Headphones Stay Put For Working Out

UH students met during spring break to create apps in competition sponsored by AT&T. Gregory Yamamoto photo

UH students met during spring break to create apps in competition sponsored by AT&T. Gregory Yamamoto photo

Onkyo recently launched its Trainer ES-BT1 Bluetooth headphones, and it was one of the treasures I found in the Gibson tent at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show . At first glance, they look a little bulky for headphones you’re supposed to exercise with, but they are lightweight, fit comfortably around the ears and hug your head well. Surprisingly, they don’t slip off your head while you’re active.

These headphones are designed to sit on your ear so you can hear your music along with just enough outside noise to stay safe while you’re running or cycling on the road. This is not to be confused with a loose fit. They fit very snugly, as the breathable fabric firmly grips your ears while wicking sweat and keeping you cool. If you jump around or bounce your head up and down, they won’t stay on very well, but when running, walking, biking or at the gym, they’re fine. Not really applicable to us here in Hawaii, but if you’re in a colder environment, these help to keep your ears warm.

A built-in microphone allows you to use them like any other hands-free Bluetooth device to make and take phone calls and use voice recognition support (e.g., Siri). This mic is just fine if you’re talking on the phone with no wind around, but if it’s windy, forget it. The person you’re talking to will just hear the wind and not you. It’s especially horrible if you’re riding a bike.

Each charge will get you about eight hours of use. Aside from the wind problem, the sound quality is slightly better than other Bluetooth headphones. The acoustics comes through very clean, but the midrange frequencies seem a bit boosted and the treble is a little thin.

Surprisingly, it sounds the best when you’re in a noisy environment (e.g., on the road with cars rushing past you) versus your quiet living room.

The $99 price tag makes the Trainer worth the purchase if you’re in the market for new headphones. It’s available in red, blue or yellow (which looks more like fluorescent green). You can find it on gibson.com or amazon.com.

Mobile Hackathon

University of Hawaii students spent part of their spring break at a mobile app hackathon on the Manoa campus. Students had two days to design and build an Android or iOS app, and on the third day presented their ideas to a panel of judges. The proposals included an app making it easier for pedestrians to navigate through complex buildings, and another one that improved the ability to network in limited time frames. For parents who hand over their smartphones to young children to play games, the students came up with an app for children to improve their handwriting skills. Sponsor AT&T provided $1,000 in prize money and new mobile devices.