Beats headphones

Cool factor *****
Usability *****
Value for money ***

Blame it on the Dr Dre brand foundations, but the Beats name remains a powerful one in a competitive audio market.

Beats Electronics is an Apple subsidiary — and their devices are some of the most pirated in the world, because of that aspirational association.

The recently launched Beats EP headphones are available in the local iStore in red, black and white, and make a big first impression. At R1,999, these are at the lower end of the Beats range, but they don’t look or feel basic, especially with the brushed stainless steel frame that wraps elegantly around the soft on-ear cups.

You can adjust the fit with vertical sliders. Of course, they also carry the trendy Beats brand, which promises a certain level of audio quality. The sound is great — clear and deep.

Though wired devices may seem a bit "old school", it does mean that they operate battery-free: no charging, no limit to playback, and it is probably one of the ways that Beats has been able to keep the price tag smaller for these budget-friendly earphones.

They also don’t do fancy space-saving folding like other devices, or have any major newfangled features. Instead, they do what they do well, and in an attractive package. Finally, you can also use them to take calls, when paired with the "RemoteTalk" cable with its incorporated microphone.

The PowerBeats³ buds are more exercise friendly, with over-ear hooks for a secure fit, and a single wire connecting them that hangs around the back of your neck. They offer up to 12-hours playback — and a handy quick charge function that will give you an hour’s listening in five minutes. They are sweat and water resistant, and have the "RemoteTalk" option. All the extra features will cost you a bit more though, at R3,499.

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