£40 will often buy you surprisingly little. If you live in London, it's a couple of cinema tickets, some popcorn and accompanying drinks, or a pair of tickets to London Zoo. Alternatively, it's hundreds of hours of musical bliss, with something like a pair of the Jays a-JAYS One earphones.
Although Jays is not the biggest name in headphones, we're no strangers to the company's line-up - which spans from entry-level sets like this to the high-end Jays q-JAYS. We've also reviewed the precursor to these earphones, the a-JAYS One. This new pair is very similar, but now includes an on-cable handsfree kit to let you take phone calls while plugged in.
Our appreciation of the Jays a-JAYS One+ look hasn't diminished since August. They're matt black, chunky and pleasantly simple in design. There are no loud touches of colour and no superfluous bits, apart from the name of the product written down the cable in white, which leaves the buds themselves completely devoid of any text.
This cable writing is possible because the wire is flat rather than round. Flat cables are meant to help avoid tangles more effectively than the traditional round type. Although by no means immune to tangling, in part down to the rubbery finish of the cable, it's a strategy that works in part at least. And it's just as important in giving the a-JAYS One a look that differentiates them from big rivals like the Sennheiser CX300 and MM70.
Features of the cable also help to differentiate this "plus" model from the mic-free a-JAYS One. Where that cheaper model uses a straight jack, the One+ use a right-angle jack, as seen in the pricier a-Jays Four. We much prefer this type of jack, as it helps to prevent damage when your phone or MP3 player is bobbing about in your pocket. Plus, in this case, it just looks that little bit classier.
The a-JAYS One really don't help to make the a-Jays range easier to get your head around, though. After all, the a-JAYS Four have a handsfree kit, and can often be bought for around the same price as the One . So what's the difference?
Where the Four earphones use a three-buttoned remote, the One has just a single button. The Four's unit is designed primarily to work with iOS devices, where this handsfree housing is intended to work with many more phones, including iPhones, iPods, Android Phones, BlackBerrys and Windows Phones. The high-end impression that the "Four" tag brings the series sibling is unhelpful, because the two are much closer than you might imagine - which makes sense when the price disparity isn't great, at around ten pounds.
The remote housing works perfectly, letting you take calls and control music with iOS devices. One click to play/pause, two to skip ahead a track and three in a row to skip back. Android devices can eke more functionality out of the button with the help of a free app, called Jays Headset Control. It lets you specify exactly what each sequence of taps and prolonged presses does - a up to five different commands when playing music, all from a single button.
The control housing itself is very tasteful, carrying on the lovably chunky aesthetic used in the earphones themselves. It adds no discernable weight, is discreet and feels well-made. Even if you're not into chatting away to empty air, the additional music functionality may make it worth the upgrade from the "non+" model for some. However, when the original One model can be snapped-up for around £17, we'd have to put some thought into it.