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    • I’m a long-time fan of AirPods but when Amazon announced Echo Buds I bought a pair because Alexa, Bose Active Noise Reduction, and price. I sometimes lose my AirPods and one pair hardly holds a charge anymore.

      I use my AirPods for talking on the phone and listening while I bike and run. I loved it when they added Siri because it opened up more commands than just tapping on the AirPods. But, like most people I know, I prefer Alexa.

      If you check the Echo Buds reviews on Amazon, you’ll see they are all over the place.

      To me the 5-star reviews felt exaggerated. I’ve discovered two critical things I didn’t read in any reviews, on Amazon or off:

      • You can’t use them for running. They fit tightly in your ear and with every footstrike, you get a pounding sound via bone conduction. It’s the opposite of noise reduction. I had trouble understanding my podcast when running so I quickly gave up. Hiking is fine unless going downhill you get into hard footstrikes. I never have this problem with AirPods.

      • You can’t use them for biking. By 10 mph, the roar of wind rushing by your ear is loud. I don’t have this with AirPods.

      That removed 50% of what I use AirPods for. Here goes another 20%:

      I don’t use them for phone calls. The sound is just not good enough on the receiving end compared to AirPods, say the people I regularly call. The physicist in me thinks it’s because AirPods have that descending tube of a microphone pointing at your mouth that, like a shotgun mic, can provide very directional sound that doesn’t pick up sound coming from the side or above.

      Aaaannnndddd… I don’t use them when I’m eating. When you chew, the noise gets amplified like there’s a helicopter overhead.

      And yet I prefer them to AirPods for some things, despite how incredibly annoying they can be. Ironically, I’m listening to music with them while I write this. More next post.

    • First thing I like is the active noise reduction. When I write and want to be in my own world listening to music, in a coffee shop, home, or plane, they’re great as far as earbuds go. Much better than the standard AirPods.

      They offer all kinds of options to tailor the sound as you like:

      They even offer some kind of assist to help choose the right tips.

      Don’t ask me why they think they fit my right ear so well and not the left. They sound the same to me.

    • Second thing I like, as expected, is Alexa, although figuring it out is incredibly annoying. If I say "Alexa" downstairs, my kitchen Alexa and Echo Buds both activate and respond, one slightly delayed from the other, so I sometimes get two streams that are out of sync. Other times, Alexa senses what's going on after a few seconds and turns the kitchen unit off.

      One workaround is to tap if you can figure out how (there's a secret). Here's how I configured mine:

      A group of us couldn't figure out how to "press and hold." It just doesn't work and the Amazon support people couldn't figure it out either. Don't believe me?

      It turns out you have to double-tap quickly and then hold, not press and hold. But once done, you can fire up Alexa on the Echo Buds without activating the household Echos.

      It's a good thing too, because as people are saying in the reviews, when you're in a noisy place, you can scream Alexa as loud as you want and it won't activate.

    • Finally, I'm wondering if Amazon rushed these out for Christmas without figuring out the charging case. Unlike AirPods, the Echo Buds have to make actual contact with the case to charge. It's fiddly. If you don't get it right and hear them click into place, the one you don't get right won't charge.

      Amazon ships various tips and wings but here's the thing: if you use the wings, you have to take them off for these to fit in the charger.

      Once, I removed my Echo Buds from my ears, set them down on the table and didn't realize they would run out the battery and go dead. Is that expected behavior? Whatever, annoying. I had a little trouble restoring the bluetooth connection after that, but it's the only time I experienced it. There are more reports of that on Amazon.

      My review may sound harsh and you may wonder: would I buy them again? Yes. But AirPods get 80% of my use cases.