I was recently contacted by Elizabeth Reynolds from Reviews.com regarding their analysis of active noise-canceling headphones. For the upper ends of the price range, the headphones listed are definitely solid purchases. As someone partial to Bose, I certainly can’t argue with their placement!
There are a few more affordable headphone options for consideration, though, for those not able to spend $200+ for headphones. I’ve listed a couple of my personal favorites below. All the links below are for Amazon’s Smile, where a portion of your purchases will go to a charity of your choice at no cost to you.
Over The Ear
Audio-Technica ANC7B is my go-to pair when it comes to affordable over-the-ear active noise-canceling headphones. While they go for ~$200 new, you can get factory refurbished headphones for less than half that price. I picked my pair up for $67, and they’re going strong more than a year in! Reducing background noise by 90%, these are amazing for long flights. An added bonus is that you can use the headphones with a dead battery by leaving ANC off. The headphones come with a carrying case, and extra adapters to use them on old-fashioned airline outputs.
Audio-Technica also released an ANC9 version which has 95% reduction. These headphones also have three distinct settings for sound isolation, allowing for greater control over your experience.
TaoTronics also has an over-the-ear offering that is even more affordable coming in at $54. This can further be reduced, for a limited time (with use of coupon code KINJA22J), bringing the final price to $37. In addition to these headphones being wireless (Bluetooth), they have an integrated microphone so you can take phone calls while you use them.
Bose’s QuietComfort25 headphones are currently marked down from $300 to $170, which is an excellent price for a pair that my coworkers have been using since their introduction to the market in 2014. I can safely say you will not regret this purchase.
In The Ear
TaoTronics also has a pair of in-ear headphones. The nice thing about these headphones is that you can charge the embedded battery while using them. This is not common for most ANC headphones, so this is a very nice feature. As with their over-the-ear headphones, this pair has an integrated microphone. For those that want to go wireless, a Bluetooth version is available. Both pairs come in at under $60.
It should come as no surprise that I also mention Audio-Technica’s ANC23 in-ear headphones. Offering an in-ear 90% isolation solution with a comfortable fit, it’s hard to say no for $40!
It’s not news that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to technology… I really like my toys! I even like reading about toys I have no intention of buying (curse you, responsibilities!), just to geek out over the underlying hardware.
After a great deal of deliberation and reading reviews on usability (digging through menus versus dials, extensive documentation, etc.), lens support (3rd party, and so on), and the underlying hardware, I settled on the Fuji X-E2. Using Amazon Smile, I found a used body and 18-55mm lens for only $580. As I was flying through JFK, I had a hard time saying no to seeing the SkyDeck. 😀
All the images below are straight JPEG captures from my camera. While the RAW images were nice, I was so impressed with the JPEG that I didn’t feel it necessary to do any real post-processing. If you are curious, here is an HDR image of the Sky Deck created using exposure bracketing (+/-1EV).
Here is what a similar post processed (exposure bracketed +/-1EV) HDR image of the Delta B764 looks like, if you are curious.
Overall I am thoroughly pleased with what this camera can do, and I already have a few lens purchases planned for next year.
Fuji XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 – Fuji’s “light” telephoto (the XF weighs ~580g instead of the XC’s 375g, and since I’ll be traveling with it the weight is important)
The Runner-Up: Sony α6000
While digging through all the reviews and various photoblogs, I came across a lot of high praise for Sony’s alpha line of mirrorless cameras. The α5100 and α6000 had quite a few fans scattered throughout the internet, and the continuous shooting (11fps on the α6000!) and impressive Hybrid (Phase Detection + Contrast) Auto-Focus certainly do impress. The α5100 wasn’t really an option for me since being force to use only an LCD is fairly limiting when you are outside in the sun (as with day-time shots at airports). The Electronic View Finder (EVF) on the α6000 is a much bigger selling point to me than the continuous shooting speed improvement, if I had to pick between the two.
What I found interesting was that the Hybrid Auto Focus has iffy success with the E-mount lenses (even though they are officially supported with one another). The other big problems with the α6000 come down to the lack of in-depth documentation on the various settings (which Fuji has a-plenty, thankfully), and the more “point and shoot” nature of the dials. All of that said, the same things that fall into the “cons” column for me might be seen as “pros” for other users. I can see this as an excellent transition camera, but it lacked the control that Fuji exposes in a more user-friendly manner. I’ve included a few lens recommendations if you’re interested. Give it a gander!
Winning the Wirecutter “best mid-range mirrorless” title, Olympus’s E-M10 Mk2 is an impressive piece of technology. The main reasons for this are the fact that it is an MFT (or m43, or μ43, etc.) camera, so it has access to over 70 (relatively speaking) inexpensive lenses and has 5-axis In Body Image Stabilization. There are quite a few features that would be nice for folks interested in video capture and time-lapse (4k time-lapse capture, 60p video capture, and quite a few other perks were introduced). In the end, though, the sensor size is simply too small for what I would like to do, so I opted for the larger APS-C model by Fuji. As with the Sony, above, I’ve listed a few lens recommendations below. One thing to note is that since this camera has stabilization within the body itself, be sure to turn it (or the lens stabilization) off if you use a lens that also has image stabilization. This is most common with Panasonic lenses as they have image stabilization which the bodies lack. If using an Olympus lens with an Olympus body, the camera does all the work for you.
No, I don’t mean the Messianic figure from the Matrix movies, I am referring to Airbus’s denotation of improved engine performance and mileage: “New Engine Option”. These two narrow-body planes are reported to have an improved fuel efficiency estimated at 15% over their traditional counterparts, which will allow them to fly from the East Coast to Western Europe. This efficiency is due to a combination of new manufacturing technologies (and materials) leading to lighter planes , more efficient engines, and wingtip devices to help reduce drag.
Until now, we were limited to 757 variants when it came to narrow-body options to cross the Atlantic. While the 757 does offer lie-flat seats in certain configurations – Raleigh to Paris on Delta, for example, it is definitely aging and it shows. More fuel efficient options should translate to cheaper tickets for the passengers, and more options as well.
The 737-MAX family will use the CFM LEAP-1B engine, which is larger and more efficient than the older CFM56 engines found on the bulk of the 737 fleet. The estimated range is between 4,000 and 4,400 nautical miles for all but the ‘MAX 200’ variant, which is unique to RyanAir as a variant of the 737-8.
Additionally, it will have new wingtip devices which further boost its fuel efficiency. This combination of wingtip technologies is referred to as a “split scimitar winglet” by Boeing.
Though Southwest will be the launch customer of the MAX 7 and MAX 8 variants (Lion Air will be the launch customer of the MAX 9 and RyanAir of the MAX 200), I fully expect other airlines to replace their aging 737 population with these, especially when it comes to profit margins and fuel costs.
A320neo & A321neo
Both the A320 and A321 narrow-body aircraft from Airbus offer ‘neo’ options, and both are driven by CFM LEAP engines, though -1A. As with the 737-MAX, these planes also have redesigned wingtip devices (referred to as ‘sharklets’ by Airbus).