GADGET REVIEW | Powerbeats Pro

You've seen people walking round with these things stuck in their ears. Well, you'll be seeing a lot more of it. And I've joined them.

The latest Powerbeats Pro wireless earpods simply make life easier.

After wearing them for a couple weeks I can give you my personal rundown of using them.

Simply, they're a set of audio earpods which you stick on your ears like hearing aids which wirelessly and seamlessly connect via Bluetooth to your phone, or desktop, or car audio, giving you instant concentrated access to your calls, your music, podcasts, news, YouTube, Spotify . . . anything you listen to on your devices is direct-streamed to your ears.

They do a good job cutting out background, and foreground, noise allowing you to focus on what you're listening to.

And I really forgot I had them stuck in my ears. Which is why they still get wet in the gym shower. So far, they've survived such mistreatment admirably.

And, yes, there were a few embarrassing moments when I detached so much from the world around me that I bumped into people, and a few things.

But you learn.

The pods don't obliterate real-world audio, just push it into the background. Now that is a potential problem when driving. I did find it distanced my attention from things I should be focussing on, like other cars and pedestrians.

So I experimented, successfully, with wearing just one pod, usually my right ear. I'm right-handed, hey. Of course, then you have the problem of them not being charged evenly and one ear suddenly going deaf mid-song at some point.

Which reminds me, you can raise or lower the volume, or stop and start, very easily from either pod and they're both in sync.

Another reason for not being so keen to wear them in the car was that the sound quality wasn't as good as the car's audio system, which in most modern cars is pretty damn good these days.

I hasten to point out that the audio quality while on the run, not competing with car-quality, is really great. In the narrow confines of the car I found I was being let down by lack of bass. Treble and mid-range is fine, ideal for talk podcasts and talk radio. But Bill Bruford's driving spacious bass drum in the Yes anthem Your Move was almost absent, completely misrepresenting the track.

You have to be careful where you put them when you take them off. I sometimes slipped them into my pocket rather than drive with them on and was alarmed when my card-wallet bumped them "on" and the car audio immediately switched to my unworn earpods.

They're extremely comfortable. Unlike Apple's proprietary earbud fitting, which I find frustratingly never really sits properly in my ears. The Powerbeats Pro has a soft rubber bud that moulds seamless to your ear cavity, snug, comfortable, anchored in place.

I was aware when wearing them but not playing audio that my head felt like I was at the beach with water in my ears. Or like listening to the "sea" by putting a seashell to my ear. Disconcerting.

They're simply wonderful to wear at the gym, though I had to raise to max level to drown out the regulation doof-doof all gyms seem to believe is mandatory. Listening to podcasts, or audio books, or music, made the weights seem less heavy, the whole routine more enjoyable. Or at least Mark Kermode's film review (hello to Jason), or Crabbe and Sales chatting to the Chatters, took my mind off the pain.

And I really forgot I had them stuck in my ears. Which is why they still get wet in the gym shower. So far, they've survived such mistreatment admirably.

And likewise the sunscreen I slap all over myself at the beach, including my ears. I try not to forget to take the pods out but they're so unobtrusive I often do, still.

And when you do take them out, best place to store them is not in your pocket but in the case which, when USB-connected, is also the charger. And that's where I admit defeat. They'll only go into the case one way and for the life of me I turn them round this way and that, swap them from one side to the other, and back again and even turn the case around before I can fit them into the case, like a very complex jigsaw puzzle only Bill Gates could solve.

Oh, btw, there's no elegant way to put them into your ears, either - do it in private!

Let them become a part of your life. You won't regret the investment.

  • Powerbeats Pro ($349.95), in black, ivory, moss and navy, at apple.com and the Apple Store.

Comments