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Old 02-15-2010, 04:00 PM
Chris Baxter
Thoughts Media Review Team
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 27
Default iBlink: See the Sound!

<p><img alt="Black and Blue iBlink" height="450" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1265235093.usr18870.jpg" style="border: 0;" width="500" /></p><h6><strong>Product Category:</strong> Noise Isolation Earbuds</h6><h6><strong>Manufacturer:</strong> <a href="http://myiblinkusa.com/" target="_blank" title="iBlink">iBlink Corporation</a></h6><h6><strong>Where to Buy:</strong> <a href="http://astore.amazon.com/digitalhomethoughts-20/detail/B001VYROS0" target="_blank" title="Amazon Link">Amazon</a> [Affiliate]</h6><h6><strong>Price:</strong> $24.99</h6><h6><strong>Specifications:</strong> Cord length: 44" , weight: .7 oz., Lithium ION rechargeable battery with 30 hours continuous play and 28 day standby between charges.&nbsp;</h6><p><strong>Pros:</strong></p><ul><li>Good price;</li><li>Variety of color combinations available;</li><li>Flashing lights lends a uniqueness to the product that help it stand out.</li></ul><p><strong>Cons:</strong></p><ul><li>Cheap construction quality;</li><li>Wish it came with more than just&nbsp;three different sized ear-tips.</li></ul><p><strong>Summary:</strong> iBlink earbuds let you see the sound. Literally. Using LEDs in the earbuds and battery compartment, iBlink earbuds blink to the time of the music you are listening too. &nbsp;I decided to give a pair of these a try and not only see if they lived up to their blinking hype, but how well they reproduced sound as well.</p><p>Read on to see what I discovered.<MORE /></p><h1>What You Get For Your Money</h1><p>The iBlink earbuds come packaged with three different sized ear tips to accommodate fit, a USB charging cable, and instructions. Having printed instructions is nice -&nbsp;too often these days high tech gadgets are neglecting printed instructions and making you go online to print them yourself. &nbsp;I am sure the point is to save money and trees, but somehow I doubt that any of those savings are passed on&nbsp;to the consumer. &nbsp;It might make me a bit old fashioned in this digital age, but I still enjoy reading through a printed manual before I play with my latest tech toy. &nbsp;That being said, however, this is one product that probably doesn't need a printed manual. It's all pretty self explanatory. &nbsp;But I still applaud the effort. The supplied USB adapter is used to charge the earbuds. &nbsp;Sounds kind of weird, right? Whoever heard of having to charge wired earbuds? The iBlinks themselves can be used without being charged, but you won't get the light show if they're uncharged. Charging is simple enough, one end plugs into the battery compartment on the earbuds and the other plugs into the USB port of any PC. No drivers or softwre are necessary, the USB port is just used for charging. Once fully charged the earbuds have an impressive battery life of 30 hours continuous play and 28 days of standby time before they need to be recharged. The iBlink earbuds also come with&nbsp;three different sized ear tips because in the case of ears, one size does not fit all. &nbsp;In my opinion&nbsp;three sizes is not enough. &nbsp;None of the tips it came with would fit comfortably in my ear. Three seems to be the magic number with ear tips these days. &nbsp;My last two Bluetooth headsets came with only&nbsp;three ear tips and I have seen other noise canceling earbuds packaged similarly. &nbsp;Unfortunately for me, and I am sure others out there like me,&nbsp;three different sizes just don't cut it.</p><p><img alt="Packaging" height="484" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1265320162.usr18870.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" width="500" /></p><p><em>Figure 1: The iBlink earbuds in their sealed packaging. Fun times getting that open!</em></p><p><PAGE /><em></em></p><p>The iBlinks also come in a variety of different color and light combinations. &nbsp;The pair I received were white with blue lights. &nbsp;They also come in the following combinations: white with white lights, white with pink lights, black with white lights, black with blue lights (pictured above), and black with pink lights. Ok, so now that we know what came with the product we can move on to the more important stuff, how do the iBlink earbuds perform?</p><p><img alt="White earbuds with Blue lights" height="484" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1265320179.usr18870.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" width="500" /></p><p><em>Figure 2: The white with blue lights are the ones that I received for review.</em></p><h1>It's all about the sound</h1><p>I decided the best way to test the quality of the iBlinks was to compare them with the earbuds I normally use and with a pair of earbuds that I got with one of my old mp3 players. Obviously the real test here is to see if they can outperform the free set of earbuds, because if they can't do that then why would you spend money on them? &nbsp;I was also curious to see if they were better than the earbuds that I bought to replace my old free ones.