There are cycles in the gadget industries—new ideas and new tech premiere, are pricey and hit-or-miss, but get popular, become ubiquitous, and then the price falls. One example over the last couple years has been Bluetooth earbuds. If you hop onto Amazon and search for them, you’ll find plenty of examples in the sub-$30 range, and they are fine. They’ll do what you want—play music and podcasts with an acceptable audio quality for a reasonable amount of time between charges. They represent somewhat the first wave of the popularization of these gadgets.
The Epic 2 Bluetooth Sport Earbuds, which JLab recently sent me, can then be considered the second wave. They are an evolutionary step forward, and I can best discuss them by comparing them to the previous generations and talk about what they do better.
Sound is much clearer. For example, when you turn them on and connect them to a phone, there’s a voice that talks to you. In gen1 earbuds, I’d always hear static in the voice, and the words would be clipped. With the Epic2s, it sounds like there’s something standing next to you, reporting on the device’s status right then and there.
Connectivity is stronger and more consistent. I’ve had a number of 1st gen BT earbuds where I would listen to them with my phone in my chest pocket, and if I tuned my head to the right, the connection would cut out. This seems to have been a problem with either/both the radio tech and the BT specification. The Epic2s do not have this problem.
Design is smarter. In gen1 devices, the micro-USB port for charging was usually located in one or the other of the earbud constructs themselves, which seemed strange from a waterproofing POV, since that’s closer to where the sweat is generated. The Epic2s port is in the on/off volume clicker on the connective wire instead. Makes much more sense.
Battery lasts longer. This is mostly subjective, since I haven’t done rigorous testing, but I’ve experienced the battery life in the Epics to be excellent, lasting through a couple days of 3-4 hour/day common usage.
The bottom line for me is that I like these earbuds, and I’m going to keep using them for day-to-day podcast listening when I’m working out. The choice you have to make is whether the improvements JLab has made over the gen1 crowd is enough to entice you to spend the $100 these are currently running.
Price: $100 on Amazon
Note: JLab sent me a set of these for review; my opinions are my own.