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Boat products review: Inexpensive phone accessories with quirky design

Veer Arjun Singh/New Delhi 16 Sep 18 | 08:46 AM

Quirky is a characteristic of Boat, a comparatively new consumer electronics brand founded in 2016. Its designs have a generous use of bright colours -- red, pink, blue, fluorescent -- and the occasional grey and black, aimed at catching the eye in the cluttered segment of affordable mobile phone accessories. The company makes earphones, headphones and portable speakers, along with accessories such as chargers and cables. We tested out one in each category for its design, quality and ruggedness.

Rockerz 430 (on-ear wireless headphones)

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The packaging of Boat products is unimpressive across categories. The boxes are flimsy and aesthetically banal -- uncharacteristically opposite of how the products look. The Rockerz 430 we reviewed has a charcoal grey exterior and is bright red inside. The plastic headband feels solid and the PU coating makes the headphones comfortable to hang on the neck when not in use. It’s also light.

I have never been a fan of small ear-cups that sit on the ears and not cover them completely. Doesn’t matter the cushioning on the cups, even the slightest of pressure makes the headphones hard to keep on for extended use. The Rockerz 430 has a passive noise cancellation, which means they sit on the ears snuggly to block the outside noise by design; and the headphones won’t slip off even if you run with them. But not everyone can get used to the pressure on the outer ear.

The Rockerz 430 is paired easily, and is even faster to connect the next time. The over-enthusiastic announcer welcoming you with “you have plugged into Nirvana" is quite unnecessary though.

Moving on, the headphones don’t falter on delivering the low frequency sounds right. The sub-bass is deep and surround. Even the mids -- that include the vocals -- are clear. Listening to Drake and DJ Khaled is a pleasure, but only until the highs kick in. It seems like in order to achieve satisfactory base, the highs have been amped up. And the distortion is quite evident when bass takes a back seat. The snare drums in Highway to Hell by AC/DC were overbearing after a point, and by the time I moved an era to Charlie Puth’s Done for Me for its treble-heavy music and Puth’s high-pitched voice, I could not increase the volume over 70 per cent. While the bass is good, the overall sound quality Rockerz 430 delivers for Rs 1,995 -- even though cost-effective -- is average, at best.

It’s an advantage that the headphones can be used both wired and wirelessly. The battery on single charge keeps the music going on for good 10 hours.

The accessibility keys on the right ear-cup are nondescript and convenient. Just that the beep that sounds when the volume up key is pressed after it’s at maximum is sharply annoying. Among other sounds in the audio piece that are better toned down.

BassHeads 225

There’s a lot to like in the wired, bullet-shaped earphones. Most noticeable is the fact that it does so much better than the Rockers 430 in delivering a balanced sound; deep base, clear mids and minimal distortion in highs. It’s comparable to the entry-level wired earphones from Beats or Sony.

Boat BassHeads 225

The pair at Rs 488 (on Amazon) is completely reliant on passive noise cancellation, which can completely isolate the user in a crowded surrounding. But the fit is not comfortable. The sound heads are only stable when thrust inside the ear quite close to the eardrums.

The pair doesn’t come with a case, but the slender wires do not tangle, at all. And the mic on the left cable is well placed and quite responsive. The rubber coating at the junction where the wire connects to the sound head is likely to it from snapping easily. The gold plated 3.5 connector jack feels solid, too. Like I said, there’s little to not like about this one.

Stone 200 (Bluetooth speakers)

The portable audio speaker has a very impressive battery life. I fell asleep while listening to a ’40s collection on the aqua blue Stone 200 speaker on my bedside. Six hours later, it still had about 30 per cent power left in it.

Except the loud branding on both sides, the speaker has a functional design. A rubber coating runs along its perimeter to absorb shocks from sudden falls. You can even hang the thing by a nail. But when placed on a surface, make sure it is not lying face down. It muffles the sound. The speaker opens on one side, the amplifier on the other.

Boat Stone 200

It’s also loud, enough to fill the air in a standard bedroom, or to overpower the sound of a rain shower. It’s also water-resistant at IPX5. But there’s nothing great about the sound quality. The base is hard, but not deep and the mids and highs are loud and lightly distorted.

If one’s not too picky about a portable speaker to serve for those few minutes while getting dressed, or for a low-key house scene, it’s not bad for Rs 1,000. Not bad, at all.

Charging cable (for iOS)

Boat Apple-certified Charging cable

The Apple-certified lightening cables, too, are tangle-free and are comparable to the one that Apple ships with its products in terms of charging speed. The tips have aluminium finish and should not rust for a long time. The company is calling them “indestructible". Just in case something happens to them, the cables come with a two-year warranty. At Rs 799 (Amazon), it’s cheaper than the original cable and its good-quality alternatives, like the one sold by Belkin.

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