I don’t usually write product reviews but here I will make an exception because my disappointment in both the product and the customer service are as high as the expectations I had.
The firm Earin went through Kickstarter and created a product that, on paper, is pretty amazing. A pair of super small earbuds that connect via bluetooth, and don’t have any wire between them. Basically you plug one earbud in one ear, the other in the other ear and you’re good to go. No cables, nothing.
I had this product delivered to my hotel in the US (in San Francisco for Build), so I could have it faster and try it during my trip. I ordered on March 16, it was delivered to me on March 28. The packaging is pretty amazing, a mix of very noble looking cardboard and magnets holding it together. Great first impression. Also, the idea of providing a charging case is really nice. You can see details and pictures here.
Now, my Jabra bluetooth headset is starting to get a bit old and the battery is not holding charges as well as it used to. So I was in the market for something else. The price for the Earin gave me pause (249 Euros!) but I thought that it looked like a really great product. Boy was I wrong.
Update: The last email from their customer service representative:
“Alright. You are very welcome to write back to the customer support once you feel cooperative and want to get the issue solved.
I wish you a very pleasant day.”
Passive aggressive much? Please tell me this person is going to get fired over this…
First, I paired the Earin L (left earbud) with my phone as instructed. Note that I have used a lot of Bluetooth devices with this phone, such as the Jabra I mentioned, the JBL speaker in my office, my car’s stereo device and more. Never had a single issue.
Unfortunately, the Earin kept dropping the connection. But even worse, the connection between the left and right earbud is extremely weak. In retrospect I should have expected it because there is a big bag of bones and fluids between them: My head. This is a basic flaw of the product and I cannot believe that they think it will work right. So not only the connection between the phone and the left earbud was bad, but the connection between the left and the right earbud was even worse. And there is nothing you can do about that one, because you cannot change the configuration of your ears.
Contacting customer service
I tried to talk to customer service but I had a bad experience there too. First they told me that they cannot refund me because I bought through Amazon. Ok fair enough, I contacted the Amazon reseller and am waiting for an answer.
More annoyingly, the tone of the representative is borderline insulting. Maybe it’s a language thing, not sure (Earin is located in Sweden) but you would expect them to be more respectful with customers who pay a lot of money for a defective product.
Then we tried some technical resolutions. In the end it boiled down to “you’re holding it wrong”. If I was holding the phone closer to my head, it would magically work better. Note that this doesn’t solve the bad connection between the two earbuds, so I wonder how holding the phone closer to my face would make things better. Also, I don’t wear shirts so I don’t have a pocket for that, and I use my phone in other occasions than jogging, so I cannot always use an armband.
The customer service representative reply:
“Thank you for the answers. So you are listening with a Windows phone as sending device, outdoors, with your sending device in the back pocket of your trousers. Okay. In this situation you write that you experience audio drop outs very frequently. Well, you are using the EARIN in far from optimal conditions, so I can understand that you get drop outs then.
As I wrote previously, it usually comes down to one thing: the distance between the phone and the master earbud. I cannot emphasize this enough.
If that distance is not good enough to keep a drop out free connection, you can place the sending device closer: in the shirt pocket, or attached to an arm band on your over arm (usually used by joggers), of course on the same side as the master earbud.”
In other words, fuck you very much.
Lack of features
In addition to the inherent defectiveness of the product, there are also missing features that most other bluetooth headsets have.
- No volume control on the earbuds. You need to take your phone out to control the volume.
- No skip / forward / backward control on the earbuds. You need to take your phone out to skip a song.
- No Cortana trigger on the earbuds. On my (old) Jabra, I can do a long press to start Cortana, which is super useful for example when skiing. Nothing like that on the Earin.
In short, the earbuds are just dumb earbuds. And they don’t even function as such.
I guess I was carried away by my enthusiasm and like Fox Mulder, I wanted to believe. But in the end there are basic physics at play here. The head is going to cause interferences. And the lack of features is just the last drop which makes me return the item.
I cannot stress that enough: Stay clear of this company. They don’t know what they built, and they don’t accept that it doesn’t work.