Hunting for Headphones: ZAGG Smartbuds

Since I’m mostly using them on an iPhone and a MacBook Pro, I have 2 extra requirements on my earphones (in addition to sound quality etc).

  1. Full remote (Play/Pause, fast forward etc)
  2. Inline microphone for hands free use on the phone (and for Voice Control)

Recently, my Klipsch earbuds suffered the wrath of the TSA when they were munched in the rollers of an x-ray machine. Time for new headphones. I ended up ordering a set of ZAGG Smartbuds. At literally half the price of my Klipsch, I didn’t know what to expect, but have been so far pleasantly surprised:

  • Interesting design — hang down from behind neck so you can easily take out one or the other (I normally only have 1 in at a time around the city) without them dangling all over the place.
  • InvisibleSHIELD on the cables makes them less prone to tangling and apparently pretty tough.
  • Microphone seems to be pretty good on calls.
  • I like the right-angle/low profile plug.
  • Sound quality is great (I’m no pro, but it sounds good to me and I listen to all sorts of bass/highs etc).
  • I’m using the foam-style buds and they are really good at blocking out background noise if you put them in properly. Even on a plane they’re solid.
  • They look pretty cool (as far as ear buds go).

But it’s not all rainbows and puppy-dogs — there are a few things which continue to bug me about these buds after a few weeks of heavy use:

  • Separate volume/remote units on the cables feels overdone.
  • 2 adjustment beads between volume and remote seems like overkill.
  • The adjustment beads need rubber lining or something to prevent them from moving around. If I put them in a position, I don’t want them to just jiggle their way down the cable 5 minutes later.
  • The volume control SUCKS. Seriously. It’s one of those generic slider/resistor type ones that will work on all audio sources. I’d rather just pay an extra $10 or something and get real up/down buttons that talk to my iPhone.
  • Lots of cable to juggle (since there is “double” cable for a lot of the length, so it can do the around-the-neck thing).

Despite these niggles, I’m enjoying these buds and will continue to use them. I might end up just sticking something in the beads to prevent them moving around, and the volume control is I guess survivable (but annoying).