The Flex Arc Wireless from little known brand Zagg takes some explaining, because it’s a lot more than a Bluetooth headset.
At the risk of making the marketing department of Zagg very angry, we’re going to use the C word. Yes, this is a collar, there’s no way around it. What you have here is a semi-circle, rubber-coated collar that sits around the back of your neck terminating in a pair of speakers.
But it isn’t meant to be a portable external speaker for your phone (the volume isn’t loud enough anyway), it’s intended to be a personal listening device more like in-ear headphones – which the Flex Arc Wireless boasts as well. Hidden at the ends of the collar are retractable ear pieces that you can pop into your ears when you want a more personal audio experience.
When you want to swap back to the speakers, a button on either side will retract them and the audio will automatically switch back.
We don’t usually like including what is basically an advert in a review, but this shows off what they do nicely:
Both the ear pieces and speakers are far from exceptional or special in anyway. They’re much better at low to mid volumes and there isn’t much bass. Overall the Flex’s audio range appears to be geared towards higher frequencies which yields a brighter audio profile overall, but is still comfortable to listen to for extended periods.
The real standout experience was listening to YouTube videos while lying in bed; the in-ear headphones are comfortable and the speakers were great for falling asleep to some relaxing music.
We also used them in the car, while exercising and simply sitting at our desks doing work, and it handled all situations perfectly well.
The biggest complaint we have with the audio is an extremely loud and downright obnoxious speaker pop when switching between the speakers and ear pieces.
The Flex Arc Wireless also makes no effort to dynamically change the volume depending on what output you’re using. The volume at which the speakers operate is too loud when it’s suddenly piped through the headphones. If you switch between the two often, this will become far past annoying.
Other parts of the headset are serviceable too. The mic is really no different from a mid-range phone and the only problem we encountered was some echo when switching between outputs.
The buttons are a weak point too. They feel far too cheap and unresponsive, which isn’t acceptable at the price.
Our method of testing the battery was using the speakers continuously at a very high volume. We got a solid five hours using this method. If you use it intermittently throughout the day for calls, music and anything else, you should be able to get through a standard 9 hour work day depending on your use.
When it runs dry completely, you’re looking at a recharge time of just under two hours if you’re charging it from a wall socket.
Zagg Flex Arc Wireless review: Conclusion
We may have called the Flex Arc Wireless a gimmick in the headline, but what it really is a niche product. The question of whether you should buy it or not depends solely on this: have you been looking for something to wear on your body that doesn’t stick in your ears? If your answer is yes you’ll most probably want to look into picking up a pair of these.
The other issue is its RRP: an eye-watering R1 500. This is a massive problem when you consider that Takealot routinely has regular Bluetooth headphones on special for around R400, and the market will probably be flooded with AirPods clones when Apple releases them.
At R1 500 you don’t just need to take a step back before buying these, you need to take several. If, however, after describing how this works earlier in the review, you had an epiphany and this headset from Zagg suddenly filled a gaping hole in your life, you may not mind the high price.