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Say OK Google to the new Pixel Buds

Google hasn’t recently introduced any Pixel phones to India, but they recently released a set of headphones, the Pixel Buds A-Series. It’s an offer that goes particularly well with Google’s Pixel phones and services like the Assistant. In many ways though, the buds are pretty ordinary. While they offer reasonable sound, there doesn’t seem to be any real out-of-the-ordinary functionality.

The design looks a lot like the previous edition, a small plastic case that is more like an egg-shaped but easy to carry and quite light. The buds themselves are also extremely light and compared to many others they are among the lightest. The biggest advantage of this, of course, is that they can be worn for long hours with little to no fatigue.

A good fit

As usual with many headphones, the A series comes with three sizes of ear tips. Since the headphones are actually in your ear canal, getting a good fit is important. While the material used on these heads is mostly plastic, they don’t look cheap. They are two-tone with gray and white and you also have an option for green. But no other colors.

The heads have a small wing tip which is comfortable for some and not so much for others. Google even suggests trying different sized ear tips for each ear until you find a good seal and comfort. There is no active noise cancellation, just passive isolation. The design is such that you can hear the ambient sounds without much hassle while paying attention to what is playing on the heads.

In terms of sound, the heads seem rather flat with little dynamic range. On a Pixel phone, you can use the equalizer settings which make a substantial difference. I used the Bass Boost and immediately heard the change. There is also a setting for adaptive sound which is quite interesting: depending on the ambient sound, it actually increases or decreases the volume. It is a response to a sustained noise rather than a detonation or a punctual noise. The headphones are ideal for listening to occasional music, podcasts, and calls.

Manage everything

For Android phones, you can download the Pixel Buds app, which lets you manage all of the options, including touch controls, EQ and adaptive sound options, as well as firmware updates. The app also allows you to see the battery status of each bud separately as well as that of the case. These settings are built into the settings of a Pixel device, so no separate app is needed. Unfortunately, there is no app for iOS devices on which these headphones work like any other Bluetooth headset.

The bud killer feature uses your voice for Google Assistant. It works really well. You can call up the assistant with “Hey Google” or “Ok Google” and it wakes up instantly. You can also touch and hold any of the buttons and it will read your notifications and wait for additional commands.

Overall, the headphones are a reasonable pair of headphones, great for calls, occasional listening, and podcasts, comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and most importantly, built into the assistant. But there is no end of competition and at 9999 they are still a bit expensive.

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