Earbud products for media players are about a dime-a-dozen these days. You can even find them in the checkout lanes of Walmart selling for about the same price as a candy bar. However, almost all earbuds share the same basic design of having that rubbery coating that ends up getting tangled in itself, gets crimps from being wrapped around something and any other number of problems. Luckily a company names Zipbuds may have come up with a solution for this.
Launching today, Zipbuds is a totally new type of earbud product that not only replaces the rubber coated cables, but they take the usual slider piece that separates the cables and replaces it with a zipper. Yes, an actual zipper, and hence the name of the product. (click any of the images for a larger view)
The folks over at Zipbuds sent us a pair to give a try, and while I've only had them about a day, they happened to arrive just before I went to the gym, which made the perfect test for them.
One of the first things you'll notice is that the cable areas not covered by the zipper (which really is just for deciding how much space you want between the buds) is that the cables are covered in in fabric similar to shoe laces. Yes, they might get wrapper around each other, but it takes about two seconds to get them corrected. It should also keep them from ever getting that twisted issue you get with other similar headphones.
The actual earbud pieces fit fairly snugly in the ear, and are comfortable to the inner ear. They do come with cones of different sizes so you can find the perfect fit for you.
There is one minor issue I found with the whole physical design of the earbuds, and that was with the zipper idea. Earbuds are normally fairly lite, but the substantial nature of the zipper makes a discernible difference in how heavy they feel. Several times while walking on the treadmill I felt like the buds were slowly being pulled out of my ears by gravity. With the cord outside of my shirt I could detect a definite difference in how much the cord swung back and forth from momentum of the zipper weight. Inside my shirt it just felt a little large when pinned against my chest.
While the physical design is all nice to know about, how do they sound? Well, it seemed to depend on what type of media you're listening to. I am certainly not an audiophile, I can't detect all the nuances of the sound spectrum, but they did seem to be a little weak on the low end bass while the high end treble seemed to be a tad on the overpowering side while listening to music. Oddly, while listening to podcasts, they seemed to be exactly the opposite. They are perfectly listen-able, and they are definitely higher quality than what I had been using.
Zipbuds come in various colors and retail for $39.99. Overall they have some definite improvements over the traditional design for earbuds, but they may still need a slight bit of refinement in the areas of weight and the fullness of the sound.