I’ve left the Medium Paywall behind

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Due to recent changes at Medium, I no longer believe the business model of the platform is a good fit for my content. To that end, I’ve taken all of my stories out from behind the Medium paywall, and every article I have live here is 100 percent free to read. I will still post here at times in the future, and I’ll also be posting content over at my personal site www.worldbolding.com.

I’ll still be writing all sorts of great stuff each and every month about games, tech, and music.

If you’d like to support me directly, I have…

It’s time for a tech labor reckoning

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Apple had a terrible revelation come out at the end of 2020, but thanks to other pressing news like the slow rolling chaos of the pandemic and the recent failed US insurrection, I’m worried that it went unnoticed by too many.

Right at the end of December, the online premium business publication The Information released a report showing that Apple knowingly relied on child labor for three years from one of their MacBook suppliers (roughly 2013–2016) without doing anything meaningful about it. …

Not all legends are good

Photo taken by the author.

Koss is an icon in the headphone industry, and deservedly so! I’ve loved basically every Koss product I’ve ever used, from the classic Porta Pro to the stunningly neutral KPH30i to the surprisingly comfy and cheap UR20.

The company has a long history of making excellent and important audio gear. About 50 years ago, they launched the Pro 4AA, a large and rugged set of studio headphones that’s remained on the market for nearly that entire span of time. …

Comfort, fun sound, and a frustrating dongle

Photo taken by the author.

The current “big” Razer Kraken is an iteration of a design that first launched way back in 2016. Then called the Kraken V2, it was a complete overhaul of Razer’s most iconic headset. It ditched the plastic frame and boomy sound profile for a refined metal design and something one step closer to accurate.

In 2018, after buying THX, Razer released the Tournament Edition upgrade to the headset, adding oval-shaped cooling gel ear pads, a thicker headband, and a THX Spatial Audio USB dongle into the mix.

A couple of weeks ago, Razer released the first “V3” Kraken product, but…

Impressions on products that didn’t make the cut

Screenshot captured on an Xbox Series S by the author.

I take no pleasure in writing reviews of bad products, but sometimes a thing just isn’t that good. Whether it’s a pair of headphones that doesn’t fit right on my head, a gaming headset that ships with a metal screw lodged inside of it magnetically, or a port of a game that just can’t maintain a framerate, bad things are out there.

However, there’s a difference between something being bad and something being broken. I like to review things that feel like they’re finished enough to actually release, and that are free of manufacturing defects. …

The standard ad model and direct reader support are both far superior

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NOTE: I’m republishing this piece free-of-charge which I first wrote for OneZero back in 2019. I’m no longer placing articles behind Medium’s Paywall, but the system threw a fit about me making this article free, so I’ve constructed this new version instead and deleted the old one. Enjoy!

The worst, most outlandish nightmares concocted by the loudest online skeptics of tech journalism are no longer just hate-filled rhetoric. Now they’re true.

Many of the smaller, more “independent” online reviewers aren’t just trying to give you their honest opinions about the latest gadget or video game. They’re also increasingly acting as…

The perfect balance of price and performance

Photo taken by the author.

NOTE: HyperX graciously sent me a final retail unit of this keyboard to review at my discretion alongside marketing assets and technical information. I don’t receive a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. I wasn’t sponsored to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.

Click here to see my reviews policy.

HyperX’s Alloy Origins Core TKL gaming keyboard first launched at the end of 2019, and it featured custom HyperX Red linear mechanical switches. …

The worst modern Razer headset?

Photo taken by the author.

The new Razer Kraken V3 X, at $69, is the cheapest headset in their lineup to offer full Chroma RGB lighting support. It’s also using the pads and microphone from the $59 BlackShark V2 X, the frame from the $39-$49 Kraken X, and new smaller 40mm TriForce drivers. It’s a true recycled product cobbled together out of other Razer designs that baffled me on first announcement and launch last week.

After a week of use, it didn’t really redeem itself. …

Asking for a friend

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Thank you for clicking on this. If you’ve loved my stories so far and want to keep finding them in a potential future where Medium falls apart, please check out www.worldbolding.com or find me as Xander51 on Twitter.

Medium is having a bad month. Last week, it came out that buyout packages were offered to the entire ~80 person editorial staff, who were responsible for running and producing its flagship publications and also commissioning freelance writers to bolster their content.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing some work with OneZero in the past on a few different occasions, and it…

Almost good enough to redeem the concept

Photo taken by the author.

In the crowded world of closed back studio headphones, you can’t do much better than the AKG K361 and K371. They were both a big blow to the market, long dominated by models from Sony and Audio-Technica. For their prices, they offer astounding audio performance, packed into designs that look more suited to the street than the studio.

That visual conundrum made a bit more sense once the wireless versions released. Unfortunately, the K371-BT was a disappointment for me. It was priced reasonably, but many small changes to the design made it uncomfortable and cumbersome. …

Alex Rowe

I write independent tech, game, music, and audio reviews and analysis from a consumer perspective. Support me directly at https://ko-fi.com/alexrowe

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