February 25, 2006

GADGET UPDATE: So I’m happy with the sound that the Sennheiser headphones I use on my iPod provide, but when I wear ’em to the gym, the cord seems to wind up getting tangled. Last week, when it snagged my hand as I was on the elliptical machine and sent the iPod flying through the air (again) I decided to try something wireless. I ordered these Logitech wireless headphones.

They’re pretty good. Upside: The sound is great, much better than any wireless headphones I’ve used before. The range is really good, too — I left the iPod with the transmitter plugged into the headphone jack and walked around the house, and got clear sound even in other rooms with walls in the way.

Downside: The plug-in transmitter is a bit bulky, an inch high and of the same dimensions as the iPod top, and won’t work if you’ve got your iPod in a case that obstructs the top even a little. The headphones sound good, but feel a bit flimsy. Some of the Amazon reviewers warn that they’re electronically excellent but physically not that strong. So far so good, but that’ll take time to evaluate.

Overall, not bad, but not quite a home run, either. Worth if if you don’t like the cord — and lots of people at the gym approached me to ask about ’em, so if you like attracting the attention of iPod fanatics and gadget geeks I guess it’s worth it, too.

One thing I’ve noticed, in fact, is that iPods are one area where you see just as much gadget-geekery among women as men, with several women acting quite enthused by the idea of cordless headphones, so if you’re single and looking for a conversation-starter, I suppose that might be a plus, too — though if you don’t like having people come up and ask about your headphones I guess it might be a minus . . . .

UPDATE: Reader John Marcoux emails: “Did you ever look at in-car GPS units? I’m shopping and would appreciate any comment.”

I’ve got a Popular Mechanics article coming out, but it’s basically on why I didn’t buy one, not a big help in comparison shopping.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Furr emails:

Hi Glenn, good luck with those Logitech phones. Fair warning: I’m one of those disgrunteled Amazon reviewers. I really liked the things and modded up an armband pouch so as to clamp the transmitter onto my MP3 player for walks and working out.

The potential for a wireless solution there is awesome, but I was brutally disappointed when the arch cracked, just as I’d been warned about. If you really use the things for a month or two, will be interested in your results. Maybe Logitech fixed the problem — but if so, I wish they would admit it.

Meanwhile I await my dream wireless MP3 solution: a fat watch with wireless earbuds.

I like that idea. Here, by the way, is a column I wrote a while back on electronics manufacturers who get the electronic part right but skimp on the physical side.

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