CES Recap: Heady Headphones

CES is over but the products that were presented are just hitting the markets or in some cases, aren't available yet. One of my perennial favorite product categories at CES is headphones and there were some distinctive sets introduced. Anyone can make headphones and make them loud, but Kidz Gear takes a different approach. Instead of trying to make them loud, they make them safe for kids' sensitive ears. After all, damage to the ear canal can be bad enough for old rockers like Pete Townshend, but for kids with their whole future ahead of them, it's an even bigger deal.

To demonstrate that, Kidz Gear enlisted the help of some charming young kids, ages 11 and 14, to demonstrate their products. Their headphones are sized for the younger set and have volume limitations to protect their ears. Kidz Gear offers several different products, in fact, with or without a boom microphone, and in a variety of colors—the whole rainbow in fact! Starting at under $20, it's nice that you don't have to pay a premium for kid-specific capabilities.

In fact, there is a special going on now, where they include a free splitter cable ($6 value) with the purchase of two headphones. The microphone-based model can be helpful for learning languages as well as video game chats. The boom mike version is about $30 and comes in black, pink, or blue. At CES, KidzGear introduced a Bluetooth version making this the first kid-specific Bluetooth headphones which will be great for long car rides. The BT versions should be available soon and for around $60.

Several vendors, like JBL and Philips, demonstrated headphones that plug in via Apple's Lightning connector. The advantage is that they can draw power from your iOS device and use that power for noise cancellation instead of requiring a battery. They still only use one cable, with audio also being transmitted over the Lightning port. This is an interesting concept, but it also means your iPhone will run out of power sooner, and it can't be charged at the same time.

Phaz

One vendor, Phaz, had a different approach. The headphones use the traditional audio jack but they also have a USB port so you can plug in your Lightning cable. Instead of drawing power from your iOS device, the headphones have a rechargeable battery and can actually supply power to the iOS device! Now your listening session can last longer! I was worried that the attractive headphones have the potential to be heavy, due to the battery, but they save weight in other areas thanks to carbon fiber design. You can even daisy chain audio and share your sounds with a friend. A variety of Phaz headphones are or will be available, including Bluetooth versions.

Phaz

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.