Almost all of the music that’s piped through the audio system at my gym sucks and you’d think the music would be good for the amount of money I pay on a monthly basis, but no, it’s not. And I need music to motivate me — as I’m sure it does for a lot of you — to help get through that last set of squats or the final mile of my run. But I’ve grown weary of lugging around my iPod, mostly because the earbud wires annoy me to no end and just get in my way or I accidentally rip them out. The Jensen SportFones solve this by going all-in-one, which despite being a bit apprehensive about them, made up for a lot of its shortcomings.
As usual we’ll start off the positives and then move onto the negatives, OK? (You don’t really have a choice, though.) Getting music onto the unit was super easy. The included USB cable connects to a computer and all you need to do is drag-and-drop songs and you’re done. The SportFone supports MP3 and WMA. The built-in 512MB of storage is ample enough for a normal person’s workout, but if you’re some crazed body-building gym rat then 512MB probably won’t be enough unless you cut down the audio quality of your tracks. The internal battery lasted about eight hours on a single charge, so I was recharging via USB every few days.
It’s super lightweight and most of the time you wouldn’t know it was there unless, of course, the music wasn’t blaring. The removable earpiece covers can be washed and they’re made of medical-grade, allergen-free silicone and they’re moisture repellant, so you don’t fry yourself. Good on ya, Jensen.
The placement of the control buttons wasn’t cumbersome in any way and each button pulls double duty. Less is more, right? There’s a Play/Pause/Stop button, shuffle on/off button, and a pair of volume/skip buttons. Four buttons total and I’ll admit that it took me a couple minutes to figure out how to turn the volume up instead of skipping to the next song. Actually, the buttons really ticked me off in the beginning. You have to press down on the volume/skip button to get the volume up or down. A simple touch just skips to the next song. Is it a big deal? Not really, but worth noting.
Sound quality wasn’t the greatest, but was certainly better when the ‘phones were suctioned to my ears. You lose a lot of sound quality if it doesn’t properly fit your noggin. But in cases like this you can’t blame Jensen because they can’t possibly make the most ergonomic design for the wide variety of noggins out there.
If you’re hitting the free weights and the bench press is apart of your routine then the SportFones might irritate you like it did for me. It was a little uncomfortable having the back piece dig into my skull, but a slight adjustment to push it down to my neck fixed that problem. I would have liked a 2GB or even 1GB model because I like to take long runs once in a while. Hint, hint Jensen. It could have just been my crazy haphazard workout mix, but who knows.
My gripes with the SportFones are fairly easy fixes and things that just can’t be helped. The device itself is simple to use and, for the most part, it’s not in your way. For a mere $69.99 it takes the headache out of worrying about earbud wires being caught on something or the extra weight of your iPod/Zune/Zen or whatever it is that you have. The fancy storage case definitely came in handy as well. You don’t have to worry about them breaking in your gym bag or any other bag for that matter. Overall, I was happy with the SportFones and they did win an Innovations Award at CES this year. Is it perfect? Far from it, but what is perfection anyways?