Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Favourite New Toy




This is a post I have been waiting to write for some time, and today is as good a time as any. I feel good finally doing another product review, it has been FAR too long since I did one, and I have gotten new toys in that time, so here comes what will hopefully the first of many reviews in the next little while.
For those of you who are familiar with my previous posts, I love anything that incorporates Bluetooth technology, be it a phone, computer or peripheral device. I own 3 different computers or "smart" devices which have Bluetooth connectivity, and I use Bluetooth technology more than once per day on each of these devices. However, when trying to leave the house to do something that required I not take anything with me, I found I was at a bit of a loss in terms of listening to music.

I have Bluetooth headphones (on-ear), but when I take them off they take up a lot of space, and can't easily just be put away anywhere, which is inconvenient for running errands or places where I don't have a bag or place to put things. Alternately, the first pair of Bluetooth earbuds I bought (which I decided did not even merit a review, more on that later) have a dongle at the end which contains the battery and Bluetooth transmitter. While this does allow for wireless listening, it does not make the experience any less bulky or cumbersome. The whole issue I have with wired headphones and wires in general is that they are prone to tangling, and the more wire you have, the easier it is to tangle.

This leads nicely into my review for today, which is for Plantronics' newest Bluetooth earphone model, the Backbeat Go. These earbuds are as simple as it gets, with all redundancy having been removed. Aside from the actual cord which holds together the earbuds and which carries in-line playback controls, these are essentially as minimal as earphones can get.

Normally, at this time in a product review which starts off saying how simple a concept and design is, this would be the place for a caveat about sound or manufacturing quality, but such a drawback doesn't exist for these earphones. They sound incredible, and are built very solidly, with no visible failure points. Another concern with earphones, especially ones which are not mechanically connected to any device, such as by a 3.5 mm connection, is that they might fall out of your ears and be lost forever. This doesn't seem to be a concern with these headphones, as they also have detachable earloops on the buds which are perfectly designed to be flexible, but rest against the inside of the ear, feeling comfortable, but snug.

The in-line playback controls under the right ear are absolutely perfect for changing tracks and volume, as well as answering calls and activating voice control (another wonderful product, Siri, also becomes much more useful when you don't have to take your phone out of your pocket to pick new music, text, or make calls). I should do a review on Siri soon, though it would be more reflective than a review, as it's been thoroughly reviewed in many other places. Is it against the rules of writing to refer to something in parentheses once you're outside of them? Oh well, creative liberties...

The cord connecting the two earbuds is also quite high quality, far above the plastic you would find in regular earbuds, and it is also thick in one dimension, resembling linguine. This means that the cord can really only bend in one dimension, and as such, there are far fewer tangles in the cord than would be found in normal gauge wire. While on normal headphones implementing this would be far too heavy, in practise on these headphones, with the weight of the wire resting on the back of the neck, there is no pull at all on the ears, and so no increased likelihood of the headphones to fall out.

These earbuds have a battery life of anywhere from 5-8 hours continued use in my experience, and will last with minimal battery loss for several weeks. They charge by micro-USB, which is behind a flap on the right bud, and take about an hour to fully charge.

When these earbuds were first announced several months ago, they were not available in Canada, and having them shipped here was almost prohibitively expensive. Now, however, they are available in Canada for $100 dollars, and if you are on the move a lot and like listening to music, I highly recommend these. If you have ever fumbled with earbuds and a shoulder bag of any kind, these are your sanity's salvation!