At some point over the last few years it became normal to carry an expensive and fragile computer around environments like gyms or strapped to one’s arm while running. More than once I’ve seen a flailing arm catch a headphone cable and send a shiny iToy on an expensive visit to the floor. Even before Apple’s courageous decision to generate a landfill’s worth of outraged opinion pieces by removing the headphone socket from the iPhone 7, a Bluetooth headset has made a lot of sense.
Designed for exercise, the Mpow Dunmer is a relatively inexpensive Bluetooth headset. The device itself is sweat-proof, so should be able to withstand most workouts, although it is not fully waterproof, so cannot be used for swimming. The manufacturer has opted for an unusual method of securing the earbuds – eschewing the usual over-the-ear hook normally used for a rubber moulding that fits snugly into the ear itself. To be honest, this is only partially successful, and I found the earbuds occasionally slipping during exercise. Your mileage may vary, since ear shape is as unique as your fingerprint. However, I have to admit that I would have preferred something a bit more secure.
The headset itself consists of 2 earbuds connected by a thin cable, with a small controller that provides a microphone for phone integration, dual-use buttons for volume and track skipping, and a power button that doubles as a start/stop button for calls or playback. A micro-USB socket with a rubber cover is provided for charging purposes, and a very short USB cable comes in the box (along with a selection of earbuds). Since this device is supposed to accompany the user on trips to the gym, it doesn’t feel particularly robust – the cables are very thin and the plastics feel a little brittle. The USB port cover must be singled out for particular criticism, since it appears to be secured by a little more than a strand of rubber. However, these flaws can be forgiven at this price point (currently £18 from amazon.)
The headset claims to feature CVC 6.0 noise cancelling technology, but in use I did not notice much difference from the Apple earbuds that came with my iPhone 6. Setting up the Bluetooth connectivity was simple, and the controls behaved as expected – music tracks and podcasts could be skipped, started or stopped and calls taken. The audio is clear, if a little quiet (even at maximum) and the microphone works well – I had no difficulty taking calls and making myself heard.
Battery life is good for such a small device. Mpow claim 5 hours, which matches up to my real-world experience. The 2 hour charge time is on the high side – my set takes less than half that time to charge from empty (according to the indicator lights.)
Overall, I would recommend this device. The slightly ‘cheap’ feeling of the headset is perfectly acceptable for the money being asked. The only proviso is the method of securing the earbuds themselves, which does seem to be very dependent on the shape of the wearer’s ears. One for the Christmas list of anyone embracing the new, post-headphone socket, world.