Headphones are a dime a dozen these days, they truly are. Almost every tech manufacturer around makes at least one pair of headphones. Granted, this is a huge market, and the more competition we have the better it is for us consumers. This does make it hard to differentiate one pair from another, and worse still, to have something that is really different! We got a chance to visit AterShokz at CES, and were able to get a set of their Earless headphones. Yes, earless. They don’t go into your ears. Isn’t that a unique concept? Here’s how they worked.
The AfterShokz are unique in the fact that they transmit audio through your cheek bones. This means that you are never covering up your ears while using them. Hence, the earless concept. This is the same technology used by the U.S military and other government organizations. It’s something I didn’t really expect to see in the consumer market. How does it make a difference? I will get into that, but first, I will go over the product itself in more details.
The AfterShokz come packaged with a tiny manual, a carrying pouch, and USB charger. Since these are not traditional headphones, they do require a bit more power to run, so they have a built-in rechargeable battery. The headphones come with a tiny USB charger that attaches to the 3.5MM cable. You plug it into any USB port and you’ll be charging. The earphones have a control built in to the center of its cord. This has a volume up and down button, as well as a “stop” button, which turns off the headphones. They will turn themselves off after 15 minutes of not receiving audio, which is helpful. The control is in the shape of a clip, so you can attach it easily to your clothes, very clever.
The audio quality is pretty good, but it takes getting used to. Since the audio isn’t coming directly into your ears like you’re used to with traditional headphones, it’s hard to compare them to others. I’ve used a lot of different headphones though, from Shure, to Audio Technica, Bose, Sony, you name it, I’ve used it. You can definitely feel the bass on your face on bass heavy music, it is a bit odd, but it feels kind of nice. Overall as far as quality goes, these guys give about the same experience you’d expect from a $50 set of headphones, which is good, since they retail for $60.
The AfterShokz aren’t marketed as being the pinnacle in audio quality, and this is because they are made with the purpose of being used while still allowing you to pay attention to the world around you. This was appealing to me because as someone who works out, I know that lots of times you really need to be aware of your surroundings. I used the AfterShokz in many different situations, and while they worked very well in most of them, they are not going to replace your current set for all situations. While sitting on the computer and working, they are very good, since I can still hear other things like my cell phone, family members, a potential appliance beep, etc. I took a light jog with them, and they worked fantastic. It felt safer since I could hear things like traffic and things around me while still enjoying my music. I can also see them being useful while you want to work on something but still pay attention to someone if they talk. A couple working on separate projects on their Tablets while listening to different music would be a perfect use for instance.
The only bad time to use these in my experience is at the gym. Since I can hear everything around me, I can now…hear everything around me. The loud music on the speakerphones and the grunts around me are not exactly pleasant, although they are an attention grabber. Also, if you play music on them loudly, people close to you can hear you’re listening to. Besides these tiny gripes though, the headphones work great, and as advertised. I got about 10 hours of use out of one full charge over the course of a week, and charging took around 3 hours plugged into my desktop PC. While these won’t be replacing your high end Shure headphones any time soon, for what they are advertised, the AfterShokz are a great set of headphones to use for the avid multi-tasker. You’ll be able to pick them up starting in late February from AfterShokz.