Creative Outlier Sports review: headphones for the active life
Tech Tools: Lightweight Bluetooth headphones deliver good battery life
Creative Outlier Sports: sweatproof and lightweight, with a decent battery life.
Product name: Creative Outlier Sports
Where to buy: creative.com
Like it or not, it’s probably a good time to start considering Bluetooth headphones. Why? Apple may not have been the first to ditch the headphone jack – a couple of other manufacturers, including Motorola, got their first – but the iPhone 7 certainly brought it more into the public eye. And now that it’s gone, it’s unlikely Apple will bring it back, and it’s possible that other manufacturers will follow suit eventually.
So with that in mind, it’s probably a good time to start looking at all your options.
Personally, I lean more towards the over-ear variety for several reasons: they block out noise, even if they aren’t noise-cancelling; they’re more comfortable – few earbud-style headphones suit the shape of my ears, which are small; and I prefer their sound quality. That’s not to say in-ear headphones are inferior in terms of quality; it’s just a personal preference.
But there are times when the more discreet in-ear type are preferable. The most obvious situation is sports. Have you ever tried running with anything but earbuds or bands designed specifically for sport? That’s when you have to put the large over-ear, studio-style cans to one side.
Do you remember Creative Labs? Before the iPod took over the digital music player market, Creative had some decent products of their own, mainly under the Nomad and Zen names. The company is still around, and it is working on some decent headphone to add to your lineup.
The Creative Outlier Sports earphones tick a lot of the right boxes for sports fans. Lightweight? They come in at 15g. They give a decent fit and seal, so you can block out most of the surrounding noise, but not all. They have a single cable linking both together, so the chances of one flying out and getting lost while you run are drastically reduced.
Most importantly, they’re sweatproof. Horrible as it sounds, if you’re doing sports it’s only logical that you would – or at least should – sweat. The last thing you need is your earphones malfunctioning because you sweat a little more than you realise.
Battery life is the obvious Achilles’s heel for Bluetooth headphones. It’s not an issue with regular headphones, because unless you are hammering the noise-cancelling tech, you don’t need power at all. When it comes to choosing wireless headphones, you don’t want something that lasts only a few hours before needing to be recharged, or else it will become yet another product tossed in a drawer, gathering dust. The Outlier Sports headphones have a claimed battery life of 11 hours from a full charge, and in tests they did surprisingly well.
Of course, none of this matters if the headphones fall down on the sound side of things. Why pay all this money for some headphones that do everything except what you really need?
While I wouldn’t ditch my over-ear headphones for the Outliers based on sound quality alone – the over-ears still edge it for me – the sound quality isn’t bad. It uses the AptX codec for Bluetooth audio, which if you cast your mind back a few years was being hailed as the future of Bluetooth audio. Another point in its favour: AptX was created by a Belfast-based company, before it was snapped up by global brand CSR. For the price you pay for these earbuds, they do a decent job on the audio front.
The Creative Outlier Sports headphones are sweatproof and lightweight, which makes them pretty much fit for the purpose intended. A decent battery life bumps these headphones up a bit too: at 11 hours, you’ll last a fair few runs, a couple of marathons, or even a Dublin-to-California flight.
The not so good:
They were a little awkward to fit at first, but a bit of experimenting meant that even I got a decent fit with the outlier.
The Outlier Sports come with a case for storage – nice, but not essential – and charge over micro-USB. They don’t take too long to charge either. You can also use them as a hands-free kit for calls – a must really for any headphones on the market now.
A decent set of sports headphones for the money you are paying