I do not own a wireless keyboard. I do not own a wireless mouse. Because when it comes to wireless, wired is always faster, cheaper, and without batteries to charge or replace. But starting this Summer I began to get tired of running my earbuds up under my shirt to avoid tangles. I watched horrified as three pairs of Amazon premium earbuds get yanked out of my ears and smashed to the ground. So after two decades of earbud use, first on my MiniDisc, then iPod, then smartphone, it was time for a change.
I did a little research. Didn’t find anything I liked. And purchased a pair of Photive HF1 Bluetooth headphones on Amazon for $49.95. For podcasts, audiobooks, and light listening on the go they sound fine. Certainly not any worse than the AppleAmazon earbuds I have become accustomed to. What I was worried about most is how they would feel on my ears, how they would look on my head, and how they would hold up to every day use.
Feel is important to me. I wear my headphones all day — every day. When they are not on my ears, they are wrapped around my neck. My wife thinks I am anti-social. I can’t hear her. The Photive HF1 headphones rest on your ears. They feel great even after hours of use. The protein leather is soft. The ear pads are nice and squishy. The headband never feels too tight. If I have a problem with the Photive HF1s, it is that they feel too loose. Walking along busy city streets is a big part of my every day commute. After two months with the Photive HF1s I am worried they are going to fall off. The problem is the headband. It is not rigid enough, and cannot be adjusted. The length of the headband can be adjusted, The angle of the speakers can be adjusted. But not how much the headband grips the side of my head. I have a medium sized head, and the headband is as short as I can make it. A relaxed fit might add to the comfort of the headphones, but I would never take them running. I need to be careful just walking around town.
When selecting wireless headphones, I wanted something that looks light, and doesn’t draw attention. Basically the opposite of Beats. The Photive HF1s fit the bill. The thin arms connecting the headphones to the headband are my favorite design feature. The arms and the headphone backs are made of zinc alloy. The rest is protein leather. The only visible branding is under the headband. I got the black model, and wear them around my neck in the office. They are big enough for my coworkers to notice them, but small enough no one cares. When I wear them on my ears it doesn’t look like half my skull is encased in plastic. I am still approachable unlike the cyborgs you see with a blue light in one ear. Do the Photive HF1s have a flashing blue light? Sure, but it is small, and on the back. You can’t see it if you are facing me. I could cover it up with tape and use the headphones with audio cues alone. But I already forget the light is even there.
The Photive HF1s are my first pair of Bluetooth headphones. When I bought them I was concerned about wireless reception and battery life. Both hold up great. I get about 12 hours of playback. As long as I charge them every other night, I don’t run out of juice. My iPhone tells me approximately how much charge is remaining, and the headphones beep when the batteries are about to run out. They charge using micro USB. Reception is dependent more upon your phone. When I leave my iPhone sitting on my desk I can walk 30 feet down the hall before before the sound cuts out. When I leave my Amazon Fire Phone in my left pants pocket the signal sometimes has a hard time reaching the headphones. The Photive HF1’s Bluetooth 4.1 receiver is on the right headphone. If you are using these headphones to listen to music in a small room you shouldn’t have a problem. Volume controls are on the right. There is a center button for pausing the music, or taking a phone call. All of the controls are easy to find by feel alone. Holding the center button down for a few seconds turns on the headphones. Holding it for a few seconds more puts them in pairing mode. When you hear a beep you know they are connected. I have never had a problem pairing the Photive HF1 headphones. There is a microphone on the headphones I never use. It is there to makes hands free calls or talk to Siri. There is also a line-in jack if your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth.
For $39.95 the Photive HF1 Bluetooth headphones are a good choice for first time Bluetooth buyers, or anyone looking to ditch their earbuds. They work with the iPhone 7 that doesn’t have a headphone jack, and devices that don’t have Bluetooth. Discrete enough for the office, versatile enough you can take them anywhere. They lie flat when folded and the 12 hour battery life is good enough for most long trips. Not meant for sports, be careful when you wear them in a crowd; they might fall off your head. But if I lost mine, I would still buy a second pair.
It appears my pair of Photive HF1s may have gotten loose over time because they were broken. I can now feel a break in the headband above the left headphone where the adjustment well ends. I believe this to be a weak spot in the design on both sides. Both headphones still produce sound, but I am doubtful they will remain on my head during normal use. I am disappointed the headband is not made out of a more resilient material, but Photive was quick to replace my headphones with a brand new pair. I continue to recommend the Photive HF1s Lightweight Wireless Headphones.