Ever used a piece of hi-fi or home cinema kit and, despite loving most of what it does, there’s always been a couple of areas that you feel could be improved? I’m not talking necessarily about the picture or sound quality departments, but more about the user experience.
Well, that’s exactly how I’ve felt about the Sony WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds ever since I slid a pair into my ears shortly after they went on sale in June 2021. They’re great all-rounders and fully deserving of their five-star status, but ever since launch, they’ve been missing one key feature. It's a feature that their over-ear relatives, the WH-1000XM4 and their latest incarnation, the WH-1000XM5 have in their arsenal. And it's called Multipoint Bluetooth. I know it doesn't sound much, but trust me this is a game-changer.
And, thanks to a recently announced software update, it looks like my prayers are about to be answered…
Great headphones could become even greater
It’s worth repeating, the lack of Multipoint Bluetooth is only a minor niggle. It's something we noted in our WF-1000XM4 review but it doesn't mean they should be dismissed. After all, they're not the first pair of wireless headphones not to have the feature and the fact they’ve been my go-to wireless earbuds of choice for the last 18 months or so shows they're doing something right.
Actually, they do a lot of things right. You’ve got that trademark Sony musicality which keeps you entertained across genres, while there’s also detail and dynamics in abundance. The quality of noise-cancelling is excellent as is the call quality when you want to chat hands-free. They really are superb all-rounders and it’s no surprise they’re two-time What Hi-Fi? Award winners.
But in all my time using them, for me, there’s been that one fly in the audio ointment. It’s not a huge problem, of course, not in the grand scheme of things, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Also, spending time using the WH-1000XM5 over-ear headphones and the WH-1000XM4 before them, both of which have Multipoint Bluetooth, makes you realise how much you miss the feature when it’s not there.
What's the big deal about Multipoint?
Casually dropped in at the end of a press release for its new ocean-saving LinkBuds S Earth Blue wireless earbuds was a paragraph headed “Multipoint connection function to become available”. The main announcement concerned the fact Multipoint Bluetooth is coming to Sony’s LinkBuds and LinkBuds S earbuds this month, but the last few words also confirmed that the feature is making its way to the WF-1000XM4. Hallelujah.
Multipoint Bluetooth doesn’t sound that exciting, but for someone who spends a lot of their day chained to their laptop and smartphone, it can be hugely useful and, dare I even say, life-enhancing.
It allows you to be connected to two different sources simultaneously, so I can be watching a video on my work laptop but also switch to answering a call on my mobile without having to remove an earpiece, or hurriedly try and pair my phone with my headphones in record time. It never ends well.
Sure, it's not exactly a life-or-death scenario, but you’d be surprised how a small feature like this can remove a speed bump and smooth the flow of daily life. Your tech should be doing the hard work to make your life more convenient, not putting obstacles in your path.
The big question is when?
My only slight worry is that the press release says the update for the WF-1000XM4 will be available at some point “this winter”. Automatically, I’m wondering when exactly will I be able to throw a celebratory fist pump to herald its arrival.
Are we talking winter as in December 2022 or January 2023? Technically (well, according to Google) winter ends on the 20th March 2023, so you can see why I’m a little concerned. Sony’s track record for delivering key software updates to its TVs historically has been a little hit and miss – its VRR update for 2021 models finally arrived in March 2022 – but I’m really hoping I won’t have long to wait to be able to take advantage of this simple yet hugely effective feature. We’ll be sure to bring you news of the big software drop just as soon as Sony confirms it…
Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review
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