Some of the best things come from Sweden - ABBA, Volvo estate cars and meatballs. Okay, so perhaps Sweden's exports leave most things to be desired, but its Nocs earphones deserve to be heard. The Nocs NS200 sell for under £50, are made of tough aluminium and have a sound to compete with the best at the price.
The Nocs NS200 are innocuous in the best way. They use a matt black finish and a smoothly-curved bullet-style design. However, rather than coming across as drab and boring, the buds look pure and carefully deliberated-upon. It's partly down to the hard metal construction, partly the smooth and perfect finish and partly how the Nocs logo has been daubed-on - subtly.
Their little metal bodies are much more likely to survive being trodden-on than a lesser plastic pair, but otherwise construction is entirely standard. The cable in non-removable and of standard thickness - although reinforced with Kevlar to up its chances against the world and its less hospitable pockets. At the end of the cable sits a slim straight 3.5mm jack - not conspicuously ruggedised, but as such it's in-keeping with the unadulterated look of the buds.
The rather spare Nocs style reminds of Apple's official accessories, but in a good way - not being overpriced or brimming with self-congratulatory ego. Included accessories are minimal too. There's a shirt clip and four pairs of rubber noise isolating tips, but that's it. No carry case and no foam tips are bundled here. But as no-one we know uses an earphone carry case, we can't say we care.
Nocs's most notable extra is the remote and handsfree housing. There are two version of the NS200 - one made for iOS devices and another for HTC Android and Windows 7 smartphones. We checked out the latter, always being ones to support the underdog when given half a chance.
It's extremely light and fits-in well with the rest of the design, being matt black and very simple, but behaves a little differently from the iPhone 3-button standard. Usually, the outer buttons will control both volume and track switching, the middle button handling pause/play and taking calls. Here, the outer buttons don't change volume, instead just changing tracks with a single tap. However, it will also take calls as normal.
Both the iPhone and HTC versions of the NS200 earphones cost the same, but - intriguingly - according to the Nocs website, they use different drivers. Underneath all that aluminium, the HTC edition uses an 8mm dynamic driver while the iPhone edition is treated to an 8.6mm driver. We're checking with Nocs whether this is just a typo.