Review: New Balance wireless earphones offer good value for money

The New Balance PaceIQ wireless earphones can connect to any Bluetooth mobile device to stream music wirelessly, but it works best with the RunIQ running watch.
The New Balance PaceIQ wireless earphones can connect to any Bluetooth mobile device to stream music wirelessly, but it works best with the RunIQ running watch. PHOTO: NEW BALANCE

The New Balance PaceIQ is a pair of neckband-style Bluetooth wireless earphones that is designed in tandem with the RunIQ smart wearable.

Its earbuds - which come with ear hooks - are connected by a cable, with an in-line cable remote near to the right earbud.

The cable remote has three buttons, denoted by the symbols "+", "o" and "-", that allow you to control volume and music playback. The middle "o" is the multi-function button that lets you take calls, power up or shut down the earphones.

Built by Jabra, the PaceIQ can connect to any Bluetooth mobile device to stream music wirelessly. But it works best with the RunIQ running watch.

On the left earbud is a Sports button that can only be used when the earphones are paired with the RunIQ wearable.

Pairing is a bit tedious. You have to first make sure the PaceIQ is switched off, by pressing and holding the multi-function button on the in-line cable remote control for 3sec. Next, you have to press and hold the multi-function button for 5sec until the indicator light on the left earbud flashes blue.

After that, you have to go into the settings of the watch and wait for your earphones to be discovered, in order to select them.

During runs with the RunIQ, tap the Sports button to listen to voice readouts about your pace, distance and heart rate. You need to really press this button hard in order to activate it. A touch-sensitive button might have been better.

The default ear-tips fit my ears really well. There are also three pairs of ear-tips of different sizes in the box, so you can find one that fits.

The earphones feel really comfortable, and do not "eat" into your skin like some in the market. When I was doing push ups or some circuit training, the earphones were still snugly lodged into my ears.

The streaming of music from the RunIQ is generally smooth. However, there were some jerks and lag at times during runs.

Audio quality is decent, especially with the mids and highs. But the bass is a bit lacking.

I managed to pair the PaceIQ with an Apple iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge with no issues. The PaceIQ works just like any Bluetooth headset on these smartphones.

Battery life is around 5hr on a full charge, which is around the same duration as the RunIQ when it is on GPS tracking mode. Guess they are really built for each other.

The best part of PaceIQ is perhaps its affordable $168 price tag, which is cheaper than many similar sports wireless earphones in the market.

•Verdict: The New Balance PaceIQ represents good value for money for a pair of sports wireless earphones.

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $168

CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

WEIGHT: 22g

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RATING

FEATURES: 3/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 3/5

BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 3/5