Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/02/21/review_logitech_wireless_phones/

Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod

Bluteooth ends tangled earphone cable misery?

By Tony Smith

Posted in Hardware, 21st February 2006 13:10 GMT

Review Logitech's wireless headphone set is more iPod-specific than the company's Wireless Music System (WMS), which Reg Hardware reviewed last week, though the underlying technology is the same: Bluetooth with its optional Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) protocol to allow stereo music to be beamed from a compact transmitter to the 'phones...

logitech wireless headphones for ipod

This time round, Logitech ships a version of its plug-on transmitter with an integrated remote-control connector slot. Beyond that it's the same unit as before: there's a built-in rechargeable battery fed by a proprietary connector, and the same slider mechanism that allows you to place the 3.5mm earphone jack centrally or out to the edge of the box, the better to match the position of the 'phones socket on your iPod.

There's the same battery preserving auto-shutdown feature that kicks in when the transmitter notices no electrical activity on the 3.5mm jack. And, alas, the same tiny connect button that so soft that half the time you're not sure you're pressing it.

The presence of the remote control connector limits the product to iPod Minis, and third and fourth-generation iPods and their derivatives. Actually, you can fit it directly to a Nano or a Shuffle too, but they end up at right-angles to the transmitter so it's not exactly an ideal marriage. Logitech bundles a short, 23cm (9in) 3.5mm jack extension cable so you can connect the transmitter to other MP3 players and iPods. And, let's face it, since wireless means you can tuck the player and transmitter out of sight in a bag or pocket, it doesn't matter what the coupling looks like, only how well it works.

However, using anything other than the chosen iPods - and that includes a TV, DVD player, hi-fi amplifier, PlayStation, Xbox, whatever - you won't get to control playback. I don't know about you, but when I'm out and about, I find I spend far more time adjusting the volume - which you can control not matter what your music source - than I do skipping tracks and pausing, so not having the other controls wouldn't bother me much.

Over to the headphones, which sport a pair of large, 5cm/2in speakers connected by one of those bands that tuck over the back of your ears and round behind your next. I wasn't sure about them at first but they provided comfortable to wear. And, out walking, they didn't fall out as I find in-the-ear 'phones often do. They have some heft to them - there's a rechargeable battery on board, after all - but not so much as to weigh you down; I've tried headphones with integrated Flash-based MP3 players that have felt heavier than this set. They feel very balanced, and I wonder if Logitech hasn't split the battery in two, one for each side.

logitech wireless headphones for ipod

The headphones are visually attractive too, decked out in grey and white, or in black to match whichever colour iPod you have. The right-hand speaker is where all the action is: a central connect button surrounded by a circle of four controls for volume up and down, and track skip forward and back. The connect button doubles up as a play/pause control.

I'd have liked the controls to be raised further from the surface of the speaker casing, and for the volume buttons to lack the indentations placed exactly at 12 O'Clock and 6 O'Clock, just where you naturally reach to press.

The headphones use the same power connector as the transmitter, saving Logitech the need to ship two mains adaptors in the box. That's smart, but the company has gone a step further and fitted the recharger with two outputs to you can charge both the 'phones and the transmitter simultaneously. Very good thinking, folks.

Like the WMS' components, the headphones and transmitter pair automatically, though you can force a manual pairing if, say, you want to temporarily connect your 'phones to a second transmitter. It's easy enough to do and it works a treat.

So do the headphones. Across a range of genres the sound is clear and crisp with a solid feel to the bass. For me, this is a very good-sounding set of 'phones. Sound quality is dependent on your source material, but I didn't detect any audible degradation due to the need to re-digitise and compress an analogue signal to send it over the Bluetooth link.

Without ear-surrounding pads, there's a fair bit of sound leakage at higher volumes, which I found they 'phones will happily reach without distortion. They bleep at you when you've reached the upper limit, which wasn't as loud as I'd have expected - a sign of a volume-level limitation in the European models? As for the leakage, whether that's an issue or not depends on who you're sitting next to when you use the 'phones.

logitech wireless headphones for ipod

With my music player tucked into a bag, the wireless set-up operated perfectly. Wandering around my house while the player stayed sitting on the kitchen table, however, I found the system more prone to audio break-up - more so, it seemed, than I experienced with the WMS. Metal was the chief culprit - duck down to load the washing machine and the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang immediately became a bigger stutter as the data packets start failing to get through.

Logitech claims a battery life of eight hours, and that's what I got out of them.

Verdict

Logitech's wireless headphones work a treat to deliver great sound quality over a distance. At £100, it's a very pricey product, particularly if you plan to use it with a player other than a remote control connector equipped iPod. After all, in-the-ear earphones are light, convenient and largely hassle-free.

However, the Logitech product does have uses beyond the iconic music player - or other MP3 devices - for that matter, and when you include the ability to pump out near-perfect sound from a wide range of sources, it becomes much better value for money - especially since you can find the set online for almost two-thirds the standard asking price. ®