Prior to getting my first iPhone, I used an array of standard, wired, in-ear headsets for talking on the phone. I don’t like driving and talking unless I have a headset on, so $20 Jabra headsets were scattered through the cars, various backpacks, etc.
Separately, my Create Zen MP3 Player was used for music, and its earbuds were kept wrapped around it for easy location (and hours of diversionary cord-unwinding fun). These were typically Skullcandy buds. Good solid earbuds for the very non-audiophile me.
The my iPhone 3G arrived, and suddenly my headsets were useless (to me, my wife’s BlackBerry still uses them just fine) and my earbuds were problematic since I occasionally wanted to take and make calls on my iPhone. In those heady days I made calls on my iPhone just to tell people I had an iPhone.
So I went with the default Apple-supplied buds, but they quickly became a problem. After a few minutes my ears ached, the buds being too large for my ears (who knew my ears had lilliputian dimensions?). I used a knife and removed the rubber padding around the earbuds, and that helped a lot. But then something, er, shocking happened. Without the rubber padding around the buds, I got static shocks in my ears all the time.
OK, forget the Apple earbuds.
Next, some good reviews for Zaggs’ Z.buds caught my eye. They were just about to be released, and there was a deal where if you bought one pair, you could get a second at half price. The “hanging buds” wearing style seemed interesting, so I bought two.
I loved them. Then, they died.
I was bummed. But not terribly surprised. They are pretty plastic intensive, the mic/button being particularly worrisome in its design. Plus, the jack was incredibly tall, sticking out proudly about an inch above my iPhone, begging to be banged around. Indeed, both died at this weak point.
Zaggs has a lifetime replacement policy, so I got mine replaced (Zagg customer service is great, I must say), but of the two replacement pair I got, one was DOA. So my faith in them was pretty much gone.
Casting about, I stumbled across these buds from Ultimate Buds (UB5’s). They were (relatively) inexpensive. They feel kinda thin in the cordage, and I was really not impressed when they arrived.
Turns out, the dang things are made of iron. I now have two pair, because I misplaced a pair while packing (eventually found, then mislaid again). They have stood up to a lot of punishment for about three months of daily use, and I am very impressed. They’ve been good both as headphones and as a phone headset.
They do exhibit a little of of the “cord noise” phenomenon when the cord rubs against stuff, but honestly it happens pretty infrequently. I use mine hard, wrapping and unwrapping several times a day, getting them caught on stuff, etc., and they have been comfortable troopers.
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