To say that AirPod-like earbuds have reached commodity status is a massive understatement. I've written about more no-brand products than I can remember, many of them decent, a few excellent. Mostly it's the pricing that amazes me. (Read, for example, David Carnoy's roundup of four true wireless earbuds under $40 worth buying.)
But $14? Anything priced that low must sound like AM radio played in a tin can underwater, right? Amazingly, no, though you'll want to read on to learn what you do sacrifice at that price. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Amazon seller SoundPARA Audio has the Dudios Tic true wireless earbuds for $14 when you clip the on-page 20%-off coupon and then apply promo code 30QICKYG at checkout.
The Tic earbuds employ a "pipe" design similar to Apple's AirPods, with noise-isolating ear tips similar to the
. I found them surprisingly comfortable right out of the box, but your mileage may vary (meaning you might need to try the different ear-tip sizes that are included).
I'll cut to the chase. These things sound pretty good. Like, curiously good. How?! How can $14 earbuds not be terrible? I don't know, but I'd gladly reach for these when I want to listen to music while working, play a podcast while walking or whatever.
Now for the bad news: The Tic earbuds are bad for phone calls. Although I could hear the caller just fine, I was told that my voice came through a metallic, echo-filled mess. I guess a crummy microphone is the price you pay for $14 earbuds.
What's more, the touch controls -- double-tap to play or pause, press and hold to skip tracks and so on -- have a very small target area. Unless your finger lands on just the right spot, you won't get the desired function. This got frustrating pretty quickly, though with practice I did get better at hitting that spot.
If you don't care about calls or controls, the Dudios Tic is a pretty amazing buy at this price. Is it worth paying more for features like a wireless charging case or ear detection? That's for you to decide.
First published last year. Updated to reflect new price and availability. Removed expired bonus deal.
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