Rowkin wireless earbuds are Apple Airpods competitor

Ever since Apple announced it was removing the headphone jack from its new iPhones, the world is going crazy for completely wireless earphones. Apple’s Airpods are both a trendsetter and the gold standard when it comes to wireless headphones or earbuds. But plenty of competitors have come on the market to compete with them. Most notably, Samsung released its IconX headphones for Android phones and devices. But there’s also another option. Rowkin makes a competing set of earbuds it markets as “the world’s smallest”. While Rowkin wireless earbuds are definitely small, and cleverly designed with a rechargeable case, how well do they hold up during real-life testing, and how do they compare to Apple or Samsung’s models? I received a pair of Rowkin earbuds for testing and review. Here’s what I found after spending several weeks with them.

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Samsung Gear IconX wireless earbuds review

Until now truly wireless earbuds have been a bit of a myth. ‘Wireless’ has meant that the phones will connect with Bluetooth, so they don’t need a connector between the phone and your device, but they often come with a wire connecting the left to right earbud. While that’s been an ok option, some people find it distracting and annoying to have a cable flapping around your neck while doing certain activities. Enter Samsung’s new Gear IconX earbuds. With not a wire in sight, these earbuds are among the first to be totally and truly wireless. The small thumb-sized earbuds wedge right into your ears for a good slip-free fit, and connect seamlessly and wirelessly to your Samsung device whenever you pop them in. Continue reading “Samsung Gear IconX wireless earbuds review”

Reader Q and A: Glow Headphones

Since I posted an unboxing video and review of the Glow headphones, I’ve had many questions and my YouTube Channel has been pumped with inquiries seeking more info about the product.

It’s my understanding this gadget started on Kickstarter, and I’ve heard from several backers who say they’ve been left in the dark about the product they helped get to market, and they’re looking for some answers.

I’ll answer some of the questions I’ve been asked about the headphones as best I can, but it should be noted I’m a blogger and reviewer and not affiliated with Glow in any way.  My answers are based on my experience with the set I was sent for a review, so I’m afraid I can’t answer any questions about whether this is the final or exact product Glow will ship to backers. (Though it’s worth noting the headphones are currently for sale on the Bell.ca website for $199 CAD.)

These questions below reference back to a mini-review and unboxing video I posted at the end of November.  Please read and watch those for further details on the headphones. Since then I’ve been able to spend more time testing the headphones and can answer some of the questions I’ve been sent.

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Question: Is the package you received the final product shipping?

A: I don’t know. I received a set from a public relations contact, and they went on sale on at least one website several days later, so I assume so.

IMG_8526Question: Is that little bag the carrying case? We all were expecting a nice little case given the renders they made for us on KS and the fact we reached the milestone to get one. That bag is causing quite the uproar.

A: The little bag that comes with the phones is a faux velvet with string pull-ties. I’d say it feels synthetic, not luxurious. That said, I think it’s fine for what it’ll be used for.

The charging cable in the box was unusual; it’s not a full USB charger, it’s a flat piece of plastic with copper connectors. I’ve never used one like it before. (Photos below)

IMG_8525Question: Did it come with any more ear tips? It was supposed to include different sizes, we didn’t see any in your unboxing.

Yes, it comes with a total of 6 different pairs of tips (4 extras, 2 on the phones); both the in-ear size and the hooks for holding it in place. I didn’t find any of them fit particularly well, or felt comfortable, and I found the phones slipping easily from my ears. I have a similar shaped set of Adidas/Monster in-ear headphones with the little hooks and they are comfortable and lock in place very well. These are not at all like that.  I’d be afraid to run in these.  But this could just be my own ear shape/size.

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Microphone

I also felt the headphones themselves were quite light. While that’s good for portability, they didn’t feel substantial, and didn’t have the heft of other quality headphones I’ve tested this year.

The laser cables are also rather stiff, which I think contributes to them popping out easily.

Question: About the controller; How does it feel in hand? Lightweight cheap Chinese plastic, or something that looks like they put some thought into (especially considering the many delays they claimed in making it feel premium).IMG_8531

A: The controller feels very lightweight, and to use your word, “cheap”. In fact, the controller case broke open on me after a couple days, and I can’t get it to snap back together. The top with the button markings lifted off the rest of the puck, exposing the guts. I’d be concerned about its durability if I owned one. I would definitely not describe these headphones as feeling “premium”.

