By Mike Wheeler
Aftershokz has released a pair of sports headphones that use similar technology used by Jawbone earpieces, which are designed for Bluetooth wirelessly from your smartphone. Although there is no bluetoothing going on here, the vibration of sound through your cheekbones is the key to make this device work.
While the idea behind these headphones is firm, we’re not too sure if it manages to come off as intended. Have you ever run into somebody – or had somebody run into you – who are hooked up to an MP3 player while out and about and are so immersed in the song that they forget about their surrounds? As well as being annoying it can be dangerous, especially if you cross roads or are in busy parts of town.
These headphones try to address those circumstances by claiming they use your cheekbones to transmit sound. In other words, the headphone speakers themselves don’t sit in the ear canal, instead they sit just outside your ear. Well, transmit sound they certainly do, but I’m not too sure whether I like it.
Before getting into some of the problems with the device, what about the sound and build? First, the sound is above average without being fantastic. Its bass was both good and bad – good because, well, it sounded nice and loud like good bass should, bad because it throbbed up and down on my cheeks.
Now the problems - there are a couple- one minor, one major. The minor problem is that you have to charge them in order to use them. You do this by plugging the cable attached to the ‘phones into a USB stick, which you then plug into you PC or Mac and it charges the device. A little box on the cable has an on/off button as well as volume control. And the point of all this? No idea. Most headphones are just headphones, right? The volume is usually controlled by your MP3 player.
However the major bugbear I have found is that because you wear these headphones outside your ears everybody around you can hear the music you are playing. Sure, you’re supposed to be out and about doing sporting activities, but you still have to stop and crossing and go through crowds. And at full pelt, trust me, these are loud. It means you not only annoy people around you, but it makes you self-conscience of the music you’re playing.
Overall AfterShokz get a A for effort, but a C+ for execution.
Pros: Good idea about keeping your ears free to hear peripheral noises, reasonable price; long battery life
Cons: Music will intrude on other people’s space; bass vibrates on cheekbone annoying
3 Shacks Out of 5