Are Wireless Earphones Worth the Investment?

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Are Wireless Earphones Worth the Investment?

are wireless headphones worth it

Visit any gym or watch a runner go by and chances are they are using some type of earphones. With the new announcement of the Apple 7 and the release of the new wireless AirPods, the time seemed right to examine the use of wireless earphones during workouts.

I visited the Apple website and was intrigued by this headline: "Wireless, Effortless, Magical." It continued to tug at my "gadget strings" by suggesting that all I need to do is "take them out and they're ready to use with all your devices. Put them in your ears and they connect instantly." Now, if you’re like me, you’ve tried to connect things to your phone using Bluetooth, a task that has prompted me to question either my abilities or the quality of the device.

To gauge the size of the market, I visited Amazon and searched for "wireless sport earphones" and was shocked to find 2,858 different choices. The prices fell into one of five categories, with 75 percent costing less than $25; 17 percent between $25 and $50; 5 percent between $50 and $100; 1 percent between $100 and $200; and just 1 percent costing more than $200. Even more surprising was that of all of the wireless sport earphones, none of the brands received 5 stars, and only 10 percent received 4 stars, 27 percent earned 3 stars, 31 percent were given 2 stars and the largest percentage received only 1 star at 32 percent.

I wanted to find what was considered "the best," so I went to the Consumer Report website, which highlighted the Jabra Sport Coach Wireless. In addition to its ability to sync workouts to a special workout app, these headphones have a built in activity tracker, microphone and volume control. For a price of less than $100, it might be worth a try.

At the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show in Vegas, I tested more than a dozen different sport wireless earphones, from expensive to affordable. For me, the bells and whistles are less important than these four specific things: price, ease of use, how the earphones fit into my ear and the battery life.

One of the more interesting earphones I tested was the AfterShokz Bluez (www.aftershokz.com). Its design transmits audio through transducers that rest on your cheekbones, leaving your ears uncovered and canals unblocked. This design allows many users, even those who may experience discomfort from headphones and earbuds, an open design with an opportunity for long-term use. I was skeptical at first, but found them to be not only comfortable but stylish as well.

So, what type of earphones do I use during my own workouts? My answer may surprise you—even though I am a techie and love all things gadget, I use a pair of wired Bose headphones. I’ve found that when I forget to charge the wireless earphones mentioned above, I have another excuse not to exercise—and that is something that none of us need. What I love about my Bose earphones is that even when the battery runs out with the noise cancelling aspect of the earphones, the earphones themselves still work. Which means, at least for me, I have no excuse not to get out and get moving.

Ted VickeyTed Vickey Contributor

Ted Vickey, MS, is the ACE senior consultant for emerging technologies and a long-time ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Referred to as "one of the most connected men in fitness," Vickey served as executive director of the White House Athletic Center under three presidents before starting FitWell Inc., a fitness management consulting company.

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