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There is no doubt that Apple’s AirPods have an iconic look. In fact, when Apple designed the AirPods, it very obviously capitalized on the recognizable look of its classic white earbuds, which have been around in various forms for almost 20 years, and used to feature prominently in iPod marketing campaigns. When you see somebody wearing AirPods, you have no doubt in your mind that they’re wearing an Apple product.
On the other side, however, most AirPod competitors have been considerably less imaginative, producing basic black rubber-and-plastic designs that occasionally offer some gold or silver accents, but for the most part are usually pretty indistinguishable from each other. In other words, you’ve got AirPods, and you’ve got everything else.
Well, now it seems that at least one boutique manufacturer is determined to do something a little bit different with its true wireless earbuds. House of Marley, which has long had a reputation for building sustainable and eco-friendly speakers and headphones, has released its first set of truly wireless earbuds, the Liberate Air, which naturally feature the brand’s classic design ethos, making the new earbuds not only unique, but also environmentally responsible.
From a technology perspective, the earbuds themselves offer the same list of features as most of the other options on the market, although the specs are still fairly impressive; you get nine hours of battery life on board, plus a charging case that provides an additional 32 hours of playback time. There’s also the usual collection of touch controls for play, pause, track navigation, and call handling, and a tap-for-Siri option too. They support Bluetooth 5.0 and are IPX4 rated, meaning they’re sweat-proof and can handle a light rain.
However, what really sets Liberate Air apart from the pack is the fact that House of Marley has built these things out of a pretty fascinating list of eco-friendly materials, including bamboo, natural wood fibre composite made from sawdust, and recycled aluminum. Even the fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles.
The truly wireless market has become a prominent one and we wanted to ensure we provided a sustainably crafted alternative using consciously sourced and recycled materials.Josh Poulsen, Director of Product Development, House of Marley
Mind you, this is House of Marley’s mission, so it’s not at all surprising, but it’s still pretty cool to see it applied to the world of true wireless earbuds, and it’s been done in a way that adds a certain panache to the design; even the wireless charging case has an interior bamboo surface.
It’s not just the sustainable materials either; House of Marley will direct a cut of the sales of the new earbuds to the non-profit organization One Tree Planted, which supports global reforestation projects.
Of course, they’re not AirPods — you’re not going to get Apple’s amazing H1 chip nor features like “Hey Siri” support — but if you’re beginning to find Apple’s AirPods design to be a bit passé, this is certainly one of the coolest and most unique options we’ve seen. However, keep in mind that several rumours point to Apple also having a big AirPods redesign up its sleeve that could appear as soon as this fall.