Feature | Tech Up! AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset

By Adam Riley 29.12.2013

After looking at the highly impressive S3m headphones from Klipsch and the amazing Tritton Kunai Headset from MadCatz, Tech Up! puts the AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset under the microscope for this latest article.

Image for Feature | Tech Up! AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset

For those that do not like pesky cables, perhaps the AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset is somewhat of a viable alternative to other choices on the market. It is also great for those that do not want to shove anything into their ears! This is rather like a headband that sits just behind the earlobes, vibrating slightly against the bone, the sound reverberating straight into the ear without any uncomfortable equipment wedged inside.

Coming in at nearly £100 due to the technology at play here, though, this is not for the light of wallet! Between the Bluetooth wireless connectivity and the special open ear-bone conduction it is not too surprising. The ear-bone aspect feels very strange at first, since having something gently vibrating against the back of the ear is not an everyday occurrence, so proves to be a rather odd experience that thankfully fades away with continued use of the headset.

In terms of privacy when listening to audio, yes, the user has plenty as all ambient sound is totally drowned out due to its volume. The problem lies in that other people will be extremely bothered by the loud noises emanating from it. Most may not realise this at first, until someone comes over and complains…as was the case when testing these for this review - completely oblivious of how much of a distraction was being caused!

This brings into question when something like this would be used. In a workplace? No. On public transport? If brave enough, sure. At home? No point as other external devices would be preferable, and not require something to be constantly vibrating against the back of the user's ears! The Music Angel Friendz or the X-mini UNO Capsule Speaker are just two of the excellent options on that front. Plug in a phone, MP3 player, or whatever is desired, leave it on a table, desk, and so on, then enjoy the pure, rich goodness of the audio, with no potential discomfort, yet greater depth of bass and clarity of higher levels!

Image for Feature | Tech Up! AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset

Battery life is quite low as well, with only six hours on the clock with the volume turned down low. However, the whole point of a volume control is so that those wanting to hike it up a few extra notches can indeed do so. Remember that it also takes three hours to charge, using a micro USB cable, so that needs to be factored in to its usage when out and about.

Interestingly enough, the company talks about how this is a great solution for safety, allowing for warning sounds outdoors to be heard whilst walking, driving, or even when in an office setting. Clearly, from the tests done with this, though, that is far from the reality…unless, of course, the company is referring to when used on the lower volume setting, in which case the audio would be difficult to hear due to other noise around, causing more concentration on the sound emitted by the AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset and less concentration on the goings-on that could cause harm. Extreme, but worth mentioning.

[score=4]The AfterShokz Bluetooth Headset is a smart-looking, wrap-around piece of kit that sits just behind the ears, vibrating sound into the lobe rather than the traditional earbud-into-the-ear approach. Whilst intriguing and impressive in some regards, the discomfort felt after prolonged use, low battery life, and the fact that it is prone to disturbing others unless turned down considerably, all contribute to making this an unusual product that does not fit into the market well. Those wanting privacy and to not bother others will use headphones/earphones, whilst others wanting to enjoy group audio will buy external speakers. Whilst many places still sell these for around the £100 price point, some online retailers have them reduced to around £60-£70 instead, so be sure to shop around if still interested.

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