Apple has proven that combining true wireless earbuds with always-on access to a virtual assistant can be a reliable recipe for success. Its Airpods continue to be the best selling option, even as the true wireless scene really starts to take off. So, it's no surprise then that Amazon is looking to cash in. Its Echo Buds don't look terribly different from the competition. (They've got a bit of a Bragi vibe going on.) But they do allow you to talk to Alexa without touching a button -- basically it's an Echo you shove in your ears.
One thing the Echo Buds definitely have over their Apple competitors though, is noise cancellation. Airpods have none, whereas Amazon has partnered with Bose to borrow its active noise reduction tech. And while Bose isn't king of the hill anymore when it comes to noise cancellation it's still pretty dang good (not to mention a pioneer in the field).
It doesn't seem like Amazon sacrificed too much on sound quality either... at least on paper. (Again, the final judgement will have to wait for when we get to test them on our own terms.) Inside each bud is a pair of balanced armature drivers, which should deliver pretty solid bass. The five hours of battery life isn't exactly earth-shattering, but the charging case brings the total runtime up to 20 hours before you need to plug in again.
Echo Buds are available to preorder today for $130.
Update 9/25/2019 3:10PM ET: This article originally used the term "active noise cancellation" (ANC). It has been updated to reflect the terminology used by Amazon, "active noise reduction." It's unclear currently if this is purely for marketing reasons, or if there is a functional difference between Bose's ANC and what is found in the Echo Buds.
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