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I Showered, Ran, And Slept With Wireless Earbuds For A Week

Just a dash of the future.

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I really dislike wired earphones.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Getting the cords caught on a door handle or pulled out of my ears because the cable was caught short are some of the more infuriating experiences of my life.

Even my current daily driver, the Bluetooth-enabled Jaybird Bluebuds X, aren't truly "wireless" headphones — there's still a cord that connects the left and right ears. Wireless earbuds are an up-and-coming category, and the Bragi Dash appears to be the frontrunner in what will soon be a very competitive category.

The Dash is a set of wireless Bluetooth earbuds that have standard headset traits, like streaming music from your phone and answering calls, but with even more packed into its small form factor.

The earbuds can track your heart rate, log your workouts, use motion gestures (like nodding your head to accept calls), and allow you to hear sound from your immediate surroundings without having to pull the earbuds out. And to top it all off, they are waterproof enough that you can shower and even swim with them.

Let me start off by saying that the Bragi Dash is a look into the future of wearables.

Bragi lent me a pair to try, and I kept them in my ears as much as I possibly could over the course of a week. What I experienced was a delicious taste of what is to come in the next generation of wearable technology.

The pairing process was no different from any other Bluetooth-enabled product I’ve used, and I had them working with my phone in no time.

You interact with the Dash by swiping your finger across either earbud, or by using a series of taps. The left earbud controls which fitness mode it's in (running vs. swimming) and what Bragi is calling “Audio Transparency.”

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

The earbuds do a good job of sealing out ambient sound (like crowd chatter), so when you turn on audio transparency, it's like you have ultra-sensitive hearing. I instantly became aware of how loud my footsteps were and was able to overhear conversations across the room.

But when you're biking or even just walking in the city, being aware of your surroundings is important. The ability to have my music lightly overlaid above the chaos of the city was so charming. I had the option to control my environment for once and hear what I wanted to.

With transparency turned on, you can still hear the world without having to take the earbuds off. It works just like a hearing aid.

So if someone taps my shoulder to ask a quick question, I swipe on the left earbud to turn on transparency and I can hear them through the earbuds.

This was a feature I didn't really expect to be that amazed by, but holy shit, it felt like this was the first step to bionic hearing.

I showered with the Dash, and it was really weird. It felt so wrong to have something so expensive get wet and be exposed to shampoo. But they held up! Bragi states that they are IPX7, which means they can be submerged in water down to a depth of 1 meter (3 feet).

The Dash has 4GB of memory, which allows it to play music on its own, without a phone. For my shower test, I loaded a few podcasts onto the Dash because I didn't want my phone to get wet.

The Dash has a built-in accelerometer, so it’s able to sense when you’re moving. The software supports gestures, meaning that if a call comes in, I can nod my head to accept it or shake my head to deny it. I was surprised how responsive it was at picking up my gestures.

I didn’t have to vigorously shake the Dash to get it to work. A brief and subtle nod worked fine. And it was consistent. It worked every time a call came in.

The software only supports those two gestures, but Bragi plans on expanding the gesture system to interact with other features.

A good number of my friends commented on how it might be easy to lose them, and that’s probably true. However, because the battery only lasts three hours, I almost always kept them in their charging case or on the Leash when not in use.

In my time with the Dash, I found that the battery life was good enough. My commute is, on average, an hour and 20 minutes. My workouts don’t usually last much longer than that. Once I’m done using the earbuds, I just pop them back in their magnetic charging case.

Everyone uses headphones differently. If you’re like me and only wear them if you are commuting, working out, or occasionally at work, the battery life should not be an issue.

All right, now it's time to get real. The Dash is a very ambitious product that brings a lot to the table, but I think Bragi bit off more than it could chew.

When the Dash works, it’s incredibly fluid and futuristic. But when it doesn’t, it’s such a step back that it breaks the whole positive experience.

The Dash drops connectivity. A lot.

The reception range of the Dash doesn’t reach the other side of my body. The right earbud is responsible for transmitting with your smartphone. So if my phone is on the left side of my body, the audio will skip.

A Bragi representative claims that the poor reception is due to the physics of the Bluetooth radio. Our bodies are very good at blocking radio signals. Reception becomes an issue when the phone isn’t in the earbud’s line of sight.

This is a huge issue. Wireless earbuds that can’t stream music without interruption makes them useless to me.

There are solutions: You can hold the phone in your right hand as you walk, put your phone in a jacket pocket close to your right ear, get an armband, or load your music onto the 4GB of onboard memory — but that's way too much fuss for what should just work.

The sensitivity of the audio transparency feature becomes a problem for loud environments. If something is too loud, the audio begins to clip and it can be uncomfortable.

Pulling out my house keys makes me cringe, because the sound will often be too loud. I wish there were more options to control the levels coming through the microphones, but right now there aren’t.

The gestures don’t always work. The Dash uses optical sensors so that you can can still access features without having to remove your gloves in winter.

The software is supposed to ignore unintended swipes by recognizing when the earbud is being physically moved vs. when it's brushing up against your hood. However, this was not my experience, and my hats and hood often turned on pairing mode and transparency by accident. I love my hoods and hats, so this came as a big problem.

The Bragi Dash isn’t cheap. You will pay $300 to get your hands on a well-built product that is full of promise, but not quite fully baked yet. There are less-expensive Bluetooth headphones you can buy right now that are great!

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

My daily driver are the Jaybird Bluebuds X ($136). They last around seven hours, and they have a mic for phone calls and an inline switch for volume and music control. I can leave my phone in my car and fill up gas without having them drop connectivity, and, on top of all that, they cost a fraction of the Dash’s asking price.

I’m a person who enjoys the early-adopter experience. I’m willing to make sacrifices and change my routines to get the most out of a very new technology, but I recognize that I am part of an extremely small majority.

The Bluetooth connectivity issue needs to be fixed before I can fully recommend the Dash. Bragi has to nail the primary functionality; otherwise it will never pass for anything more than just a novelty (the company has said it is working to improve some of these issues through software updates).

The Dash has the potential to become a new platform that could replace a few devices in your life, but it’s just not quite there yet. For now, unless you’re a gadget-obsessed early adopter, I would just keep an eye out for the second generation.

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