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Apple's Earphones with Mic
When Apple released its new iPods, it also added a few cool features, like Genius, accelerometers...and voice recording! Now, the iPhone already had this capability, because it had a microphone built in, but the iPod Nano and Touch did not. When Apple revamped the Touch and Nano, they added a microphone and speaker to the iPod Touch, but not to the Nano. The Nano has a voice recording feature, but you can't use it without an Apple-compatible microphone headset. There's only one on the market right now, and it's from Apple itself.
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The headphones look almost exactly like the standard earbuds Apple includes with any iPod purchase. The only thing different about them is the little plastic box thing that's hanging on the wire attached to the left earbud. It has a rocker switch on one side, to increase and decrease the volume, and on the other side, little pinholes which I suspect are the microphone.
I thought the wires would be a bit longer and thicker, because of the added microphone, but they were the same thickness as the standard Apple headphones. Also, the microphone isn't too high up on the wire, so it doesn't bang against your neck when you walk. Instead, the microphone is placed low on the wire, so you can tuck it into your shirt when you're not using it. The microphone itself is pretty small, too; if you had it down your shirt, you couldn't tell the difference between it and a pair of standard headphones.
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Don't expect too much from the microphone. It's good, but it's not... great. The microphone catches your voice pretty well, but if you feel like whispering, for whatever reason, you'd have to hold the microphone pretty close to your mouth.
I tested the microphone both inside and outside. It worked pretty good inside, catching background noises as well and my voice. It was windy outside, so when I tested the microphone out there, all it got was a rushing sound because of all the wind. I did try it out when it was a little less windy, though; it worked okay, although it caught the sound of the cars driving past me, too.
I thought that since Apple had taken the time to add a microphone, they might have fixed up the headphone's sound quality too. Well, they didn't. The sound quality is the same as a set of standard headphones, so if you're buying this product for a better listening experience, look elsewhere. I did like the fact that they added a volume switch, though; instead of having to dig through my pocket and turn down the volume when someone spoke, then shove it back in my pocket, I could just adjust it from the headphones.
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The Bottom Line
Apple's headphones with microphone aren't spectacular, but they'll get the job done. The sound quality's the same, and the microphone's so-so, but if you want the microphone just so you can record a few quick notes, this is for you. Selling at around $30 USD, these are functional and not too hard on the wallet.