Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

‘ZDNet Recommends’ What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of YOU, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form


Optoma NuForce BE Free8, First Take: Comfortable and usable, with good audio quality

  • Editors' rating
    Not yet rated

True wireless earbuds have quickly become a thing. The launch of Apple AirPods helped give this market a boost, and there are numerous options available now. The Optoma NuForce BE Free8 earbuds are a serious purchase at £199.99 (inc. VAT, RRP) or around £150 (online) at the time of writing -- considerably more than the £89 Avanca Minim True Wireless Earbuds I looked at before Christmas.

The earbuds come with a charging case that's nicely shaped and has a solid lid that should stay closed when rattling around in a bag. I'm not too sure about the shiny plastic of the case, though: it's smooth to the touch, but looks as though it could become scuffed fairly quickly.


The BE Free8 bundle comprises a pair of earbuds and a charging case, plus a MicroUSB cable and five pairs of silicone tips.

Images: Optoma

The buds are charged through the case, with a trio of white LEDs indicating the case's charge level and a pair of LEDs showing the buds' charge status. Battery life is rated at 16 hours of listening, although you'll need to carry the charge case to get near that: the buds themselves are rated for four hours between charges, while the case will deliver three full charges. I found this estimate to be about right.

Pairing couldn't be easier. As per convention, one bud -- the 'master' -- pairs with a handset. Just hit the one button on the left bud and a pairing light on the bevels of the bud's flat back flashes till the it's paired. There is a button on the right bud too, whose only function is to turn that bud on and connect to the left 'master' bud. Playback control is via the left bud only, with single and multiple presses to do things like pause, play, and skip.


The trio of LEDs indicate the charge in the case, while the pair of LEDs show the earbuds' charge status. The buds last for four hours, and the case can deliver three recharge cycles.

Images: Optoma

The buttons are easy to locate by touch alone. The design team clearly didn't want the shiny, grille-like front surface of the buds to be spoilt by buttons, but their location on the rim is ergonomically fine as it's a spot that sits proud of the ear. The buttons themselves are rubbery and raised. I had no problem at all finding them by touch. My only gripe is the mechanical noise they make when pressed. Quieter would have been better.


Image: Optoma

The buds are relatively large. I don't mind the size, and they certainly don't feel awkward in the ear. Quite the opposite, in fact: I found them very comfortable to wear for extended periods. Four different sizes of silicone cup are provided to help you find the right in-ear fit. For those who like a little music while they work out, these buds are IPX5-rated, so they should be OK during a workout, if not in the shower!

Top ZDNET Reviews

Sound quality is pretty good, and I didn't spot any audio lag between the left and right buds. Sound quality was fine for listening while using public transport, walking around, watching catch-up TV, and streaming movies -- all the kinds of things, in fact, that I use earphones for in addition to hands-free calling. There's no leakage, so I could listen to audio without disturbing others -- always a good thing.

The Optoma NuForce BE Free8 true wireless earbuds tick a lot of boxes. They're comfortable to wear, easy to use and offer plenty of battery life (if you keep the charge case topped up), with no noticeable audio lag between the buds, and good sound quality.


Apple AirPods Review: Completely wireless earbuds that blow the competition away
While critics are crying Apple is lacking true innovation, AirPods are a sign the company still has the "Apple" touch.

Avanca Minim True Wireless Earbuds, First Take: Appealing, but sound quality could be better
As more smartphones ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless earbuds are getting a boost.

RHA MA650 wireless earbuds hands-on: 12 hour battery and sweatproof aluminum design
The 3.5mm headphone jack is nearly extinct so Bluetooth wireless headphones are gaining in popularity. RHA Audio makes high quality headphones and this $100 pair provides long battery life and a comfortable around-the-neck fit.

Hands-on with Jaybird's newest earbuds: RUN and Freedom 2
RUN is the company's first completely wireless earbuds, and Freedom 2 received a small refresh.

Best Headphones for 2018 (CNET)

Whether you're listening to music on your smartphone or tablet or at home with your high-end stereo, your headphone choice is critical. Here we've picked our five favorites across every style and category, but if you already know which type of headphones you want, use the links at the left to get more options.

Read more reviews