49101 is a fairly new company compared to others, and has only released a few products to date, however, the Taiwan-based company who specializes in headphone products has now announced a new personal audio solution at CES 2019 that’s pretty much unlike any other set of headphones currently available.
The company’s new Changer headphones are being promoted as a ‘Swiss Army knife’ solution due to the ability of the headphones to easily and quickly transform into a charging cable - providing users with the option to not only charge the headphones when needed, but also an actual smartphone, or any other device for that matter.
In addition to announcing the new headphones, the company has confirmed Changer will be its first product to launch internationally and will become available in the US starting from February, 2019. The new Changer headphones are set to arrive in the US with a $150 price tag attached.
No need to carry a charging cable with you
What makes these headphones so different to others is the design of the neckband, as this is in effect a USB charging cable as well. When needed, the user can unplug the cable from the headphones and use it to connect the headphones (via one of the ear buds) to a charge source and refill the depleted battery. Likewise, the cable is also said to be able to connect one smartphone to another so the user can pull a battery charge from one phone and transfer it to the other.
Its benefits are not just resigned to battery power either, as the cable can equally be used for data transfer when needed. Of course, when not in use, the cable sits in place and acts as a typical neckband providing additional support and comfort when worn.
Irrespective of the ability to charge while on the go, the headphones naturally come with a battery that's related to offer up to twelve hours of usage on a single charge. Recharging support is rated at up to 2A so users can make use of fast charging and gain a full recharge in around one hour. Just like the cable, the battery is also said to be replaceable so owners do technically have the option to buy additional batteries and change them at will.
Although it remains to be seen as to why you would need to buy and use additional batteries considering the fast charging and built-in cable support - the option is there for those who want it.
More than just a gimmick?
Besides the more novelty element of transforming into a charge cable, the company is also marketing these as a solid pair of headphones that offer “award-winning sound” thanks in part due to the inclusion of 13mm drivers that support a frequency response range of 20HZ - 40KHz. In addition, these headphones also come loaded with Bluetooth 5.0 and will therefore are expected to cater to greater and more reliable audio streaming support.
This is all in addition to an IPX5-rating for added protection against water encounters, and a build quality that's designed to be equally as premium with the headphones featuring among other things, an aluminum and silicone construction, the option to choose from a variety of different color options.
There’s no doubt this is a new take on Bluetooth headphones design, although it remains to be seen whether the unique selling point will translate to sales in international markets, such as the US. While the premise is strong and the idea of carrying around a cable within the headphones makes sense, the company is pricing these headphones at the top end of the spectrum and at this price point they might prove to be a little more difficult to sell.
These headphones do solve the issue of ensuring you can always stay powered when away from a wall socket, and even power other devices as and when needed, but at this price point additional features are likely to take a back seat to the actual build and sound quality. The company is positioning these as a premium product in this sense, but compared to other premium products that are priced at the same level, and from brands consumers are more familiar with, it will take more than just a clever design to get users to give these a try over existing and proven options.
49101 has yet to confirm whether these headphones feature some of the more basic, but now-essential features associated with wireless headphones, such as voice assistant and hands-free support.