Cheap earbuds aren't hard to come by and they are, by and large, indistinguishable from one another. Of course, there are rare exceptions, such as the iBlink Earbuds. This £25 set features integrated LEDs that are supposed to blink to the beat of the music, and, while the construction is cheap and the sound quality won't pass muster with discerning listeners, the flashing-light gimmick is sure to appeal to a young audience.
The iBlink Earbuds come in six configurations, allowing you to choose from a variety of colour combinations. The earbuds themselves are either white or black, and then you can select from three LED hues: pink, blue or white. We have to say we're slightly disappointed that the lights aren't multi-coloured, but you can't expect much at this price point. The LEDs -- which are integrated into both earpieces and the battery module that supports them -- supposedly blink to the beat of the music, but it would be more accurate to say that they flash with the overall sound. Much of the time, the vocals are what drives the light timing. Still, at least they're in step with the music.
As you might expect from such headphones, the iBlink Earbuds are exceptionally cheap in terms of their construction, and we don't hold out much hope for their durability. The cable is super-thin and doesn't appear to be particularly well-reinforced at the connections. The earbuds also have a cheap plastic feel, although the battery module seems more substantial, and it's good that there's a rechargeable cell (a USB charger is included in the package). Also, there's an integrated shirt clip to ensure the module doesn't pull the earbuds out of your ears. The earpieces themselves are fairly comfortable -- if rather large -- and there are three sets of silicone eartips to help with fit. The fit will vary depending on the user, but the iBlink Earbuds fit pretty securely in our case.
Unsurprisingly, the main complaint with the iBlink Earbuds is to do with the sound quality. Anyone with any sort of ear for good audio is going to be disappointed. Music sounds hollow, muffled and slightly distorted overall. If there's any improvement over stock earbuds in the bass department, it's barely discernible. The saving grace is that the sound isn't so harsh as to make your ears bleed, and younger listeners probably won't be as picky as us when it comes to playback quality. Taking the target audience into consideration allows us to cut the iBlink Earbuds a fair amount of slack, but experienced listeners should take heed: these earbuds aren't for you.
They may be gimmicky, but the iBlink Earbuds will probably appeal to young folk. We don't think they'll last very long though, and the sound quality isn't very good.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet