Cheatsheet: The Top Rated Portable Electronics Of 2011

Here is our list of the top rated portable electronics of 2011. The review sources we consulted were: CNET, PC Magazine, Trusted Reviews, Consumer Reports, Digital Photography Review and Amazon reviewers.

The Top Rated Portable Electronics Of 2011

Earbuds / Earphones

Headphones

MP3 Players and Video Players

Speakers

Digital Cameras and Video Cameras

Chargers and Batteries

Flashlights

E-Readers and Tablet Computers

Portable Computer Gear

Bike Gear

The Top Rated Earbuds Of 2012

Here are the top rated earphones of 2012:

 

MEElectronics M6 Earbuds

MEElectronics M6 Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (from 329+ reviewers)

 

These M6 Earbuds by MEElectronics are more durable and provide better sound that comparable earphones in their price range. CNET rated them 3.5 out of 4 stars saying “A great value for bass addicts”. These earphones incorporate a “memory wire” and an angled ear tip, making them good earphones wear while  engaged in sports.

You can get the MEElectronics M6 at Amazon for about $20.

 

LG Tone HBS-700 Wireless Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 264+ reviewers)

Despite selling for under $50, the LG Tone HBS-700 is the highest rated bluetooth headphone currently available. It received an 8 out of 10 rating from CNET, which makes it their Editor’s Choice for a bluetooth earphone. Reviewers CNET say it is  one of the most comfortable earphones they’ve tried, and that the audio reproduction was impressive. PC Magazine liked the long battery life on the headphone, but said that the bass reproduction was “thin”, but gave it an overall rating of “Good”.

The LG Tone HBS-700 is available from Amazon for about $45.

 

Klipsch Image S4 Earbuds

Klipsch image s4

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 1211+ reviewers)

The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone is the highest-rated earphones under $100. Reviewers like the audio clarity of the earphones, and its comfortable fit. Reviewers say these earphones provide audio quality equivalent to earphones that cost hundreds of dollars more. The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone received an Editors’ Choice award from PC Magazine, and an “Excellent” rating from CNET.

If you carry your earphones in your pocket a lot, or are generally rough with them, you might want to consider the more durable Shure SE215-K Earphones — these come with detachable cables (see details below).

The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone is available from Amazon for about $76.

 

Klipsch Image S4i Earbuds

Klipsch Image S4 1

Average Amazon Rating: 3.7 out of 5 (from 500+ reviewers)

If you will be using earphones with a iPhone or iPod, you should consider getting the Klipsch Image S4i, which provides the same comfortable fit and sound quality as the Image S4, but also incorporates an integrated mic and call answer button, as well as volume controls and remote playback for the iPod.

The Klipsch Image S4 sells for about $99 at Amazon.

 

Shure SE215-K Earphones

Shure SE215 K

Average Amazon Rating: 4.7 out of 5 (from 7+ reviewers)

The SE215-K Earphones by Shure produces some of the best audio you’ll hear from earbuds prince under $100. A solid design, which includes detachable cables, makes these earphones quite durable. Six pairs of tips – small, medium and large in foam and silicone – ensure a nice snug fit no matter what your ear canal’s shape or size. Head-Fi.org recommends the SE215s as their budget pick in Lifehacker’s recent headphone buying guide. The Head-Fi community, a discerning bunch of listeners, have rated these earphones five stars in a couple of interviews.

Buy the Shure SE215-K Earphones at Amazon for about $100.

 

Klipsch Image S5i Rugged Earbuds

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 50+ reviewers)

Klipsch has released a ruggedized headphone, the Image S5i. The earphones are weather resistant and feature extra large buttons which can be operated while wearing gloves. So far, they are getting good reviews on Amazon.

The Klipsch Image S5i Rugged Earbuds are available on Amazon for about $100.

 

Etymotic HF5 Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 52+ reviewers)

One of the best sports earphones available. Etymotic succeeds in creating a balanced realistic sound. Bass-enthusiasts may be disappointed with the thin reproduction of low-frequencies. CNET rates them “Very Good” and iLounge gave them a “A-” rating.

The Etymotic hf5 earphones are sold on Amazon — they are available in RedBlue, and Black. They sell for about $95.

If you looking for an Etymotic with iPod/iPhone/iPad controls included, consider the Etymotic ER23-HF3.

 

Monster iSport Immersion Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.3 out of 5 (from 131+ reviewers)

The iSport Immersion Headphone by Monster is designed to be used while engaged in activities like snowboarding, running and working out at the gym. They are durably built and completely sweatproof. In fact, they can even be put in the wash for cleaning.

