Holiday 2012: Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
The holiday season is upon us again, and every year brings new gifts and gadgets to delight that techie in your life. In this article, we’ll be looking at Bluetooth Wireless Headphones. The recent rise in popularity of these headphones has led to the release of many new models. In addition to everyday headphones, purpose-specific models are available for exercise enthusiasts, video chatters, audiophiles and more.
Keep in mind the various profiles of Bluetooth (a wireless protocol) that apply to the headphones we’ll be reviewing. Version 2.0 + EDR has a data transfer rate of 2.1 Mbit/s, which is perfectly adequate for audio transfer. Version 2.1 + EDR operates at the same speed, but provides an easier and more secure “pairing” (i.e. wireless connection) process; the most common profile among the headphones we'll discuss. Bluetooth v3.0 (not to be confused with the speedier v3.0 + HS) require less power, allowing small batteries to last longer. All of these variations can transmit data at a distance of about 33 feet between paired devices.
The Creative Labs WP-250 in-ear headphones have a unique look and behind-the-neck design. They feature 13.5mm neodymium drivers, 8 hours of battery life and a built-in omnidirectional microphone. The WP-300 on-ear headphones feature the apt-X codec for AV synchronization, 34mm neodymium drivers, 8 hours of battery life and integrated controls. Sharing the same design, the WP-350 adds a microphone for calls and voice memos. The WP-450 adds a sturdier headband that firmly meets the ear cups, yet is adjustable for a comfortable fit. Each of these Creative Labs headphone models features Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR technology.
The MM 100 on-ear headphones are Sennheiser’s entry level Bluetooth product, but even “entry level” is not to be underestimated when it comes to Sennheiser. They feature an integrated microphone, large drivers and Open-Aire acoustics to provide a natural soundscape. The MM 100s operate on Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR.
Moving up in the ranks, the audiophile-grade MM 450-X headphones feature a closed-black, on-ear design with NoiseGard 2.0 noise cancellation. The collapsible construction, integrated microphone/controls, DuoFol transducers and apt-X codec compatibility make the MM 450-X second to none in performance and convenience. The flagship MM 550-X closed-back, over-ear headphones with NoiseGard 2.0 reduce outside noise by 90%. SRS Wow HD (surround sound simulation) and apt-X compatibility make them excellent for watching videos. They feature integrated microphone/controls, DuoFol transducers and collapsible design. Both the MM 450-X and 550-X operate on Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.
The Sony XBA-BT75 in-ear Bluetooth headphones feature single Armature full range drivers, an inline remote and an omnidirectional microphone. The built-in Li-Ion battery provides up to 7 hours of continuous playback while the lightweight, low-profile design keeps you comfortable. These Sony headphones use Bluetooth v3.0.
The Aluratek ABH01F is an excellent choice for video chatters. The VoIP-compatible headphones work with Skype, Gchat, AIM, Yahoo Messenger and more. The 40mm drivers deliver HD audio with enhanced bass response. The ABH01F headphones also feature integrated microphone/controls, ten hours of Li-Ion battery life and an adjustable padded headband. The ABH02F headphones upgrade to a slightly sleeker design, with all the same features and two extra hours of battery life. Both models use Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR.
The Veho Bluetooth Wireless on-ear headphones come in two varieties, standard black and Gumball 3000 Special Edition. While the Gumballs are more colorful, both sets share the same specs and feature integrated microphone/controls, thick leather ear pads and ten hours of Li-Ion battery life. They have an adjustable headband for comfort, while the collapsible design adds convenience. Both utilize Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR.
The Denon Exercise Freak in-ear headphones are designed to meet the challenges that their name suggests, featuring sweat-proof earpieces, antimicrobial ear tips and enhanced bass to invigorate your workout. Furthermore, their around-the-neck band is reflective, adding an element of safety for those late-night joggers. They include 4 sizes of ear tips and an integrated Li-Polymer battery that provides 7 hours of continuous use.
The Globe Cruiser Wireless on-ear headphones feature noise-canceling, memory foam ear pads, dual integrated microphones and a Li-Polymer battery that provides ten hours of continuous use. They fold flat for portability and support both apt-X and AAC codecs. Black and silver/brown models are both available. All the Denon models mentioned utilize Bluetooth v3.0.
Of course, no discussion of headphones could be complete without mention of the bass-explosive world of Beats by Dr. Dre. The Beats Wireless Bluetooth on-ear headphones support SBC, apt-X and AAC codecs. They will pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device, including TVs. They feature integrated microphone/controls, ten-hour battery life and an included cable for non-wireless operation. Beats Wireless Bluetooth are available in black or white and operate on Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR.