Review: Outdoor Technology Tuis Wireless Headphones
Outdoor Technology is a company that specializes in making products that are designed to enhance our lives, whether we’re at home, traveling abroad, or camping in the backcountry. Their gadgets are designed to be durable, dependable, and perform exceedingly well, even in demanding conditions. Recently, we took a look at their Kodiak USB Power Bank, and found it to be a great way to keep your devices charged while on the go. The Kodiak was such a good product in fact, that it set the bar very high for the Tuis wireless headphones that I tested soon there after. True to form however, these headphones did not disappoint, proving that Outdoor Tech is more than in tune with their customers’ needs.
The Tuis (pronounced Two-ees) wireless headphones use Bluetooth 4.0 technology to connect to a smartphone, tablet, digital audio player, or similar devices to stream music, podcasts, or just about any other kind of audio source that you can think of. As you would expect with any modern Bluetooth enabled devices, paring the Tuis with another gadget is quick, easy, and painless. Within a matter of seconds you’ll be able to have your favorite music pumping out of the speakers, without any cords restricting movement in any way.
The audio quality on the Tuis is excellent, with the low- and mid-ranges sounding particularly well. While the high end range doesn’t resonate quite as well as I’d like, it still sound bright and clear, especially for a wireless product at this price point. The Tuis are capable of pumping out plenty of volume as well, although a bit of distortion begins to creep in as you push them to go louder. They are so loud though that chances are your ears will be begging for mercy before you reach the top of the scale, and distortion gets too out of hand.
As with any wireless device, battery life is always a great concern. Outdoor Technology says that the Tuis are capable of functioning for 16 hours on a single charge, with 400 hours of stand-by. While testing this product, I found that number to be pretty accurate, as I often found myself getting more than 15 hours of use before needing to recharge. That means on a long International flight, your smartphone or tablet is more likely to run out of juice before these headphones will.
Outdoor Tech also says that the Tuis have an operating range of up to 30 feet, although that number can vary widely. External factors that can play a part in reducing that range include whether or not you have a line of sight with the audio device, and what materials the surrounding room is made from. Some materials are much better at blocking the Bluetooth radio waves for instance, while others hardly impede it at all. The quality of the Bluetooth chip in the device that the headphones are connected to can also lower the range, as some products clearly use higher quality components than others. For the most part, I found I was able to wander about 20 feet away from my smartphone before the sound began to garble, but your mileage is likely to vary to a degree.
Other functionality includes a built-in microphone and audio controls integrated into the right speaker. The mic allows the user to take phone calls directly from the headphones, with the sound quality actually coming across as quite good on both ends of the call. The audio controls are also useful for pausing music, skipping tracks, and adjusting volume without having to take the source of the audio out your pocket or bag.
Design and Ascetic ★★★★★
The Tuis definitely have a unique look that makes them stand out in the very crowded field of headphones on the market today. While many companies try to emulate the look of the incredibly popular Beats products, Outdoor Technology has gone their own way with the Tuis. The result is a great looking set of cans that are surprisingly lightweight, very comfortable to wear, and durable enough to take with you just about anywhere. The company’s trade-mark Sasquatch logo is prominently displayed on the headband as well, giving them a touch of cache that even Beats can’t match.
These headphones are the on-ear variety – as opposed to over-the-ear – which means that some external noise can creep in when listening in a noisy environment. Because they are capable of cranking out high volume levels, most external sounds are usually kept at bay. For instance, some ambient noise from a jet engine is likely to creep in, but the overpowering sound of the audio is likely to keep it from becoming a problem. On the plus side, on-ear headphones have the added benefit of generally being more comfortable to wear over extended periods of time however, and that is the case with this product as well. They are so lightweight in fact, that you might even forget that you have them on.
As mentioned above, these headphones were designed for use outdoors, and as such the Tuis are more durable than you might expect. The lightweight plastics don’t look cheap in any way, and all of the individual components (speakers, ear pads, hinges, etc.) have a very solid feel to them. After using them for an extended period of time, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the Tuis with me on just about any outdoor adventure. The included soft case provides an extra layer of protection for when the Tuis are stored in a backpack, and when taken out and put to use, they feel like they can withstand quite a bit of punishment without fear of failure.
That said, these headphones are still an electronic device, so exposure to moisture, extreme cold, or being dropped on hard surfaces are likely to take their toll over time. Outdoor Technology built the Tuis to be durable, but as with all gadgets, they still have their limits.
Outdoor Technology has provided quite of bit of value in the Tuis, and the included accessories. In addition to getting a great sounding pair of wireless headphones, the company has also provided the aforementioned travel case as well. This case isn’t just a simple cloth bag to slip the headphones in however, as it is actually a very nice soft case that provides an extra level of protection when traveling. The Tuis also come with a USB charging cable, and a standard 3.5 mm audio cable for use with devices that don’t support Bluetooth wireless streaming. That extra cable may seem extraneous, but it could come in handy for use with an inflight entertainment system for instance.
Considering the audio performance you get out of these headphones, not to mention the outstanding battery life, I’d say that the value is excellent. These are a great pair of headphones, delivered at a solid price, that won’t break your bank account. The fact that they look good, are extremely lightweight, and very durable is simply icing on the cake.
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