It’s been a while…
Man has it been a long time since I spent time writing an actual blog post here. Sure, I write stuff on Facebook and Twitter, and other social media platforms, but it isn’t really blogging. It’s just sharing stuff and opinions and news. Time for me to make a change for the better and get back to making it a habit to write about tech and public safety stuff again.
With that, I’ll start with something I went out to purchase to make my life a little easier. Wireless Earbuds. I’m probably a little late to the game, but really, I haven’t been terribly impressed with what I have found for a price a working, family man without a large dispensible income can afford. I don’t really see the appeal in dropping a couple hundred dollars on big name brands that probably can give you stellar audio performance (which I sincerely appreciate!), but I’ll wind up using more to fend off calls about my cars extended warranty. No, I have to jungle an iPhone for work and an Android for me and the two are constantly fighting over my Trex Aftershocks for who gets to reign Supreme as the master helper, Siri or Google Assistant.
I don’t mix my work and personal devices especially for security concerns. So for this, I actually wanted two sets of wireless earbuds, and for the bulk of work being a few calls and several Microsoft Teams meetings, plus notifications about stuff that I want to keep from being broadcast loudly, but I want to hear, I needed a fairly reputable, but lower end costing set.
The iPhone standard wired earbuds never cut the mustard. It’s obvious Apple forgot to consult me when they went to choose an ideal model for fit testing because they don’t stay in for more than 5 minutes on a great day and only if I make like a manikin. Turn my head even a little and it’s game over. “Oops! Sorry boss! My headset fell out. What were you saying?”
Well, time to go see what looks good. Needless to say, EVERYONE is in the earbuds game right now. I didn’t want to take a chance on what was being promo’ed on social media ads, so I went by Best Buy (who happened to be running some sales when I was there to see what they had) because I’m still a fan of brick and mortar stores because you can see and get tactile. Enter the JLAB JBuds with a couple different models like the Go Air, Air Icon, and Air Executives. All seem to have a good set of specs on them. I had some promo and gift credits available to me so I opted to go economical since I needed to get two sets. I wound up ordering up pair of Go Air sets… White (for the work iPhone), and blue (for my blue Samsung Galaxy Note) so I could tell them apart quickly. Boy has that decision paid off. Now if you have to pay cash for these earbuds, it isn’t going to hurt. They’re between $17 to $30 at Best Buy plus taxes. And I’d say they’re worth that much. Plus Best Buy hasn’t ever given me trouble with returns if I was unhappy.
Now for the review…
I took them out of their packaging, removed the battery block, and let them charge up on a USB charger for a while. Pairing them was as easy as opening your phone to pairing mode, pulling BOTH earbuds out and selecting the new set. Done. Push the buds in your ears (I recommend you lift your upper lobe up and seat them firmly). I had a couple episodes of having a lone bud pop out unexpectedly and go sailing across my truck or the floor into the nether under some furniture. They are resilient. They bounce and take a beating just fine. I learned to tuck them in very well. Tuck them in firmly. The manufacturer website says you get three gels for your ear size choice. I didn’t get them. Mine were not included in the boxes of either.
What I like…
One thing that drew me to the Go Air was the smaller size, not just the lower price. My ear openings are a bit smaller. Must be why I can’t hear my wife talking to me. When you remove the earbud from the case and pop it in, it talks to you to let you know it connected. When you are done, drop them in the case. Use one at a time or both. Swap back and forth. Whatever suits you. The case recharges them somewhat quickly and you recharge the case with any standard USB charger. Signal seems really good and so far, callers haven’t complained about sound at all. Audio quality has been surprisingly good for such an economical pair of earbuds. I really have no complaints about that. They sound like well made earbuds.
I now wear one from each color while I am on the road if I am on the highway so I can answer calls from either phone. I do have to pay closer attention to what’s around me since the earbuds do muffle a lot of exterior noise, but they are not noise canceling.
What I am not a fan of…
The gels have a pair of rather prominent logos extruded on them. This could help grip your ears so they don’t slip out as easily, but I find it just irritates my ears and makes them uncomfortable to wear for more than an hour. I am absolutely ready to take them out when that time is done. They also fall out rather easily, which I am hopefully going to get fixed by switching to Comply Foam Tips (https://www.complyfoam.com/) which I found at CES many years ago and I am a big fan of.
I also have a problem with the taps for volume and activating the trigger for Siri or Google Assistant. They just aren’t very responsive and there isn’t any feedback from the earbuds to tell you it’s working like an audio tone. All you get is a really loud thump-thump from your finger tapping on the earbuds reverberating down your ear canal to your eardrum. And a few moments later your phone might light up without an audio tone alerting you that your assistant is waiting for instructions. With most Bluetooth headsets you get immediate audio feedback. This is a big deal because if you are driving, you now have to look at your phone to see if it’s working or you have to concentrate on tapping again. The point of this is to not break from driving. If my phone is in my pocket? That’s not happening. Not everyone has a line-of-sight dash mount for both of their phones. I’d like to see JLAB work on that for the future.
This isn’t the manufacturer’s fault by any means. I’m sure there are other brands and models that can handle this concern… They don’t offer any passive noise mode so they muffle exterior noise significantly. You can’t use these in many environments as a pair, and in fact using only one at a time takes getting used to. It’s like wearing a single ear plug. Sure sound gets through even there, but it still makes a huge difference in your ability to locate sounds outside the earbuds and in the environment. It makes conversations interesting. You’ll have to figure this part out for yourself.