Bluetooth is quickly becoming one of those ubiquitous technologies that you can find in almost anything. Be it mobile phones, laptops, GPS devices, MP3 players, printers and anything else that doesn't spring immediately to mind, if something is small-ish and portable, there's a good chance you'll find Bluetooth inside. That goes for headphones and even earphones as well, especially with music phones and MP3 players increasingly embracing wireless audio using the A2DP audio profile.
Looking back we've reviewed a few such products in the last year or so, including the iSkin Cerulean F1 Bluetooth Earphones, the Etymotic Research ety8 Bluetooth Earphones and a little longer ago the Logitech FreePulse Wireless Headphones, but none have quite done enough to secure an unqualified recommendation. Unsurprisingly, the et8 Bluetooth Earphones got the closest, but a typically high price and the unfortunately bizarre appearance dented their appeal.
Gear4's effort looks promising on first appearance. They're exceedingly light for a pair of headphones, weighing just 26 grams, and though they look like fairly straightforward headphones they don't clip onto the ear but use earbud inserts. You get a choice of two sets of rubber buds, with a shallow standard set and some extended ones that sit in the ear canal. We found, however, that the shallow versions didn't create a particularly convincing hold and thus preferred the in-ear buds.
Of course, being the snobby techie types that we are we'd sooner people use in-ear rather traditional style inserts anyway since they sound so much better, but not everyone is keen on this and if you're likely to prefer the shallow buds, the Gear4 BluPhones probably aren't for you. Indeed, though this earbud design does have its advantages, we're not entirely convinced by it at all.
Despite being very light, wearing the Bluphones for a few hours does generate some mild discomfort regardless of which earbuds you use. Moreover, even using the larger in-ear buds doesn't provide a totally secure fix on your ears. They don't go that far in and whenever you move your head are prone to shifting, which can be quite annoying if on the move. Comfort, then, is by no means perfect and we'd definitely prefer a more traditional clip style fastening, even if it did mean adding some weight.