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There are many different wireless earbuds to choose from, but most stick to the familiar and safe – Bluetooth connection, good sound, good battery life, and charging cases.
However, Bowers & Wilkins’ latest wireless earplugs, B&W PI7, have something more.
These plugs can be connected directly to the sound system on planes.
The way this is done is as simple as it is genius: It comes with a transition from minijack to USB Type-C. You plug the minijack into the aircraft’s system, the USB Type-C plug into the charging case, and then the case sends the sound directly to the plugs.
B&W says that this is the first time someone has made a product with such functionality, at least in the form of Bluetooth earbuds. However, it should be mentioned that other wireless plugs, such as Apple’s AirPods Pro, can be connected to aircraft, in the same way, using third-party products.
The minijack-to-USB Type-C cable should also be able to be used to connect the plugs to other products that do not have Bluetooth support, such as stationary music players or older iPods.
Premium True Wireless Earphones
In addition to the somewhat special feature, these earbuds are premium true wireless earbuds and offer specifications similar to what we see from other top models. They come in two color choices, black and white (with gold ornaments), and are made of brushed metal and plastic.
They have six microphones in total, so you can use them for calls or voice assistants. The microphones also enable active noise canceling, and the plugs support the AptX Adaptive standard which enables variable bit rate. This will help with varying connection strength so that the sound is smooth and without interruption.
The battery life should land at around four hours in use, as well as 16 extra hours from the case. You will also be able to use the plugs in rain, as they have IP54 certification. At least they are water-resistant, if not completely dense.
PI7 is for sale, but it will not be cheap. At the time of writing, the plugs are priced around $399.
B&W PI5 – The Little Brother
Along with the PI7, B&W is launching the cheaper PI5, which shares many of the features of the “big brother”. The biggest difference is that PI5 does not support the special feature, so the flight functionality is not present here.
However, the active noise canceling is still in place, but the number of microphones has been cut from six to four. Whether this affects the quality is uncertain, but it is something I have to return to in a later test.
The PI5 case, like the big brother’s case, can also be charged wirelessly. However, the cheaper plugs do not seem to get AptX Adaptive support, only support for regular AptX. PI5, on the other hand, has a slightly longer battery life than its big brother, four and a half hours compared to four hours, as well as an extra 20 hours in the case.
It is obvious that B&W has had to cut the battery size to put in place the extra functionality in the PI7. The IP54 certification is the same.
PI5 is also for sale, and the price at the time of writing is around $249.