In the world of personal audio, all of the focus right now seems to be on true wireless earbuds. You can blame the success of Apple’s AirPods for the frenzy, and for the countless cheap wireless buds that are now clogging the listings on Amazon. But despite all the hoopla around true wireless, there’s still innovation happening in the not-quite-true-wireless earbuds space. Available starting today, Skullcandy’s new $80 Vert earphones are the proof.
What makes the Vert unique is the way Skullcandy has integrated the battery, Bluetooth module, and control buttons into a single, glove-friendly unit that can be clipped onto almost anything you’re wearing. The single-button dial lets you manage calls, switch tracks, control volume, and get to your preferred voice assistant. The only catch: At a total length of just 20 inches, you’ll need to clip the control fairly close to your head or neck.
The design is a compromise of sorts: It’s not quite as liberating as using a pair of true wireless earbuds, but it is way cheaper than buying a set of true wireless buds and then a matching wireless controller (or a helmet with speakers).
You control the Vert through a combination of twists and clicks of the main wheel. A single twist in either direction, for instance, raises or lowers the volume, while holding the wheel in those positions for two seconds controls track skip forward or back. Clicking the wheel once is your play/pause control, and clicking and holding for two seconds brings up Siri or Google Assistant.
In addition to being an ideal audio companion for those who don’t have easy access to their bare fingers, the Vert has a lot going for it for everyone else too. It’s IPX4 rated, so whether you take them on a seriously sweaty run, or they end up in the snow after a particularly nasty wipeout, they should be good to go. If you do end up losing them on the ski hill, the embedded Tile tracker should make finding them just a little bit easier.
Another nod to the Vert’s intended audience is the design of the earbuds themselves. Skullcandy calls it StayAware, but it’s basically a way to keep the buds from completely isolating your ears from outside sounds. While not as adjustable as active noise cancellation (ANC), it should nonetheless keep you from being surprised by a nearby car, or possibly an out-of-control skier on a collision course.
Skullcandy claims the battery should last you around 12 hours, and you can quick-charge the Vert for 10 minutes to get two hours of play time.