Whether you own a Smartphone, tablet or other portable device, one accessory you may wish to consider is a pair of AfterShokz bone conducting wired or Bluetooth headphones, and here is why.
The AfterShokz bone conducting headphones are different from regular listening sets because they don't sit in or over your ears. You actually wear them in front of your ears, on your cheek bones. The bone conducting technology makes it possible to hear the sound without your ears being covered at all, and is therefore a perfect way for someone with little or no sight to walk around without compromising their spacial awareness, particularly when outdoors.
As I use a Victor Reader Stream for listening to audio books, I decided to purchase the wired variety of AfterShokz headphones to accommodate any non-Bluetooth device. The AfterShokz come in a nice zip-up case and comprise the bone conducting headphones and USB charging cable. The headphones are made of strong plastic, the band of which goes behind your head. Halfway along the cable leading from the left earpiece is a small box. A round power button turns the headphones on or off, Up and down buttons enable you to adjust the volume of the headphones, and a small cover protects the USB port for charging the set. A tiny LED indicator flashes every so many seconds to tell you that the power is on. The 3.5mm jack at the end of the cable allows you to plug the AfterShokz into your device. You can charge the headphones via your PC, or using a plug that fits a universal standard USB cable.
Being thoroughly pleased with the wired AfterShokz, I decided to purchase the Bluez variety, as they are known, so that I could pair them with my iPhone or other Bluetooth device. Again, the AfterShokz Bluez come in a nice zip-up case with the familiar mini to standard USB cable for charging them.
The Bluez are heavier than the wired AfterShokz, primarily because the technology is incorporated into the headband that again goes round the back of your head. On each headphone is a button that you use during calls on your Apple or Android device. The small slider switch to turn on or off the Bluez is on the headband, along with the up and down volume button, and cover that protects the USB port.
When you power the Bluez, a female voice announces: "Power on", followed by a pause, then a "Pairing" message. Provided you have Bluetooth turned on in the device you are using, your AfterShokz Bluez headphones should pair seamlessly, and you ought to receive feedback from your phone or other device through the headphones. When you flick the switch to turn off the Bluez, a battery level announcement is given, followed by a bleep. During a phone conversation, a press of the button on the left headphone ends the call, while a press of the button on the right headphone mutes the call.
So that I could use the Bluez with a non-Bluetooth device in addition to my wired AfterShokz, I purchased a Bluetooth adaptor. This pairs easily with the Bluez headphones, and comprises a 3.5mm jack on a short cable with a tiny box at the other end. The box has a power button on it, and a mini USB port for charging its internal battery. So, when you turn on both the Bluez headphones and the accompanying adaptor, the two will pair, and the voice on the Bluez headphones announces: "Audio device connected".
CONCLUSION AND PRICING
Whichever pair you go for, these headphones will revolutionise your listening experience wherever you use them. They are excellent for listening to GPS instructions while outside, for example, as your ears are open to the environment around you without being compromised. I would say that these headphones are far better suited to audio book listening than music, but this is of course subjective.
The Bluez are slightly heavier headphones than the wired AfterShokz, and feel tighter and less comfortable on me for prolonged use. They are not really suitable for using while lying down either, as the headband goes behind your head. Both flavours of the AfterShokz do have some sound leakage, or bleeding, which means they can be heard by others sitting near or around you. While this is not a problem for me, it is worth making the point if you are listening to something private.
That said, however, I love owning both varieties, and using them in different situations. Operating the Bluez while on the phone is really convenient, and works well for both parties during a conversation.
Bluetooth connectivity on this version is excellent with no lagging or dropout that I have been aware of. You can use them within an approximate range of 30 feet. And both sets of headphones do enjoy a good battery life, depending on usage, with charging time of approximately three hours.
I purchased my AfterShokz wired headphones from Sight and Sound Technology for £59.95, 01604 798 070,
I bought the Bluez variety from HumanWare Europe for £132.45. This includes postage, and a separate Bluetooth adaptor that enables me to connect them to a wired device such as Trekker Breeze or a Victor Reader Stream, for example. When ordering, specify whether you want the additional Bluetooth adaptor. Contact 01933 415 800, or visit
Alternatively, you can purchase these headphones from
It is always worthwhile shopping around for the best deals.
You may also want to listen to the audio unboxing and description of the AfterShokz Bluez recently posted to AppleVis by AnonyMouse.