With its new Shadow Wireless headphones, reasonably-priced audio purveyor Sol Republic is tackling a problem no one else has gotten right yet: a compact, portable Bluetooth headphone that sounds good.
By now, big over-ear and on-ear Bluetooth headphones are a well-established category with some awesome options, but making tiny Bluetooth buds that aren't attached to some kind of external module is complicated. Some companies have started to offer them, but basically for better sound quality and decent battery life, you're going to need a slightly bigger body of some kind.
Sol Republic's solution in the form of a silicon band that you drape behind you neck is elegantly executed even if it's not exactly new. LG's Bluetooth headsets for example employ a similar solution.
I've had the opportunity to try out the Shadow Wireless for a few days and it's the execution that's impresssive. The soft silicon band — which contains external button controls, battery, and electronics — is soft, pliable and comfortable to the touch. The meatier part of the long band does a nice job of hiding under your shirt collar, so it's less of a fashion faux pas than you would expect. At one point I had them draped from my neck while having a conversation with a colleague, and he didn't even notice they were there. And when you're not wearing the Shadow, it balls up small enough for your pocket.
The sound quality is solid from what I can tell so far; similar to some of Sol Republic's other products, like the Relays. Pairing the headphones over Bluetooth 4.0 works seamlessly. The headphones have an eight hour battery life. I used them in the office for several work days without needing to give them a charge.
True to Sol Republic's style, the Shadow Wireless are affordable priced at $US100. These headphones get a lot right for an excellent price. If you're in the market for something that's (mostly) wireless, I'm having trouble thinking of a reason not to buy them.