Factor reviews: Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 2

Bang & Olufsen has a reputation for making achingly beautiful tech with a price tag to match, so if you’re on the market for a wireless speaker that can be your main sound system for years to come, and – importantly – money is no option, look no further than the BeoSound 2.

Looking like the result of an illicit union between an Airsteam and darlek, the speaker is incredibly stylish and built to an extremely high quality, resulting in an object that would be an excellent aesthetic addition to a modern home, even if it didn’t actually do anything.

Encased in aluminium, it is a pleasure to look at and interact with, featuring an extremely pleasing and intuitive control system where the top can be twisted to adjust the volume.  There is no bewildering array of buttons and settings; music is simply sent to the speaker via connected devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – with very good compatibility with all the usual suspects – and plays without having to mess about or manually reconnect. Subtle sounds are also used to indicate events such as a device connecting, in a manner that feels natural and very easy to understand.

And then there is the sound. My god, the sound. The BeoSound 2 is described as having 360° sound, which it certainly does, but what Bang & Olufsen’s marketing material fails to do is describe how textured that sound feels. It has depth and feeling, in a manner I’ve only ever heard before with vinyl, and it’s truly pleasant to have playing, even if the music in question is decidedly sub-par. One very minor gripe was that some genres sounded a little bassier than may be desired, but I’ve yet to encounter a luxury speaker where this isn’t the case.

The volume, too, is hellishly impressive. At half-volume we were able to broadcast music to our entire open-plan office, and at full volume we could have easily provided tunes for a rave. Basically, I challenge you to find a room this speaker wouldn’t manage to fill, and if it does exist, it would almost certainly be able to house a small herd of elephants.

The initial setup was a little less than smooth, involving an app that doesn’t quite match B&O’s usual quality levels, but once this was completed we didn’t have to worry about it again once. And when our office Wi-Fi decided to give up for a few minutes, the speaker neatly reconnected without intervention, and continued to play whatever nonsense we were subjecting it to without complaint.

In short, if money was no issue, I’d be recommending this to everyone without hesitation. But unfortunately it is, and for most people it’s going to be a rather big sticking point. Because the BeoSound 2 isn’t just not cheap; it’s really very expensive, setting you back an eye-watering £1,475. And if that sounds like a lot of money to you – and it certainly does to me – then it’s probably not going to be worth it.

But if you are looking for a speaker that will likely last for years and supports a wide enough range of different services that it’s unlikely to become obsolete any time soon, and you are willing to pay over a grand for such an item, then you should definitely consider the BeoSound 2. It looks and sounds amazing.

Factor’s verdict:

Researchers discover remains of “Triassic Jaws” who dominated the seas after Earth’s most severe mass extinction event

Researchers have discovered the fossil remains of an unknown large predatory fish called Birgeria: an approximately 1.8-meter-long primitive bony fish with long jaws and sharp teeth that swallowed its prey whole.

Swiss and US researchers led by the Paleontological Institute and Museum of the University of Zurich say the Birgeria dominated the sea that once covered present-day Nevada one million years after the mass extinction.

Its period of dominance began following “the most catastrophic mass extinction on Earth”, which took place about 252 million years ago – at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geological periods.

Image courtesy of UZH. Featured image courtesy of Nadine Bösch

Up to 90% of the marine species of that time were annihilated, and before the discovery of the Birgeria, palaeontologists had assumed that the first predators at the top of the food chain did not appear until the Middle Triassic epoch about 247 to 235 million years ago.

“The surprising find from Elko County in northeastern Nevada is one of the most completely preserved vertebrate remains from this time period ever discovered in the United States,” emphasises Carlo Romano, lead author of the study.

Although, species of Birgeria existed worldwide. The most recent discovery belongs to a previously unknown species called Birgeria Americana, and is the earliest example of a large-sized Birgeria species, about one and a half times longer than geologically older relatives.

The researchers say the discovery of Birgeria is proof that food chains recovered quicker than previously thought from Earth’s most devastating mass extinction event.

According to earlier studies, marine food chains were shortened after the mass extinction event and recovered only slowly and stepwise.

However, finds such as the newly discovered Birgeria species and the fossils of other vertebrates now show that so-called apex predators (animals at the very top of the food chain) already lived early after the mass extinction.

“The vertebrates from Nevada show that previous interpretations of past biotic crises and associated global changes were too simplistic,” said Romano.

Revolutionary DNA sunscreen gives better protection the longer its worn

Researchers have developed a ground-breaking sunscreen made of DNA that offers significant improvements over conventional versions.

Unlike current sunscreens, which need to be reapplied regularly to remain effective, the DNA sunscreen improves over time, offering greater protection the longer it is exposed to the sun.

In addition, it also keeps the skin hydrated, meaning it could also be beneficial as a treatment for wounds in extreme or adverse environments.

Developed by researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, the innovative sunscreen could prove essential as temperatures climb and many are increasingly at risk of conditions caused by excessive UV exposure, such as skin cancer.

“Ultraviolet (UV) light can actually damage DNA, and that’s not good for the skin,” said Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University.

“We thought, let’s flip it. What happens instead if we actually used DNA as a sacrificial layer? So instead of damaging DNA within the skin, we damage a layer on top of the skin.”

The DNA sunscreen has the potential to become a standard, significantly improving the safety of spending time in the sun

The research, which is published today in the journal Scientific Reports, involved the development of thin crystalline DNA films.

These films are transparent in appearance, but able to absorb UV light; when the researchers exposed the film to UV light, they found that its absorption rate improved, meaning the more UV is was exposed to, the more it absorbed.

“If you translate that, it means to me that if you use this as a topical cream or sunscreen, the longer that you stay out on the beach, the better it gets at being a sunscreen,” said German.

The film will no doubt attract the attention of sunscreen manufacturers, who will likely be keen to commercialise such a promising product. However, the researchers have not said if there is any interest as yet, and if there is any clear timeline to it becoming a commercial product.

 

The film’s properties are not just limited to sun protection, however. The DNA film can also store water at a far greater rate than conventional skin, limiting water evaporation and increasing the skin’s hydration.

As a result, the film is also being explored as a wound covering, as it would allow the wound to be protected from the sun, keep it moist – an important factor for improved healing – and allow the wound to be monitored without needing to remove the dressing.

“Not only do we think this might have applications for sunscreen and moisturizers directly, but if it’s optically transparent and prevents tissue damage from the sun and it’s good at keeping the skin hydrated, we think this might be potentially exploitable as a wound covering for extreme environments,” said German.