editor’s note: an update to this piece can be found here.
Science will win out over art.
It’s become a favorite saying of mine over the past few years, not because I’m down on art, but because, more often than not, if you want to accomplish a task successfully you need to figure out the hard facts about what is required and not just what will be pretty. Pretty has it’s place, pretty is wonderful, but there has to be a strong base upon which to build the pretty.
As the perfect case in point, I was recently offered the opportunity to review an Earloomz Bluetooth headset. Earloomz has gone out and made an incredibly wide array of attractive headsets. They are all built on the same basic frame, and then the pretty bits are added on. And, they are pretty bits – if nothing else Earloomz look absolutely fantastic and really can be gotten in almost any design to fit your style. Each Earloomz comes with both a black and clear piece to go over the top of your ear, comes with multiple sizes of inserts to go within your ear, a USB cord to charge the headset, and an AC adaptor into which the USB cord plugs.
The problem comes in with the fact that the headsets really may be nothing else besides the pretty bits. The first Earloomz we were sent had a skull-and-crossbones motif and made us sound like we were underwater anytime we talked on it using any device (and we tried multiple devices). And not nearby underwater either – we sounded like we were underwater and a good distance from the microphone. The speaker sounded as we would have hoped, but without the microphone working well we couldn’t fathom using the headset.
Accidents do happen, sometimes things aren’t quite manufactured perfectly — mistakes can be made. Fortunately, we got a second Earloomz to try out. This next headset had a truly snazzy Star Trek look and, even better, the microphone sounded really good.
The entire thing was almost a homerun… almost. While the microphone worked perfectly, the speaker did not work at all. We couldn’t hear anyone talking to us, we couldn’t hear the phone ring, there wasn’t even a beep to inform us that we had successfully paired with our phone. We only knew this last thing had taken place because the light on the headset was blinking the right color and the phone indicated that we were connected as well. Other phones had the exact same result, or lack thereof, with the headset.
Earloomz slogan is “where art, fashion and technology meet…” but unfortunately the three seem to meet far closer to the art and fashion end of things than the technology end. It is relatively easy to accept the sacrifice of headset-based volume controls on the altar of the fashion gods (the Earloomz volume can only be controlled from the device to which it is connected), but sacrificing the basic functions of the device is not acceptable. No matter how wonderful a Bluetooth headset may look, it does not look as good as no headset at all. So, if the headset isn’t going to work in a useful way, why would you bothering wearing it at all?
If you truly love one of the designs that Earloomz offers and are willing to put up with the potential need to return defective headsets over and over again you may well be happy with the end result. On the other hand, if you don’t mind paying a little bit more for fashion but mostly just want a Bluetooth device that will work out of the box the first time, Earloomz is apparently not the way to go.