Monday, June 5, 2023

ICYMI: We test Volkswagen’s ID.4 EV crossover

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Our reviews this week cross several categories: First, Andrew Tarantola drove the VW ID.4 EV around the Bay Area to see how Volkswagen fared with a compact SUV. Meanwhile, Nicole Lee really liked Mila’s smart air purifier, which has several filters and themed modes that can be customized. Billy Steele listened to Bose’s new Sport Open headphones, which are designed to sit just outside the ear to allow a better perception of his surroundings. And in a quest for better home security, Devindra Hardawar set up Arlo’s video doorbell and Pro 3 cameras around her home to see what the system could do. Nicole also considered several smart lights and clocks to see who deserves a place on your bedside table, and I tested four smart white noise makers designed for use in a nursery.


After driving the VW ID.4 EVAndrew Tarantola concluded that this was a solid first attempt at a practical electric car from the German manufacturer. The specifications of the ID.4 are similar to those of competing gasoline models like the Honda CRV: A 77.0 kWh lithium-ion battery develops 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. This means that the EV crossover took a little while to hit 60 mph – seven and a half seconds – which seemed absurd to Andrew. The vehicle also weighs over 4,600 pounds, which is sturdy for an electric vehicle.

The ID.4 has an EPA estimated range of 250 miles, which Andrew says makes it more geared towards urban runs and commuting near charging stations. Andrew felt a bit of range anxiety when testing the ID.4 for driving and how quickly the power gauge shrank, but the ID.4 supports fast charging protocols. which should help drivers get back up quickly. Despite the sparse interior, the odd gearshift, and the complicated infotainment controls, Andrew liked the car’s design and said the cabin was spacious and comfortable. He was surprised, however, by the lack of one-pedal handling and had some difficulty with the lane-keeping feature, but still said the ID.4 EV was worth considering.

Bose Sport open ear headphones

Billy Steele / Engadget

The Sport headphones open at $ 199 are similar to other true wireless products offered by Bose; the hard plastic buds are designed to hook onto the ear and sit just outside the ear canal. But these new headphones use 16mm speakers and acoustic ports to channel music directly to your ears. This is believed to increase comfort and allow the user to better hear their surroundings. They are also water resistant and have simple controls and a good 8 hour battery life. However, as Billy Steele found while testing heads, tradeoffs remain.

In particular, the sound quality was decent. While the music had decent clarity, a lack of bassy thump sucked the energy out of many songs. Billy said he finds them better for podcasts than many musical genres. Audio calls were going clearly, but the person on the other end could hear themselves with a lot of background noise. And while the open design meant Billy could hear everything around him, it also meant members of his household could hear what he was listening to even at low volumes. On top of that, there is no customization available in the app. These drawbacks made Billy wonder if the open design was worth compromising.

Mila air purifier

Nicole Lee / Engadget

While smart air purifiers have been on the market for a few years, Nicole Lee points out that the technology in these products often centers around a few features. Not so with the Mila air purifier, which offers more customization than most – although it comes at a cost. The $ 360 Mila impressed her with the features of its app as well as its performance and design, but at 12 inches wide by 15.5 inches high it has a pretty sizable footprint.

Nicole liked the variety of filters available for the Mila (seven in total), which are designed for different uses such as pet owners and parents. She tried both the Critter Cuddler, which worked well in removing litter odors, and the Basic Breather, which worked well for larger living spaces. She was also delighted with the ease of setup and the amount of detail available on the app for indoor and outdoor air quality ratings. She also found various settings like sleep mode and white noise mode useful. However, the whole system will cost you – Mila filters are proprietary and $ 59 a pop, and the Mila itself costs $ 100 more than competing devices.

Arlo Video Doorbell

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

When Devindra Hardawar was looking for a smart doorbell, he chose to try Arlo Video Doorbell because it doesn’t have the same privacy concerns as Amazon’s Ring cameras. Although he liked the sleek device and its features well enough to add some of the features of the company Pro 3 cameras, he had some difficulty getting the correct amount of power for the doorbell during setup. But once the video doorbell was properly installed, Devindra found a lot to love about 1080p video with HDR, smartphone alerts, and the extra coverage provided by additional cameras.

The Pro 3 cameras were much easier to set up and position, and the combination of Arlo’s doorbell and wireless cameras helped deter package thieves while also capturing footage of visiting wildlife. Devindra signed up for Arlo’s $ 10 per month Smart Premier Plan, which includes 2K video downloads, 30 days of backups, and the ability to specify zones for motion alerts. The app made it easy for him to view a library of alerts, and the HomeKit camera support allowed him to connect to Apple hardware and Siri. While it has experienced some issues with delays on the live stream and unnecessary motion alerts, it still plans to expand the setup with more cameras.


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