Posted December 20, 2016
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Apple has had a tough year satisfying its usually fanatical user base with disappointing releases including the new Macbook Pros and the iPhone7. It used to seem like with every product announcement for Apple, the company would wow the public with products that seemed to be pulled from a time machine hooked to the future. Devices and products we couldn't imagine, we didn't know we wanted, that suddenly everyone had to have. This is no longer the case, unfortunately.

Adding to the list of disappointments that includes the Apple Watch and other recent products we can now add the Apple AirPods.

The AirPods were announced along with the new iPhone7 which abandoned the headphone jack in favor of wireless technology which Apple told us is going to be the future. As this review tells us, wireless maybe the future, but Apple has not taken us there.

I have yet to see anyone with the AirPods but I'm sure as the holiday season continues, more and more of them will pop up, but for now, most of the reviews point to many of the issues that you would imagine just looking at them. Why are they so expensive? The seem to easy to lose. What's the sound quality possibly like? Sean O'Kane answers those questions.

O'Kane for The Verge:

One of the first criticisms lobbed at AirPods — even on the day they were announced — was how they seemed too easy to lose. So we have to start with the way AirPods fit, or don’t fit, in your ears.

I cannot get them to stay in my ears for long periods of time. This isn’t a new problem for me — I’ve always had a hard time keeping AirPods’ wired predecessors, EarPods, in my ears. It was a side effect of Apple electing a one-size-fits-all, somewhat open-air design for EarPods, instead of designing earbuds that insert and form a full seal in your ears.

If you’ve had trouble with EarPods staying in your ears, there’s a good chance you’ll also struggle with AirPods. There are slight differences in the shapes, which you can see when you put them side by side — EarPods are a bit more round and AirPods are slightly more contoured, which makes them a bit more comfortable — and Apple says this means AirPods should fit more ears than EarPods.

That doesn’t mean AirPods stay in my ears, though. They don’t. Every time I wear AirPods it’s a constant battle to keep them in. They don’t fall out immediately, and when I first twist them in I can get what feels like a snug fit. But they inevitably slide out, especially in my right ear.

When this happens they wind up dangling on the outer cradle of my ear, where sudden or even not so sudden movements knock them loose. Standing up from my desk, turning my head too fast, chewing through a bag of pretzels, touching down on a runway in an airplane — these are all situations where AirPods popped out of one of my ears because I wasn’t constantly readjusting the fit.

Apple says that they’ve tested thousands of ear shapes and they think this design is robust enough to please most people. The Verge’s senior editor Lauren Goode has almost no problem with them — she’s even been able to work out with AirPods with no troubles. But I can't bring myself to be happy with AirPods because of this issue, and I've been looking forward to wireless earbuds for a while.

Apple is playing a numbers game here. The company is basically saying it thinks number of people who won’t be able to keep AirPods in their ear is small enough that they don’t need to change the design. And it’s a shame, because despite this problem, there is a lot that I like about AirPods — enough that I might have gotten over how strange they look.

For one, AirPods actually sound great, even better than EarPods. Apple claims the audio components are virtually the same between the two products, but there are noticeable differences in the output, especially in the low end. I actually gasped the first time I heard the bass drop in Childish Gambino’s "Me and Your Mama" when using AirPods. The same section didn't sound nearly as dynamic on EarPods.

AirPods reproduce music clearly for such tiny earbuds, though that’s provided you can get them to stay in your ear canal; the sound quality was harder to enjoy as the earbuds slid toward the outer part of my ear.

O'Kane continues his review contrasting the positive implications with the AirPods with the practical issues that they face. He covers the sound quality, bluetooth capabilities, the charging case and more.

Read the full review.


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