Shokz OpenComm UC: One Minute Review
Shokz OpenComm UC is for a specific type of user. If you want something to immerse yourself in soundscapes or virtual worlds then this is not for you. Its sound quality is better for casual use. So, who is it for?
Those who work from home and are tired of constantly having more than 300 grams of plastic in their head or those who are always on the phone will greatly appreciate the comfort and microphone quality of this bone conduction headset. Even the sound quality lends itself well to hearing other people’s voices. This is one of the few headphones where the mic trumps the audio, especially considering the Shokz OpenComm UC is so lightweight that wearing it is almost the same as wearing a pair of sunglasses.
Of course, this comes at a price. But if you’re on the phone eight hours a day, it’s worth it.
Shokz OpenComm UC: Pricing and Availability
- How much does it cost? $199 (£199 / AU$319)
- Where is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK and Australia
Shokz OpenComm UC: SPECIFICATIONS
Interface: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz wireless
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
The sound around: No
Weight: 33g (1.16oz)
The Shokz OpenComm UC is difficult to compare to other bone conduction headsets in many ways. While its $199 (£199 / AU$319) price tag makes it the most expensive model in the Shokz range, it’s the only one eyeing the office. None of the others have a boom mic, for example. Instead, the rest is much more focused on use in sporting environments, where having something in your ear is a bad idea.
If you’re only interested in bone conduction technology for listening to music, you can spend a lot less with something like Shokz’ OpenMove, which is the company’s cheapest at $79 (£79 / AU$129). Of course, it’s easy to spend a lot more too. O Zygo Solowhich is meant for swimming, is a great example with its price tag of $299 / £218 (about AU$400).
If you’re deciding whether to get this one or a more traditional headset, you can spend a lot less. Even if you use headphones, you will spend less. But it’s a different experience to use bone conduction headphones. And, if you need to wear a headset for eight hours a day, spend a little extra on something that barely feels worth it.
Shokz OpenComm UC: Design
- It’s incredibly thin and very comfortable.
- There is Bluetooth and wireless connectivity
The Shokz OpenComm UC looks more like the silhouette of a headset than an actual headset. But, that’s the nature of these types of devices. There are no headphones or ear pads. Nothing covers or enters your ears.
Instead, it has tiny headphone-sized transducers that sit right in front of your ears. These transducers are at each end of a single band that wraps over the ears and wraps around the back of the head. And it’s all covered in soft, matte black silicone for a modern, rubbery look.
A boom microphone that articulates nearly a full 360 degrees sits on the left transducer. On the left side behind the ear you’ll find a proprietary charging port – unfortunately not USB-C – and two buttons. These two buttons control volume, power and pairing. For better or worse, there is no other way to control the headset.
In our opinion, one of the main reasons to get Shokz OpenComm UC is your comfort. At 33 grams, it’s a tenth the weight of some headphones out there. And while there’s no cooling gel or memory foam here, they’re not necessary. The thin headband doesn’t even touch the back of our head and the only thing we feel when wearing it are the headband loops over the ears and the transducers on the upper cheekbones.
What we don’t feel is nothing over our ears. If you take calls every now and then or want to watch a movie and not disturb your partner, this may not be important. But, if you’re constantly on the phone, you’re wearing something you can barely feel and will let your ears breathe throughout the day without feeling the need to remove your headphone jack.
While there is no way to physically connect the headset, it does come with Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless. Both work very well and maintain a solid connection. And you can connect to both at the same time with its multipoint pairing. It’s easy to set up and use too. It will only send one audio source through the headphone at once, but it’s a nice feature nonetheless. And, it seamlessly switches between the two.
If you’re a little confused, know that this comes with an IP55 rating. So while you can’t swim in it, it can survive most office spill-related mishaps.
And, if you’re the type to keep your gear in pristine condition, you’ll appreciate the hard case. It has a molded insert to keep the headset perfectly still when stored, as well as a slot for the USB receiver. There’s also a mesh pouch to store the charging cable.
Shokz OpenComm UC: Performance
- High volume can create an uncomfortable listening experience
- The microphone quality is very good
First, we need to mention that bone conduction headphones don’t compare to traditional headphones or headphones when it comes to sound quality. It’s just the nature of the technology. That said, we were able to listen to music and use it in conjunction with streaming video for a decent listening experience – although there’s not much bass and the mids are set back. The treble is quite present, however, and the sound quality is good for when you want to hear something between calls.
On that note, while calls sound great on the headset because of this frequency response, turning the volume up too high is a somewhat painful experience. And that volume isn’t that loud compared to more traditional audio sources. Instead of hearing fatigue, increasing it creates vibrations in our bones, making us feel uncomfortable. In fact, we have to shake it off when that happens. It’s very unusual and unnerving.
The microphone quality at least fares a little better. When using it, our voice comes out loud and clear, albeit a little farther away than when we hold a phone to our head. And the mic does a good job of rejecting background noise, much better than most headphones or headphones we’ve tested. In essence, it’s almost perfect. We wish the boom mic was a little longer as it would sound a little closer. But, we are nitpicking at this point.
The battery life might not be all that spectacular, but it’s probably unrealistic to expect the Shokz to fit a 30-hour battery life into this headphone’s svelte build. Instead, it offers 16 hours of use and eight hours of listening to music. Of course, fast charging is available with five minutes, providing two hours of talk time. What impresses us most is its ability to hold a charge. We accidentally left it on for twelve and a half hours and the battery was still high.
Should I buy Shokz OpenComm UC?
Don’t buy if…
Shokz OpenComm UC: bulletin
|Value||While it’s nowhere near a budget price point and not packed with features, it does offer a lot of value for the right kind of user.||4.5 / 5|
|Project||Shokz OpenComm UC is incredibly light and very comfortable. While it doesn’t look like one of those plush memory-covered headphones, it almost feels like it’s not there, which is even better.||4.5 / 5|
|acting||The microphone quality is very good and the listening experience works well with media when you are between calls. We wish listening at higher volumes wouldn’t make us uncomfortable.||3.5 / 5|
|Total||Although it has some flaws, it is almost perfect for those who need a headset with a focus on making calls, thanks to its comfort and excellent microphone quality.||4/5|
- reviewed for the first time October 2022
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