Photos Courtesy of Optoma
When I replay scenes from my relationship with traditional earbuds, I feel like I’m starring in a cheesy informercial. Picture it with me, if you will…
In grainy black and white I fish a tangled cord out of my pocket, weeping as I pick helplessly at the knot. Cut to me dropping my phone with the cord still attached, tripping and falling on my face. Cut to me trying to plug in my phone to an external charger, looking like a bionic human being– wires protruding. Cut to me running on the treadmill, the buds popping out of my ears with a comical *bloop*. In all four scenarios I throw my hands up in defeat and shout to the technology gods, “there has to be a better way!”
“Look familiar?” An all-knowing narrator intones. Suddenly, I open the door to a delivery man dropping off my Optoma NuForce BE6i wireless headphones (on his first attempt!). Full color. Big grin. “I’m wire free and thanks to NuForce I’ll never be tethered again!”
No, but seriously. I’ve had these puppies for a few months now, and I feel like a new person. If you think that’s hyperbolic, think about how much time you spend with headphones on.
My initial reservations for trying wireless Bluetooth headphones were largely, I must confess, superficial; most brands stuck me as bulky or too sporty for my tastes, perhaps because early models were mostly pitched towards athletes. But now, with NuForce, Optoma offers a line of sleek options. I was immediately drawn to the BE6i model with a white cord and light gold buds (it also comes in grey).
Though it generally isn’t encouraged to judge a product by its packaging, NuForce certainly doesn’t lose points for it’s stylish, minimal effort in white with chrome accents. And frankly, the package mimics the product, itself stylish and minimal. They’re far less cumbersome than traditional ear buds; just drop the buds and drape them around your neck when you aren’t using them, and you’ll likely forget they’re there. To make it even easier, the backs of the buds magnetize together. If you’re done with them for a stretch, they easily wrap up (no tangling!) and fit in the small, black storage case.
But their liteweight, fashion forward design belies the fact that the BE6i is a serious, durable headphone option. As far as sound quality, this may not be the pair for real snobs, but for an average listener, it’s just fine, with a good balance, wide volume range and AAC support, which makes it compatible with high quality files. It helps to take some time testing out the tips that come in the package; with both NuForce silicone and Comply™ soft foam options, it may seem overwhelming, but finding a perfect fit is key– for comfort, sound and stability. Silicone “ear wings” help keep the buds in your ears, whether you’re working out or just dodging commuters on the subway. And if you break a sweat doing either of those things, it’s not a problem– they’re sweat and water resistant.
I personally found it a fine balance against years of tragic tangling (and all of my other aforementioned woes), but it’s important to remember, when considering wireless, that you need to account for charging time. It takes the BE6i over an hour to charge, and if you plan on any substantial use, you’ll need to charge them daily. I found that if I’m just using them a couple of hours a day on my commute or for everyday errands, they’ll last a couple of days between charges. But, on the days when I sit at my desk and use them for a 9-5 grind, the power is nearly depleted before I leave the office. They have died on me once or twice, so now I always carry a mini-USB and backup charger.
But these headphones aren’t just for tech-heads. There’s no setup beyond picking your earbud tip and connecting via Bluetooth to your phone or other device (laptop, tablet, etc.). You activate Bluetooth mode on the BE6i by holding down for two seconds on the power button, which also lets you play, pause and answer and hang up phone calls.
Beyond that, it’s a breeze to learn the other controls– click for volume, click and hold to jump forward and backwards through your songs. These headphones are as smart as your smartphone, so when you turn them on, your phone automatically reconnects to the nearby device it’s been paired with.
A year ago, wireless headphones were few and far between, and we had to make do with cumbersome or tiresome options. Now, they come in all shapes, makes and sizes, and there’s no excuse not to give a pair a try. Start your search with the NuForce BE6i, which, at $129, isn’t a bad investment for a product you’re sure to use all the time.
It’s spring after all, which means out with your old headphones and in with the Nu!
Learn more about NuForce products on Optoma USA’s website.