Inexpensive earbud replacements with retractable cord- YA! (April 28th, 2006)
Product Manufacturer: Proporta
Price: $16.95 plus $4.95 shipping US
- Comfortable. No tangled wires. Compact. Reasonably priced
- A little heavier than Apple Earbud headphones. Some momentary hitches in retracting. Sound slightly different (for better or worse).
Shortly after getting my first iPod, I abandoned the Earbud headphones in favor of airline headphones. They were bulky and a nuisance, but they didn't fall out of your ears or get tangled in your pocket.
Retractable and Good LengthProporta's retractable headphones offer the best of both worlds. They use the same kind of retractable mechanism you find in new USB cables. Retracted, they're a compact 4.3 inches (11 cm) long, which is a convenient size for any pocket. Extended, they're 41 inches (105 cm) long. That's slightly shorter than the Apple Earbud headphones, but as long as you're likely to need. You can adjust the amount of extension from either end. While the cover of the package illustrates how you're supposed to pull out the wires, they're hard to snag even if you do it wrong. It would be nice if there were a little button that you could push and have everything zip into place, but the mechanism works efficiently, although a bit clumsily.
Easy Open PackagingThe first pleasant surprise comes when you open the package. It looks like one of those awful blister packs, but you can leave the hacksaw on its peg. All you have to do is ease the packaging open with your finger. If you're traveling with the headphones and don't want to lose them, you can carry them in the package.
Comfortable with decent soundThe earpieces look like the ones on the Apple Earbud headphones, but I found a tremendous improvement in comfort. Everything seems to stay in place better, with the wires ever so slightly weighted down by the little pulleys.
The sound is very slightly different from the sound on the Apple model. The package notes that it has "extra bass." Whether it's better or worse is a matter of taste. I found the sound on both fine, so I asked two other iPod owners to try them. The teenager preferred the Proporta while his father voted for the Apple, but both liked the Proporta's sound.
Color choice at a good priceProporta, a UK company, sells the headphones online at http://www.proporta.com/, and says that most U.S. orders arrive within seven working days. They come in black with a 2.5 mm jack and white with a 3.5 mm jack.
If you've lost your Apple earphones or torn them apart in despair, choosing Proporta is a no-brainer; Apple replacements sell for over $30. Even if you just want to improve your quality of iLife, they're an excellent deal.
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor