Thursday, January 25, 2018

Product Review: JBL - Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones - Black (Amazing)

These  JBL, Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones in Black are a great addition to my go bag. I have been using them for my workouts, and general music playback and phone calls for almost two weeks. There are many points of importance when purchasing these kind of devices. For myself, these types of headphones need to be easy to use, have decent sound quality, a stable connection system, ample battery life, and a comprehensive form factor/design.

These are easy to use, they paired with several of my devices simply. They also turn on immediately upon removal from their case. As with most of these kind of devices, on phone calls you will only be using the right earphone. Navigation of the button system is pretty easy. A single press of the right earphone button will answer/end a call, or pause/play music. A double press of the right earphone button will activate Google/Siri voice assistant. A single press of the left earphone button will advance your song selection. A double press of the left earphone button will return to the beginning of your song selection and a subsequent quick press will go back a song in your playlist. A triple press of either the left or right buttons will pair each earphone to the other. Holding either the left or right buttons for five seconds will cycle power. That is a lot to remember, and it's quite frustrating that the industry as a whole has not adopted a standard. I find that every manufacture is slightly different. Dropping the earphones into the case will also shut them down. I wish they had volume control on the earphones themself, having to adjust it on my phone is kind of a pain. You can use your voice assistant to change the volume, but for me that only works if I'm alone, I don't want to be that guy, talking to my phone...

Sound quality for these headphones is above what I expected. It was after playing around with the different ear tips, that I found a good balance between good bass without complete immersion. In most situations where these will be getting used, like exercising, walking, or shopping, I like to be able to use a little bit of ambient noise, to stay on the safe side of things. But with that being said if I have the urge to completely jam out to some tunes there is a pair of ear tips that will completely isolate me from the world and let me escape. While those ear tips  are installed the bass of these little units are incredible.

I have had mixed results with the connection system of these units. While it's main bluetooth connection between the right headphone and the phone is rock solid to both my Google Pixel and my Moto X(what I use for my media device). The connection system that connects the left headphone to the right headphone is up for debate. During it's first week of use, I had no issue. This past week the stereo connection has been horrible. I have been trying to figure out what may have changed as far as interference, maybe I am just retaining water more than I was in the first week of use (just call me a waterbag), When stereo drops in and out while listening to music, it can be quite frustrating...I will be seeking a resolution. **Update** - I just tested something, the connection issue I was having was when I was connected to the Moto X. The issue completely went away when I used them with my Google Pixel. I am guessing that it has to do with what version bluetooth is on the phone and the Pixel has a more current version. So that reinforces the fact that each individual may get different results depending on their environment and on the equipment you are using them with. I really wish that JBL would have included a NFC chip on the case, so that connecting would be even easier, especially when I connect to different devices with this pair of headphones.

The battery life on these headphones is sufficient, I got almost three and a half hours on my first charge, three and three quarters on  my second charge, and again almost three and a quarter on my final charge. I then had to recharge the case. I am not sure it was fully charged, but all four lights were on. With that being said my results show that if I got just one more use cycle out of them, it would be close to the 20 hour spec that is on JBL's website.

Where all of this can be lost, is if the headphones don't have a comprehensive form factor. The JBL, Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones win in this category. They are small enough that while in my ear, they don't feel heavy,  or unbalanced. The silicon skin that JBL provides for the body of the earphone does in fact keep the unit from moving around in your ear. The construction feels durable without the added bulk or weight. The buttons are easy to push with out me feeling like I am trying to destroy my ear canal. The one point of their design that made me actually state "Yes!" outloud, was the connection between the headphone and it's charging case. They incorporated rare earth magnets that almost grab the headphones right out of your fingertips and sucks them into the proper orientation for mating with their charging pins. I appreciate JBL for including this subtle feature.

All in all, these headphones are well designed, and pass all of my important points of purchase. While they aren't perfect, but they are almost. The two things I wish they had, would not stop me from recommending them to a family member or a friend. One being the lack of direct volume control on the headphones themselves, and two being the lack of a NFC chip. Two minor things, but things that would have scored these  JBL, Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones in Black, a five out of five stars on my rating.

You too, can grab a pair of these over at BestBuy for $149.99

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or its manufacturer*

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