Contents of delivery
- Headphones in the charging case
- Three types of earplugs
- USB Type C cable
- Earphone dimensions – 20.5×19.5×18.2 mm, weight – 5.3 grams
- Case dimensions – 63x47x25 mm, weight – 66.7 grams with headphones, 56.1 grams without
- Sweat proof IPX4
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 12mm speaker, passive noise cancellation, specially designed for ventilation of the ear canal
- Each earphone has two microphones, voice detection with a separate sensor
- Working time – up to 5 hours of listening to music, up to 2.5 hours of talk time
- Using the charging case – up to 24 hours of listening to music and up to 12 hours of talking
- Fast charging, 10 minutes charging gives up to 2 hours of music listening
- Qi wireless charging in charging case
- Touchpad in each earbud
- Accelerometer, Hall sensor, gyroscope, two IR sensors
- Auto pause / play when you take off your headphones
- Headphone colors – white, black, mint, orange
- Price 179 dollars
Google has a very weak hardware division that sells it under the Pixel brand. The company enters the market with its solutions later than Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers, even those that do not differ in the resources of these companies. At the same time, Google ignores the developments and developments of other manufacturers, believes that it can cope with any problems on its own. From time to time, this ignorance and somewhat arrogant attitude leads to technical failures that turn into poor device performance, flaws in the design itself, and poor user experience. But in the eyes of Google buyers, this is Google, the corporation is perceived exactly like other large companies, by default it is considered that they belong to the same class and therefore the products are comparable. Read the Pixel Buds reviews in the American press, everywhere they are compared to Apple’s AirPods, since the latter have become a kind of standard, these are the most popular TWS headphones in the world. But such a comparison is only partly relevant, since the product from Google is significantly weaker in many aspects, even though AirPods do not shine with sound quality. Until Google changes its approach to hardware, nothing good will come of it in this area. And to some extent, the Pixel Buds prove it to the fullest.
Previous Pixel Buds were not TWS headphones, they had a wire, and this design was very different from competing solutions.
In addition, the first Pixel Buds came out without most of the control gestures, they did not have time to screw quick pairing with Android devices, and all this was set up after they started selling this accessory. The development department at Google is used to breaking deadlines and modifying devices at a time when tens of thousands of people around the world are already using them. The funny thing is that the Pixel Buds had connection quality issues, as the developers ignored what all other manufacturers were fixing a few years earlier, the cache size for the Bluetooth connection to work. In difficult outdoor conditions, when there are a lot of different interference around you, including other devices, the quality of the connection begins to suffer. As a result, you need the headphones to buffer when playing, the latency is minimal, but it allows you to listen to music seamlessly. When talking on the phone, the codec simplifies digitization to a minimum, so this problem is not so great, plus the power increases, which also has a positive effect on the quality of the conversation, the connection does not break. But the battery runs out almost twice as fast. The problem for Google engineers is that they used the headphones in laboratories, outside the real world and other users, did not test them in conditions close to normal. As a result, in the first year, children’s sores were hastily corrected, the software changed and they tried to make the hardware work the way they wanted. Most of the problems in this case could be solved at the design and design level, they are generally known in the industry and are considered standard. But Google, as usual, decided to reinvent the wheel, because headphones are easy, and the person hired by Google can handle it with one hand! Neither one, nor the other, nor the third managed.
The new generation of Pixel Buds does not have any set-top box, the name Pixel Buds 2020 or Buds 2 is what journalists call them to distinguish them from the first headphones.
I wanted to believe that by this version conclusions about the problems of the first headphones would be drawn, but this did not happen. Google again ran on a rake, and exactly the same as in the first version of the headphones. The feeling that the people in black erased the memory of engineers and they again made exactly the same set of mistakes.
Inside Google, a design cult reigns, products should be beautiful, attractive, and they do not spare money. The appearance of the Pixel Buds is revealed in full measure, an oval case with a charge, like a pebble rolled by the sea – it is pleasant to take it in your hands.
