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Bose SoundSport Wireless (hands-on): The Bluetooth sports headphone you've been waiting for

Bose finally has a wireless Bluetooth sports headphone -- and it's a good one that isn't crazy expensive.

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A lot of people have been wondering when Bose would do a Bluetooth sports headphone and here it is, folks: The SoundSport Wireless, an in-ear model that's fairly affordably priced at $150 (£140, AU $249).

The original SoundSport wired remains in the line and gets a price chop from $130 to $100.

Like that model, this new SoundSport Wireless has an open design and is very comfortable to wear. By open I mean that you don't jam the earbud into your ear. Thanks to Bose's Stay-Hear+ eartips, which come in three sizes, the bud sits loosely in your ear yet remains securely in place.

It's arguably the most comfortable in-ear sports headphone I've tried, although I only spent a limited amount of time with it at Bose's launch event in New York City.

This model is equipped with a special sport version of the Stay-Hear tips that's different from the Stay-Hear tips are included with Bose's earlier in-ear headphones, so they aren't interchangeable. And I should also point out that because the earpieces extend out from your ears you'll probably have some trouble wearing these under a helmet (I'll see see if I can use them with a ski helmet once a I get a review sample).

The headphone comes in aqua and black colors at launch with yellow arriving in September.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The only downside to the floating-fit, open design is that ambient sound does leak in and this isn't a good headphone for noisy environments (Bose's upcoming QuietControl 30 features active noise canceling). But if you're out running or biking, you'll be able to hear cars coming, which is why a lot of runners and bikers prefer their headphones to have open designs.

As you might expect, the headphone is sweat and water resistant and there's an inline mic and remote that lets you skip songs, adjust the volume, and take and make calls. Bose is touting its quality as headset for making calls, as well as how reliable the Bluetooth connection is.

The headphone comes in two colors at launch -- black and aqua -- with Citron (yellow) coming in September. Also in September, Bose is releasing the SoundSport Pulse Wireless, which costs $200 and has an integrated hear-rate monitor that's compatible with Runkeeper, Endomondo and other fitness apps.

Battery life for the SoundSport is rated at 6 hours, which is fairly decent for this type of headphone, and 5 hours for the SoundSport Pulse. Both SoundSport wireless headphones come with a simple neoprene carrying case, but Bose will also sell an accessory case that has a built-in battery for on-the-go charging that'll cost $50.

Bose will sell a separate accessory case that has a built-in rechargeable battery for $50.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In my limited listening test with the headphones the sound quality seemed quite good for an in-ear Bluetooth headphone, but the real advantage this has over competing models from Beats, Jaybird, and Plantronics is its high comfort level.

I'll reserve final judgment until after I use the product for an extended period and post my full review, but my first take on the SoundSport Wireless is that it's a very compelling choice at this price point and will be a serious competitor to Beats' Powerbeats 2 Wireless, which is due for an upgrade this year.

The step-up SoundSport Pulse Wireless ($200) arrives in September and has an integrated hear-rate monitor.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The SoundSport Wireless' highlights:

  • Available in two colors at launch (black, aqua), with a Citron (yellow) version coming in September
  • Price: $200, £140, AU $249
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Water and sweat resistant
  • SoundSport Pulse with built-in heart-rate monitor ships in September for $200, £170, AU $299. It only comes in red and has 5 hours of battery life.
  • Accessory charging case costs $50

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