Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
The Philips Nike SBC HJ050 headphones ($29.99 list) feature the same basic neckband design as Sony Street Style and models. However, they distinguish themselves with a couple of standout features.
For starters, the single-sided, 3.9-foot cord enters at the back of the neckband rather than at an earpiece, which helps keep the cord out of your arms' way while you're running. Also, even during a 45-minute run in 85-degree weather, the SBC HJ050s' rubber-coated, over-the-ear drivers never felt sweaty in our trials, a clear advantage over headphones with foam earpiece covers. What's more, the 'phones fit securely; they never budged. On the downside, the relatively hard rubber ear pads and tight-fitting neckband may cause a nagging, mildly uncomfortable feeling by the end of your run. Also worth noting: While you can wear sunglasses with the SBC HJ050s, like any neckband 'phones, they can't be worn while sitting in a high-back chair.
The SBC HJ050s offer acceptable sound quality. Firing up Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice," we immediately noticed the sound field's 3D quality. Midrange sounds such as snare drums were a bit hollow, but bass response was passable. Treble performance was middle of the road--neither especially bright nor dull. Tested with an underpowered portable MP3 player, the 'phones were able to play plenty loud--another plus.
All things considered, the SBC HJ050s are good workout headphones that offer the secure fit of a neckband design and sweat-resistant ear pads. Aiwa's HP-JS36 Swoops ($24.99 list) sound better and have an in-line volume control, but they do tend to slip slightly during workouts.