There are four colors in total, but each case is only white. Color inserts on the headphones are different, they diversify their look.
At Google, this is how they imagine the use of headphones, the colors correlate with the color of a person’s skin. At present, such a photograph looks at least dubious, since crazy people can interpret it as they like and suddenly be offended. Especially the combination of white headphones and black leather. Is there any kind of subtext here?
I see in this only a contrast of colors, which any person who is not devoid of a basic understanding of aesthetics will tell you about. The earbuds look nice and there was clearly a lot of emphasis on that. And if they were just an object that needs to be assessed visually, there would be no questions for them.
Unfortunately for the designers at Google, these headphones still need to be worn, and do it all the time. Since the engineers were unable to create a sound transparency mode (it is available in all similar devices of such a price from large companies), they decided to change the design of the headphones so that they let in external noise. This is at a time when noise canceling headphones are in vogue and consumers are actively buying them! In a timely manner, you will not say anything.
Google engineers were solving two problems that contradict each other. On the one hand, they needed to achieve noise cancellation, on the other hand, to make the headphones pass external noise. Don’t you think it’s almost impossible? The genius of the solution cannot be denied, since the design of the earphone became a find, in which a special mount was made so that there was a gap in the ear canal and external sounds, as well as air to enter it. The description of the headphones says so: ventilation is provided. What about noise cancellation? It cannot be with this design, in principle, it is easy to understand if you open the window in the car or go down the subway in Pixel Buds, external noises easily fill your ears, you start to hear the sound from the headphones very badly. They do not have the declared passive noise reduction. And they solved the problem ingeniously – they just wrote that this noise reduction is present, because no one inside Google rides the subway, does not go outside the campus, in a word, does not hear the noise of the city. My mind involuntarily draws a picture of the elves who are sitting in their snow-white palaces and do not know how other peoples live there. But high technologies are riveted for them.
One headphone – one device, multipoint support did not appear in these headphones. Alas and ah, despite the fact that there is Bluetooth 5.0. Many headphones from different companies suffer from this, so I will not write this feature into big disadvantages. The number of supported codecs is minimal – SBC, AAC. But the difference in their settings is that, compared to the same Galaxy Buds / Buds +, they run at minimum wages. You can get good sound from these codecs, the question is in the settings. But the lack of sufficient cache, problems with connecting with smartphones – all this made high codec settings impossible, only minimal and medium ones. As a result, there are no equalizers, other settings, everything is minimalistic.
The fact that the codecs are at the minimum settings is clearly audible when listening to music, in high frequencies a ringing and a little hissing silence appears during pauses. But the bass is soft enough, indistinct, almost inaudible. A kind of designation that it should be here, and then you have to guess how it sounds in reality.
I do not like the sound of Apple AirPods at all, the headphones are poor in ergonomics, their sound is mediocre. However, Google made exactly the same headphones, there is complete parity. The same Galaxy Buds, due to additional settings, can be tailored to your idea of sound, although any TWS headphones, without exception, are not about sound and listening to music. This is a comfortable headset for every day, small and long-lasting.
However, over time, Pixel Buds also did not work out everything, up to 5 hours of listening to music is announced. I got about 5.5 hours, apparently, there was not a lot of interference. Talk time is half the time! This is just an illustration of the need to increase power. Speaking of power, these earbuds are the only TWS headphones that have used a lot of Bluetooth power. In theory, in open areas, they are capable of working at a distance of 100 meters (most ordinary headphones work at a distance of up to 10 meters). I’m sure you can already guess what problem Google engineers solved in this way, this is the quality of the connection, the fight against interference. If you cannot tune the radio part correctly, increase the power and you will solve many problems in one fell swoop. But the operating time will be reduced, which we see in these headphones. For example, Galaxy Buds + work more than 10 hours on a single charge, and it makes no difference whether it’s talking or listening to music. In Pixel Buds it is a maximum of 5 and 2.5 hours, the difference can be easily felt.
In a city apartment I walked behind three walls, this is about 10 meters in a straight line, Pixel Buds did not lose touch, they continued to work. I tried the same trick with Galaxy Buds +, they also, oddly enough, kept in touch, although there were already moments when the connection was torn, especially if you walked away to the room window. How unique this advantage is for Pixel Buds is not clear to me, but the fact that the engineers cheated and did not want to learn from their mistakes of the previous version is obvious. And this resulted in a short operating time of the headphones. The fact that the charging case allows you to extend the battery life is good. But this is clearly not enough. During the flight, you can wear headphones for 5-7 hours, Pixel Buds will have to be charged.
Full charging time is about 2 hours, and it doesn’t matter how you charge them – with a wire or wireless charging. For completely discharged headphones, there is fast charging, in 10 minutes you will get up to 2 hours of work, but then everything goes very slowly and for a long time. This is worth remembering.
Pairing with an Android smartphone is very simple, you open the case, and a splash screen appears on the smartphone screen (Android 10 and higher), then it’s a matter of ten seconds for pairing to take place. You can connect these headphones separately to different devices and switch more or less quickly between them in manual mode. But you cannot see the charge level of the headphones or case in the window that pops up when connected, as is done in AirPods / Buds +, alas, the software has not yet been added for this. This is a minus.
On the other hand, in the app for working with Pixel Buds, you can see the charge for the headphones (but not the case!).
For those who cannot connect headphones automatically, there is a button on the case, you pinch it, and the accessory starts looking for nearby devices, becomes visible to them.
There is a white indicator on the case. Lights up while charging. Throwing off the lid, you will see a second indicator, it shows the charge directly of the headphones. Orange – they are charging, white – already charged.
Headphones control using touch pads, they are on each headphone. Gestures are common, there are no problems.
The headphone is only sweat-proof, it’s IPX4, but that’s enough. You don’t need much more, they will definitely fit for sports, another thing is that the maximum volume level may not be sufficient, since external sounds penetrate them, there is not enough isolation, we talked about this at the beginning.
Adaptive sound is a great setting, it allows you not to change the sound depending on what is happening in the outside world, it adjusts automatically. It works more or less, but since there is no headroom for loudness, and you will most likely be listening at almost maximum, it turns out that this is pointless. On the other hand, leaving the house on a noisy street, you do not need to turn up the volume.
Now a few words about the stability of work. You already know that Google engineers solved the power connection problem, lowered the sound coding quality, which means that they thought that they were good fellows and there would be no problems. Welcome to the real world, the number of different devices has grown in a couple of years so that the pollution of the urban environment has become even greater. And therefore, most manufacturers of TWS headsets and chipsets for them are guided by advanced codecs in order to reduce, on the one hand, signal latency (both in games and when watching videos), and on the other hand, to ensure its stability. The headphones have become much smarter, they select the correct connection parameters on the fly so that, on the one hand, it is not interrupted, on the other hand, it is of the highest quality. What about Google? The engineers ignored this point, and many consumers in big cities complain that the sound is out of sync between the headphones, or one headphone just goes silent, sometimes it stutters. Once again, engineers are selflessly trying to fix their own design mistakes, as they solved the problems of past seasons, but did not look where the industry is going, what it is doing and what issues are coming to the fore. Is it funny? Alas, no, this is very sad and shows the state of development inside Google for hardware, and on such a relatively simple product as headphones.
The Pixel Buds are priced at $ 179 plus taxes. It is expensive for such a product, it is clearly inferior to all competitors.
Compared to Galaxy Buds +
There are no official sales of these headphones in Russia, you can buy them only on the gray market. They are very pleasant in appearance, unusual, but expensive for their capabilities. And Google has demonstrated its inability to create such devices once again.
We thank the pixel-google.ru store for the provided headphones.
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