Name: : EarPollution NervePipes
What they are: : Folding headphones that you can design on the Internet
How they work: : The buyer visits EarPollution's Web site and selects from an array of colors and designs, including some rather funky choices - such as zebra - for the earpieces.
The good: : As travel phones, they work well, because the earpieces are hinged to fold up toward the headset. Having broken two pairs of pricey rigid headphones already, I was eager to see if these could stand up to month after month in a briefcase, suffering the stress of books and bottles resting on top. They withstood all the jostling I could bring to bear. What I wasn't counting on was all the twentysomethings asking me where I got them. I don't know if it was the zebra ear cushions or the lime-green frame or what, but they seemed popular.
The bad: : The NervePipes are a bit costly, considering that they are not noise-canceling headphones, and the bass was a tad anemic. But I found a way to compensate for both. I always travel with earplugs, lest I be trapped too close to young, unrestrained vocal cords. So I inserted the earplugs and presto: Not only did I not hear any sound beyond the beautiful tunes from my mp3 player, but the plugs also enhanced the bass, making it surprisingly rich. Apparently the plugs filter out higher pitches.
Cost: : $35, plus about $3.50 in shipping
Available from: : ifrogz.com/earpollution
- Ross Werland, Tribune Newspapers