Available at Amazon for about $150.

 

Klipsch Image x10i Earbuds

Klipsche earbuds x10i

Average Amazon Rating: 4.1 out of 5 (from 168+ reviewers)

 

The Klipsch Image X10 earbud headphones are tiny, but powerful. They feature contour ear gels that are intended to slip right into the ear canal comfortably. Five different sized ear tips come with these earbud headphones, and a 50-inch vinyl cable is included.

The Klipsch Image X10 are available at Amazon for $137.

The Top Rated Wireless Portable Headphones

LG Tone HBS-700 Wireless Earbud Headphone ($45)

Despite selling for under $50, the LG Tone HBS-700 is one of the top rated bluetooth headphones. It received an 8 out of 10 rating from CNET, which makes it their Editor’s Choice for a bluetooth headphone. CNET says it was one of the most comfortable headphones they’ve tried, and that the audio reproduction was impressive. Amazon buyers also liked this headphone — it received an average of 4.5 of out 5 stars, from a total of 264 reviewers. PC Magazine liked the long battery life on the headphone, but said that the bass reproduction was “thin”, and gave it an overall rating of “Good”.

The LG Tone HBS-700 is available from Amazon for about $45.

Nokia BH-905 Wireless Portable Headphones ($200)

Pros:

  • Features active noise cancellation
  • Lightweight and comfortable, folds flat
  • Balanced sound
  • Versatile for use with various devices

Cons:

  • Slightly bulky for portability

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars; Excellent
  • PCMag: 3.5 out of 5 stars; “Solid performer”
  • Amazon: Average 4 out of 5 stars, based on 66 customer reviews

Another versatile set of wireless headphones, the Nokia BH-905 can be used with or without the active noise canceling feature, with or without Bluetooth, and can be plugged in for wired sound. The design has been praised for comfort and would be good for travel, though the earpads are on the bulky side when compared to other portable headphones. However, the numerous navigation controls are easy to use. Eight microphones are discretely placed for active noise canceling and two microphones for phone calls.

The Nokia BH-905 are for sale on Amazon.

The Top Rated Gaming Headphones Of 2011

Gaming headphones are designed exclusively with the gaming enthusiast in mind with an integrated microphone and noise isolating features. Headphones for gaming allow for a more immersive experience to improve upon the game.

These top-rated headphone were selected based upon studying reviews on CNET, Crunchgear, PCWorld, and Digital Trends, as well as user reviews from Amazon and Newegg.

 

Sennheiser PC 350 Collapsible Gaming Headphones ($175)

Sennheiser PC 350

Sennheiser PC 350

Top Review Sources:

  • Digital Trends: 8.5 out of 10; “Comfortable, Excellent sound quality”
  • Trusted Reviews: 9 out of 10; “The very best headset for gaming”
  • Amazon: Average 4.3 out of 5 stars, based on 173 customer reviews

Sennheiser, a name synonymous with exceptional sound, offers up the PC 350 for the serious gamer. Sennheiser owners rave about the sound clarity during games and the headphones transfer well for movie and music listening, though the microphone inhibits versatility in that area. The microphone is one of the best tested with excellent noise cancelling. The use of a sound card is recommended to get the most value out of these pricier gaming headphones.

The Sennheiser PC 350 collapsible gaming headphones are available on Amazon.

Turtle Beach Ear Force X 41 ($140)

Turtle Beach Ear Force X 41

Turtle Beach Ear Force X 41

Pros:

  • Excellent 7.1 channel surround sound
  • Removable microphone
  • Wireless, includes a headphone jack to connect another headset
  • Xbox live chat with automatic chat boost

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 3.5 out of 5 stars, very good, “One of the best wireless gaming headsets around.”
  • Amazon: Average 4 out of 5 stars, based on 319 customer reviews

The Ear Force X41s from Turtle Beach can be connected to virtually any audio source using the included base station, though the live chat is only for Xbox users. Wireless technology has had its’ issues in the past, but these headphones use radio frequency to produce excellent surround sound. Powered by a USB port, these headphones come with all the required cables to get started.

The Turtle Beach Ear Force X41 gaming headphones are for sale on Amazon.

Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930 ($118)

Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930

Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset G930

Pros:

  • Wireless technology sounds as good as wired
  • Accurate 7.1 channel surround sound
  • Programmable G-keys for one touch commands
  • USB recharging base recharges during play

Cons:

  • Not MAC compatible
  • Microphone not removable

Top Review Sources:

  • Crunchgear: “A very nice headset with great sound and solid wireless technology.”
  • Newegg: 4 out of 5, based on 162 user reviews
  • Amazon: Average 4.1 out of 5 stars, based on 153 customer reviews

The Logitech G930 gaming headset uses improved wireless technology with a range of up to 40 feet. The microphone works well for noise cancelling and mutes when rotated out of the way, but is not removable. Sound is impeccable for gaming and movies, but doesn’t transfer well for music listening. The battery life and ability to recharge while in use beats other wireless gaming headsets.

The Logitech G930 wireless gaming headset is available on Amazon.

 

The Top Rated Portable Headphones Of 2012

Bowers and Wilkins P5

The Top Rated Portable Headphones Of 2011:

To create this list, I examined some of the most comprehensive headphone reviews available online. I also scouted Hi-Fi forums for recommendations, and I tested many portable headphones myself.

My top review sources for this article were: CNET, Consumer Reports, PC Magazine, Good Cans, Good Gear Guide, Amazon reviewers, Trusted Reviews, and Headphones.Com.

Portapro Headphone By Koss ($32)

Koss Portapro Headphone

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars, which they consider “Excellent” & received Editor’s Choice Of 2008
  • Amazon Reviewers: an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars from 832 reviewers

For the last 27 years, the Koss Portapro has been a top pick as an inexpensive portable headphone. Basically, the excellent sound quality and price of the Portapro are the keys to its staying power. Koss hasn’t change the inner and outer design of Portapro since it was introduced in 1984.

The Koss Portapro is available from Amazon. Many reviewers also recommend the $13 Koss KSC75 which has a “sport clip” design — something that many prefer to the heftier Portapro.

Sennheiser HD238 Headphone ($49)

Sennheiser HD238 Headphone

Pros:

  • Excellent sound
  • Comfortable
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • May leak too much sound for commuters

Top Review Sources:

  • Headphone.Com: “Astonishingly Good”
  • Amazon Reviews: An average of 4 out of 5 stars from 56 reviews

Sennheiser HD238 is a great all-round portable headphone for under $50. It’s robustly built, and features earpieces that fold down for compact storage. As you can expect from Sennheiser, the sound quality is above-average for a portable headphone at this price level.

If you’d like a closed-style headphone by Sennheiser that doesn’t leak sound, try the very similar HD218.

The Sennheiser HD238 is available at Amazon.

Ultrasone HFI-580 Headphone ($189)

HFI 580 Headphones by Ultrasone

Pros:

  • Closed headphones (they leak no sound)
  • Very good bass reproduction
  • Solid construction

Cons:

  • Bass might be overpowering for some listeners
  • Mid-range sound could be clearer

Top Review Sources:

  • PC Magazine: 4 out of 5 stars
  • What Hi Fi? Magazine: 4 out of 5 stars
  • CNET: 3.5 out of 5 stars, which is considered “Very Good”
  • Amazon Reviewers: an average of 4 out of 5 stars from 11 reviewers

If you are looking for a pair of portable headphones that won’t disturb your fellow travelers, you might consider the Ultrasone HFI-580. Unlike many close-style headphones, the HFI-580 performs very well connected to portable players like the iPod. The headphones have Ultrasone’s patented S-Logic technology, which attempts to make the sound seem like it’s coming from much further away. It makes for an incredibly open and clear sonic presentation.

The Ultrasone HFI-580 is available at Amazon.

 

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Headphone ($299)

Bowers and Wilkins P5 Headphone

Top Review Sources:

  • Consumer Reports: 80 out of 100 (Highest In Portable Category)
  • CNET: 4 out of 5 stars, which they consider “Excellent”
  • Amazon Reviewers: an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars from 42 reviewers
  • Trusted Review: 9 out of 10 stars (their 2010 “Best Headphone Gear” Runner Up)

Bowers & Wilkins is a legendary name in British Hi-Fi. Recently, they have been trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience. Their P5 Headphone is made for iPod or MP3 player listening, and provide above-average sound reproduction. These headphones block out a lot of external noise, but they contain no active noise-cancellation circuitry. The P5s feature a detachable cord with an integrated volume control that will work with some iPods and iPhones.

Many reviewers note that these headphones are extremely comfortable. They have sheep leather ear pads, which are soft, but they may become sticky in hot weather.

The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Headphone is available at Amazon.