I had some time to play with a pair of AirCable Bluetooth HiFi Headphones. The following are my first impressions, and after a period of time I will provide updates if justified.

The AirCable HiFi headphones at first felt cheap. They collapse for storage, and I thought its plastic band was going to snap when extending it for use. Once in place the hinges held firmly, and the band no longer seemed breakable. The rest of the device’s construction did not seem high end, nor did it seem low end a nice middle ground for everyday use. I was slightly turned off by the lack of branding on the headphones themselves but this may be an early rev. The left headphone is adorned with a joystick. This allows volume control with an up or down motion, and skip tracks (didnt work with my iTunes) with a left or right motion. The joystick was not perfectly centered and nor did it only move in these 4 directions. I was able to push the joystick at any angle, but to what response I got, if any, was a bit of a craps shoot. The right head phone has a power button, and an LED that signifies power on and battery life. When the device powers up, it emits an ear tolerable Windows like tone. If the battery on the device runs low the LED blinks red, at which its time to plug it in with the provided AC charger.

Syncing the AirCable HiFi headphones up to my Apple G4 was a piece of cake. I just plugged the included Bluetooth dongle and selected the audio out from my system’s preferences. Anyone without any computer know-how may have been a little lost after inserting the dongle as the product only came with a one page picture instruction. What makes the AirCable HiFi headphones even more attractive is its embedded microphone in the right speaker. I was anxious to test this option out with iChat, as I don’t have an external mic, and usually use my Video camera for audio chat. Unfortunately, my G4 wouldn’t recognize the AirCable HiFi headphones as a microphone source and their forums had no such resolve.

Aside from being able to use the device with your computer for either listening to music or talking VOIP, the HiFi headphones are touted as being Bluetooth cell phone compatible. This means you should be able to rock out to some tunes, get a call and switch over. I tested them out on my Sony Ericsson S710. I was able to get the S710 to recognize the headphones, but when trying to make a call it would sever the Bluetooth connection. It should be noted that in the past I have been able to connect other Bluetooth headsets to my Sony Ericsson S710.

Moving on to sound quality. The headphones have decent bass response. Don’t expect hi-fidelity, but if you need to listen to music and don’t want to disturb your roommate or bed partner, these are a suitable choice. Some background hiss can be heard, but should probably be expected on a wireless set. I did notice that the headphones sort of shut down when no data was being transferred – basically the background hiss stopped.

Bottom line: I like what the AirCable Headphones have to offer – they are comfortable, the battery has lasted for sometime on one charge, and they rarely distorted at higher volumes. Unfortunately, the device didn’t fully deliver on what’s promised (microphone compatibility), but I have yet to contact their tech support to see if they can resolve these issues. With a number of similar devices emerging in the market by larger brands, one does have to wonder on the success of such a device. At a price tag of $99, AirCable may be hard pressed to beat the competition. Next test: Xbox 360 compatibility.

Update: Since my review, AirCable has created an iTunes plugin that enables the headphone’s forward and back function. They didn’t provide a description for the plugin on their support page, but its available here. Took me about 30 seconds to install, didn’t have to reboot, and seems to work fine. Now, if they can create a plug-in to enable VOIP compatibility with iChat.

Product page here.

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Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."