Let's face it -- in-box earbuds have never been anything to write home about. Frankly, they usually suck. Even for as iconic as Apple's white earbuds have become since the release of the first iPod -- they still sucked. They were uncomfortable. They didn't sound good. Even the slightly better Apple In-Ear Headphones, with their rubberized tips, weren't a whole lot better.
That all changes today.
We could rave all day over the improvements Apple's made to your too-often overlooked ear holes. But, really, selling you on these $29 wonders won't take nearly that long.
Whereas the original Apple Earphones felt (for me, anyway) like some sort of crude torture device, the EarPods are wonderfully benign. The anterior gracefully curves into the stem, which leads to the cables, while the posterior is flat. They earpods definitely have a futuristic look to them. The oval grilles add to that effect.
The EarPods are hard plastic, so you won't be getting any real noise-cancellation here. That's not surprising, but it's still worth noting. But that doesn't mean they're uncomfortable. Far from it, actually. They've got a much more natural fit. No longer do you feel like you're trying to wedge a plastic disc into your ear with the least amount of discomfort. Not to over-use the terms "comfortable" and "natural," but that's what they are.
How much do these things cost again? Because they sound good. Really good, actually. For as crappy as the old earbuds were, the EarPods sound that much better.
When was the last time you heard bass come out of a pair of apple buds? If you can't remember, it's time to spring for the EarPods. The bass comes through loud and clear. Highs are surprisingly crisp. Mids are in the middle, where they should be.
Audiophiles probably won't be happy. (Are they ever?) But on the other hand, these are sub-$50 earbuds. Hell, they're sub-$30 earbuds. If you want better sound, spend more money.
EarPods are more than just mere speakers for your ear holes, of course. There's a dongle on the right-ear cable that controls volume, play/pause and call answering, with 11 functions in all. Apple says the EarPods will work with any generaetoin iPad, the iPhone 3GS and up, iPod classic (120GB and 160GB versions, iPod nano 4th generation and up, and the third-gen iPod shuffle and up.
Sirir's not forgotten, either. Press and hold the center button to activate her.
The bottom line
This is a no-brainer, folks. For $29 (sans tax or shipping) direct from Apple, anyone unhappy with the previous generation Apple EarPhones should upgrade. Anyone looking for a inexpensive and surprisingly comfortable set should get the EarPods.
Our only complaint -- and this is a small one -- is that we'd prefer just a little more length in the cable. But that's us. It'll probably be long enough for the vast majority of folks out there.
The bottom line is this: The three years Apple spent on the EarPods has paid off, and should guarantee that the little white cables remain an iconic part of personal tech for years to come.