The Zoro in the wild
My biggest worry when it comes to wireless devices is battery life. Devices like laptops can be rendered useless if you forget to charge them. Even when you do remember to charge them, constantly monitoring the battery to make sure it's topped off can be quite inconvenient. Why bother dealing with charging a device when a wired one works just fine? Wireless charging is helping streamline the charging process to remove some of the hassle of owning wireless devices. My Moto 360 rests in its charging cradle every night and is ready to go in the morning, for example. However, even with wireless charging, the more wireless devices you add to your daily devices, the more you have to manage.
Thankfully, some device manufacturers have keyed into the solution to this conundrum by pursuing long battery life. The thirty-five hour battery life of the Zoro II is without a doubt what I appreciate most about the headphones. They never once ran out of battery during my time out-and-about using them. I went weeks on end without ever giving the Zoro II a single charge. In case the battery does get low, roughly thirty minutes before the headphones run out of charge, audio warnings begin to beep about every two to three minutes. I'd say the beeps could probably be toned back to only every five minutes so as to not interrupt the user more than necessary, but that's a very slight complaint.
Bluetooth connectivity is the only thing I found to be a big problem for the Zoro II. Noontec claims the headphones have a transmission distance of up to 10 meters, but actual use tells a different story. It is true that in a completely open environment the Zoro II can hold a connection fairly far away from the source device. The problem is, almost any obstruction can cause issues.
Briefly going into another room while leaving your phone behind causes major connectivity issues with the Zoro II. Moving around in the same room as your phone can also be problematic if something like a table obstructs the space between your phone and the headphones. This situation won't cause major cut-outs like moving out of the room will, but there are still enough interruptions to the continuous stream of music to be mildly annoying. You might think this can all be solved by simply keeping your phone in your pocket, but I found that even while taking walks, putting my hand in my pocket was enough of an obstruction to cause a few very brief cut-outs every few minutes.
If connection issues like this were simply part of Bluetooth at this point in its development, I wouldn't blame the Zoro II, but I've owned two Motorola Bluetooth earpieces and I've never had any connection issues. I can move multiple rooms away from my phone and still listen to a completely smooth audio stream on my earpiece. For the most part, the connectivity issues with the Zoro II don't bother me. I almost always keep my phone in my pocket, so I don't have to deal with walls or other objects messing with the connection. When my hand is in my pocket with my phone, there are only slight interruptions to the audio stream every few minutes that are hardly noticeable, but I know from my earpiece that it can be way better.
Thankfully, the Zoro II redeems itself in the sound department. I was impressed by the sound quality of these cans. The Zoro II has a good range of sonic reproduction, but bass is certainly its strong suit. No need to worry: the bass isn't overly boosted as it is in many portable headphones these days. However, the bass definitely has a good deep sound to it. The mids mostly keep up with the bass, but the treble can be a bit lacking. Some rock songs left me missing the full power of the songs throughout the frequency range. This pair of cans won't be an audiophile's favorite, but they're still better than most earbuds and compact headphones I've heard.
The final component of the Zoro II that should be covered is the microphone. It has a small microphone for answering phone calls, and I'd advise against using it for much else. It sounds too deep and fuzzy to be good for much, but I answered a few calls with it without any communication issues, and no one ever complained about not being able to hear me.
The Zoro II Wireless is a quality product in many ways, but Noontec made a misstep while going from wired to wireless. The Zoro II's Bluetooth connectivity is not up to par with other Bluetooth audio devices I've used. Obstructing objects can easily disrupt the connection. The phone in my pocket should not have difficulty sending a continuous audio stream to the Bluetooth headphones on my head, but the Zoro II can't quite manage it.
Bluetooth issues aside, the Zoro II Wireless is a solid pair of headphones. The frame is comfortable, flexible, sturdy, and stylish, but not overstated. The sound quality is good for a pair of compact, portable headphones, the battery life is fantastic, and the buttons are incredibly useful. NFC pairing, a small microphone for answering calls, and a carrying case are even thrown in. This all goes for $160 or $130 with a different color scheme and no carrying case.
The right components are here for a high quality set of portable cans, but unfortunately the Bluetooth connectivity drags it down. As I said earlier, the Bluetooth issues aren't bad enough to make the headphones unusable. Even so, the Bluetooth connectivity can and should be much better than it is. At this point, I'd go with the wired version of the Zoro II, which will cost you $80. If you've gotta cut the cord, however, the Zoro II delivers a fine enough experience if you can live with its minor foibles.
12 comments — Last by EzioAs at 4:38 PM on 06/23/17
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