During this year’s CES showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was given the opportunity to test the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, the headset manufacturer’s latest set of bone-conducting wearables.
Bone-conducting headsets bring a unique listening experience into the fold, as the headset is designed to rest not inside the ear, but outside. The headset generates noises via vibrations made from contact with the jawbone, while allowing full aural awareness in the surrounding environment. I found this to be incredibly useful during my evening jogs around the neighborhoods here in Little Rock. I was able to tune into the music being played on my mobile device while also listening to oncoming traffic, and interacting with people that I met along the way.
The Trekz Titanium headset is a flexible, wraparound kit that utilizes Aftershokz’s proprietary “OpenFit” design that ostensibly provides maximized situational awareness and comfort. In the box, you get the Trekz Titanium, a small drawstring carrying bag, your USB cable, and a pair of ear plugs. Other proprietary trademarks the company has placed in the Titanium are Premium+ for better audio quality and “LeakSlayer” technology that supposedly prevents leakage of audio. It connects to devices using Bluetooth 4.1 and is IP55-certified to repel sweat and dust. Some of the specifics of the hardware are listed below, as enumerated on the Trekz Titanium webpage:
Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
Frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz
Sensitivity: 100 ± 3dB
Microphone: -40dB ± 3dB
Bluetooth version: v4.1
Compatible profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
Wireless range: 33 ft (10m)
Battery: rechargeable lithium ion
Continuous play: 6 hours
Standby time: 10 days
Charge in: 1.5 hours
Weight: 1.27 oz (36g)
Connecting the device is extremely simple with the use of their “AudreySays” interface, which will guide the wearer through the pairing and connection process. The Titanium’s battery lasted, on average, about five hours of continuous music playback and phone calling; it is one hour shy of the advertised life of six hours. To be frank, the battery life is somewhat disappointing as six hours is still insufficient fora normal day of work, which means that the Trekz Titanium requires frequent charging. It took about one hour, forty-five minutes to complete a charge. The standby time was something that I was rather puzzled about, as I was two days under the advertised ten hours. Many headsets in this price range feature higher quality construction and longer battery life, as well as further noise-cancellation technology. While I understand that I could be comparing apples to oranges, as they are often vastly different products, these headsets share enough commonalities that it needs to be brought up.
I was hoping the audio quality would be better developed. It had a clearer sound quality than that provided by the Gamez headset, but it interestingly didn’t quite meet the capabilities provided by Apple’s EarPods. Again, this is probably an apples-to-oranges comparison, but the price demands a certain quality. Call quality was as expected: clear, with little interference. With these bone-conducting headsets, the best sound quality is obtained by locating the sweet spot, which has little room for deviation. This was an issue with the Gamez headsets; it’s much better with the Titaniums. It moved about way less, and makes the older Gamez headsets feel incredibly loose around the head. The Gamez headsets, though, were encased entirely in plastic whereas the Titaniums have more of a rubbery feel to them all throughout.
I do not quite agree with the $129.99 price point set for the Trekz Titanium. The other headset I had been provided with from the company, the Gamez headset, was priced at a more palatable $99.99. Wearers are provided more color options on the Titanium in comparison to the kiwi green of the Gamez, and the sweat and dust-resistant ratings are nice, but it doesn’t seem like it’s quite worthy of an additional $30 price hike. I like the headset for what it does, which is an adequate job of providing music and keeping you aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, it’s not quite up to par given the high price point. These technologies are fantastic for the outgoing fitness enthusiast or for those who want a bit of isolation in a crowded environment, but there is room for improvement in future iterations.