Cellphone Accessories For Our Mobile Overlords

iPhone Case from G-FormThere’s no device I love to hate as much as I hate to love my iPhone. (You read that right.) Your mileage may vary; you may not feel like both a chump and a devotee while caressing your mobile whatever. Until I attain your Zen-like state, I feel annoyed whenever I find myself buying presents for my phone, even if they are practical and make using my phone a better experience. Here’s the drill on three extras I’ve been using lately.

G-Form Extreme Grid iPhone Case
: Drop your phone one time ONLY on the bus and you’ll wish you’d shelled out for a case. It’s like Apple is intentionally propping up the case market by using that slippery exterior. I used an Otter Box on my iPhone 3, but I’ve come to prefer the weird grippy exterior of the G-Form on my iPhone 4. People keep making fun of the almost tire tread like bumpy black box I wrap my phone in, but the fact is, it stays put in my hand and has enough padding and bounce that my phone didn’t shatter into tiny expensive bits when I dropped it on the 54. There was an audible gasp from the people around me, but I just picked up my phone and went back to listening to vintage sci-fi radio theater and posting pictures to Instagram.

The case comes in black or black and yellow. I kind of wish I’d got the yellow just because it would make the phone easier to find when it’s lost in my backpack. Cost: about $40. That might seem expensive, but it’s going to cost you more than that to buy a new phone.

Mophie Juice Pack PlusMophie Juice Pack Plus: With great addiction comes the endless search for outlets and places to recharge the phone, right? You can buy yourself a lot more time with a spare battery. Mophie builds theirs into an attractive case that allows you to double the use time of your phone. I think this case/battery combo is pretty freaking great. It serves to protect your phone, and gives you all that extra use time, and it comes in a bunch of happy colors. I dropped my phone in this case, too, because apparently, that’s how I roll. The case is a little scratched up, but it still works just fine and my phone is still totally intact. It’s charged via a mini-USB cable. You leave it off until you need the extra juice, then it charges your phone while you use it. It’s great for long-haul flights, especially if, like me, you spend your airtime with audio entertainment.

The Juice Pack is pricey – it’s about $100. Here’s the truth: I like this thing and bring it everywhere.

Able Planet Clear Harmony Sound Isolation EarphonesAble Planet Clear Harmony Sound Isolation Earphones: I’ve gone through half a dozen pairs of iPhone compatible earbuds. On my last trip I lost my isolation Sennheisers. The sound was top notch, but I was on my third pair because they kept breaking (while still under warranty, thankfully). I replaced them with a really cheap pair of JVC iPhone compatible headphones, and they broke too.

I like the isolation earbuds because they don’t take up the space of headphones, but I’ve yet to find a pair that reduces external noise the way active cancelling headphones do. I like the Able Planet brand just fine; they’re far superior to the standard Apple earbuds and they stay put, but I’m not totally sold. They sound great, don’t get me wrong, and they do help with noise reduction on the plane or the bus, but that crying baby still found his way into my head while I was trying to doze on the plane. Even with the white noise app I use, ambient sound leaked in through everywhere. Able Planet makes active noise cancelling headsets too, I own a pair, and I wish I’d packed them instead. I await perfect, affordable, noise blocking earbuds.

Able Planet Earbuds run about $170. They’re fine for daily use, but if you’re really looking for noise reduction and you’re going to spend that kind of money, go with active noise cancelling instead.

Gadling gear review – Able Planet Clear Harmony noise canceling headphones

Regular travelers will know that a well performing pair of noise canceling headphones are an integral part of a road warrior arsenal. Good headphones block out engine noise, seatmates, crying babies and flight attendants. In recent years. the noise canceling technology inside these headphones has improved to the point where they can cancel out almost all the outside noise. Flying in peace has never been easier.

In this Gadling gear review, we’ll look at the Able Planet Clear Harmony noise canceling headphones. Able Planet may not be the largest manufacturer of headphones, but they produce a very well rated lineup of headphones, including several active noise canceling models.

The technology behind active noise cancellation

Active noise canceling technology works by listening to the noise around your head, and producing anti-noise. By canceling out the waveforms picked up by your ears, you can actually make the noise go away. If you have never worn a pair of active noise canceling headphones, your first experience with them will be awesome.

The Clear Harmony headphones are the top of the line headphones from Able Planet. They come in a very nice sturdy carrying case, and include an audio cable with volume control, dual plug adapter, 1/4″ adapter and batteries.

The headphones themselves are very comfortable – a padded leather headband and earpieces make for a really good fit. On the left earpiece, you’ll find a battery cover (the headphones take 2 AAA batteries), a power switch with green LED indicator and the 3.5mm audio input.

One of the first features I need to point out is that the headphones work when the batteries are empty or the headphones are turned off. This is perfect when you run out of power halfway over the ocean, or when you want to use them during takeoff and landing.

Audio performance

Audio is the next feature that deserves some attention – the Clear Harmony headphones sound absolutely fantastic. Able Planet clearly spent as much time on the noise cancellation as they did on making sure the audio sounded good. Even with the noise cancellation circuit turned on, bass is nice and powerful, and there is little to no “hiss” as found on older generation noise canceling headphones.

Noise cancellation

Now on to the noise cancellation itself; it is good, but not great. I compared the Clear Harmony headphones with the Bose QC2 and QC15 headphones, and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC3 active noise canceling headphones. Sadly, they did not perform as well as any of these competitors. That said – their audio quality was sufficient for me to still enjoy listening to them.

The Able Planet Clear Harmony headphones come with a $299.99 price tag. This is 4 cents more than the retail price of the newest Bose headphones, the Quiet Comfort 15’s.

Thankfully there is good news as well – the Clear Harmony headphones can be found online for as little as $210 – which
suddenly makes them a tremendous good deal.

Final thoughts

Despite the fact that their noise cancellation is weaker than the competition, the Able Planet Clear Harmony headphones make up for this shortcoming with some fantastic audio. The package itself is also great – a good study carrying case and volume control audio cable complete the package.

All in all, I’m happy to recommend the Clear Harmony headphones to anyone looking for an affordable pair of noise canceling headphones, without breaking the bank. You can read more about the Able Planet Clear Harmony headphones at the web site of the manufacturer.