REVIEW: TRNDlabs’ NOVA Wireless Earbuds Please Both The Ears & Wallet
TRNDlabs’ tiny wireless earbuds are set to be a budget lover’s dream, crafted with “premium materials” and claimed to deliver “great sound” at just over A$100.
The concept of truly wireless headphones is not a new one, and has largely been made popular by various sports-orientated offerings (e.g. Jabra and Jaybird) and Apple’s renowned AirPods. TRNDlabs’ has brought the technology to more of the consumer market, with the introduction of its affordable NOVA earbuds.
Whilst I appreciate their efforts, initially I was very skeptical. The NOVA earbuds are very, very small and I am a petite woman with small ears. Other larger earbuds have often fallen out of my ears – What hope do these have?
Spoiler alert – Nothing to fear.
The NOVA earbuds come in a brown cardboard box, not overly pretty or aesthetically designed – honestly, this was much to my delight. When buying ‘budget’ products, I like to think that the majority of expenditure has been directed to product development, rather than external packaging. TRNDlabs has reinforced this mantra.
What blew me away was the sleek and ergonomically designed charging case the earbuds come in. I love, love, love how easy it is to store in my handbag, and not worry about the earbuds being lost, courtesy of a magnetic attachment.
What I also love is that the design of the charging case does not feel as though this is a ‘budget’ product. It looks as though it is worth much more than it costs.
The ‘case’ is essentially a rotating disc, which when turned reveals a magnetic dock for the earbuds to charge within. Charging utilises a micro USB port.
The portable charging case includes a USB port which can double as a power bank for an individual’s smartphone. This is certainly a leg up over other similar rivals in the marketplace.
The black case feels sturdy to the touch, and the rotating slider allows the earbuds to be safely enclosed when not in use. As the case features a sliding cover, instead of a pressable latch, I did not have to worry that the case could ‘pop’ open amongst the contents of my handbag. I was again very pleased with the clever and interesting design, which I believe is a perfect marriage between form and functionality.
Prior to first use, consumers are required to fully charge the buds and case. This is a slight annoyance, but once again, the NOVA earbuds are budget-friendly, so its good to note the company has devoted most of its expenditure to product development, and kept the product’s cost down by minimising added luxuries.
The charging case features four flashing LED lights which reflects battery life. Once all four lights display, the earbuds are fully charged, and consumers can start using them.
The buds are held within the portable case via magnetic force. The NOVA earbuds come with a variety of tip sizes allowing individuals to customise a perfect fit for their ears. Silicone tips and memory foam tips are both included, which I was pleasantly surprised to find. For someone who has very small ears, the wide variety of sizes and materials allowed to me to find a very close to perfect fit.
I praise NOVA for including the memory foam option. I found I had to use one memory foam tip and one silicone tip to achieve my preferred fit.
Compared to Jaybird and Jabra’s wireless earbuds, NOVA is much smaller in size does not rest inside the couch of the ear. Instead, the buds truly are that – buds. They resemble a small bullet shape.
I was concerned that their small size would mean they would be easier to lose. However, there’s enough variety of tip sizes and materials to customise a strong fit, even for someone with small ears as myself.
As a sidenote, given the small size of the earbuds, locating the ‘L’ and ‘R’ sign imprinted on either earbud can be difficult, and would not be suitable for consumers with eyesight difficulties.
Features & Connectivity
Before connecting to a user’s phone, both headphones need to be switched on in each ear, and connected with each other first. Compared to Jaybird’s RUN earbuds – which offers virtually instant connectivity – it is an added step. However, it’s a minor effort that some consumers may not be bothered by, considering NOVA’s affordable price point.
Once connected though, there’s no other fuss.
TRNDlabs NOVA earbuds remained connected throughout my frequent travels over the past few weeks – be it on the train, bus, within my bag or in my pocket. Indoors, or outdoors. Only on two occasions did I experience a brief connection drop out.
Each earbud features a small multi function button. Unfortunately, the pressable button can’t be used to navigate a user’s playlist or adjust volume. It does mean users will have to reach for their mobile phone, in lieu of hands-free music control.
However, once again consumers will have to determine whether that added effort justifies the reduced price point. For those who don’t mind, it’s a bearable compromise.
Connectivity & Audio Sound
In my experience, this is where the NOVA earbuds don’t perform as well as other similarly styled earbuds.
Sound is certainly not poor or of bad quality, it simply just isn’t as full or rich as I experienced with earbuds from the likes of Jaybird or Jabra. However, those products cost A$249 and A$349 respectively.
The NOVA earbuds don’t deliver the best sound balance, but do offer good tonality. Bass is slightly reduced. I found, however, that there is definitely a distinction between playback of percussion and vocal sounds.
Overall – the NOVA earbuds deliver comfortable sound quality, definitely not unbearable. If you’re used to a strong premium sound from bulkier wired headphones, you may immediately notice the difference here. However, it’s important to note TRNDlabs’ intends for the NOVA earbuds to be more mobile, and suitable for active use, therefore fulfilling a different purpose from bulky high-end headphones.
For the budget conscious consumer, NOVA earbuds are definitely a notable contender in its market space.
If you’re looking for excellent and mind blowing sound, this is more a case of you get what you pay for.
TRNDlabs has done a fine job bringing true wireless earphone technology to an affordable price point, however, rich sound specifics are probably placed out of the product’s price range.
Where I think the NOVA earbuds does lack, is in making and taking phone calls. For music listening purposes the buds perform satisfactory, however, when used to make phone calls, various people on the other end of the line mentioned that they have a hard time hearing me, compared times I’d used earbuds from Jabra or Jaybird. Fear not, you can still hold a conversation, but this product is probably best for ad hoc calls, as opposed to business/commercial purposes such as partaking in conference calls etc.
TRNDlabs states consumers can receive three hours of usage from a single charge. The company claims consumers can receive up to 60 hours of playtime with the accompanying charging case.
I found the company’s claims of three hours usage to be substantiated.
Fully charging the case took just under three hours, which is somewhat of an inconvenience, in the fact you have to charge the case and earbuds fully before you can use them for the first time.
Overall, the ear buds perform just as they’ve been marketed – which is primarily to play music without requiring wires, and maintaining a steady connection via a highly compact and mobile headphone offering.
For consumers who want a simple product, with little sports or audio customisation features, the product is definitely good value.
Priced at A$101.48 [including shipping to Australia] you’re receiving a very competitive offering compared to higher priced offerings.
TRNDlabs NOVA Wireless Earbuds Product Specifications:
Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 4.1
Operating distance: up to 33 feet (10 metres)
Impedance: 16 ohms
Earphone Sensitivity: 94 dB/mW
Frequency: 20Hz ñ 20KHz
Sound system: Stereo
Music Playtime: Up to 3 hours music
Talk time: Up to 3.5 hours
Maximum playtime with power case: Additional 60 hours music/talk time
Input Voltage: 5V/1A
Output Voltage: 5V/1.5A
Battery Capacity: 2,800mAh
Charging time: 1 hour (Earbud) 3 hours (Case)
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 25 mm (Earbud) 89 x 89 x 60 mm (Case)
Weight: 4 grams (Earbud) 101 grams (Case)