Introduction & Specifications
On those long commutes and trips away, many of us like to listen to music or watch video on our portable devices. Being tangled up in wires is not everyone’s cup of tea and running out of battery with 10 minutes left of your movie is a pain. For these problems we look to wireless technologies and additional power supplies, with that in mind I have on my review desk today the Sandberg Bluetooth Earbuds and Powerbank combo solution.
Sandberg, based in Denmark, have in recent years been expanding their range to a huge variety of products from PC peripherals such as keyboards and headsets, right through to nifty mobile gadgets and those all important replacement cables, they even do chairs.
With the marketplace offering an immense variety of wireless headphones and powerbanks, bringing the two devices together into a small tidy package offers an immediate convenience, but how does the Sandberg Bluetooth Earbuds and Powerbank perform? It’s time to find out, but first up lets get a look at those specs.
- Bluetooth earbuds:
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Supports A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- Up to 10m wireless range
- Bluetooth frequency range: 2.4 GHz-2.4835 GHz
- True Wireless Stereo Music Playback
- 1 x Condenser Microphone in each earbud
- Sensitivity of microphone: -42db
- Support Multi-point
- Earphone battery: 50 mAh *2
- Playback time: 3 hours
- Talk time: 3 hours
- Standby time: 120 hours
- Recharge time: 1.5 hours
- Speaker size: 6mm
- Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Impedance: 32 ohms ± 15%
- Speaker rated power: 0.3mW
- Sensitivity: -42 dB
- SNR: 84 dB
- Capacity: 2100 mAh
- Input voltage: 5 V
- Output voltage: 5 V
- Input current: 600 mA
- Output current: 500 mA (not suitable for tablets)
- Connectors: 1 x Micro USB female, 1 USB A female
- Charging time: 2-3 hours by AC adapter / 5-7 hours by PC
My only concerns after going through the specs are the smaller capacity of the powerbank and the output only being 500mA and struggling with larger phones and as mentioned not being suitable for tablets.
Lets get a closer look at what we have here.
A Closer Look
Arriving in packaging comprising of stiff folded transparent plastic, we get to see the product nice and clearly from the front, the earbuds are loose in the top and I would have preferred if they were held in place to stop them banging around in transit. The box details the 2100mAh power capacity and the generous 5 year warranty.
The back of the packaging has some marketing in very small text, nothing much here but many languages are covered.
Inside the packaging we have the powerbank, the bluetooth earbuds, a USB Type-A to microUSB cable which can be used for both charging the powerbank and a mobile phone, no other adapters are included so you will need to use your own USB cable if your phone does not have microUSB. Finally there is a nifty velour pouch to carry the whole thing around in.
Up close with the base of the powerbank we have the USB output connector and the microUSB charging port for inbound power. A slight concern here is the text above the ports shows not only Input and output above the wrong ports but also a 1Amp load where the spec sheet gives us 600mA in and only 500mA output. In between the ports there is a blue led indicator which is connected to a sensor that detects shaking, this makes the led show the charging level with various flashing sequences. Pushing on the base slides the powerbank up inside it’s outer tubing, this is to allow easy removal of the earbuds.
At the other end of the powerbank we can see the charging receptacles for the earbuds, when pushed down these recess to prevent the earbuds being knocked out while being charged or stored.
The earbuds themselves are a very elegant design, metal casing with a plastic top adorned with a function button on each earbud, there are no straps or headbands so these rely on a good ear fitting to stay in place. They have a solid build feel to them and look like they are easily backed by that 5 year warranty.
With a rather satisfying magnetic snap, the earbuds home in on their charging ports and the led’s glow red while charging is in progress.
Performance & Testing
So after giving the powerbank and earbuds a full charge, its time to get this product tested.
The solidly built earbuds are connected to your device via Bluetooth, this is a two stage process as the earbuds must first be paired together; holding the function buttons on both earbuds for 6 seconds automatically performs that task. Once complete a primary (left ear) earbud will alternate blue/red while the slave earbud (right ear) will just flash blue. At this point you can scan for bluetooth devices from your device and connect to the Sandberg earbuds.
Sound quality from the earbuds is excellent, which is pretty amazing for their size considering they contain a 3 hour playback battery along with a bluetooth system, it is pretty amazing that they have managed to cram in a half decent amplifier.
The microphone quality in the earbuds is acceptable for the odd phone call, my test grabbed a fair bit of background noise, but that is probably to be expected.
Comfort wise the earbuds are very good, they handle moving around but not jogging/running etc which risks them falling out. There is no possibility of connecting a cord or headband to them so bear this in mind if you do wish to use them during exercise.
The overall design of the earbuds is very elegant, understated without any garish plastic colours, the LED’s are quite bright however for anyone with them in their eyeline.
The powerbank is very sleek and of a good size, the design is stylish and incredibly clever, the earbud dock is very well thought through and functionally just about perfect with the retracting receptacles for the earbuds.
Performance of the powerbank is unfortunately a little disappointing, especially at the high price that even the cheapest outlet offers. I can barely get one phone charge out of the powerbank before it is drained, if the phone is used during charging there is little chance of a full charge. I used it in conjunction with my ASUS Zenfone 2, which from my cheap 9000mAh powerbank can be charged three times, 2100mAh with the Sandberg is just not enough, I would have gladly put up with a longer or wider powerbank if it offered a higher capacity and more importantly a stronger output, these days more amps are available much cheaper, Sandberg even state on the spec sheet that it is not suitable for tablets.
The bluetooth earbud market is very crowded so is the powerbank market, here Sandberg have had the genius idea to combine the two into one handy portable unit.
The earbuds perform extremely well, solid bass and highs, midrange does need to be EQ’d to taste, considering the three hour battery in each bud along with bluetooth controller, the sound and playback time is very impressive.
The powerbank is however less of a performer, with only one possible phone charge out of it along with the earbuds on a single use, I find the 2100mAh capacity lacking, a larger unit would have been more than acceptable for more charges. The output being 500mA is also disappointing, meaning larger phablets and tablets are not suitable for charging with the Sandberg powerbank.
What can I say, the design of the Sandberg Bluetooth Earbuds and Powerbank is fantastic, the slide-away receptacles for the earbuds along with the magnetic snap in to place action putting them in to charge or for storage. The sleek well built powerbank and the very solidly built and attractive earbuds, cramming in so much technology into a tiny space, show the excellent design choices made by Sandberg both aesthetically and technologically.
The price range for the Sandberg Bluetooth Earbuds and Powerbank varies wildly, on Sandberg’s own site you are looking at £108 at the time of writing, however a quick search found them as low as £68. They are also available under different names from the likes of Maplin, so do shop around. As for the value, separate bluetooth earbuds can be had for much less and powerbanks with much more capacity can be bought for less than £20, so I find it hard to recommend this at it’s current price point.
I absolutely love the design of this product, it is functional and attractive with some really clever touches, unfortunately I can’t get away from the lackluster powerbank which lets it down. To get the best use out of the Sandberg Bluetooth Earbuds and Powerbank you would have to use it exclusively with the earbuds while getting a separate powerbank for your phone or tablet, which defeats the purpose of having an all in one solution, if Sandberg improve the powerbank side of things this would be an amazing recommendation, but for the money it is expensive for what you get.
I am with all this in mind awarding a design award because I have not seen any other solutions as attractive or as clever as the Sandberg Bluetooth Earbuds and Powerbank.
- Fantastic clever design
- Excellent Sound Quality
- Easy to set up
- Powerbank lacks capacity and draw