Today, I received my AfterShokz Sportz 2 Bone Conduction Headphones and I proceeded to put them through the paces. The AfterShokz Sportz open ear headphones were designed with safely in mind for joggers, bike riders, skateboarders, hikers and other athletes.
The headphones feature *cough* military special ops bone conduction technology and sit in front of the ear, thereby bypassing the Outer Ear and Eardrum, and permitting users to hear ambient noises such as oncoming traffic, car horns, ambulances or other warning noises.
Unfortunately, I was hoping to use these headphones on my daily commute. In this scenario, being on a train, these headphones are an utter fail. The noise of the train on the tracks drowned out the voices of the podcast I was listening to. I had to put the iPhone on max volume and the AfterShokz's own standalone volume control to full and then I was able to make out what the people were saying on the podcast. I'm sure, so could the other passengers on the train, so I tried to keep this to a minimum.
Walking with the headphones in worked just fine. I could hear all the traffic noises and still listen to my music or podcasts, though I've never had any trouble with this and standard ear buds in the past. I could imagine running with this product to be very good as the headset helps keep them on your head and not fall our like the ear buds.
The main thing I have noticed is, the noise coming out of the headphones; I can't be sure it's actually using bone conduction and not just my ears picking up the sound as the headphone's speakers are in close proximity to my ear. The only way I could be sure was to put my fingers in my ears to block them and then the sound was very clear and even had more bass. So, I'm guessing I would have to use them with earplugs to get the best sound out of them -- there being the problem, they would no longer be open ear and provide any safety.
Still, in a quiet office or home environment, they work just fine. I can hear everything in the office, along with my tunes while no one else can, but once again, I'm wondering if my ear is actually picking up the noise not the bone conduction. The previous mentioned AfterShokz's amplifier box requires charging (2 hours for full charge and lasts about a week) and features it's own standalone volume control. Unfortunately, no control over the iPhone to stop/start and control it's volume. Also no microphone, though there is a later version AS321 that does include a microphone.