A few months ago I found myself a little bit short in the headphones department. I had given away most of the headphones I had used and reviewed and one of the two pair that I tended to use on a daily basis broke. I mentioned this to Judie and she was kind enough to send me a pair of ZAGG Z.buds that she had reviewed some time ago.
When the headphones arrived I was rather impressed. The design was excellent. The heavy-duty, tangle free cord was longer than normal. It included an inline microphone and a volume control and had three unusual “beads” through which the two separate left and right headphone wires passed. At first I didn’t understand what they were for. Then I realized the brilliance of them. They allowed me to put the earbuds over my neck and then adjust them so that all of the weight of the remaining cord was placed on the beaded points rather than on the earbuds themselves. The result was a pair of headphones that stayed in place far better than any that I have used. The sound was ok, not great but good and the microphone worked “well enough”.
Now Zagg has released their premium ZAGGsmartbuds. The $79.99 headphones improve upon the Z.buds in every way… but are they worth the price? Read on…
In-ear bliss. Combining the convenience and quality of digital music with top-of-the-line equipment, the clear, balanced sound of ZAGGsmartbuds™ let gadget lovers get the most out of their devices. The premium length, tangle-free cord features a tough polyurethane coating, which comes in 3 color combinations. ZAGGsmartbuds™ can be worn in a specific slider alignment called “Hangin’ Tight,” which keeps the buds around your neck, even when not in use. ZAGGsmartbuds™ are multifunctional; including a microphone and in-line music control to easily switch between music and phone calls on an Apple iPhone, and other smartphone models.
The ZAGGsmartbuds come with the earphones, assorted ear pieces and a nylon storage bag with a drawstring closure. Personally I would have preferred a nicer carrying case for headphones that are considered “premium” range but so be it. The headphones themselves are quite impressive.
The cord on the Smartbuds is LONG!! As you can see they extend much further than the cord on the stock iPhone buds. How much long are they?
A full foot!!! Now that’s long. In fact, I would say that the cord is excessively long except for the fact that the extra length, when combined with ZAGG’s “Hangin’ Tight” cord management system works well.
The Hangin’ Tight system is designed for you to put the cord over your head and then adjust them behind your neck so that each ear bud has enough free cord to comfortably be placed into your ear.
Three beads on the cord allow you to adjust the cables for the best comfort and positioning. This lets you wrap the headphones around your neck and then simply pull them off and put them on when you want all the while keeping the right amount of length
It takes a while to get the hand of the system but an included walk-through helps a great deal. Once you do it a few times it becomes second nature. Once you do it a dozen times you start to wish that all headphones used this kind of system.
The Hangin’ Tight system also helps keep the microphone in the right position which is a great thing since the microphone on the Smartbuds is far improved over the original Zaggbuds. Zagg specs out the mic in this way…
- Microphone with Noise canceling condenser
- Speaker diameter: 10mm
- Frequency response: 30hz to 16khz
- Impedance: 10 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 42dB +/-3dB
All I know is that it sounds much, much better. On the other hand, however, I am not a fan of the sliding volume control. I just find it a bit too difficult to change the volume quickly when on the go.
It is, however, a huge improvement over the control on the original Z.buds. That one felt rather cheap and was too far down the cord than I liked and was separated from the microphone. Not the mic, volume control and music button are in one place and are high up on the cord. A big improvement.
The earbuds themselves are angled which allows them to fit tightly in the ear. They are super-comfortable!!
Speaking of sound — headphones are good… very good… but… not… great. (I will explain momentarily.) According to ZAGG the specs lay out this way-
- Speaker diameter: 10mm
- Frequency response: 20hz to 20khz
- Impedance: 16 Ohms
- Max input power: 10mW
- Cable length 1.37 meters/ 54 inches
- Plug type: 3.5mm
- Sensitivity: 94dB +/-3dB SPL/mW
I enjoy listening to music on the ZAGGsmartbuds. And I would say they sound “great” except that… Judie is letting me play with the Sleek Audio SA6 earbuds she recently reviewed.Compared to them pretty much everything else sounds “Good… very good… but… not… great.”
Then again, the Sleek SA6s have an MSRP of over $300 and don’t include a microphone for using the headset for calls. Putting them up against one another isn’t comparing apples and oranges.
So are the ZAGGsmartbuds worth their $79.99 price? Absolutely. They are comfortable to wear for extended periods, sound very good and, thanks to the Hangin’ Tight system, have what is probably the best cable-management system I have used. At under $80 I would say that they are not only worth their price tag but that they are a good deal to boot!
The ZAGGsmartbuds have an MSRP of $79.99 and are available directly from ZAGG. And right now ZAGG is including a free dual USB car charger with purchases of over $40.
What I Like: Love the extra-long, tangle-free cord with the Hangin’ Tight system, Sound good, VERY comfortable, very good price for the comfort and sound
What Needs Improvement: Premium headphones should come with a better “storage system” than the cheesy bag that comes with them.