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It's a poorly kept secret at this point that the iPhone 7 will have no headphone jack. I come here not to roll my eyes at Apple for making such a colossal blunder, for giving countless users one more reason to switch to Android, but rather to offer a couple wired-headphone replacements.
Because, let's face it, wires are a hassle. They're always getting tangled, and they force you to say within arm's length of your phone or tablet. Time to cast off those skinny shackles and roam free! (Or, at least, roam 20-30 feet.)
Regular readers know that Bluetooth headphones and earbuds make frequent appearances around these parts, but today's deal is something of a rarity: totally wire-free earbuds.
Specifically, you can get the SmartOmi Boots wire-free Bluetooth earbuds for $59.49 shipped when you apply discount code D5PAZSR6 at checkout. Regular price: $69.99.
These are kind of amazing. One earbud pairs with your phone or tablet; the other with the first earbud. Stick one in each ear and presto: Not a wire in sight.
Of particular interest, these earbuds are IPX7-rated, meaning they're seriously water-resistant. Doesn't matter if you sweat up a storm at the gym, get caught in the rain or even -- as one Amazon reviewer revealed -- wear them in the shower. That rating means these can actually be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes.
Ah, but would they stay in your ears? That's a different question. The Boots comes with three sets of ear tips and three sets of "earhooks," all different sizes. (Grammar check: "Boots" is plural, and therefore you'd think the sentence would read, "The Boots come with..." And although your Boots purchase includes two, er, Boots, the product name is singular. If we were talking about a set of Beats headphones, we'd likewise say, "The Beats comes with..." Sounds wrong, but isn't. Oh, English, you so crazy!)
I tested the Boots (medium 'buds, medium hooks) by going for a brisk walk and also shaking my head vigorously. They stayed put surprisingly well. It does take some experimentation and fiddling to get them in and "seated" properly, but with a little practice I was golden.
I also found sound quality surprisingly good -- better than I expected, in fact, for such a tiny product. A little light on bass and fullness, perhaps. The Boots doubles as a headset, too, though you get call audio in only one channel.
The two earbuds should last up to five hours, according to SmartOmi, and they charge by docking in a little cradle, which itself draws power from any USB port.
Now, a word about the reviews on Amazon: Many users complained about audio drop-out between the two earbuds. Here's why that happens: Bluetooth signals need something to bounce off, which is why the vast majority of Bluetooth headphones work better indoors than outdoors. You'd think these were close enough together to keep connectivity, but your head is actually a pretty good signal blocker.
Indoors, I never experienced a single drop-out. Outdoors, while walking the dog, it happened just a couple times, and only for a split-second. Your mileage may vary.
Like I said, kind of an amazing product. But does it really offer any advantages over the one that follows here? You be the judge.
More traditional earphones, one-third the price
Runners in particular want a sport earphone that will stay put. And I've yet to find a better option than the Cambond Bluetooth earphones with earhook for $21.99. That's after applying promo code CNETBTHE at checkout. (It's good only for the black model, not the blue.) Regular price: $29.99. Shipping is free for Prime subscribers.
Amazon is home to zillions of sport earbuds like these, but the vast majority rely on little rubber insert thingies like those used by the Boots. The Cambond incorporates actual ear hooks: flexible plastic arms that hook over your ears, making it virtually impossible for the earbuds to come loose.
I've tested these as well; they sound even better than the Boots. They're "only" IPX4-rated, meaning they're sweatproof but shouldn't join you in the shower.
One thing I don't understand: Cambond touts the earphones' "CVC 6.0 noise cancellation," but I can't find any information about that specification. These clearly have no active noise-canceling capabilities; rather, they're noise-isolating, by virtue of the seal made by the rubber eartips.
And they definitely work well in that respect; I just wish Cambond would eliminate the b.s. spec and correct the language.
For $21.99, this is a steal. Never mind the free-in-exchange-for-review reviews; I tested these and like them. A lot.
Bonus deal: Still not ready to give up having a "home phone"? As long as you have Internet service, you can have that line on the cheap: Today only, Amazon has the Ooma Telo and Ooma HD2 Handset for $89 shipped. (Note that you must click the Ooma Telo with HD2 Handset option that appears just below color selection, otherwise you'll end up with just the Telo for around $83.) Normally the Telo runs $100 by itself; the handset lists for $60. Local and long-distance service are totally free, though you'll have to pay $3-$5 per month in taxes and fees.