</p><p>To get started I charged the iBlinks. &nbsp;This was as easy as plugging one end into the jack located on the earbuds and plugging the other end into the USB port of my PC. The initial charging time was not bad, but I think they were also partially charged out of the box so I don't think I got an accurate impression of the total charge time. &nbsp;After they were done charging I turned the iBlinks on and plugged them into my mp3 payer. &nbsp;The fact that you can turn the lights on and off is a feature I am glad they included. &nbsp;In certain situations, like on an airplane or a train, I could easily see the blinking lights annoying somebody. One of the first things I noticed about the iBlinks during the course of this review was how thin and fragile the wire was. It really did not feel like these earbuds could take a lot of punishment. Likewise, the plastic used for the battery compartment and speakers seemed rather cheap. Would cheap construction affect the sound quality? Well there was only one way to find out. For testing purposes I listened to several different songs of different genres, including: pop, techno, heavy metal, and country. For the most part the iBlinks seemed to perform pretty well. The bass was impressively deep and rich. The&nbsp;midrange, treble, and vocals were also clear and well reproduced. As for the blinking lights, they were actually kind of fun. &nbsp;I don't really know if they were truly blinking in time to the music or not, but they looked like they were. &nbsp;They also changed&nbsp;with &nbsp;the volume of the music&nbsp;- the louder the music gets the&nbsp;brighter&nbsp;the lights get, and vice versa. The noise isolation, however,&nbsp;did not work that well. I really had to crank up the volume to cut out the background noise I was getting from my television. To be fair, the big problem with the noise isolation was probably to to the poor fit I got from the included ear tips. The smallest tips were too small and kept slipping out and the medium sized ear tips were just too big.&nbsp; The medium sized ones were what I ended up sticking with because they didn't slip out, they were just too big to fit far enough in to create a good seal. After using the iBlinks exclusively for a couple weeks I can say that while they feel fragile, they have held up well. While I would still be hesitant to throw them around, they've proven that they can withstand a normal daily routine without getting damaged or breaking.</p><p>Next up, I tried the original free pair of earbuds that I used to use all the time.&nbsp; There was a definite difference between the new and the old.&nbsp; The bass from the freebies was weak and lacked any real punch and the midrange, treble, and vocals seemed kind of flat. So when compared to a pair of earbuds that I received free with an old mp3 player, the iBlinks are definitely worth the money.&nbsp;I should note that the old earbuds were not of the noise isolating in-ear design, so I am&nbsp;sure that accounts for some of the quality difference.&nbsp; I&nbsp;do think in-ear earbuds&nbsp;provide superior sound to&nbsp;to normal earbuds. That being said, the iBlinks were clearly superior in overall sound quality. As far as material and construction goes, there really wasn't all that much difference between the iBlinks and freebies.</p><p>Finally I tested the same songs with my regular earbuds which I purchased from Creative Labs for about $40 a couple years ago.&nbsp; These tested much closer to the iBlinks.&nbsp; The iBlinks have a little bit deeper bass response, but the Creative Labs pair sounded a little better when it came to midrange, treble, and vocals.&nbsp;The sound isolation seems to be better with the Creative Labs earbuds, but that just maybe because they fit a lot better than the iBlinks do.&nbsp; Construction quality was also a little better with the Creative Labs earbuds, but still I have to say that I am impressed with the fact that the iBlinks gave me pretty much the same sound quality as the more expensive Creative Labs earbuds for $15 less.</p><p>Ultimately these are all low cost earbuds I have been testing and the true audiophile will probably want to steer clear of these.&nbsp; I know there are superior earbuds out there and that some of them deliver truly amazing sound quality, but while I do love the music I listen too, I just don't listen to it enough to justify paying $100 plus for a pair of excellent quality earbuds. For the price, the iBlinks deliver a good mix of quality and gimmick, and let's face it, with the hundreds of low cost earbuds on the market right now, to get ahead you have to get something that stands out. The blinking lights accomplish this very well. In my opinion the lights are amusing, but not something that would really attract me to the product.&nbsp; Kids and teenagers, however, would probably love it.</p><h2></h2><h1>Conclusion</h1><p>To wrap this up, I had an overall good experience with the iBlink earbuds. The sound quality is definitely a step up from some of the headphones that have come with my various mp3 players over the years and was on par with my Creative Labs earbuds. &nbsp;The price is in line with most other low end earbuds and while the flashing lights don't appeal much to me, I think kids and teenagers would find it cool. &nbsp;The cheap construction may put some people off, but I find the same quality present in most earbuds at a similar price point. &nbsp;Audiophiles will probably want to stay away, but I think these would make a great gift for kids.</p><p><em>Chris Baxter is an IT Professional and part time Web Designer who resides in North Aurora, Illinois. Playing video games, watching movies, or reading a good book are what occupies his time when he is not fixing computers or trying to get his hands on the latest gadgets.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><strong>Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Review Team</a>! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Then click here for more information.</a></strong></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><a href="http://cmp.ly/1" target="_blank">DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION</a></p>
 
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