With all areas of the tech world there is a tendency to focus quite a lot on what is going on at the top of the market and ignore some of the innovations and new products that are appearing elsewhere, and whilst that may be valid a lot of the time with this particular product that is very unfair as the Radiopaq Dots have a lot to talk about.
Made by a relatively unheard of UK company, the Radiopaq Dots Earphones aim to fill the criteria of being small, fun, good quality, cheap and sturdy, five things that actually very rarely go together and which we will look at one at a time to see how well they fare.
This is probably the area in which the dots excel the most as they hold the honour of being 50% smaller than most standard earphones and boast “the world’s smallest sound driver” which means they can deliver the great sounds quality that we will come onto later.
Aside from being more discrete (at least when in black) the fact that they are small means they also offer a lot more comfortable fit (although you may find that, like me, it takes you a while to decide which of the three sizes of bud to use) and continue to stay in the ear even when moving about, and you also get a ‘snugger’ fit which cuts out more of the background noise and thus increases the sound quality.
Admittedly I am a little sceptical as to how ‘fun’ a pair of earphones can actually be, but if it was possible for them to be fun the dots would fit the bill nicely. The come in a range of vibrant (critics would say garish) colours — green, red, blue, purple, pink, black and white — and whilst I found myself become quite attached to the bright green examples you may prefer to go for the slightly more boring black or white options as they do tend to be more suited to a wider range of occasions, but as iPod or iPhone earphones, they certainly look the part.
The marketing also celebrates their contemporary metal finish, and whilst I would say that is perhaps a bit of an overstatement they do look almost cute, and are very difficult to get dirty which is a massive plus! Another nice little feature is that the cables have a soft rubber silicone finish which makes the wires a little (although not completely as Radiopaq claim) tangle-resistant which makes making sense of the inevitable mess from your pocket that little bit easier.
Earphones that are good quality are rarely cheap with the reverse being true as well and I am happy to say that the dots are an exception to that rule of thumb. Whether it is purely down to the small size I do not know, but what I can say is that you will be very impressed with the quality — there is not even a hint of ‘tinny-ness’ and it manages the whole range very well.
Of course these aren’t world beaters and we’re not talking noise-cancelling headphones here, but based purely on sound quality my best guess would have at least doubled the actual price as they manage to create solid bass without the rumble without losing the higher end treble. Another advantage is that with the small fit blocking out a lot of the background noise you don’t need to have the volume on very high at all which does a good job of protecting your ears.
Priced at just £15 the Dots are a bit of a cheap bargain, and provided that you don’t have to keep going back for more they are a very good investment. Of course you may want to spend more to get that extra bit of sound quality, or a little less (although you will struggle to find many half decent examples for less) in case you lose/break them but for the vast majority of people this price is just right.
If I was to have one reservations with the Dots this would be it, and whilst it wouldn’t stop me from going out and buying them it does set them back a little bit from true excellence. The problem is that as both the actual earphone parts and the wires (and in fact the actual 3.5mm jack) are all so small they feel incredibly flimsy.
I have a feeling (and I dare not test) that it would take little more than a sharp tug to pull the wire out, and again due to its size you will find it incredibly difficult to fix and you will end up having to buy another set.
However so long as you are careful with them the Radiopaq Dots Earphones are a great buy, and a good example of what a little bit of thinking can do to a relatively mundane product such as earphones. I would highly recommend these to anyone that is looking for earphones and is sensible enough not to break them as I‘m sure you will not be disappointed!