Long term testing and review of ZAGGsmartbuds

My last review of Zagg was for their InvisibleShield screen protector here. I loved the product but hated the hyper inflated cost of shipping on the replacements. Today I will be reviewing their ZAGGsmarbud earphones.

I have been testing these for the last 6 months and wanted to share my opinion. For the record, I purchased these myself for this opinion is completely unbiased.

Packaging

The earphones come in a triangular easy to open box. Within this pyramid, you find the earphones, a small zippered carry pouch and 5 eartips.

Audio Quality

I have 2 types of headphones:

  • High quality (expensive) audiophile earphones that I listen to through a high quality headphone amplifier and where my music in is the Apple lossesless audio codec (ALAC) format.
  • Everyday earphones that I carry with me all the time and use when at work, at the gym, shopping or doing chores around the house.

The ZAGGsmartbuds are of the second category. For about $50, they are much better than the gargabe headphones Apple (or other manufacturers) provides but they arent $500 audiophile earphones either. Over the last 6 months, I tested these with all kinds of songs from soca to rock to heavy metal and they handled it all excessively well.

Comparing them to  my high end Etymotic or Ultimate Ear earphones, I noticed that some of the more subtle nuances were lost or washed out with the ZAGGsmartbuds. Same issue with some very high notes. This is to be expected from $50 earphones but overall I found their sound reproduction very pleasing and satisfying enough to use as my everyday earphones.

Ear Tips

I have standard ears and most standard manufacturer provided ear tips work well for me. The Zagg provided tips where no exception. They were comfortable and blocks external sounds well. Halfway through my testing, I installed Comply Foam tips and this made the experience so much better. I liked the Zagg tips but the Comply tips were that much more comfortable and they blocked out even more external sound. A worthwhile investment.

Volume Slider and control button

The ZAGGsmartbuds have a volume control slider and this worked as advertised. Moving the slider did not introduce and static or audio artifacts. This is an analog controller so exact control is out of the question. I found that turning my devices volume to 80% then using this slider control yielded the best results.

The control button works fairly well with my iphone to hang-up on a call, start/stop my music, change to the next song, change to the previous song or initiate SIRI. I wish they adopted a 3 button model instead but this isn’t half bad. I could easily perform the above functions when running or working out at the gym. The nest/previous song functionality even works with apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio and Stitcher Radio. This button functionality (or a part of it) worked on many other Android and Windows Phone 7.5 devices I tested it with.

Call Quality

Since this was my everyday earphones so I sometimes used these to make calls. I usually hear the caller fairly well in moderated noisy environments but callers regularly asked me to repeat or said I sounded muffled.  If you will be making a lot of calls then this may not be the product for you. For casual calling use, it isn’t terrible.

Tangle free cord

The promise of a tangle free cord was very intriguing. There is nothing worse than spending 10 minutes trying to untangle your earphone cable and here the ZAGGsmartbuds performed as advertised. The cost did get into a mess but untangling it usually took 30 seconds or less. Zagg says this is because the cord “features a tough polyurethane coating”.

Hangin Tight

At first I thought this was a gimmick I would never used and took a while for me to figure out but once I  started using this feature properly, I wanted this on all my earphones. By following the enclosed instructions and using it with their hangin tight feature, the buds are always accessible on your sides and never fall to the ground.

Conclusion

Overall I like this product and it performed well enough to become my everyday earphones. I can through it in my back, pocket and gym bag and not worry about it breaking. It has proven to be extremely durable. Sound quality was good for a product of this category but I wish the microphone performed a little better.

Shop around because you can find this product for around $30 at various large online resellers (so don’t buy it directly from Zagg).