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« Whole Home Audio On the CHEAP! | Main | Turns Out, FireWire Ain’t Dead Yet »


OK, now that everyone and their brother, sister, first, second and third cousin has reviewed Apple’s latest electronic miracle, it’s my turn. You know the MacTexan. My motto (if I had a motto) is “Information you need, whenever I get around to it. (but worth waiting for)” In short, the title of this post tells you everything the MacTexan wants you to know. Were the AirPods worth the six-week wait and $160?

I’d do it all over again. It isn’t because the AirPods sound so tremendous. They don’t. It isn’t because AirPods have super-long battery life. They don’t. It isn’t because AirPods are the coolest looking earbuds around. They aren’t. If I lost my AirPods, I would go through the wait and expense all over again because they are the easiest and handiest earbuds I’ve ever used.

Put another way, the best sounding Bluetooth earbuds on Earth become worthless to me if I have trouble keeping them connected to my iPhone. Also, I don’t want one pair of earbuds for talking on the phone and another for listening to music. I also don’t want earbuds that make me look like a Borg. To me, nothing looks more stupid than someone walking down the street with a blue LED illuminating the side of their head or a piece of hardware sticking out of their ear that makes them look like a Darth Vader wanna-be. Much has been written about the AirPods’ styling and I suppose there is no accounting for individual tastes, but I find the AirPods as inconspicuous as any Bluetooth earbuds I’ve seen. Maybe it would have been nice to have a different color option, but I’m OK with white.

What makes AirPods my first choice of Bluetooth earbuds is the same thing that makes almost all Apple products my favorite of any given category. They just work. Not only do they just work, they are by far the easiest Bluetooth devices I’ve ever used. Step one: Open the AirPods charging case within range of your iPhone (iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, etc.). Step Two: There is no step two! No kidding. That’s all there is to pairing. Using them is even simpler (if that’s possible). Just take one or both AirPods out of their charging case and put it (them) into your ear(s). Each AirPod is equipped with an infrared sensor to detect when it is in your ear and your paired device automatically sends its audio. If you only use one AirPod, the audio signal is automatically switched to mono. Take the AirPod(s) out of your ear and the audio reverts. Simple. And it works every time, automatically. Best of all, AirPods have phenomenal range. I can leave my iPhone in my bedroom, walk downstairs and the AirPods stay connected perfectly. I had to walk over 60 feet to the end of my driveway before the connection broke. As soon as I made three or four steps back toward my house, the AirPods re-connected. Apple attributes all this pairing and connectivity wizardry to their new W1 chip built into each AirPod. I’ll take their word for it. All I know is, it works! I won’t call out names, but I’ve paid really good money for Bluetooth earbuds that had trouble staying connected when my iPhone was in my jeans pocket (Bose SoundSport).

Next, AirPods are very comfortable. They are as close to wearing nothing as I can imagine. I knew they would fit before I bought them because my EarPods fit so well. The two are virtually identical in size and shape. And I’ve had no problems with them staying in my ears. In fact, they’re better than EarPods because there aren’t any wires tugging on them. Of course, no two persons’ ears are identical. Suffice to say, if your EarPods fit, the AirPods will too.

I got 5 hours and 17 minutes of battery life when listening to an audiobook using one AirPod with the volume set at around 60%. When it ran down, I put the other AirPod in my other ear. Within 30 minutes the charging case had the first AirPod fully charged. I also answered a couple of phone calls during all this. It’s as simple as tapping the AirPod twice to pick up a call. That is my only complaint. AirPods have no control other than Siri. That took a bit of getting used to, but it would still be nice to have some physical button. Fortunately, Siri has always worked well for me. It’s a good thing. Siri is the only mechanism for controlling the volume or playing, pausing, etc.

I think my favorite AirPod feature is their charging case. This little piece of tech is unlike anything offered by any other headset maker. If you leave the house with everything fully charged, you’ve got over 24 hours of wireless listening available before needing an electrical outlet. The little rounded rectangular case is comfortable in your pocket and the little LED under the snap-open lid glows amber when one or both AirPods are charging and green when they’re both fully juiced. Also, each AirPod snaps into its charging slot magnetically, making it virtually impossible for it to fall out. If you do accidently misplace an AirPod, Apple has added “Find My Airpods” into the free “Find My iPhone” app. As long as the AirPod is in range of one of your paired (Apple) devices, it will show up on a map just like any other device. If you need to narrow that down, you can send an audible chirp to the AirPod to help locate it in the sofa cushions or somewhere else nearby.

So, with AirPods, Apple has done it again. They’ve taken a common technology (in this case Bluetooth) and improved it to the extent it becomes brainless to use. Isn’t that what they do best?

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