Here's something you don't see every day: a pair of white Bose headphones. Yes, it's the company's second-generation on-ear headphones, the OE2 ($149.95) and OE2i ($179.95), each offered in black or white.
That "i" in the step-up OE2i adds a microphone for cell phone calls along with an Apple-friendly inline remote compatible with more recent iPhone, iPod, iPad, MacBook, and MacBook Pro models. (Some Android smartphones also recognize the remote functionality, but volume control from headphones that carry the "Made for iPhone" stamp doesn't always work).
These headphones are smaller and lighter than Bose'sthat launched in 2008 and earned my approval for their excellent fit and comfort. Your ears will still get a little steamy under the OE2s in hot weather, but the material is plush for equal weight distribution, and just as importantly, they fold up to fit into a compact carrying case (included).
While they don't isolate noise as well as an over-the-ear model, they do pretty well muffling the sound. (If you want better noise isolation, go with the--which require batteries to cut out atmospheric sounds--or the "around-ear" headphones.)
Bose claims that the newly redesigned earcup ports produce a more balance and natural sound without the manufactured "boost" across the frequency range. CNET contributor and audiophile Steve Guttenberg and I both listened for those improvements and agreed that the OE2s sound more natural and don't suffer from "Bose bloat," a term we coined for the obtrusive bass boost. Of course, some folks like the extra bass, so you may not enjoy these as much as the original OE headphones.
I also compared the OE2s to a pair of on-earthat have similar sound qualities and retail for slightly more.