This morning I rolled out of bed at around 7:45. I put on some running clothes, laced up my shoes, grabbed my phone and keys, and headed out the door.
Then I slipped the Powerbeats 2 into my ears, and went for a run.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I picked up the Powerbeats 2 wireless in an A-Players post, and since then I've gotten to use them both on my runs and in average use throughout the day. This was my first pair of bluetooth headphones - much less earbuds - so it's been a little different from the wired earbuds and headphones of old that I've used for forever. It's also been nice at the same time, and I have a few major impressions a couple of weeks in that I'd like to cover with you guys today.
1. Wireless is awesome!
First off, these things don't have any wires! You don't realize the full utility of this until after a few days of use, but that means no more having your earbuds yanked out after getting caught on a corner, no more getting wires tangled up in your pockets, and no more having to take them out when you get up to go across the room. You won't realize just how nice this is until you've tried it, but my goodness am I determined never to go back to a wired pair of earbuds, it's just that nice.
Audio quality also isn't an issue. I was a bit concerned about the Powerbeats having too much of a bias towards the low-end like other Beats headphones, but after using them both whilst running, working, and for casual listening over the past couple weeks - my fears have been quelled.
The sound is pretty well detailed, with both the highs and mids coming through crisply. The bass isn't what I'd call amazing or tight, it's a little more along the lines of muddy. Thankfully, it's not overpowering in it's muddiness, and for the casual listening that you're likely to be doing with the Powerbeats, it really isn't a problem. Latency also hasn't posed any sort of a problem either, and the Powerbeats have just as good performance as any other bluetooth audio setup that I've tried - which is to say that the minuscule amount of latency is negligible in practice.
2. Designed for sports
The Powerbeats sports-oriented design results in a couple benefits that really make a difference when excercising and being active, though not always in everyday use. To start with, the Powerbeats' "earhooks" that go over your ears ensure that the earbuds won't come out of your ears whilst running. It's never happened to me in my time with the Powerbeats, and knowing that I don't need to worry about them flying out at an inopportune time is well worth the small extra effort it takes to slot the earhooks over your ears when putting the Powerbeats on.
Also due to the Powerbeats using the earhooks to hold the buds in your ears rather than the traditional suction-style seal of most in-ear buds, the noise cancellation that you can expect from a normal pair of earbuds just isn't here. That's actually a good thing whilst running - as you can hear approaching cars or cyclists before they get close while still enjoying and focusing on your music or podcasts. But it's not quite as nice a "feature" in daily use. Having to hear the group of people's conversation next to me at the cafe isn't quite ideal, but as with most earbuds a boost to the volume will fix the problem if nothing else.
And while it almost feels like stating the obvious, the Powerbeats are excellent for using while you're exercising and being active because there aren't any wires to flop around your limbs, get caught on things, or be an annoyance in any way. They're light, they're small, and that alone makes them a great running companion even without the other perks.
3. It's only going to get better
As it stands today, there are a few flaws with the Powerbeats that if I was nitpicking, I'd want to bring up. For one, the battery life is adequate but not great. The Powerbeats are rated for 6 hours of playback, and they hit it consistently. The only problem with that is that six hours isn't all that much if you're going to a full day of school before then heading to a long shift at work where you'll also be listening to audio. Thankfully that isn't a scenario I find myself in often, but every once in awhile I feel like the Powerbeats could last a little longer. Oh well.
My only other nitpick with the Powerbeats is their actual size. Compared to regular earbuds they're a little chunky - and I understand that they need that extra space to house the batteries and extra technology required for Bluetooth, but it can be a little intrusive sometimes. If I'm ever laying down with the Powerbeats on I'll definitely feel them, and if I don't have the earhooks positioned correctly whilst running the Powerbeats are actually large enough that I'll get some wind noise.
Thankfully, those two nitpicks are just that - nitpicks. They're not dealbreakers for me, and those two metrics - battery life and size - are the two metrics that will probably be the most innovated upon and improved over the coming years. Maybe even as soon as this fall we'll see new bluetooth earbuds coming from either Apple or Beats, and I'm excited for a world in a couple years where the technology is good enough and cheap enough where everyone will own a pair of bluetooth 'buds. It's definitely the future, and it's coming.
Thanks again for giving my little piece a read. I'll be writing more about the Powerbeats 2 in a more official manner sometime soon over on the Tools & Toys site, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled there if you're interested in even more of my thoughts on the earbuds.
Aside from that I hope you all have a great Labor Day, (for those who celebrate it) a great last day or two of summer, and I'll see you all again soon.