Saturday, April 16, 2005

Treo Earphone Solutions

About a week ago I noticed that I had stopped listening to audiobooks almost completely since I moved to the Treo, and rarely used it for listening to music. I realized that this was something to do with the headphone arrangements I was using.

I normally use a pair of Sony in-ear headphones, but these have a two-part cord and when I added the 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter, the whole arrangement was just to fiddly to be practical.

So I shifted to an old pair of Phillips earbuds. These have an in-line volume control, which is nice, but still needed the adapter. So taking them out of my pocket and untangling the cord while walking along the street with a dog on a lead was made even more fiddly by the extra weight swinging on the end.

Then I tried the supplied 'hands-free' kit. This is actually quite good for listening to audiobooks while walking: the sound is loud and clear enough and the free ear helps with crossing roads and greeting people. Since it has a 2.5mm jack, it did not need the adapter, and with only one earpiece, there were many fewer tangles. However, it was no good for listening to music.

What I concluded from these experiences was that a large part of the problem was the need for a 3.5 - 2.5mm adapter, or at least the specific adapter I was using which has a couple of inches of cable between 2.5mm plug and 3.5mm socket. (I deliberately avoided the 'all-in-one designs because (a) they add bulk to the device in your pocket, and (b) increase the chance of damage to the Treo due to the extra pressure from leverage.) It added weight and complexity, and to tell the truth, never fitted perfectly. So I went in search of headphones made with 2.5mm jacks.

It did not take many minutes to find that Proporta have a nice black version of their retractable headphones (which I tried last year) with a 2.5mm jack specifically for the Treo. Having had a pair for a few days now, I am impressed.

This photo shows the Proporta headphones next to the adapter I had been using:


1. The 2.5mm jack fits the Treo very well and hardly protrudes at all.
2. The retracting mechanism is pretty reliable and easy to use.
3. The sound quality was surprisingly good: clear rounded sound and great volume.

On a purely subjective assessment, I prefer the sound to my (much more expensive) Sony in-ear headphones. Obviously they do not have the noise cancelling effect of the in-ear design, but they do seem to give a richer sound at a lower volume. This is with Pocket Tunes and the graphic equalizer turned off.


1. Only one: The design requires there to be a cable reel half-way between your ears and your Treo. This isn't heavy, but it has enough weight to swing about while you are walking (or, heaven forfend, jogging!).

CONCLUSION:     These get a permanent place in my gadget bag!