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Ears-On: The 4th Gen Astro A40 TR Headset + Mixamp TR Improves Upon Perfection

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If you’ve ever shopped around for a gaming headset then you’ve surely heard of Astro Gaming. For years, the company has released some of the very best headsets on the market. Its most famous product is the Astro A40 TR, which professional players swear by. The company recently released the fourth generation of its classic headset, also named the Astro A40 TR + Mixamp TR. I was sent a unit for review and put it through its paces. I’ve tested out many headsets in recent years and can easily say the Astro A40 TR is the best headset on the market.

The Astro A40 TR + Mixamp TR comes in an oversized box containing the headset, the mixamp, and a detachable boom mic. You’ll also find a 3.0m Micro-USB Cable, 2.0m A40 TR Inline Mute Cable, 3.0m TOSlink Optical Cable, and 0.5m Digital Daisy Chain Cable. Technically, users only need to plug the auxiliary cable directly into their PC or console of choice to use the headset. However, to get the most of out the A40, you’re going to need all of those other aforementioned cables to use with the mixamp. Note that the mixamp only works with PC and PS4.

The headset is lightweight and feels great to wear, even during extended gaming sessions. Two metal tubes connect the ear cups to the headband and you can slide the ear cups up or down as needed. You can swap out the ear cushions, microphone, headband, and speaker tags. You can replace all of these parts with a separately sold modkit to give your headset a more personal touch. I really liked how the headset felt on my big head. The soft cushion ear cups that envelop one’s ears are especially comfortable. They don’t cancel outside noises as well as other headsets, but it wasn’t an issue for me. I don’t like completely cutting myself off from the outside world when gaming.

Aesthetically, the A40 TR is both stylish and practical. Black plastic surrounds the headband and ear cups, while the metal tubes connecting them are silver. The metal tubes resemble antennas and give the headset a somewhat retro vibe. On the sides of the ear cups are glossy removable speaker tags with the Astro logo on one, and the A40 logo on the other. Both look sleek and discreet. The speaker tag with Astro emblazoned on it has a hole for the boom mic, which you can use on either ear. I like how minimalist the headset is. It looks good resting on your head or sitting on your desk.

To get the most out of the A40 TR, you’ll need to use the Mixamp TR. This small box has two large knobs on top. The bigger of the two is for adjusting the overall volume, while the smaller knob lets you balance between chat and game audio. There are four presets between the buttons, though I found the “AR” preset works best. The back contains a number of ports, the most important being the optical and USB ports. There’s also a switch in the back that lets you swap between PC and PS4. Professional players will appreciate the daisy chain ports that let them connect multiple mixamps. The stream port lets you connect to a PC or capture card to capture all of the audio into one source. You can do a lot via the Mixamp.

The USB and optical cables for the mixamp are lengthy. Since I had the mixamp next to the PS4, I ended up with a jumble of cables on the floor. However, if you can’t have the mixamp near your system, you’ll appreciate the cables’ lengths. Unfortunately, the inline cable you plug into the mixamp isn’t as long as the USB or optical cables. I had almost no slack while playing, requiring me to sit closer to my TV than usual. If you play using a monitor on your desk, this won’t be an issue, but it was for me. It isn’t a deal breaker, but I kept worrying I’d yank the mixamp if I moved too much.

To test the sound quality, I played The Division 2, Days Gone, and the Castlevania Collection on PS4. On PC, I played Doom and Sonic Mania. The headset does a fantastic job of transporting you into the open worlds of The Division 2 and Days Gone. Every sound came through clearly, including softly blowing winds, chirping birds, running rivers, and wandering animals (both friendly and otherwise). When the action ramped up, gunfire, explosions, and screaming came through with crystal clarity. Retro games sound great as well, even if they’re not as aurally complex.

One downside in the audio department is there’s no inline volume control. You can only adjust the volume through the mixamp, meaning you’ll either have to pause the game or wait for a lull in the action. If the mixamp is far from you (as was the case with me), the issue becomes more prominent. Every game has different sounds so you’ll need to find a balance where you hear every subtle noise but don’t have your ears blown out when the action picks up.

