Wireless devices are on the rise as ports shrink in both size and number on our PCs and phones. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices are on their way into the market to take the place of their wired counterparts. With the headphone jack being threatened by multiple phone manufacturers, it may be time to begin considering Bluetooth headphones. I've been eyeing a pair for awhile, but I never quite took the plunge.
However, when Noontec reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review its Zoro II Wireless Limited Edition headphones, curiosity got the better of me, and I happily agreed to take a look at them. Although you may not have heard of Noontec, this audio company has been in the business since 2002 and makes a wide variety of headphones. After using the Zoro II Wireless for a few months, I'm now here to report my findings.
First off, the Zoro II looks fairly stylish, but without being too flashy and drawing much attention to the wearer. The frame is made of a combination of sturdy-yet-flexible black plastic-esque polymers. The inner facing side of the frame has a smooth, matte finish, while the outside is coated by a finely-grained, sandpapery texture. There are also a few brushed metal accents and reinforcements that give these cans a bit of visual pop.
The earcups and top-padding are made of a faux leather that's fairly squishy. These are on-ear headphones, so the pads sit on top of the wearer's ears rather than fully enveloping them. This design choice allows the headphones to be slim, compact and lightweight. They certainly are light at less than half a pound (129g), which makes them quite convenient and portable.
However, there are a few downsides to this design. First, I mostly wear over-ear headphones, so the Zoro II was a bit uncomfortable to start with. After some time with these cans, my ears grew used to the earcups resting on my ears. There is still some slight pressure with extended use, but it's hardly noticeable. Secondly, the earcups don't do a great job isolating your ears from outside noise. This can be good or bad, depending on whether you're looking for isolation or awareness of your surroundings. Lastly, since the earcups aren't anchored by your ears, the headphones have the possibility of sliding off with particularly violent head movements, but they hold onto your head well enough that it's not likely to happen.
Overall, the Zoro II is sturdy. I didn't notice any rattling or vibrating of the frame when I moved around with them on. The frame is also flexible enough to withstand possible accidents, but it's rigid enough to retain its intended form.
Each earcup has its own buttons and indicators with multiple functions. The left earcup is home to a single button and five indicator lights. Holding down on the button powers the headphones on or off. A tap on the button plays or pauses music playing on the paired device, or it answers a phone call. Pressing the button twice lights up the top four indicator lights to show how much battery is left. Each of these lights represents a fourth of the Zoro II's battery life. The final light rapidly blinks while looking for a device to pair with and blinks slowly when paired to a device. Two buttons reside on the right earcup. Pressing them adjusts the volume, while holding down skips songs.
Media controls directly on headphones are always a major plus in my book, especially in this case. I primarily used the Zoro II with my phone, so not having to reach down into my pocket or navigate through my smartwatch's menu to control what I was listening to was super handy. The buttons are positioned in just the right spot as well. Reaching up and pressing the buttons with my thumbs felt natural, and I never had an issue locating the buttons.
Like many headsets and headphones, the Zoro II has an extendable band, allowing the user to adjust the headphones to fit their head properly. Each side has eight notches about an eighth of an inch apart from one another. One of the extensions features an NFC chip that allows for seamless pairing with any device equipped with NFC. There are also hinges that allow the Zoro II to fold up for more compact storage.
While folded up, the Zoro II fits snugly into an included carrying case. Noontec calls the case a "Carbon Fiber Carrying Case", but it's clearly just a carbon fiber pattern sitting under a hard plastic shell. Regardless of what the case is made of, it protects the headphones without adding much extra bulk.
The case also houses two different cables: a three-and-a-half foot long USB to Micro-USB charging cord and a four-foot-long 3.5-mm cable. The Micro-USB cable charges the substantial battery inside the headset. Noontec claims the built-in juice pack is good for 35 hours of use before it'll need charged again. The Zoro II actually came with an almost fully-charged battery, so I didn't have to pull out the charging cable after receiving the headphones until a few weeks later.
While these are primarily intended to be Bluetooth headphones, headphone jack compatibility is a nice feature in case the battery runs out, or if you want to use it with a device that doesn't have Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the buttons only work while the Zoro II is powered on and connected via Bluetooth.
I tried turning on the headphones with the cable connected, thinking that Bluetooth might be disabled accordingly, but that wasn't the case. The headphones don't really know what to do when powered on and connected to a device with the cable. Consider the 3.5-mm jack a last-ditch measure in case the battery runs out.
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