First Impression: Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones

The Northwest 72-MA861 Headphones is a set of over the ear muff style headphones that is completely using Bluetooth. As with any set of headphones, I will require the ability to handle phone calls. I had purchased the headphones from Walmart (item number: 551674858). There was no mention on the Bluetooth version that is supported, nor the profiles – however as cheap as it is, I doubt it uses Bluetooth 4.0 which offers low energy. The headphones are designed as expected for the most part. It is basic, but effective. The left side is blank with no buttons nor controls, while the right side hosts the USB charging port, play/pause button which also functions as the call answer/disconnect button and the power when held for about 5 seconds. The volume controls is the top and bottom buttons while the previous/next is the positional left/right. All of the controls are in a circle formation with a small round button for the play/pause. Obviously, the color selected was black but the interior of the muff is a baby color violet. Thankfully – no one will see that.

I bought these headphones because the ones I have been using for a year wasn’t working properly with my ears. After a year of fighting to keep them in only so they can pop out when I prefer them to not too, I knew I needed a new set. The Jabra Halo 2 was an utter failure even though I wanted the multi-point features they had. I could have bought a set of headphones that would have looped with my earlobes, but I literally was spending a few dollars more to have the Bluetooth set. The old wired headphones will remain in my backpack to function as a backup if the Bluetooth ones should have their battery charge expire.

The Good

First is the price. I will be honest, I do not expect much for them. They are about $30 which also includes the 2 year warranty I purchased with them. The last thing I would want is for these cheap headphones to stop functioning in a few months. Keep in mind, a few years ago – stereo Bluetooth earphones would have cost three times as much.

The padding is also sufficient which is important considering that as with all muff style headphones, these ones presses against the ears. The controls seems easy to work with, although with the cramp style, they will take some getting used too. There is also padding at the top of the frame so the top of your head won’t be pressed against some hard plastic.

The Bad

Now, I do understand that these are $30, and one can’t expect too much, but the bad will still be noted. First, they aren’t collapsible. As much as the Halo 2 from Jabra became an utter failure, their design of folding the headphones in on itself made it compact which more muff style headphones should do.

Second, no Bluetooth 4.0. This would have been beneficial to the headphones, and the phone (or connecting device). With Bluetooth 4.0, there are sets of algorithms in place to reduce the demand of battery by only using the energy output necessary to connect to the device. There are also other things too, but this is the main part.

Third, no multi-point. I am sure that some people might be thinking I am nit-picking, however Multi-point is an important feature. For those that don’t know what it is – multi-point is the ability for the headphones (or any device) to connect to multiple devices at the same time. In the case of the headphones, when the Halo 2 worked, my tablet would play music and relieved such demands from the phone. And since the tablet had a larger battery, it could handle more. The headphones will also be simultaneously connected to my phone. When a call came in, the headphones automatically paused the music from the tablet until the phone no longer demanded the attention of the headphones. Without multi-point, the phone has to take on the full task of being music player, and phone when I am not home. And most of my music playing when I am not home is done through Pandora which means the phone is being demanded more by constantly accessing the cellular data network. This could demand more battery from the phone which could reduce the battery and therefore reduce the chance of full day’s activity if the need arises.

The Ugly

The headphones are $30, and they feel it. The muffs are tolerable, but not terribly comfortable. I can imagine it will be a sweat magnet in the summer time. The construction also feel flimsy, which in this alone makes me glad I opted for the extended warranty. I also hear the muff material rub against my ears which I wil eventually be able to block it out, but it is still a pain in the a**. Sound quality is acceptable, but nothing worth praising.

Impressions

I had these headphones for less than 12 hours, and a part of the time was charging. I hadn’t done a thorough test with it, and it is being paired with my primary phone only. If you are like me, and on a very tight budget – but need a new set of headphones, you can spend $5 for a cheap wired set without a microphone (therefore not good for phone usage), $15-$20 for a pair with a microphone, or $30 for this entry level Bluetooth set. Now, I know Bluetooth sound quality is inferior to wired connected audio – but with 128-256kbps sound quality in MP3 or some other compressed format, most may not be able to tell the difference. And I prefer the wireless for safety, and convenience. Safety as there is no wire that can get caught with something, and convenience as my phone only has to be near me and not in a particular place on me. With the wired set, I have to keep my phone in my pants. With Bluetooth, the phone can sit in a pocket of my backpack or anywhere that the wire will otherwise not reach.

For those interested, one could purchase this from Walmart with a Shipping Charge, and applicable sales tax. More information can also be obtained by going to http://www.walmart.com/ip/Northwest-Bluetooth-Headset-Headphones-with-Microphone-72-MA861/27435099

Disclaimer

This is an independent review. Neither Northwest nor Walmart provided compensation for this review. In addition, the financial loss of acquisition for this item was imparted to myself. This item is in turn considered as my own property, and does not need to be returned.

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