Ian pledged $50 to get a glorified selfie stick, but only half of it has been shipped. Chase spent $100 on a video game that may or may not actually be made one day. A combination of physical and phycological factors lead to successful campaigns on crowdfunding platforms, but sometimes even the most convincing sales pitches turn out to be much less impressive – so what makes people willing to hand over their money?
Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here for months! That’s the song that introduced me to hip-hop, and I listened to my mp3 of it over and over before the bitrate degraded too much for WinAmp to play it anymore. It was my copy, but every time I put it on a new hard drive it got a little fuzzier. I don’t know why I’m explaining this; you know how DRM works. Eventually I farmed out enough spare CPU cycles that I could afford another copy, but by that time (of course) I was just buying the rights to the song anyway.
Apple’s AirPods have quite possibly been the most hyped headphones I can recall. They’re fully wireless, they recharge in their case, they allow you to talk to Siri, and they offer surprisingly decent audio quality. But some say they look stupid, and if your ear isn’t perfectly shaped, they have a tendency to want to sneak out of your head. Then there’s the issue of backorder. Nearly 6 months after their release, they’re still perpetually shipping in 4-6 weeks.
The Rowkin Bit Charge Stereo, on the other hand, claim to offer many of the same features and functions of the AirPods, comes in $30 cheaper, and they’re available with 2-day shipping on Amazon Prime. But can they compete?
Rowkin took a more traditional approach When it came to using their EarBuds. Unlike the AirPods, which have no physical buttons, each Bit earbud has a physical multifunctional button on the back, which is used to pair them both to each other, and to your device. After a failed attempt to pair, left me with only 1 of these connected to my phone, I consulted the directions – something I’ve never needed to do with a pair of headphones. Pairing requires pressing both earbuds button, waiting for them to connect to each other – indicated by little white lights – and then connecting via the Bluetooth menu on your device.
Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the magic of the AirPods, but this was a mediocre experience at best. I’m guessing the average person would find this pretty frustrating.
If I had to compare the sound quality of these to something, I would equate it to the speaker of an iPhone 3G, piped straight into your ears. These are $130 earbuds – mind you, they are wireless – but I have $9 wired earbuds that offer notably higher quality sound. The Rowkin Bit earbuds offered almost no perceivable bass, and seemed to distort quickly on the high end of the EQ. Both music and spoken audio were disappointing.
Fit wise, the Bits are a little better than AirPods. Because of their design, they actually fit into your ear hole, so they stay in place much more solidly. While running and working out, I didn’t need to adjust them a single time to make sure they were staying in place. The same is NOT true for AirPods.
Another disappointment is how the headphones interact with one another and your device. Rowkin reference the idea of primary and secondary earbuds in their pairing guide. When everything is connected, the primary earbud blinks a single white light. The secondary blinks twice. This may seem unimportant on the face of it, but becomes important when using your devices digital assistant or making phone calls.
Only the primary earbud can communicate with Siri or handle phone calls. Unlike the AirPods which can act interchangeably, the Rowkins force you to be attentive to which earbud is which. A single tap on either earbud will pause or resume playing audio, but the symmetry ends there. Double tapping the button on the primary earbud will activate your devices assistant. Double tapping the button on the secondary earbud does nothing.
Once you’ve activated Siri – or Google, whatever – the audio responses only come through that same primary earbud… the other one is just there for decoration. An overpriced earplug, if you will.
Of course, when you resume audio, both earbuds return to pumping disappointing sounds into your ears. That is, until you use them while moving. Take, for example, my walk from my car to my desk at work. In the 500 foot walk, the secondary earbud dropped connection or stopped playing audio a whopping 6 times. Each time, after a few moments, it slowly faded back in as if to pretend it was there the whole time.
Whatever technology they are using on these is not worth $130. In fact, the only part of the entire box that felt useful was the charging case for the earbuds, and that’s because the 2100 mAh battery can double as an portable battery for your smartphone. Just plug in to the USB port, and give your device a little boost.
All-in-all, the Rowkin Bit Charge earbuds look very compelling online. They’re small, wireless, and actually fit INTO your ear. Unfortunately, their Bluetooth signal is weak, their audio quality is weak, the charging case is probably a little too bulky for your pockets, and functionally, almost any other pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds that I’ve used are a better option.
I love music and I love headphones, but I don’t like dropping tons of cash when I don’t need to. That leaves me in a weird spot. Is it possible to find decent headphones at a decent price? Today, I am checking out the MPow M3 Bluetooth over-ear headphones, but can they compete with the more expensive competition?
The M3 Headphones ($35.99 on Amazon) are the latest offering from accessory maker Mpow. The company’s focus is on building quality consumer electronics and accessories, often at a much better price than their big-name competitors.
The most obvious thing to look at with the M3s is their style, and they look very nice. The glossy black and bright pops of red looks great together, and the silver highlights and buttons on the ears fit in perfectly as well, with the whole setup reminding me of the Beats Studios.
As far as the actual important matter – sound – goes, the M3s were pretty surprising. I wouldn’t consider myself an audiophile by any means, but I do know how I like my music to sound, and the M3s offered that. Music had a well rounded sound, without overpowering the lows or distorting the highs and stayed very clear and crisp at any volume.
The ear cushions also offer passive noise isolation to help keep unwanted noise out, and while using these at the gym or while mowing, they blocked outside sounds pretty well. Note that this isn’t actual active noise cancellation, but rather quality padding that simply attenuates the outside world.
Like most other Bluetooth over-ear headphones, the M3s can also be used with the included 3.5mm cable if the battery runs low or you don’t have Bluetooth available. Audio quality is slightly different when plugged in, and seemed slightly louder than with Bluetooth, but not definitively enough that I felt like I was missing out.
When you are using Bluetooth, the M3s can easily last 10-15 hours, but it is worth noting that when the battery drops below 30%, a low battery alert chimes in quite frequently, essentially forcing you to plug-in and recharge. Even at that, though, you can expect a solid 8+ hours of uninterrupted playback.
The one major drawback I found with the M3s is in their handling of volume controls. While some Bluetooth headphones will adjust the volume output of your device, the M3s utilize an independent volume controls, meaning your device and the headphones each have separate volumes. It’s a small thing, but proved to be a huge frustration in practice.
I was very impressed with the Mpow M3 over-ear headphones. They were comfortable, offered clean sound, and looked cool (in my opinion). They fold up to fit comfortably in most backpacks and laptop bags, and provided plenty of power to get me through a full day of listening.
Solid build quality
Volume control is independent of device
Ultimately, for under $40, it’s hard to expect perfection, and while these may not be perfect, they’re definitely a great option. Pick up a pair of the Mpow M3 headphones for $35.99 on Amazon, today!
There is a fine line between creepy technology and helpful technology. Amazon, Google, and even Facebook ride very close to that line. But does that line shift? Do you know when it’s been crossed? And what drives these artificially intelligent machines?