Question: How would you characterize the sound quality? I currently and using a pair of Beats in-ears and expect for something costing almost double to at least sound the same given the Glow. I’ve also had Bose in-ears that were even better than those.IMG_8535

I compared these to another in-ear style I have (Monster Adidas), and while it’s similar in sound quality, the Monsters feel better to me. (I also think the lack of being able to get a good in-ear fit plays into this too.) I also felt like there was noticeably less bass in the Glows. It sounded noticably tinnier (treblier??) and the Glow just didn’t give me that richness of sound that I’ve had with higher-end headphones, even when I pushed them further into my ears to get a good seal.

I then tried the Glows against an over ear style by Jabra.  There was no competition.  The sound quality of the Jabras was far and away better than the Glow.

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Glow inner case/round box with foam pad

Question: Would I buy the Glow headphones?

A: I wouldn’t for myself.  I didn’t like the fit, the weight, and I was disappointed at how quickly the controller broke. I also think there’s much better sounding headphones out there on the market. I would, however,  get these for a kid or a teenager, since the glowing mechanism is really cool, and it works well, and since teens and kids are probably less concerned with top quality fidelity than many adults, though these are rather expensive for something for a child to use. Overall it’s a really neat and unique new product, and I’d like to see a second generation of the Glow, if and when that happens.

More questions on the new Glow Headphones? Ask away in comments below.

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Extras are hidden under flaps in the box.
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Back side of the controller

 

 

Travel Gadgets & 5 Top Travel Tips

tech talk 3We all look forward to travel in the busy summer season.  With the number of travellers climbing, and delays inevitable, it’s a good idea to bring along some tech to keep you sane, entertained and connected while on vacation, whether it’s a plane trip or a road trip.  This week on CTV Morning Live I shared some good gadget picks, as well as my top travel tips.

Top Gadget Picks:

Comfy Noise-eliminating Headphones

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On CTV Morning Live, I showed off some headphones.  House of Marley’s Over-ear “LIBERATE” Headphones ($99) are soft and plush with a good sound, retro styling, and ability to block out airplane drone and angry toddlers.

Jabra_Revo_Wireless_image_1440x1440px_06Ditto for the Revo wireless headphones by Jabra.Going wireless is huge for air travel; no cords getting caught up in the seatbelt, or getting tangled when you get up to use the washroom.

If over-ears seem too bulky, my personal favourite headphones are the Monster Adidas in-ear headphones, because they block out noise like a boss, and are ultra comfortable to wear.

Adapter/Router Powerpack by Satechi

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When travelling abroad, it helps to have a variety of plugs available to recharge your gadgets.  An interesting take on that is a versatile, compact adapter kit from Satechi that doubles as a wireless router and signal booster for your hotel internet.  The Satechi Smart Travel Router / Travel Adapter with USB Port adapts to fit into four of the most common plug configurations used around the world and has different modes for your wireless networking.

I also shared my 5 Top Tech Travel Tips on CTV Morning Live:

tech travel junePack extra headphones.

Headphones get lost, break, or you forget them, and of course without them, you can’t listen to music, TV or watch movies.  Stash an extra set of small earbuds in your carry on and you wrap them up with a handy Cord Taco to keep tangles at bay.

Bring your cables.

Beat delays by bringing your charging cable, plug and/or an external battery pack to supply juice through the longest flights or most annoying delays.  Never put them in checked baggage, as they sure won’t help you in the plane’s underbelly.

Preload TV shows, movies and podcasts at home onto devices.

Airport and hotel wifi is notoriously slow, and can be tedious to set up (nevermind having to give out personal info to get the connection).  Save time and frustration by filling your device with content you can watch all trip long.

Always carry-on your electronic devices.

They’re expensive, sometimes have personal info on them, and let’s be honest, it would be devastating to lose them or have them stolen from checked luggage.  Carry them on no matter how heavy that makes your carry-on bag.

Stash all your cables and accessories in one zippered bag.

It keeps them all in one place, makes them easy to find and keeps them from getting tangled up in the rest of your luggage. Of course, carry that bag on too as insurance.

If you’ve got a great travel gadget tip, I’d love to share it.  Post yours in comments.

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