UPDATE 2014/01/19: I've been using these headphones for nearly a year and a half now. They work every bit as well as they did the day I bought them. In fact, they work better now. I originally had an issue with the sound going bad that required restarting the head phones. After upgrading to a new computer with a fresh install of Windows, I no longer encounter that problem. These things have been great.
While looking for inexpensive wireless headphones that I could use for listening to music and podcasts at work, I stumbled upon the Kinivo BTH220 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones. An unknown manufacture and a relatively low price didn’t keep me from ordering a pair and I’ve been using them for almost a month now. Let’s check ‘em out.
Some days I'm stuck in my cube for hours on end. Other days I need to move all over the area. Ear buds are fine when you're tethered to your desk, but just having to slide down to the end requires removing them and pausing playback. Wireless is the way to go. A wireless technology that I could get twenty feet away and still be connected to whatever device that is streaming music or a podcast would be ideal.
After a cursory look at the online reviews, the Kinivo BTH220s appeared to be a possible solution. The BTH220s come in ordinary packaging that’s reminiscent of the electronics you might encounter at a Target store. Inside the box are the headphones, a black drawstring pouch, a USB Type A to mini USB-B cable, and a small user manual.
Out of the box the headphones look and feel cheap. The buttons on the right side rattle with a slight shake of the head and the band that goes around the back of the head feels like it’s going to break when you unfold them. The whole thing has a cheap plastic feel to it.
Getting the BTH220s up and running was simple. They easily paired to a desktop PC running Windows 7 and sporting an IOGear GBU421 Bluetooth dongle. Pause, volume, and track controls, work as expected with Media Player. I was able to pair the headphones to a MacBook Air running Mountain Lion and my Galaxy Nexus with similar ease. The controls work well with iTunes and the few Android apps I use although iTunes seems a little sluggish to button presses when compared to Windows Media Player and the Android players.
The headphones are fairly comfortable for extended use. After a few hours I start to get a little discomfort on the high spots of my ears that touch the pads, but my ears are far from an average shape. If I can wear these for hours on end, I imagine others will find them very comfortable.
For those that buy headphones at this price point, myself included, the sound quality is really good. Bluetooth audio is not known for great sound quality, but these things do a good job for what they are. Occasionally the sound quality will go bad with lots of dropouts and digital noise. Shutting down the headphones and reconnecting them has fixed the problem for me every time. I’ve never used the BTH220s to make calls when connected to a cell phone and cannot comment on that feature.
Battery life seems to meet or exceed the manufactures claims. I’ve used the BTH220s for at least 8 hours straight without a hint of a low battery. I typically plug them in overnight, but I’ve forgotten from time to time and used them for several hours the next day before running into battery life issues.
Overall, the BTH220s are working great for me with very few gripes. They sound good, they’re comfortable, easy to use, and inexpensive. That’s essentially everything I was looking to get out of a pair of cheap wireless headphones. I can easily recommend these with the caveat that these are pretty cheap devices and that although I’ve been using, and loving, mine for almost a month now I don’t have any idea how long they’re going to hold up. I can also see that it might be much more likely to get a bad pair out of the box than say something like an iPhone. Speculation on longevity and quality control aside, from my point of view the Kinivo BTH220 Bluetooth Headphones are essential. Dollar for dollar they offer a great deal of value.
Links: Kinivo BTH220 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, Acrtic Sound P311 (same as BTH220), IOGear GBU421