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The nylon-braiding-wrapped cable looks nicer and feels stronger than plastic.
We’ve never been fans of the way Apple’s packed-in white earbuds fit. It seems like no matter how we shove, twist, cram, or delicately place them in our ears, they just won’t stay put. Apple recently introduced its In-Ear Headphones ($79, www.apple.com), promising better sound and a more comfortable fit, thanks to silicone ear tips that seal off your ear canal. But since Apple’s already lost our business in the headphone space, we were pleased to try Griffin Technology’s TuneBuds Mobile, a similar set of comfy, iPhone-compatible earbuds that up the ante on the junky ’buds Apple included with your device. Plus, the TuneBuds cost half as much as upgrading to Apple’s new In-Ear Headphones.
The TuneBuds’ ControlMic microphone is built into the cable on the right earbud, dangling near your chin where it picks up your voice for clear phone calls. (If you have a second-gen iPod touch, 120GB iPod classic, or fourth-gen iPod nano, you can even use the ControlMic to record audio directly to your device.) The mic’s button lets you answer calls (press once while the phone is ringing), send a call right to voicemail (press for two seconds), and control your music playback (press once to play or pause, twice to advance a track, and three times to go back).
The 50-inch cable is wrapped in what Griffin calls “tangle-eliminating nylon braiding,” meaning the cables feel fabric-covered rather than plasticky. This makes the cable seem stronger, and when we shoved them in our coat pocket between uses, we noticed that they didn’t get quite as tangled as plastic-cabled earbuds tend to. The cable is capped by a svelte 3.5mm plug that fits in the first-gen iPhone’s recessed earphone jack without an adapter. Griffin includes three sets of washable silicone ear tips and a zippered carrying case.
The TuneBuds’ sound impressed us, especially for earbuds at this low price point. The low end was strong in our hip-hop and hard rock tracks, the sparse details of a Brian Eno album came through faithfully, and the subtle sound effects in an episode of Lost were appropriately creepy. Calls sounded clear, and our conversation partners said the TuneBuds sounded better than Apple’s cheap white earbuds.Griffin’s TuneBuds Mobile pack impressive quality for a low price, and they’re comfy enough to wear all day.