By Nate Adcock on Mon, 12/16/2013
You probably already knew that iHome has cool audio gear to accessorize your smartphone or mobile computing platform of choice. I had been eagerly awaiting the iB75 since getting a brief demo at CES last January, having scoured the earth for a good pair of active-wear Bluetooth headphones. In this review, I'll go over why the iB75s will make a great stocking stuffer for that on-the-go person on your list.
The iB75 Bluetooth wireless headphone set has an attractive sporty look and weight. They are wireless in the sense that a BT pairing procedure with your smartphone is required (though the earphones are cross connected with a short flexible cable worn behind the neck). The earpiece itself is an elongated, lightweight plastic housing with a rubbery cover that is also water resistant. Like hands-free headphones the world over (that support V2.1 + EDR/A2DP stereo profile), you simply turn them on, pair them up to your phone, and they work—you can make and take calls and play your favorite media apps wirelessly. I had them working with my iPhone in less than a minute.
Located along the sides of the right earphone is a cluster of controls: tiny volume up/down and track forward/back controls that are a tad awkwardly placed (the buttons could be a little easier to push down as well). My personal design preference might have been to move them to the face of the earpiece (right or left), but they functioned well enough once I got used to their location.
The rubber stabilizer fins mounted on each side helps to keep the earpiece snugly inserted in each ear. Memory foam buds would have been a nice addition to the kit, though the silicon buds work okay (if not the most comfortable for my taste). Extra earbuds and guides of various sizes are also included along with a USB charging cable. The cable is a non-standard "mini 8 pin" cable on the headphone end, which means you have to replace it with one from iHome, and can't easily charge them on a base station.
To take or initiate calls requires a simple tap (or tap-tap, which can decline a call) of the primary "Multi-function" button placed on the outer face of the right-side earphone. This universal button also shuts down the headset and starts the pairing mode. A tap and hold for 2 seconds will cause Siri to fire up, but because the standby sequence starts up at a mere 3 seconds (and pairing at 5 seconds), it is somewhat frustrating, and requires a bit of practice, to consistently get it to work without causing the iB75 to go to standby mode. Otherwise the hands free worked rather well. I could understand Siri, and she understood my commands rather well.
Sound quality was clean for calls in both directions, games and music sounded clear and crisp, with signal fading out at a distance of about 20–25 feet from the handset (not unusual for BT). The quality was decent, as good as most similar BT earbuds I have tried at a moderate volume, but a little light on the bass, in my opinion. Overall, the fit is decent, though could be problematic for truly energetic outdoor activities with a lot of jolting. The manual purports 100 hours of standby use (8 hours talk time) between charges, which I did not confirm, but they certainly held up well over an extended 2 hour workout period (while streaming Slacker radio).
- Clear and consistent wireless performance
- Attractive, lightweight, easy to use and carry
- Player controls tiny and stiff
- Buds not that comfortable for extended periods
iHome offers a complete line of popular audio accessories including docks and headphones; and active gear is becoming a necessity for those of us who workout with our phones, so I like the overall design choice for the iB75. As headphones go, these are good ones that could be a bit better with a little button tweaking, and more comfortable buds. You can grab a pair for $99 at the links above.