Sony Xperia Ear Duo

A gen­uinely in­no­va­tive pair of ear­buds that speaks all your mes­sages to you and al­lows sound in. But, does any­one re­ally need these?

Australian T3 - - TESTED -

Have you al­ways longed for a pair of in-ear buds built to al­low through the sound of the world around you, that also con­stantly re­gales you with emails, texts and your next di­ary ap­point­ments? No, us nei­ther. But that’s what Sony’s un­de­ni­ably in­trigu­ing and in­no­va­tive Xperia Ear Duo does.

You have 9,000 mes­sages

Now usu­ally, head­phones al­low in am­bi­ent sound thanks to ei­ther a mi­cro­phone or bad de­sign. Here, there is an ac­tual hole in each bud. The re­sult­ing ef­fect is like spread­ing a fairly thin layer of mu­sic over the sur­round­ing world.

The funny thing about this is that if you put your fin­gers over the holes – or per­haps a brace of small corks – they sound pretty good. Ob­vi­ously you’re not meant to do that, but it does re­veal that the Ear Duo is a well-made au­dio de­vice. It’s just one that hap­pens to have had two mas­sive holes drilled through it, so you can hear stuff. Which by def­i­ni­tion means mu­sic sounds less than awe­some. The sit­u­a­tional aware­ness they give could, in the­ory, be use­ful for cy­clists and run­ners, but the weird fit (the lozenge-shaped bits sit below your ears) means they aren’t re­ally suited to ex­er­cise.

The Ear Duo can also han­dle a range of tasks via not one but two per­sonal as­sis­tants. Sony’s own AI reads out your mes­sages and di­ary ap­point­ments, plus news, weather and so on. Google As­sis­tant or Siri are on hand to an­swer said mes­sages or add new di­ary ap­point­ments, as well as all their usual skills.

The is­sue here is that in a busy work day you could feel ab­so­lutely bom­barded with emails. You can ter­mi­nate any mes­sage by shak­ing your head, and we were do­ing a lot of head-shak­ing while test­ing this prod­uct.

The amus­ingly dour, north­ern English voice Sony has cho­sen is a bit quirky too. It cel­e­brated our birth­day by wish­ing us a “day of joy”, but in a voice that was more like it was telling me my dog had just died. To be fair, for work emails, this tone seems quite apt.

As with other true wire­less head­phones, bat­tery life per charge is not amaz­ing at around 3-4 hours, but the case gives you three charges, and juices them up pretty quickly.

With Ear Duo, Sony set out to make true wire­less mu­sic ear­buds that al­low through am­bi­ent sound and read info to you. It has largely suc­ceeded, but who wants such a thing?

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