Music helps motivate me when I run and workout so you will always find me rocking a pair of Bluetooth headphones in my gym bag. This weekend I spent time with the new LG Tone Active and found the design rather interesting while the performance was solid.
We often get invited to press events that are typically held after a product launch with access to products, the people behind the products, food, and drinks. LG invited me and my daughter to participate in the Seattle Color Me Rad 5K and as a runner I jumped on this unique opportunity. My daughter is not a runner, but enjoys fun events like these color runs and spent several evenings running with me around the neighborhood to prepare.
LG launched the first Tone series Bluetooth headset in 2010 and since then it has sold over 10 million headsets. This makes the LG Tone series the number one Bluetooth wireless headset line in the US, based on units sold data from NPD.
The LG Tone Active is the first in the series designed for those who want to wear a Tone series headset while working out. Director of accessories at LG MobileComm USA, Bruce Tripido, states, "With TONE Active, we're embracing the need for consumers to have a rugged, more durable companion on their latest workout."
Although the LG Tone series has been around for five years, I personally have never tried any of them out. I do see quite a few while on my daily train commute and have been a bit curious about them since they have a distinctive neck ring design.
It has taken me quite a while to find a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that don't fall out of my ears when I run. Most of the time, the earbuds slip out or get jostled out as I pound the pavement with my size 12 shoes and 250 pounds. The LG Tone Active consists of the neck ring and earbuds that retract on very thin cords from either end of the neck opening.
With this form factor, the battery and controls rest op your lower neck so you don't have to worry about weight pulling the earbuds out of your ears. The LG Tone Active only weighs in at 1.7 ounces and the wire to the earbud is very thin.
The LG Tone Active has an IPX3 water and sweat resistant rating, which should be good for most of the conditions I run in. The back piece is flexible while the two side pieces, with color highlights, are contoured down to more comfortable rest on your shoulder/neck area.
The multi-function and power buttons are on the outside of the left side arm with the mic opening on top and the microUSB port, under a cover, on the inside. An indicator light is located near the microUSB port. It's great to see microUSB used to charge up the headset. Stated battery life is 9.5 hours for music, 13 hours for talking, and 18 days of standby time.
On the outside of the right arm you will find the volume up and down buttons. You can also press and hold these to skip forward or backward in your music collection.
Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX is included. LG uses quad-layer speaker technology and a digital MEMS microphone.
I tested a pair with orange highlights, exclusive to AT&T for a month, while other colors will be coming soon. Everything else is black with a silver ring around the earbuds.
Experiences and price
I paired the LG Tone Active with a LG G4 to test out music, podcasts, and phone calls. You can also download the LG Tone & Talk app to have your text messages read to you over Bluetooth. I plan to test this out during my commute as that will be extremely useful since I text quite a bit during my evening commute as I catch up with family and friends.
It was very easy to pair the headset and control the audio. Music played loudly, but with the default settings there is not a lot of bass. I was able to use the LG G4 music settings to change the equalizer for more bass output. If you like booming bass, you may be a bit disappointed with the headset. However, audio played very clear and you can control the output if your connected device has equalizer controls.
Also while playing music, press and hold the multi-function button for 2 seconds to switch between Bass Boost (default), Normal, and Treble Boost. I highly recommend you read through the manual as there are a number of functions available via various button presses on the LG Tone Active.
Phone calls sounded excellent and my wife said I sounded very clear on her end of the conversation. LG focused on the call quality and the headset also supports VoLTE calls. When your phone is on vibrate on your desk or in your bag and you might normally miss the call, you will appreciate the fact that the LG Tone Active is set to vibrate by default.
I was a bit worried about the form factor, but I honestly didn't even feel the headset sitting around my neck when I ran. I thought it would bounce around and annoy me, but that was simply not the case. The light cord and comfortable earbud tips stayed in my ears as I ran as well. The earbud retractable cord seems almost too thin for long term reliability, but LG has been in the headset business for a while and I trust they have been thoroughly tested.
The LG Tone Active did a great job returning to music after a voice call. I was also able to press and hold the play/pause button to initiate voice dialing on the LG G4.
Overall, I am pleased with the performance, comfort, cool orange color, and design of the LG Tone Active headset. I can't comment yet on its ability to remain fully functional after running outside for a long period of time, but will continue to test them as I hit the road a few times a week.
You can find the LG Tone Active in orange at AT&T for $129, but I see there is a 10 percent online discount right now (available until 24 September) so they are available for $116.