I used to own a pair of those most excellent Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you don't know what you're missing. On airplanes, such headphones allow you to tune out most of the noise -- the crying babies, the whining businesspeople, the banal conversation in the seats directly behind you -- and escape to another place.
As a matter of fact, it was the headphones that escaped to another place. One minute I was on a flight somewhere with them, and the next I'd walked off without the Bose headphones.
To my little Bose noise-cancelling headphones, if you're out there somewhere, I just wanted to get a message out and let you know that it's okay, you can come home anytime you like, but that if you're enjoying your new home, that that's okay, too, you can stay there.
I'd been pondering getting another pair for sometime now, but I also couldn't see spending another $350 to replace the originals.
But with all the flying I'd been doing, and all the crying babies I've been encountering, I figured it was time to at least investigate other options.
So of course, my first stop was Google:
"noise cancelling headphones."
Just like that (I know, I know, "canceling" should only have one "l.")
That, of course, brought some basic results, including some listings from "Google's Product Search" catalogue.
Between Google and a NY Times' feature on headphones, I was able to whittle down to a short list of vendors. They included, of course, Bose, but also Panasonic and Sony.
With the top end cost in mind (Bose' $350 new QC3 along with the traditional QC2), I began looking for quality and value.
How did I go about doing that?
Easy. I started looking at ratings and rankings on various e-shopping engines, including Amazon, PriceGrabber, MySimon, and anything else I could find.
So why'd I do that?
Easy. Though I had had a personal experience with the Bose headphones and knew them to be of excellent quality, I wasn't so brand loyal that I wanted to pay another $350.
Instead, I wanted to see if I could find some headphones that were good enough to serve the purpose of drowning out noise on an airplane, and allow me to watch a movie, listen to music on my iPod, etc. without being droned out by the engines and Baby Henry.
The ratings and rankings I surfed through helped me narrow the short list down even further, because I was able to read about real peoples' experiences with the actual products, and see how they went about identifying the pros and cons of each headset against its price target.
So where'd I net out? I am now the proud owner of a new set of Panasonic RP-HC500 noise canceling earphones.
Barry, on his Amazon review from January 12th of this year, explained to me that "The Panasonics have better cancellation, better construction around the yoke area (hopefully making them less apt to break).
Barry also pointed out that he had had some experience with Bose as well, and that "I would not buy another pair. After comparing the Boses to the above earphones, I feel the Boses are far overpriced and far more prone to breakage."
Sinclair from San Jose indicate that they have "Terrific noise cancelling, sounds as good as Bose, and these things fit very well and are comfortable."
Now, I don't know Sinclair and Barry from Adam, but both were clearly in the market for headphones, and both had had some experience and seemed to be looking for the same kind of value that I was looking for.
And I'd just as soon take a product recommendation from someone who has some direct experience with the product as I would coverage from some online tech magazine and/or blog.
So the DHL truck showed up before I left for the office this morning.
Like a kid in a candy store, I rapaciously opened the box, unboxed the headphones, put the battery in, and cranked the Panasonic RP-HC500s on.
Mission accomplished. The noise from my laundry machines disappeared in an instant.
And here I sit this afternoon at an IBM mobile facility in north Austin cranking to some Whitesnake via Pandora.
The song? "Is This Love?"
Yes, David Coverdale, it is love, indeed.
Thanks to Sinclair and Adam and everybody else who helped me find my new headphone love.
As to my lost Bose headphones...well, I loved you, too, but not that much.Read More]