« Digital Holiday Trends 2007: High-Def Home | Main | Logitech MX Air Cordless Laser Mouse »

AirDrives: Outer-Ear Stereo Earphones

And now for something different in earphones -- the AirDrives "Outer-Ear" Stereo Earphones.

These don't insert into your ear like earbuds, or cover your ear like headphones -- instead they hook over your ear, with the speaker hanging outside your ear.

The result is an eye-opening (to mix metaphors) and somewhat more natural sound, like you are listening to outside speakers. While the experience is not as intense or as focused as sound literally plugged into your ears, the AirDrives provide a very comfortable and pleasant way to listen and enjoy.

The AirDrives have several other interesting advantages:

- You can remain aware of your surroundings, since your ears are not covered or blocked. The AirDrives are recommended for activities like jogging, when you really don't want to be oblivious to near-by cars. And they're great in the office or around the home when you need to be responsive to visitors.

However, they obviously don't work well for activities like travel on airplanes and trains, where you may well prefer sound isolation and noise reduction. Since the AirDrives are open, the sound also can be heard by people near-by, which is a problem unless they're friends with the same taste in music (and even then when you're listening to an audio book).

- They're comfortable for long-term wear, since they're just hanging on the ear, and not squeezing against your head or rubbing in your ear canal. The AirDrives have molded ear grips that are adjustable, and described as durable and water resistant. They also work fine with glasses.

- The AirDrives are also promoted as good for helping to avoid possibly damaging decibel levels, since they do not plug up the ear and hold in the sound.

The product design has some additional nice features. There's a very small control on the cord with a volume slider, especially convenient for quickly muting the sound. And they have a sliding cord joiner that can pull the left and right cables together for easier storage.

The AirDrives were released in October 2007. They were developed by InAir Technology, which was acquired in 2006 by Mad Catz Interactive, makers of interactive entertainment peripherals, including the GameShark line.

They are available in two versions -- the standard model, black with silver earbud for $99.99, and a smaller / Kids model in white for $69.99.

Find the AirDrives Outer-Ear Earphones on Amazon.com

See my Audio Accessories Gallery for details and related products

Manifest Tech Site