Connected: S11-Flex earbud buyers getting money's worth
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Sometimes you want a general tech device, and other times you want something with a specialty.
When it comes to headsets, I had been of the opinion that a single set of earbuds or headphones would suffice for listening to music on your cell phone or iPod or conducting phone conversations. But after looking at a few devices, that's not the case. The Motorola S11-Flex HD wireless stereo headphones is one of those devices that is particularly good when you let it specialize.
At first glance, the S11-Flex HD looks like a set of earbuds attached to dental headgear. But it's more than that. The ear pieces are just like your standard earbuds, with some improvements. First, they have a soft rubber cushions that are more comfortable than standard hard plastic. And they are adjustable five ways. You can change their position up and down using a telescoping stem that makes them fit more comfortably around any size ear or swivel them for optimum listening position in your ear.
The S11-Flex HD connects to your device via Bluetooth wireless, which is a key feature because it means no more wire getting tangled in your clothes and items around you.
Turn on your Bluetooth on your phone and on the S11-Flex HD, then let them pair. It's one of the quickest, most effortless pairings I've seen on Bluetooth devices. The S11-Flex HD gives you a status update, with a soft female voice whispering in your ear when it's on and when it's paired with your phone. She even tells you how much battery life is left in hours and minutes. Nice touch! That battery life is good -- charge it for five minutes for each hour of battery life. It routinely gave me more than three hours of playtime.
To optimize the sound of your music, the S11-Flex HD lets you set five equalizer settings with the push of a single button. And it comes with dual mics, which Motorola suggests will give you superb noise cancellation, although I found the noise cancellation to be mediocre.
The S11-Flex HD is tremendously well suited to use when you're active -- running or jogging for instance -- because it stays in place on your head and helps you block out the majority of the sounds around you. It's also reasonably comfortable in those situations. It wasn't quite nirvana on a treadmill, because the noise cancellation doesn't do as good a job on the treadmill rumble as other noise-cancelling headphones. But the tight fit of the earpieces helps here.
I also found it a bit challenging to rest while listening to personal music, because the headphones get in the way of your pillow or high chair back while laying your head back. Not a deal breaker, but I found myself reaching for more traditional earbuds in these situations.
For $129, you're buying a lot more than replacement earbuds. You're buying freedom from wires, comfort and good sound.
12 years already? Too short
It's hard to believe I've been sharing my thoughts with you weekly in the Post-Gazette for 12 years -- more than 600 columns. It's been fun. This is my last weekly Connect column in the Post-Gazette (although hopefully you haven't heard the last from me here). I'll continue reviewing products and sharing what I've learned about technology and business on my blog, which is available at morefromdavid.com. There is room for comments on the blog -- so feel free to share with me and other readers. Thanks to my editors who have had the patience (and maybe a bit of foresight) working with me.
First Published January 27, 2013 12:00 am