This is a gaming headset but you can use it to listen to your favorite tunes either at home or on the go. Though sound quality is excellent for video games, I find it comes up lacking for music. There’s a decided lack of bass, which makes music sound thin and less impactful. If you’re on the road or inside a train, you probably won’t notice this, but you will if you’re in a quiet room. I suggest using the A40 for gaming as intended and to use a different headset to listen to music.

The boom mic captures one’s voice perfectly. A lot of headsets tend to make your voice sound thin and trebly. The A40 has some of that, but definitely not as much as I’ve experienced before. I recorded myself on my PC and liked what I heard. Friends who I played The Division 2 with also said I sounded better than I do when using my beloved Hyper Cloud II headset. If you’re a full or part time streamer, you won’t have to worry about your voice sounding crappy with the A40 TR.

I can’t speak for the original version of the Astro A40 TR + Mixamp TR but I find its current iteration absolutely brilliant. It looks great, feels good to wear, and really pulls you into whatever game you’re playing. At $249.99 (available on Amazon), it is an expensive peripheral. However, if you’re a professional gamer or just a really dedicated enthusiast, it is worth every single penny. The A40 is now my default headset and I highly recommend it.

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You’ll Need Very Deep Pockets to Book Airbnb Luxe Accommodation


Always dreamt of spending a night in a French castle or Tuscan villa? Airbnb’s got you covered.

The lodging service this week introduced Luxe: a new rental tier aimed at people with cash to burn: lavish accommodations cost more than $1,000 per night*.

Boasting homes that are “destinations in themselves,” Airbnb has offerings for every type of one-percenter:

Literary fans may seek inspiration (and beachfront views) at The Fleming Villa in Jamaica, where Ian Fleming wrote his famous spy novels. Introverts, meanwhile, can plan the ideal vacation by booking an entire island (with its own self-declared time zone) in French Polynesia.

“Airbnb Luxe provides access to unique and spectacular properties with dedicated trip designers to ensure bespoke experiences and services to make every stay truly magical,” the company wrote in an announcement.

The new platform—based on the “deep expertise” Airbnb gained from its 2017 acquisition of Luxury Retreats—launches with more than 2,000 handpicked homes around the world.

Each dwelling must pass meet 300-plus criteria in design and function: everything from premium materials and rare features to group spaces, chef-grade appliances, and “the proper amount of bathrooms corresponding to each bedroom.”

The medieval farm-to-table experience of Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany, the eco-friendly design of Te Kahu in New Zealand, and the chef, driver, and butler services that come with Grace Bay Residences in Turks and Caicos don’t hurt, either.

Each Airbnb Luxe booking promises 24/7 access to a trip designer—a sort of personal travel agent—who will ensure the stay is tailored to your needs (including arranging childcare, private chefs, in-house massage therapists, and, for the truly dedicated, personal training sessions in a private gym).

“Today’s luxury traveler is craving more than just high-end accommodations,” Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement. “They seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination.”

As impossibly out-of-reach these Caribbean islands and ski chalets seem to most people, there appears to be a real market for luxury properties and experiences.

In 2018, the number of Airbnb booking for listings worth at least $1,000 per night increased more than 60 percent (to what number, it isn’t clear).

The hospitality firm recently announced a new Adventures program, which offers extraordinary experiences like the chance to travel around the world in 80 days, track lions on foot in Kenya, and hunt for UFOs in Arizona. Perhaps a six-day Galapagos Slow Food Safari or camping on a Colorado cliff is more your style.

Ranging in price from $79 for an overnight trip to $5,000 for a 10-day trek, adventures are led by local experts and meet certain quality and safety standards.

* Much, much, much more

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Amazon Prime Day 2019 Promises 48 Hours of Deals

Get Your First Big Fish Game for $2.99 (reg. $9.99)!

