Reviewed by Louise Totton
I’m not a massive fan of noise, which is unfortunate given that I have two young kids, aged 5 and 8. Sound is fine; noise, on the other hand, I struggle with. I love listening to them play and talk to each other. I can live with them sitting on the sofa watching a film. But what I really don’t like is when one of them is watching the TV and the second is using their iPad to play a game, with the volume on full blast, or when they are both watching different YouTube videos on the iPad, the volumes of both slowly creeping upwards as the conflicting sounds from both devices mean that neither is intelligible.
Because of this, when I bought the girls their tablets, headphones were a pretty rapid follow-up purchase. We have had a few pairs of kids’ headphones but probably the best were the Kidz Gear Wired headphones. My eldest daughter had owned her lovely, pink pair for a couple of years when they developed a fault. Fortunately, they were covered by Kidz Gear’s fabulous lifetime warranty, so we were sent a pair of Kidz Gear Wireless Bluetooth headphones to replace the original wired pair (the wireless ones have a 90-day warranty).
The original headphones are available in a huge range of colours, whilst the Bluetooth ones are only available in pink and blue. This was no issue for us, and we chose pink pair as a direct replacement for the faulty unit.
When they arrived, we were delighted to see that they appeared to be virtually identical in design to the original pair which she had loved so much. The packaging contained the headphones, a micro USB charging cable, a removable mic that can be plugged into the mic socket and an aux cable so the headphones can be used if the battery does run out. They also came with a lovely padded bag to store the headphones and components in, whilst not in use.
The first thing I did was plug the headphones into charge, using the supplied micro USB charging cable. The headphones indicate the device is charging with a solid red LED, which turns green once the charge is complete. To fully charge the headphones took around an hour. Once they were charged, I turned to the instructions to pair them to the kids’ tablets. Pairing is quick and simple, and they were connected within a couple of minutes.
When we came to use the headphones, they took a matter of seconds to connect to the tablets. It is a simple case of switching the headphones on using the switch on the side, turning the tablet’s Bluetooth function on and waiting for technology to work its magic.
This is specifically a kids’ product, and lots of kids’ headphones have notoriously poor audio quality, but these are a real joy to listen to. They probably won’t win any awards from audiophiles, but they are clear, not muffled and the ear padding means they do a great job of blocking out background noise. The padding also made the headphones very comfortable for both kids to wear.
Another thing that sets these apart from the original, wired headphones is the function buttons on one side. The listener can play, pause, skip and control the volume. My daughter found this to be a real novelty, and found it quicker and easier than using various iPad apps to pause or adjust the volume. The other function of these buttons is the ability to make or answer a phone call / Skype call. With the mic plugged in, the kids were able to talk to a family member abroad, and found it much easier than holding a phone, especially my 5-year old.
I was surprised by just how good the battery life is – I reckon the manufacturer’s claim of 10 hours of active use is very realistic, as is the 180hrs of standby time. But if the battery does run out during use, the supplied aux cable can be plugged in and they are then operated as traditional wired headphones.
As with the previous set, these are designed for kids, so are substantially smaller than a standard adult pair. They are fully adjustable and fit my 5-year-old perfectly, and I reckon they would fit from the age of 3-4. Although they feel a little snug on my (apparently massive) adult head, they do fit and I found myself borrowing them to watch a film on my tablet. The range on the Bluetooth is about 30ft. The connection seems to be quite strong and stable; I have occasionally found by younger daughter sat on the toilet wearing them, whilst still listening to a My Little Pony episode, having left her tablet on the sofa.
The lack of wire is great for younger kids, who may on occasion forget they are attached to their tablet and get up and walk away, leaving an expensive device to crash to the floor. Also, with younger kids, damage to the wires are often what leads to headphones being consigned to the bin, as cables are fiddled with and develop loose connections and poor sound quality. So, whilst these are more expensive than the wired ones, it is possible that they may work out cheaper than having to re-buy a new pair when cables are damaged.
The only slight negative about these compared to the wired set is they do not feature the volume limiter. This was a great feature on the original set, as it meant the volume was limited to 85dB, so young ears aren’t damaged. These ones do not have this feature, so the maximum sound output is 100dB (there is an iPad app that can purchased to limit volume, see www.volumesanity.com for details). Having said that, the padding on the ear pieces is very good at eliminating background noise, so I have found that the kids aren’t tempted to turn the volume too high. Having said that, some kids do just like to blast the sound, so the wired ones may be more appropriate in this circumstance.
We really like this product. The build quality is very good, the sound quality is excellent and I find the wireless functionality to be more useful than I had expected to. More to the point, it means that I don’t have to listen to two conflicting videos at once, nor do I have to play referee between the kids because they can’t hear their programme because of the sound from the other.
I am confident that these will last well, because of the substantial build and because they are so adjustable, the kids won’t grow out of them anytime soon.
For more information visit www.gearforkidz.com.