I typically have headphones on when
I'm home in New York, whether it's during a jog or a commute. I often
crank the volume up, at the risk of hearing loss, so that I could hear
my favorite podcasts over loud subways and honking cars.
excited to see noise-cancelling technology in Sony's new Xperia Z2
smartphone. I've resisted investing in pricey noise-cancelling sets
because I'm prone to lose or break them. If it's going to be built into a
phone, perhaps I can use that instead of my iPod.
Alas, I find
the new feature to be more promise than practical, based on the brief
time I had with the phone at this week's Mobile World Congress wireless
show in Barcelona, Spain.
But first, I'll go through other
features that may appeal to some people. The phone is due to come out in
March. Sony hasn't announced a price, though its phones typically sell
for $500 to $600 in the U.S. without subsidies or a contract.
Sony's smartphones are distinctive in being waterproof. It's
not something I've felt that I've needed, but you might find it useful
if you work as a lifeguard or live near a beach.
That's even better than the 16 megapixels in Samsung's new
Galaxy S5. But lens quality and the focus mechanism are also important. I
didn't get to try out the Z2's camera, but it's the same one in the
Xperia Z1s, which I've had mixed results with.
4K video recording
It's impressive that the phone can capture video with four
times the details as full high-definition video. But 4K displays are
still expensive, so you won't appreciate the extra sharpness for a
while. It's more for people who want to take quality video now for the
day 4K becomes more common.
Now, back to the noise. The phone
analyzes ambient noise and produces a countering signal. In simple
terms, if the noise is a 7, the phone subtracts 7 to bring it to zero.
If the noise is a 5, the phone subtracts 5.
requires special in-ear headphones, which Sony is selling for 60 euros
($82). A sensor in the earpiece detects the noise, so the phone knows
what countering signal to send. This approach keeps the headphones
smaller and cheaper than typical noise-cancelling headphones.
Noise cancellation is optimized for the office, for planes and for buses or trains. You choose one in the settings.
tried the headphones surrounded by simulated train and plane noise. The
technology works, but it doesn't filter out the external noise
completely. It also requires me to press the earpiece deep into my ears
to notice a difference.
Sony tells me the earpiece covers come in
three sizes, so a larger one might have helped. I look forward to
testing the feature more thoroughly.
For now, I'll keep my iPod.
MWC 2014 in pictures