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iFrogz

Review: iFrogz Timbre earbuds w/mic and Luxe case for iPod touch

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Short Version:

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate iFrogz’s Timbre headphones w/mic and their iPod touch 2G & 3G Luxe case. In a nutshell, the Timbre headphones (which work with both the iPhone and iPod touch) provide decent audio playback, a reasonably comfortable fit (thanks to the three different ear bud choices), and the convenience of a built-in microphone for voice memos, Skype, etc albeit for the slightly higher than desirable price of $49.99. As for the Luxe, it is mediocre at best with a suspect design and very little going for it, especially considering it runs $29.99.

Timbre headphones w/mic:

timbre-headphones

Let’s start with the better of the two products, officially known as the EarPollution Timbre with Mic, first. As a non-audiophile (i.e. someone who can appreciate good sounding from bad, but not amazing from almost amazing), my review will be short and sweet.

These “noise isolating” earbuds feature a “natural wood-chamber” design, supposedly to create better sound. In my brief test, I found the earbuds to be generally comfortable (once I swapped out the default rubber bits for one of the other sizes – 3 included). They produce relatively clear audio, albeit a bit on the “bright” side of things. I definitely didn’t notice any “richer” or “more vibrant” sounds due to the gimmicky wood “chambers,” but overall I think the headphones sound pretty good.

timbre-headphones-ipod

The real draw of the Timbre is the built-in microphone. Since iPhone OS 3.0 brought voice functionality to the iPod touch 2G, having headphones with a mic inline has become all that much more useful (they ship with the iPod touch 3G standard). Being able to record voice memos and make Skype calls over Wi-Fi has been incredibly helpful during my recent travels. That said, my brief testing has revealed the Timbre to be a capable set of mic-equipped earbuds. Generally speaking, there is not much extraneous feedback when using the mic, although figuring out exactly how to position it, and where, for the perfect voice pick-up was a minor challenge.

Conclusion:

The EarPollution Timbre with Mic will run you a moderately hefty $49.99. I’d recommend only splurging on the Timbre (or any other earbuds with a mic) if you plan on using the buds for both music and voice apps. If you just want a pair to use for Skype/VoIP, the $29.99 Apple buds with mic (or most other budget ‘phones w/mic) will certainly do the trick.

iPod touch 2G & 3G Luxe case:

luxe-case

Ah, the Luxe case for iPod touch. Where do I start. The case is made out of molded plastic and “features” a under/over “button” design (see the “button” above). The actual feel of the case is kinda nice…its got a sort of grippy-yet-smooth thing going for it (much like my preferred case, the $5 less Griffin Wave). Also, the case features a faux suede-like “pad” on its inside, that sits between the back of the iPod and the case itself.

luxe-case2

The real problems with this case are twofold: first, its enclosure method, i.e. the button-thing on the back, is very difficult to line up and snap into place (unlike the previously mentioned Wave, which has a similar design, but is much, much easier to put on and take off) making it one of those “once it’s on, it ain’t coming off” kinda deals. And second, It costs $29.99 when, at best, it should be around $20, or even less. In its defense, the Luxe does come with a free screen protector.

Conclusion:

Overall, I am not a fan of the Luxe. Something about it has been a turn off, right from the start. It feels OK in the hand, but its build quality is questionable and its poorly designed “enclosure” makes for a very disappointing experience. When combined with its unnecessarily steep price tag, the Luxe just falls short.

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