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Better value than Apple’s standard AirPods



Amazon’s second-generation Echo Buds

Amazon

If you don’t want AirPods, Amazon’s new earbuds are a good choice. In recent days, I have been testing Amazon’s new Echo Buds, and they are almost all improvements over the first-generation Echo Buds.

They are more comfortable than the first version, have better noise cancellation, stay in my ears and sound better. They start at $1

19 and are a reliable alternative to Apple’s $159 AirPods, and even offer some of the features of Apple’s $249 AirPods Pro.

Thanks to the success of its headsets, Apple has a large share of the Bluetooth headset market, but as other companies continue to flood the market with low-cost alternatives, this constraint is weakening. Many competitive earbuds are not very good. Although AirPods Pro is still my recommendation for people who are willing to spend more money on Apple products, the second-generation Amazon Echo Buds are indeed worth the money and are more cost-effective. More expensive than Apple’s regular AirPods.

This is what you need to know.

What’s good

Amazon’s second-generation Echo Buds

Amazon

Amazon resolved almost all my complaints with the first-generation Amazon Echo Bud.

The new models are 20% smaller than the first generation, which means they are less clumsy and they feel better in my ears. They are equipped with several rubber tip sizes, which Amazon says should fit about 95% of the population’s ears, as well as several rubber wings to help them fit better in your ears.

Even if I sweat (they are also very resistant to sweat), I can still run, walk and exercise on my bike without falling off. Compared to the first model, they are much more comfortable to wear for a few hours because they will not fall deep into your ear canal.

The second-generation Amazon Echo Buds

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

Music, podcasts and phone calls all sound clear. Bass is the most prominent for me, and I especially like it when I exercise. Amazon has also optimized the microphone to improve clarity. There are three microphones on each earbud. During a 15-minute conversation with him, my editor gave it 8/10 clarity, but noticed that there was a slight reverberation effect at the beginning of the conversation, just like I was speaking in a large open space.

The first batch of Echo Buds had the Bose noise reduction function, and the effect was not good. This model replaces it with active noise reduction, similar to what you find in Apple’s AirPods Pro. It’s subtle, but I noticed that it keeps out the wind well when running, the lawnmower roars loudly across the street in my office, and it hums on exercise bikes. Like the laughter of my one-year-old child, the higher voice still came out. I think Apple’s noise cancellation is still a bit more powerful, but importantly, it’s much better than the first model. Like AirPods, there is a pass-through mode to enhance outside noise, which is very useful when I still want to hear the car and the surrounding environment while I am walking with the stroller.

The second-generation Amazon Echo Buds

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

Amazon has also improved how to put them away. It is 40% smaller in size and has a more modern USB-C charging function, which means you can use the same cable as your Android phone for charging. The price of the protective case with wireless charging is $20.

Amazon worked with Anker to develop a new type of wireless charging pad that you might want to consider. It costs $18, works well, and has a nice little groove where you can stand in the Echo Buds so you know they are in the right place and charge each time.

The second-generation Amazon Echo Buds

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

I like built-in Alexa. You can speak the voice assistant at any time, say “Hey Alexa”, and you can play music in various applications, including popular ones such as Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, etc. Or, you can ask Alexa to do things, such as turn off the lights in the office. If you are using Siri on Android or iPhone, you can still use Google Assistant by changing the long-press touch controls on the side of the Echo Buds. However, sometimes these controls are picky for me. There seems to be a little delay, so sometimes I pause a song when I tap twice instead of skipping.

The battery life is also very stable. Amazon promises to provide 5 hours of music playback and 5 hours of talk time to eliminate active noise. The battery case that can charge the Echo Buds lasts for 19.5 hours, and then you have to charge it by plugging it into the wall or (if there is a wireless option) setting it on the charging pad. This is in line with my experience. I fully charged it on Saturday, and as of Wednesday every day, after several hours of listening every day, 23% of my shell remained and 88% of each bud remained.

In contrast, Apple AirPods (without noise reduction function) can continue to play for 5 hours or 3 hours of talk time, while AirPods Pro can provide 4.5 hours of playback with active noise reduction or 5 hours of no time. Noise playback. After 24 hours of use, you need to charge one of them.

Echo Buds also has a “find me” function, similar to the iPhone’s “find me app”. I really like it. I can also ask Amazon Echo to find them, and Alexa uses Echo to tell me where I was last found (of course at home).

What’s wrong

Amazon’s second-generation Echo Buds

Amazon

I use AirPods Pro or AirPods Max on the office desk most of the time. One of the things that stands out to me is that Echo Buds doesn’t have any way to seamlessly switch between devices.

With AirPods, I like that I can switch to a Mac or iPad on the iPhone and let my AirPods follow. Echo Buds need to be paired with each device separately, so changing between gadgets is not so easy. For Android users, this is not a big problem, but it is a way they differ from AirPods.

AirPods Pro case and Amazon Echo Buds case.

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

In addition, even if Amazon says it has improved the microphone so that Alexa can hear you better, sometimes it still misses the request I want. Although this happens with all voice assistants and all headsets, it’s annoying when you try to run a specific song and have to keep repeating yourself between breaths.

Should you buy it?

Amazon’s second-generation Echo Buds

Amazon

In my opinion, the new Echo Buds is one of the best walkman headphones with active noise reduction.

Most people, especially iPhone users, should buy AirPods Pro if they are willing to spend $249.

However, Amazon Echo Buds is priced at $119, which offers more features than the regular $159 AirPods. The price of the wireless charging box is US$139, which is better than the US$199 AirPods for wireless charging. The only thing you really have to sacrifice is the fast transmission between Apple devices, and the battery life of the charging case is several hours.

The point is: Amazon finally has a pair of earplugs worth considering.


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