are now totally round on the outside, and what previously were two shiny, raised touch controls are now indistinguishable from the rest of the headphones, save for the Amazon arrow logo.

Noise-canceling chips, new mics, and better drivers mean the new Echo Buds feel a touch bulky, though they’re still 21 percent smaller than their predecessors. Still, I had no problem with them in my average-sized earholes; they land firmly in the post-Frankenstein’s Monster era of wireless earbuds.

Finding the right fit is a big priority for Amazon. Pop open the case, pair them to the Alexa app on your phone, and it’ll make sure that you’ve chosen the right ear tip size (Amazon includes four options, as well as two sizes of silicone earfins), thanks to a fit test inside the app.

Amazon Echo Buds and ear tips
Photograph: Amazon

I like the Echo Buds’ fit a bit more than AirPods Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends), because they don’t have the little elephant trunks of the AirPods, but I’ve got to hand it to Apple on noise-canceling. Even with the wrong size of eartips on Apple’s flagship earbuds, they reduce background noise noticeably better than these Amazon buds. Still, the Echo Buds beat AirPods Pro on battery life (5 hours with noise-canceling to Apple’s 4), and they come with a quick charging capability that will get you 2 hours of listening with a 15-minute trip to the wall.

As with most non-Apple headphones, the Echo Buds work better with Android phones than iPhones, though they are compatible with Siri and Google Assistant, in addition to Amazon’s own helper. I spent the vast majority of my listening time using a Samsung Note 20 Ultra 5G that Samsung provided me on long-term loan, and they worked flawlessly. I even paired them to my Galaxy Watch with ease.

Alexa Onboard

If you like Alexa. the best part about the buds is how easy they make it to summon Amazon’s AI assistant. I liked using the Echo Buds to set timers, check the weather before runs, and check my schedule with my hands free.

Obviously, your mileage will vary based on how much you like voice assistants and Alexa in particular, but it’s worth trying the voice-activation feature before you turn it off.