Actual Review: AirPods by@BrionNEriksen

Actual Review: AirPods

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Brion Niels Eriksen

Do these look dumb?

That’s one of my only concerns with Apple’s new Bluetooth-driven, totally-wireless-even-from-each-other Air Pods. They finally arrived several months after their oft-delayed official release, and several many weeks after I ordered them. Following their pre-pre-introduction as the remedy for new headphone-port-less iPhones, I wrote a somewhat skeptical “pre-review” of the Air Pods, forced to fantasize and ponder whether a world and a life of “listening without wires” justified the $159.

Well, they are officially and a bit awkwardly in my ears now. They are a little overpriced and yes, make me feel like an idiot. It’s not anywhere near the Google Glass level of pretentiousness, but I am definitely channeling a little Lobot. The photo above looks like someone shoved a massive Q-Tip into my head and bent the end down to keep it in place … but I digress. They feel great in my ears, for what it’s worth. They’re a marvelous system, and better and cooler that I thought they’d be. In the end, I think the price tag is mostly justified if you can avoid losing them — That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see the cost of these tiny little things.

Some notes:

  • Bluetooth pairing was touted as being super-simple, but I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. I think I’m just not doing it right, and I do tend to connect them around from my MacBook to iPad to iPhone. (There’s my obligatory Apple Apologist statement that goes along with every Macophile’s review: It’s not the device, it must be me.)
  • The sound quality is much better than I had expected, based on reviews and reports I’d read. Phone conversation voice clarity is crisp and clean. Music is just about perfect for listening in a work setting, and they provide a bit of noise-cancellation too. A test run included “Tom Sawyer” and I can report that the Air Pods do the Modern Day Warrior justice.
  • In a workout setting, whether in a noisy gym or outdoors, you may opt for the PowerBeats or new BeatsX for louder, more powerful and noise-cancelling performance. I think you’d need to be a pretty strict workout-audiophile to make that distinction, however. I found the BeatsX to be just slightly better at noise cancellation and had more “bottom,” also with a bit more loudness.
  • Not having any wires whatsoever is pretty liberating. Bluetooth headphones remove possibility of a snagged cord, but the versions with the buds wired to each other still have, well, the wire. The Air Pods are a step closer to just having the music piped directly into your brain, with no risk of ever snagging any wire on anything.
  • As mentioned, a major concern was the possibility of losing the two little separate buds. They remain in my ears snugly with no issues, nor is there any sensation that they’re ever going to fall out, even when running. As far as keeping track of them when they’re not in use: The little dental-floss-like carrying case is helpful, but in the end you just gotta be disciplined and figure out an approach for carrying and storing them that fits your daily workflow.
  • I try to keep the case “on” me or nearby so that when I’m not using the Air Pods they go right back into the case. Then I’m tasked with keeping track of the case and not two separate little buds. It helps that the case is charged using a lightning cable so every night they take turns with my iPod and iPhone, whichever needs the most juice. So all those devices are waiting, together, for me to grab in the morning.

In other words, if you are always prone to losing our sunglasses, don’t buy a $159 pair of Oakleys. If you’re constantly misplacing your traditional earpods, don’t buy a $159 pair. Think of them as your prescription glasses or jewelry … be smart, you’ll be fine. (And let the countdown begin to when I inevitably lose mine.)

So there you go, a few hundred words over and above what you really wanted to know about the Air Pods.

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