I’ve been using the Liberty Air since I got them from the CES event thread here in the forum, and I’m quite enjoying the experience. There are already enough reviews of the Air here, so I’ll just link them instead of writing a new one: by Andrew, by Rob, by Kevin, by Tyler, by Kumar.
Gizmodo published today a sort of comparison between the Liberty Air and the AirPods, with focus on construction, pairing and noise isolation. Of course, Liberty Airs are not AirPods. Still, at the price point the Liberty Air has, it seems to be a killer solution. Here are some highlights:
The charging case is a bit larger than Apple’s too, yet holds slightly less charge (20 hours vs. 24), and feels like it’s made from a fairly cheap plastic compared to the solid and well-built AirPod case.
The Liberty Air case is just fine for me. They are smaller than I imagined from the photos, so even if they are larger than AirPod’s cases, it’s not like they are taking a lot of space. And I actually prefer the matte finish on the Liberty Air case.
Apple is the only company that’s really nailed the Bluetooth pairing and management process, and that’s because they own the whole stack, from the W1 Bluetooth chip on the headphones, all the way up to the devices that you pair them to.
The walled garden has its advantages. While I don’t own AirPods, I had the chance to test a friend’s, connecting them to my own phone and everything. The pairing does seem like magic. That said, it’s not like pairing the Liberty Air - or any other wireless phone for that matter - is that hard. At least on Apple devices. You just have to do the pairing once. It’s true that pairing to a second device is a pain and will most likely break the pairing with the first device, but that’s more of a generic Bluetooth problem - that Apple seem to have addressed with the W1 chip.
…while you can use either the left or the right AirPod independently (say, for making a call), you can only use the right Liberty Air earbud in this manner since the left bud connects to the right, rather than to your phone directly.
Ah, that’s a real difference. In the Zolo Liberty+, calls only came from the right earbud. Calls on the Liberty Air come from both ears, finally, but the whole “left connect to the right which connects to the device” thing really needs to be fixed in future iterations.
If Apple’s AirPods have a fatal flaw, it’s that they don’t seal off your ear canal to block out noise.
For me, it’s not so much the noise isolation, but the grip. Apple’s earphones are fine - on my ears at least - if I’m not moving around too much. Any sudden movement and one of them will fall off. The silicone tip makes a big difference here, as does the ability to choose the tip size.
All photos are from the Gizmodo article.