Wednesday, September 14, 2016

bluetooth headphones for the wireless age: 23 dimensional review

For those fretting over the end of headphone jacks, I just wanted to share my experiences with bluetooth headphones which I got obsessed with about a year ago. These days I only use bluetooth and love it as they don't get tied up in knots in your pocket and don't get tugged out of your ear when you are at the gym. The prices came down so Amazon has a huge selection for under $20. I wound up buying and trying a lot of them. Finding the perfect pair was surprisingly hard. I finally settled on the Amazon Basics which they discontinued for some reason but is available for $13 on ebay http://www.ebay.com/…/AmazonBasics-Bluetooth-…/131865024214…
Most reviews focus on sound quality. To me since I mostly listen to podcasts, sound quality didn't matter. But when I started thinking about it, there were about 20 other dimensions that did.
Aptx - look for the AptX codex, otherwise, they tend to have latency. This is fine for music, but not cool for video where the audio starts to lag the picture by a second or so.
Noise Isolation, Sounds quality, Loudness - obvious
Bluetooth reception, my $300 beats headphones I got as a gift a few years ago was unusable in NYC because of all the bluetooth signals on the street. This may not matter anywhere else. But many headphones got staticy once you put your phone in your pocket.
Wire tangled - did the wire between the left ear and right ear tangle?
Comfort - how comfortable was fit? This is just trial and error.
Pairing - pairing was mostly easy
Interface buttons - different headphones have surprisingly different interfaces for volume and fast forward or rewind. This was pretty minor though.
Synced volume - this was rare but the best could control the phone volume directly (only my $300 Bose headphones did this consistency). most just had their internal volume control and you still controlled your phone volume independently.
Multiple devices - most support multiple devices. this usually worked surprisingly well but its always a bit awkward switching between them but less awkward than you might think
Battery life, Power on - most had decent battery life and would last a few days to a week of heavy use. but unacceptable ones died within a day.
battery indicator - most should have a battery indicator on your phone to indicate the headphone battery. older models will not.
Works while charging - this isn't a big deal but most could not be used while plugged into the wall charging. the bose and amazon ones could.
Phone calls - i rarely talk to anyone on the phone but when I do, the quality did vary a lot in terms of the quality of the microphone and how it dealt with ambient noise
Ease of charge - some had annoying rubber plugs over their charging ports that made it a pain to charge. however, sweat proofing is important. many would start to spark when i was at the gym.
Breakability - a lot of my $15 headphones did break. but ultimately all my headphones break after a year or two, even the expensive ones.
How often it falls out, While jogging.
Can I wear it around neck when not using. Can I stuff in the pocket.
Does it look douchy. My $300 Bose over ear headphones (another gift), was the only one that satisfied all of the above categories, but they are huge and I feel stupid wearing them in public.
The Bose are also the only ones I tried that have a regular 3.5mm wire option to use on the plane.
Ultimately the $13 Amazon Basics is nearly perfect on all these categories. The only downside is it is not an ear bud if you prefer that kind of thing.
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