Apple would love for you to pay $159 for a pair of AirPods Bluetooth wireless earbuds. The good news is you can pick up a great pair of wireless earbuds for much less without having to look like you have two Oral B toothbrush heads hanging from your ears.
The NPD Group has data that shows 67 percent of all Bluetooth headsets are priced greater than $50. As a runner who enjoys listening to music while out on the road, I've paid $100 to $200 for sweat-proof wireless sports earbuds.
A couple weeks ago, the folks at ZAGG sent along two of their four new wireless earbuds. These four models have prices ranging from just $29.99 to $39.99, and the two I tested perform nearly the same as the $150 headsets I previously tested.
The Impulse Wireless earbuds are the most expensive of the four earbuds, if you consider $39.99 expensive. They are available in white with rose gold or black with silver.
The Impulse Wireless earbuds incorporate IFROGZ Reflective Acoustics advanced audio technology into 11mm drivers. The earbuds feature an acoustic chamber, rear echo chamber, front echo chamber, and waterproof membrane.
A wireless hub controller attaches to your shirt, thanks to a strong magnet and silicone flap. While the magnet and silicone clip piece are very convenient for securing the wireless hub in place, it's also a convenient solution to wrap the cables and keep the entire headset stored in a compact fashion.
The wireless hub has three large buttons with short and long press actions resulting in six music and call controls. The buttons allow you to control volume, turn on and off the headset, play/pause the music, and move forward or back tracks in your playlist. The buttons are easy to press and find simply with touch due to their design.
The indicator light is at one end of the wireless hub, with red and blue lights that appear for different functions. A microUSB port is located at the other end, so you can easily charge up the earbuds with the included microUSB cable.
The retail package contains pairs of three sizes of earbud tips. ZAGG offers a limited lifetime warranty on the earbud tips, so if they get worn or damaged, you can file a claim and get them replaced.
Specifications for the Impulse Wireless earbuds include:
I tested out the Impulse Wireless earbuds with a couple different Android smartphones and my Dell Chromebook 13. I paired the earbuds and connected my smartphone to listen to music. The volume, quality, and flawless playback blew me away, especially since I've tested much more expensive Bluetooth headsets that didn't perform as well as these earbuds.
Audio prompts sound in the earbuds after you press buttons to inform you what is about to happen on the headset. For example, you will hear that you are in pairing mode and that the headset is shutting down.
The wireless hub design is unique, but it's also a nice feature since all of the electronics and controls are contained in the hub that easily attaches to your shirt. This means the earbuds themselves are very light and comfortable. The round cable that attaches the earbuds to the wireless hub are also very light and provide an enjoyable listening experience.
Information from ZAGG shows you can expect up to five hours of play time at 70 percent volume. This should be enough to get you through a full marathon, and it matches what we've seen in many Bluetooth headphones. The Apple AirPods are expected to deliver the same five hours on a single charge.
Since I like to run with music, ZAGG sent along the Summit Wireless earbuds that are designed for the gym with secure fit wings to hold the headphones in place. The Summit Wireless earbuds are available in black or red for $34.99.
Specifications for the Summit Wireless earbuds include:
The Summit Wireless earbuds are nearly the same as the Impulse model, with the exception of the different earbud tips and cable design. The Summit model has more curve in the earbud with extra wings designed to fit into the grooves inside your ear. The cable on the Summit earbuds is flat, compared to the round cable on the Impulse earbuds.
I put the earbuds into my ears and clipped the hub to the back top of my shirt. Thanks to the lightweight cable and earbuds, I was able to go on a five-mile run without the earbuds falling out or cables getting tangled as I ran.
The IFROGZ Charisma and IFROGZ Plugz are both priced at just $29.99. I did not personally test either of these models, but each is also designed to an IPX2 sweat resistant standard with the same wireless hub clip that lets you control your music.
The Charisma earbuds are intended for the female audience, with a fashion conscious design and color options. The earbuds are magnetized so that you can rest them around your neck without and dangling earbuds.
The Plugz are modeled after the popular wired headset but incorporate a wireless design. They have a similar design to the other headphones with a wireless hub and IPX-2 sweat resistance, 9mm drivers with a five-hour listening time are featured on these headphones.
These IFROGZ earbuds are excellent performers that outperform their low price. Since I've only tested the earbuds for a couple of weeks, I cannot comment on the long-term quality and performance of the earbuds, cables, or wireless hub.
The IFROGZ headphone have a traditional earbud look and feel, unlike the unique Apple AirPods. Even the most expensive pair is about a quarter the price of the AirPods.