If you're among the many who want Bose's QuietComfort 2 noise-cancelling headphones but think $300 is too much to pay for them, something like Targus' $70 Travel-Ease Noise Cancellation Headphones are probably going to catch your eye. While not a true knock-off of the QC2, their design has certainly been inspired by that popular and well-advertised model, though these Targus headphones' noise-cancellation circuitry is housed in an in-line dongle rather than inside the ear-cup, which makes them a closer match to Bose's original QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones.
Like the Bose headphones, the Targus Travel-Ease Noise Cancellation Headphones feature an over-the-ear (circumaural) design and soft, cushioned earpieces that effectively seal off your ears from the noisy environment. The Targus headphones offer the same fold-flat design of the QuietComfort 2s and come with a cloth carrying case and a two-prong adapter for plane travel. Because the noise-cancellation circuitry is part of the headphone cord (the dongle incorporates a battery bay for a single AA battery), you can't detach the headphone's cord and use the headphones to simply hush noise sans music--say, while you're riding on your lawnmower--without the hassle of dangling cables. However, the cord is nice and thick, and the Targus headphones have one key feature that's missing from the Bose headphones: a push-to-hear button on the in-line dongle.
The push-to-hear feature allows you to hear noise outside the headphones when you have them on (there's a mic built into the dongle). If you're on a plane, this feature would obviously come in handy if you were watching a movie and were approached by a flight attendant for a drink order. Click the PTH button, place your order, then go right back to the movie. Alternatively, you could turn down the sound using the in-line volume control, but the flight attendant's voice would be muted by the noise-cancellation.
For the most part, the Targus Travel-Ease Noise Cancellation Headphones look and feel like cheap imitations of the Bose headphones. That's not to say they're constructed poorly, but the plastic is just a bit cheaper, and the padding on the earcups and headband isn't covered by leather (or even faux leather), and looks as if it could tear or get scuffed up more easily.
The headphones sound decent enough, but they aren't great. They'd be fine for watching a movie on a plane and some casual music listening, but because the bass isn't all that tight, we did experience some listening fatigue. Perhaps it's because this reviewer is used to listening to his iPod music with higher-quality headphones, but if you're at all critical, you may find yourself wanting to take a break after 15 or 20 minutes of listening--or less, depending on just how picky you are. On basic pop fare such as Ziggy Marley's "Drive," Coldplay's "Clocks," and the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris," the Targus headphones just lacked that extra edge of detail that even some midrange headphones exhibit. That said, the noise cancellation did a decent job muffling sound, but you do have to have that function engaged to listen to music.
In the end, we came away feeling that you more or less get what you pay for. There are definitely some good qualities to these headphones, including the push-to-hear feature, the fold-flat design, and the long, sturdy headphone phone cord. The sound is easily better than most basic headphones in the $30 range; so as long you aren't expecting incredible sound, you should be pretty satisfied. Translation: the Targus Travel-Ease Noise Cancellation Headphones aren't a steal, but they are a reasonable value.