Next month’s Amazon Prime Day 2019 will be a two-day parade of deals.

The annual sale kicks off at midnight PT on Monday, July 15, and—for the first time ever—runs for a full 48 hours.

Subscribers have two days to shop more than 1 million deals, including limited-time offers and exclusive launches. (I am most looking forward to stocking up on discounted Alexa-enabled devices.)

“Get ready, as we pull back the curtain to reveal exclusive products, special performances, and two full days of phenomenal deals this Prime Day,” Jeff Wilke, CEO of worldwide consumer at Amazon, said in a statement.

Mark-downs apply to Prime members the world over: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates (new this year), the UK, and the US.

To participate, sign up online to join Prime or start a 30-day free trial.

“Our vision is that Prime Day should be the absolute best time to be a member,” Wilke said. “When you can enjoy shopping, savings, entertainment, and some of the best deals Prime members have ever seen.”

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Whether you brazenly browse on the office computer, hide your habits in a bathroom stall, or take a “sick day” to stay home and spend money, Amazon encourages buyers to remain alert.

You don’t have to wait three weeks for the deals roll in, though.

Starting today, Prime members can save $120 on a Toshiba HD 43-inch Fire TV Edition Smart TV—now only $179.99 (through June 30, or while supplies last).

Also available now: Alexa-compatible Jabra Elite85h wireless headphones with SmartSound and the iOttie Easy One Touch Connect smartphone car mount.

Plus, members can gear up for Prime Day in-home deliveries with 40 percent off the Key for Garage myQ Smart Garage Hub + Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition) kit, on sale for the reasonable price of $99.98.

As part of the company’s 20th anniversary, Amazon launched Prime Day in 2015, hoping to entice buyers with discount prices on a scale you’d expect to see only on Black Friday.

The inaugural event—a mix of “Deals of the Day” and “Lightning Deals”—lasted 24 hours. Prime Day 2017 boasted 30 hours of deals for techies, beauty fans, gamers, kids, home chefs, bookworms, fitness buffs, DIYers, sports enthusiasts, and other stereotypes.

Last year, Prime members had a record 36 hours to shop.

At this rate, the 2024 affair will last all week.

“Stay tuned as we reveal exclusive savings at Whole Foods Market, thousands of new product launches, as well as world-class entertainment and more, leading up to Prime Day,” Wilke said.

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Google Wants to Teach Kids About Phishing, Fake News

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When I was a kid, the only computer literacy I learned was Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.

Fast forward 25 years, and there is a whole online world children must learn to navigate.

Thankfully, Google is here to help.

The company in 2017 introduced its “Be Internet Awesome” curriculum to teach young people the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety.

Now it’s launching six new activities designed to aid kids in analyzing and evaluating online media.

Developed in partnership with the Net Safety Collaborative and National Association for Media Literacy Education, the new program covers everything from responsible communication and fake news to personal security and anti-bullying.

“We need the right tools and resources to help kids make the most of technology,” Amy Mascott, educator and founder of, wrote in a Google blog post. “And while good digital safety and citizenship resources exist for families, more can be done for media literacy.”

Through instruction, activities, and discussions, these new classes provide students with vital information, like how to avoid phishing attacks, prevent identity theft, identify credible sources, spot fake URLs, create strong passwords, recognize harassment or bullying, and more.

Frankly, we could all use a refresher course on how to be a decent person on the Internet.

“Kids today need a guide to the Internet and media just as they need instruction on other topics,” Mascott said. “We need help teaching them about credible sources, the power of words and images, and more importantly, how to be smart and savvy when seeing different media while browsing the Web.”

Google’s new curriculum is available online in English, Spanish, and eight other languages for teachers, parents, and guardians.

Its overall goal, according to TechCrunch, is to encourage kids to make checking news and information a habit—not only those headlines and links that seem suspicious.

The company is partnering with the YMCA and National PTA to host online safety workshops across multiple cities.

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