Hands-Free At What Price?
After a recent surgery, I couldn’t crane my neck to my shoulder to hold my iPhone, allowing for a “hands-free” experience. I found it necessary to start using a headphone/microphone solution. I used the ones that came with my iPhone 6, and they work fine, but I really didn’t like the cable getting in the way all the time. The sound quality for music is also lacking, but they give them to you with the phone, so you get what you pay for.
I had purchased my son some Beats by Dre PowerBeats 2 Wireless Headphones for his birthday back in May. He seldom uses them, so I decided to borrow them to see how I could adapt to using a wireless solution. These used to run around $200 back when I got them for him, but you can find them on Amazon for $145.00. I found them to be comfortable, but a bit overpriced for what they provide for sound. They are good headphones, and for sports these are going to work well for their water-resistance. The “hip” factor also comes into play here, so the elevated price point is working out just fine for this Apple-owned company.
Since I didn’t want to “steal” my son’s headphones, I decided to order a pair of decidedly less expensive Bluetooth headphones and after a little research and review reading, I bought some TOTU Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with a Microphone and noise canceling features. While they show a list price of $139.99, you can buy them for $21.99 with free shipping. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the reviews were mainly positive and for that price, I’d take the chance.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound that the TOTU produced. While the Beats did sound better for music, I use the headset for mostly conversation and the difference is negligible. The buttons don’t click as solidly as the Beats, but for Bluetooth wireless headphones for less than $25, I can live with that. The ones I got are black and green, though an all black version is available for a few bucks more.
Both of these Bluetooth stereo headsets were similar in design, with a thick gauge cable holding the headphones together. I’ve seen a lot of people wearing another style, with the headphones connected by a solid piece behind the neck. I purchased a third set, the LG Tone Ultra Bluetooth Wireless headphones. They were on a crazy sale at Best Buy that week, so I figured I’d try them out… you know, for “science”.
The slightly different design on the LG unit gives you more flexibility as the ear buds they are attached by longer cables. I also found that the “collar” design wasn’t as cumbersome as I’d anticipated and the controls were easier to access as they’re on the collar. Sound quality is just as good if not better than the TOTU for phone calls, and while I didn’t perform an exhaustive sound battery of tests for music, these sound pretty good. They retail for $99, but you can pick up the LG Tone Ultra Bluetooth Wireless headphones from Amazon for about $78.
All can be recharged using the Micro-USB cable, so I was able to keep one cable to use for them all, a minor convenience at my already crowded charging station. Battery life of all the units was comparable, though I charge things nightly, so I only recall running out of juice on a headset only once one evening when I was out later than usual. Having never used a Bluetooth stereo headset before, I wasn’t expecting how fast these things will drain your battery on your phone. I also use the phone quite a bit too, so having a couple of sets in case one runs out of juice is helpful. I quickly learned to turn them off when not needed and I found myself charging my phone much more frequently and whenever I could.
I have jumped aboard the hands-free train and rely on Bluetooth stereo headsets daily. They are hugely convenient and allow you the freedom to work or exercise without the constraint of cords getting in the way. All that matters is what you want to spend. The cheap ones work well enough, though the Beats certainly look more stylish and hip. The LG might not be as sporty as the others, but it all depends on what you’re going to be doing.
Or you can be like me, buy all three, and decide for yourself. Check out the links and decide which ones you’ll buy.