One of the first things you should do -- nay, the first thing you should do -- when buying just about any new smartphone is to ditch the cheap earbuds that come with it. We've been testing the Klipsch S4A earbuds for a couple weeks now -- as well as the Android companion app that serves along side them.
Let's not beat around the bush here: These are some excellent $99 earbuds. For me, that's the sweet spot for pricing. Any more than that, and I'm going to be worried about losing them. Any less, and I won't think I've spent enough for quality. (That can be a red herring, I know. But that's what my brain thinks, and so I'm going with it.)
The earbuds fit my ears easily enough, snug, but not too snug thank to the oval rubber tips, and they're pretty comfortable over long periods. They're also surprisingly good at passive noise isolation. I really didn't expect them do be able to drown out the new Lamb of God blaring from my desk speakers, but the S4As managed it, and with a surprising amount of bass, too. The tips are replaceable, too (for a mere $13.99 each) and come in four sizes.
The S4As also serve as a microphone for hands-free(ish) calls. The mic is about six inches down the left-ear cable, and that's also where you'll find the push button, which really is what the S4As are all about. While they work fine out of the box, there's also a companion Android application that adds a great deal of funcationality for that button. You've got the usual single-press options -- play/pause, mute/answer, that sort of thing. Double clicking by default takes you to the next track. Triple click takes you back. A long press controls the volume. And most of these actions are customizable.
The app itself is a no-brainer to use. Klipsch did a really nice job of designing it so that it's as simple as can be. Just plug in, check your settings, and go. One thing we will recommend you do before purchasing, though, is to check the app listing the Android Market, as there are a few smartphones that have had compatibility issues. But Klipsch says it's working on this.
We've got more pictures and screen shots after the break.
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