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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Post Tour Review: Taotronics BH052

I carried along the Taotronics BH052 during the tour. It served not only as a bluetooth headset for answering phone calls, but also as an audio device for navigating with voice directions from Google Maps, and an emergency backup battery.

As a bluetooth headset, the device is mediocre. I've had more than a few callers complain about voice quality and being unable to hear me. As a media device, I've definitely had better clarity even from a cheap set of ear buds that aren't wireless. On the other hand, all through our ride from Prien Am Chiemsee to Salzburg, the ear buds never ran out of battery despite staying in my ear all the time. Suffice to say that the ear buds get too uncomfortable to wear long before the battery wore out. With a Moto X4, the ear buds are a bit soft, but with a Samsung Galaxy S9+, they can be loud enough. I have no idea why that is, since all the drivers should be in the ear buds, and the phone driving the ear buds should have nothing to do with it.

In practice, if you listen to media about an hour a day, you'll be charging the headphone's charging case once a week. In use as a backup battery, the entire case gets hot. What surprised me is that the entire case will drain while charging an external device, including the ear buds. This sort of makes sense: if you're desperate enough to use the case as a battery extender for another device (e.g. a phone), you must value it more than a bluetooth headset. After all, the bluetooth headset is useless if your phone's battery is dead!

The fit and finish of the case leaves a bit to be desired. If you ever drop the case, the lid will pop open and drop your ear buds on the ground. The charging port requires a bit of wriggling to get a micro usb cable to slot in, and I would have preferred USB C, but at this price point (I saw ads for the device for $30 during prime day), I can't really complain.

All in all, for the price, it's a good piece of equipment that's far more useful than say a lipstick charger would have been. There're certainly better ear buds out there, but there's nothing that will serve as many functions for a weight-limited bicycle tour (or backpacking trip), and definitely not at this price. Recommended.

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