Ok, full disclosure, I’m not a professional product reviewer, so my “review” is more just a gadget geek’s perspective and initial thoughts on whatever I might be trying out and feel the urge to write about.
Today, it’s the Trekz Titanium Bone Conducting Headphones by Aftershokz.
My overall opinion could be summed up as “Situationally Awesome” so let me elaborate with more details.
Technology wise, these HEADphones (not EARphones) function by transmitting the their audio input as vibrations that transmit through your jawbone and are interpreted by your eardrum as sound. They go more ‘in front of’ your ear, than in them, right at the base of your jaw.
As someone who wears glasses, I have actually had to literally ‘flip over’ a pair of Motorola over the ear Bluetooth headphone before, so that Left and Right were swapped and the headphones curled ‘up’ into my ear, because they literally hurt my ears to wear, due to my glasses. These do not do that because they don’t curl down into my ear. They fit in such a way that they don’t conflict with my glasses, which is fantastic.
Plus, unlike my Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth headphones that I also use, these don’t make me look like Princess Leia and make my ears all sweaty and gross.
Due to the size and placement of the buttons they do contain tiny speakers that are more so you can hear the tone and greeting by “Aubry”, which they have named the voice message that says “Connected” and greets you when they power on. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s probably the name of the woman who’s voice it actually is. These speakers don’t do much for actually playing the audio, which is good because they won’t be heard by anyone around you, unlike normal audio headphones.
They’re very well constructed and water resistant. The kit you get when you buy them contains a decent quality carrying case, some actual earplugs (if you want to block out the surrounding noise while wearing them, which admittedly seems a little redundant to me), a pair of rubber Fitbands to help them fit on people who don’t have as fat of a head as I do, and an INDUSTRY STANDARD micro USB charging cable.
I capitalized “industry standard” because, to me, this is a big deal. I’ve purchased wireless Bluetooth headphones before that I had to throw away because I lost the proprietary power cord they came with and the manufacturer didn’t sell the cord separately.
They’ve got the standard Volume Up/Down buttons as well as a Multifunction button that allows you to Play/Pause or Skip music tracks, Answer, End, or Reject calls or Transfer amongst Call Waiting calls, Voice Dial, or Redial, all depending on the pattern of presses of the button or duration that you hold it in for.
Tech Specs, for the diehard geeks who care about these types of details:
Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20KHz
Sensitivity/: 100 +/- 3dB
Microphone: –40dB +/- 3dB
Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth v4.1
Compatible Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
Wireless Range: 33ft (10m)
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion
Continuous Play: 6 hours
Standby Time: 10 hours
Recharge Time: 1.5 hours from dead to fully charged
Weight: 1.27 oz (36g)
Warranty: 2 Years – I highly recommend Registering yours on their website for ease of dealing with any warranty related issues that might come up.
There is also a Blue/Red LED that blinks in different patterns, depending on what is happening, but this is pretty standard for any wireless headphones.
Now, the reason why my overall opinion is “Situationally Awesome” is because, depending, on your use case, they may not be what you want. In the IT Industry we often joke about how some sort of problem is “a feature, not a bug” but in the case of these headphones this statement is totally true.
The pure nature of how these work, by transmitting audio into your inner ear without blocking outside noise, means that in a noisy environment these are going to be difficult to hear. Jogging along noisy streets, or on a plane or subway, etc. these will not be as good as normal headphones. This, however, is a negative that is essentially by design.
Amusingly, there’s also a psychological aspect negative if you happen to be a Public Transit commuter like I am. Often times, let’s say “interesting” individuals on transit who like to randomly start talking to whomever is near them, or people taking polls, etc. will be an issue but they generally don’t bother someone who’s wearing headphones. With these, I can see that not being a good of a deterrent.
Another thing that some might cringe at is that they are not inexpensive. Mine were around $125US. However, they’re very well designed and manufactured, they come with a 2 year warranty and the company is excellent with customer service, and the technology and the company is fairly new, so the price may well continue to drop as they increase sales. All things considered I don’t regret spending the money at all.
Pulling a weekend shift working in the Server Room or just at your desk, or in the case of my employer where the Manufacturing floor personnel are allowed to wear headphones and listen to music but are required to only use one headphone so they can still hear, these would be awesome. In any environment that is fairly quiet but you still need to be able to hear these would be quite useful.
Plus, while I don’t know from actual life experience, I can see these being beneficial for anyone who is Legally Blind, since they would not have their hearing blocked while using.
Possibly even someone who is Deaf as well since they can feel the vibrations of audio. That’s something I would be very curious to know how well they work.