Aftershokz use Bone Conduction technology to deliver sound through your cheek bones and therefore leaves your ears uncovered for hearing traffic noises, transit announcements etc; sounds great for ensuring safety for blind and visually impaired navigating about outdoors I thought - I was also thinking that listening to audio books, podcasts or just using a screen reader could be possible whilst still being "In the room" unlike when using regular stereo headphones so could be useful for when spending time with family, or just simply caring for your children and being around the house...... (Or for taking over the world like in the Daniel Suarez books! which is where I first heard of non-military usages for the technology)
So how realistic was this idea, and which model is best? As they come in 3 flavours - Sports model which is Wired without media skip forward/back controls or microphone, a M2 Mobile wired version which has audio control and microphone capability and the new Bluez Bluetooth version with all the benefits of wireless usage and each at different price points. Like many visually impaired people, I use headphones a lot! But I couldn't decide which design would be most useful to my use case and thought I'd try both a wired and wireless version and see which I prefer so I got the M2 Mobile wired pair and the new Bluez Bluetooth pair and tried both out........
So...... my opinion on which is best....... I found that I ended up liking both models!! But if picking a favourite I'd choose the Bluez model just for the convenience of Bluetooth (The wireless range was surprisingly good) and I really liked the design and the position of the control buttons. Around the house or office I found myself using the Bluez mostly and the Mobile M2 wired version I used mostly whilst out and about walking or using various transport methods. Obviously both models suit both use cases but with the M2 wired version being a slimmer design it was more lightweight and could be used easily with a hat/hood and its wires hidden out of the way and the control box clipped on jacket etc and with them having wires and therefore being attached to something I was less worried about me somehow losing them whilst out! (Imagine leaving Bluetooth headphones on a bus and only realising when it drives off and the Bluetooth goes out of range and disconnects! Didn't want that.......... again!!) Note that at high volumes there can be sound leakage as the bone conduction pads will be vibrating faster to produce the sound and I guess that would also vibrate surrounding air and cause sound to release but it is minimal and only at higher volumes and at work I even found that it made colleagues realise they were being too noisy with their chatting so a nice subtle message there *Smile*
The M2 wired and Blues Bluetooth pairs I tried both have the benefit of stereo sound, full audio controls and microphone (Wired version has on control box on audio cable and Bluetooth pair has on the headset itself) and I used with both iPhone and iPad with Audible books, Podcasts, talking GPS, both regular calls and Skype calls etc. the Wired is a kind of flexible plastic for a comfortable behind neck fit and is slimmer in design as has many of its controls in the box on the cable; battery I found lasts for about 13-15 hours on average (it's stated as 12 officially but with volume low I found it to be slightly higher) - the Bluetooth pair is slightly different in design and is more rigid with grippy pads that sit on your cheekbone and a removable (And adjustable) rubber part for placing inside the frame at the back of your neck for added support (And for covering different head sizes I presume); battery life is about 7 hours depending on usage and volume level (Officially 6 is stated) on the Bluetooth pair there are control buttons on each of the cheek pads and also at the rear of the neckband and its really simply implemented (Even the manual can be found in text only on the Aftershokz site so none of that horrible PDF viewing needed!)
This is my opinion on how I found I used the different model types and thought it might be beneficial to share it with others, these are truly awesome headphones and in my opinion are really well suited to being used by the visually impaired or anyone who needs to listen out for things more as a result of other senses being reduced (I believe even some people with hearing loss can even benefit from them because they bypass the ear drum and sounds are transmitted through the bone directly to the inner ear, cool huh?)
One further tip (I phoned the company to find out) Aftershokz will be represented at the soon-to-be-hear Sight Village exhibitions in the UK! On the SightandSound booth. Fully recommend popping along and maybe getting hands-on experience if you can, a little birdy told me that they will be doing a £10 discount at the shows too! Perfect excuse for a day out to the show!
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