Most earbuds are designed for use while mobile; after all, they're inherently more portable and discrete than headphones. But not all of them are made for heavy activity. Ever try running or hitting the gym with most off-the-shelf 'buds? I have, for years. It's usually not an enjoyable experience. They need to meet some pretty specific criteria:
Last month I reviewed of the a-JAYS One+ earbuds, and came away impressed. For $50, they packed quality sound and impressive bass into a sleek, attractive form, in addition to a trick control button/mic built into the cable. Coupled with the JAYS app, the button controls your phone and music player, allowing you to play, pause, change tracks, adjust the volume, and take calls - certainly making usage more convenient than typical earbuds.
These days, earbuds are a dime a dozen - they can be had for as little as $1 at the dollar store, all the way into the hundreds of dollars for a high-end pair. And sound quality has improved quite a bit since the early days - any buds that are mid-range or better usually offer pretty good sound, so they're differentiated as much by features as by sound quality. That's where the $50 a-JAYS One+ headphones come through: features.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a big fan of Klipsch. I like their style, their sound signature, and their products generally. I started with a ProMedia 2.1 computer speaker setup, and have since graduated to a pair of their reference bookshelf speakers, and I've been pleased the whole way through. I had never, however, tried their headphones. Until recently, Klipsch's in-line control headphones designed for smartphones had only fully worked with iOS devices.
Before seeking out a few companies to find the best Android-friendly headphones around, I had never heard of Etymotic Research. Apparently, they've been around quite a while - since 1983, actually, and were among the first companies to market in-ear headphones to consumers. They actually claim to be the inventors of in-ear headphones (or "canalphones"), though whether or not that's actually true is apparently an object of some controversy.
Anyway, the good folks at ER sent me a pair of their hf2 in-ear headphones with Android-friendly inline controls and microphone, and I have to say, these headphones rock - the sheer difference in sound quality from your standard $30-80 earbuds is mind-blowing.
You may not remember the contest we had last month for the JLabs J4M ruggedized headphones, but I suggest you check the review out - they're a pretty good set of very tough earbuds. We gave away three pairs of J4Ms, courtesy of JLab, as part of the review. And the winners are:
Ruggedized - doesn't the word just conjur up images of a tiger eating a Toughbook?
When I received the J4M headphones from JLab, I was unsure of how "rugged" an in-ear headphone could actually be. So, I decided to treat them less than, shall we say, "gently" over the last few weeks.
Now, it's not like I've gone dunking them in water or buried them in sand at the beach - that kind of behavior is at your own risk.
Earlier today, HTC sent a jolt of electricity through our tired bodies when their PR agency told us an exciting tale of important announcements scheduled to be delivered by Peter Chou himself (that's HTC's CEO) tomorrow morning.
Bootloader unlocking, exciting new phones and tablets, hoverboards - all of these thoughts started rapidly running through our minds, but like kids who couldn't wait until Christmas to unwrap their presents, the company first spilled the beans to AllThingsD, then followed up mere hours later with full details.
Today’s smartphones are quickly absorbing the functions of other portable devices - PDAs, portable GPS units, and standalone MIDs are a thing of the past - and conventional MP3 players may be next on the cutting block.