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Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 review: $6 in-ear headphones you won't regret

The ErgoFit RP-HJE120s are disposable earphones that you won't want to throw out.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
3 min read

Here at CNET we review a wide variety of headphones, including some budget models, but rarely do we venture into the sub-$10 range. But in the case of the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones, I decided to make an exception.

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Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120

The Good

The <b>Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 Earbud Headphones</b> are really inexpensive and sound decent for their measly price. They also offer a comfortable fit.

The Bad

The thin cord has a tendency to tangle easily (especially if you stick the headphones in a pocket). They don't seem incredibly durable, and there's no integrated microphone for cell phone calls.

The Bottom Line

For under $10, you'll be hard-pressed to find in-ear headphones that sound better and are more comfortable than the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120s.

I saw the ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earbuds on Amazon and opted for the orange model, which I picked up for $6.07 with free two-day shipping because I'm an Amazon Prime member. The model comes in several different colors and some cost a bit more than others, but you should be able to get a pair for less than $10 shipped.

Of course, when it comes to $6 in-ear headphones, you tend to keep your expectations pretty low. Mine were a little higher because I'd read a bunch of favorable user opinions on Amazon, but I nevertheless wasn't expecting too much out of them.

My first reaction upon cutting open the nasty blister pack the product comes in was that the ErgoFit RP-HJE120s indeed looked like cheap earbud-style headphones, albeit with a bit of design flair and dash of cheerful coloring. I believe that when these were originally released they were targeted at iPod Nano owners, and my pair would have gone well with an orange iPod Nano if I owned one.

The Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones come in a variety of colors.

Panasonic

As you can see from the pictures, these are sort of a hybrid earphone, part hard earbud like your basic Apple earbud and part soft bud. They come with three different-size silicone eartips. At this price, you're more apt to see a hard-bud earphone, but being able to jam the soft tips into your ears helps with sound isolation and maximizes the bass output. I was able to get a tight seal with the largest of the eartips, and I actually thought the earphones were comfortable (in keeping with the ErgoFit name) and they stayed in my ears well.

I wouldn't speak too highly of the cord construction, and the wires leading up to each earbud are pretty thin. The cord does terminate in an L-shaped plug, which is good, although those with thicker "tough" cases on their smartphones may have some trouble getting the plug into the headphone jack.

The earphones come with 3 different-size silicone eartips.

As for the sound quality, what's impressive about the ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones is that they actually sound decent and compare favorably with many earphones costing $25 to $30. By that I mean you get a reasonable amount of both bass and detail, and they only tend to reveal their truly budget nature on quieter, more refined tracks (jazz, acoustical material) where they're apt to have a harsher edge. They also have their limitations with bass-heavy material.

I passed them over to fellow CNET editor Matthew Moskovciak, who's usually pretty hard on headphones, and he had mostly good things to say. "Not bad," he said. "Not bad at all." He liked them with rock tracks but didn't find them quite as pleasant when listening to The Beatles, for instance.

Editor Justin Yu was equally impressed after listening to them and recommended them as a more cost-effective replacement for the stock Apple earbuds.

The cord is thin and does have a tendency to become tangled if you stuff the earbuds in a pocket.

I don't want to raise your expectations too much, but whether you're in the habit of losing things or breaking $30 to $40 earphones (Skullcandy, I'm looking at you), or just looking for lightweight earphones to use at the gym, you should definitely give these a try.

At around $6, you don't have much to lose. If worst comes to worst and they don't fit as well as you'd hoped, you can always give them to someone else. And if you do like them, well, you might just end up getting a second pair in a different color.

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Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Value 10