Phiaton PS 210 BTNC First Impressions
Certain things in our lives have become standardized. Expected. A car has four wheels. Speakers have grilles on the front. Homes have roofs. You get the idea. When you see something outside of these expectations, people tend to do a double take. Or more. When you see a custom hotrod parked on the street, you stop and look. A custom motorcycle? Same thing. I've even stopped to look at odd-shaped houses from time to time. They grab your attention.
I thought that there was very little new that might come in the world of headphones. We've got over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear. While typical earbud type headphones (like the one you get with your iDevice) might just sit inside the cup of your ear, many are designed to be inserted into your ear canal. In-ear headphones are favorites of those that use their headphones when exercising since they tend to stay in place.
Notice I said "tend".
Phiaton is a company that I met when they first came out at CES a few years back (2008, I believe). Their booth was more like a museum for headphones than a traditional booth. Since then, I've been trying to secure a review sample of one of their headphones. The PS 210 BTNC is my first chance (four years later).
Half a Headphone
The PS 210 BTNC has a lot of different technology to talk about. First, the BT in the model number refers to Bluetooth. The NC refers to Noise Canceling. But the really interesting thing about the the PS 210 BTNC is how you wear them. Mixing earbud and in-ear styles, the PS 210 BTNC are meant to be wedged into your ear cup while, at the same time, inserted into your ear canal. This gives the PS 210 BTNC the maximum ability to stay in place even during vigorous exercise.
Now, if you are not a fan of either of those types of headphones, it might put you off. But it made me do a double take. This was the first time I'd experienced such a design and I was definitely intrigued. While I don't do any sorts of exercise like running which requires constant movement, I do climb and occasionally practice parkour. Climbing, my exercise of choice, is often slow but punctuated with aggressive if not violent movements. Not very headphone-friendly, especially when you consider that you spend a lot of time moving your head.
The other interesting design choice is a central control unit. This silver-colored device contains all the controls plus the microphone. Most headphone solutions with microphones place the microphone (and often the controls) in-line on one of the headphone cables. While this may be convenient, it requires that you always have that headphone in place if you want to use them for making a call. With the Phiaton PS 210 BTNCs, you can choose to use either - a nice advantage for long use sessions.
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