Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review: Alpatronix HX100 Bluetooth Headphones

There's a dizzying array of Bluetooth headphones available today. They're pretty much all made in China, even the high end ones. They all have similar features, similar specs and they all make similar claims. It's very hard to tell them apart, and the only thing that makes it a little easier is all of the reviews. But they seem to universally get mediocre reviews. This particular model, the Alpatronix HX100 only gets 4 stars on Amazon. I did have a pair of MEElectronics which gets 4.5 stars at least, but they were a little small for me and the wife claimed them before I could do a review.

Alpatronix HX100 Stereo Bluetooth 2.0 Headphones: Product Link


Product Description

Price: about $40 online

The HX100 are budget Bluetooth 2.0 headphones with the standard audio controls and a built-in microphone for voice calls.


Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • Overview: Functions both as audio streaming headphones as well as a hands-free telephone communication device. This headset allows the user to perform most of the audio functions related to tablets and smartphones. Functionality may vary with Windows notebooks and desktops.
  • Compatibility: All Apple iPhones - 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, 4 / iPod - Touch, Shuffle, Nano, Classic / iPad - 4, 3, 2, 1, Mini, Air (retina display) / Samsung Galaxy - S5, S4, S3, Note 3, Note 2 / Amazon Kindle HD & HDX / Tablets / Laptops / PC Desktops / MP3 Players & Other Android, Smartphone Devices - HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Google Nexus & Amazon Fire Phone.
  • Features: Offers true stereo sound, a secure and comfortable fit, easy intuitive hands free controls (AVRCP), and quality audio delivery. The over-the-head pillow ensures comfortable fit, and the ear pillows not only ensure the ultimate comfort, but also isolate noise for better listening experience.
  • Functions: Easily pairs with your device for first time. Then it can automatically detect the device and pair in less than a few seconds. Integrated playback controls - play/pause, answer/hang up (hands-free function), skip forward/back, volume up/down, and built-in microphone directly on the headset.
  • Sound Quality & Battery Life: Covers high, low, and middle ranges well without too much emphasis on either end. The battery can last up to 4-5 hours of continuous playback or talk time, and the device can be charged in about an hour and ready to go.

Initial Impressions


These Alpatronix headphones came simply packaged with just a charging cable and the usual awkward instruction manual. The first thing I noticed is that it had a non-standard charging cable instead of the usual mini or micro USB charging solutions I would have expected. But it's the same cable as the little 7 inch tablet I use for reading, so I was already packing that cord on road trips, so it's not one more thing to carry. 

Mine came with enough charge to test with, so I paired them up to my PC which has a Bluetooth USB dongle, and my play list I was listening to switched from the speakers over to the headphones just as I hoped/expected they would.

Alpatronix HX100 Stereo Bluetooth 2.0 Headphones: Product View 2

Alpatronix HX100 Stereo Bluetooth 2.0 Headphones: Product View 3



Build Quality


These headphones seem fairly well built. The fit and finish are even above average. The plastic pieces where the ear cups rotate look to be a little flimsy, but I am abusive towards all my gear and no problems so far. The buttons seem a little cheap as mentioned in one of the Amazon reviews, but every pair of Bluetooth headphones I own have cheap-looking buttons on them.

Overall I am satisfied with the quality for the 40 bucks I paid for these.

Pairing


My thought on Bluetooth devices is that if you need to read the instruction manual to pair your device, then you bought the wrong device. As expected, holding the power button down for a few seconds powers the unit on, with a flashing green light. Leaving the button pressed down past that point for a couple seconds more puts the unit into pairing mode, as indicated by alternating green and red blinking.

I've paired this unit with a PC and several other devices such as Android tables and phones, all with no issues. The device shows as "HX100" on everything I pair it to.

Fit


The fit on my largish head is acceptable. They are a little on the tight side but other than that are pretty comfortable. The foam could be a little thicker but it's OK. The headphones feature a left and right length adjustment which seems to be a good design. It also has a good feel adjusting them--it doesn't feel like I'm going to break the headphones by adjusting them, like some other models I have looked it.

Sound


The sound quality is pretty decent considering the price. It has some pretty good volume, too. Having donated most of my hearing to a dozen or so heavy metal concerts in the 80's, I can still turn them up high enough to hurt my ears.

Low and mid frequencies are pretty good. Most people only seem to care about the bass, and those people won't be disappointed. Highs are a different story, and I have yet to mess with the graphic equalizer on my devices to get these headphones to sound like I want.

All things considered, these headphones have a rich sound that is completely acceptable.

Range


The HX100 utilizes the Bluetooth 2.0 specification which allows for extended range supposedly up to 30 feet. What I've noticed is that the range is affected both by the headphones and the device they are paired to, but I seem to always get about 30 feet of them, more or less--it's kind of situational.

Alpatronix HX100 Stereo Bluetooth 2.0 Headphones Unboxed


User Interface


The user interface on the HX100 is actually pretty decent. One the left ear is play/pause in the center with the track buttons on either side. On the right ear is the power button in the center with volume controls on either side.

When you start playing music, it will start at low volume for a couple seconds before it goes to full volume, so you have a little bit of time to prepare to get blasted or reduce the volume.

Voice Calls


In the words of the late Tony Soprano, fuggetaboutit. The few times I tried to use this unit for voice calls, the folks I were calling kept saying "can you speak up?" and "what's wrong with your phone?" and so forth. The microphone just isn't sensitive enough for people to hear you, though you can hear them just fine.

The ability to make voice calls isn't why I purchased these headphones, but it would be nice if it worked right, since the manufacturer claims it works and all. In fact, I don't think I have a pair of Bluetooth headphones that work properly for voice calls. I have a small ear bud for voice calls, but I have to switch to it if the phone rings while I am listening to music.

Usability


For daily use, I'm satisfied with these headphones and their performance. Sound is decent, range is decent, and they only become uncomfortable to wear after a couple solid hours of use. They connect quickly and the controls are responsive. Once in a while I catch a reflection of the green blinking light, which is a little annoying. I wish the LED was positioned a differently or turned off with the headphones in use.

Battery life seems decent, and so far I have not managed to run the battery dead, even with using them several times between each charging session.

Conclusions


 The HX100 is a passable set of Bluetooth headphones, which I find myself using often. My other sets of wireless headphones all seem to like to randomly cut out or disconnect completely, and these headphones do not have that problem. It would be nice if they had slightly better sound but I also look at other factors such as range and ease of connectivity, so all things considered, I am happy with my purchase and would recommend this model. 



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