Ever since Apple released their AirPods, truly wireless earphones have been an object of desire for many. The price is what has been bursting the bubble in a majority of the cases. In recent times, the market has seen the arrival of many affordable true wireless earphones but mostly from lesser known Chinese brands. And then, a reasonably priced pair from a fairly known Japanese brand arrived at our office. Though other product lines of Toshiba are more popular, let's see how it fares in the personal audio space courtesy of the RZE-BT800E wireless earbuds.
Toshiba RZE-BT800E Build and Design: 7/10
The earbuds sport a very simple design, and though nowhere as compact as Apple AirPods, they are reasonably small and don't stick out of the ear too much. They are made of plastic and have a glossy finish but the construction is sturdy and can handle a few falls. The use of plastic is understood here as the weight needs to be kept to a minimum. Speaking of which, each bud weighs 5.2 grams and has a 50 mAh battery inside. The company has also bundled a charging pod that can hold 450 mAh charge. More on that later. Each pod has just one button that can perform multiple tasks.
The Toshiba RZE-BT800E earbuds sport a very simple design. Image: tech2/ Ameya Dalvi
The company has also bundled three pairs of ear tips of different sizes. Use one that fits your ear perfectly " one that doesn't feel uncomfortable and is large enough to provide reasonable isolation from outside noise. The medium sized tip was pre-fitted and worked best for me. I received the black variant of the RZE-BT800E for review but strangely the extra ear tips in the package were white. Hopefully, that won't be the case with the retail package.
Each bud weighs 5.2 grams and has a 50 mAh battery inside. Image: tech2/ Ameya Dalvi
As for the comfort, if you haven't used wireless earbuds before, they may seem a tad heavier than your regular wired in-earphones (and they are) but you will quickly get used to the extra weight. I used them for over an hour at a stretch and I didn't feel much of ear fatigue. While the ear canals were fine, there was a bit of discomfort around the earlobes and I had to adjust them a bit every 20 mins. So reasonably comfortable but could have done better had they been a little smaller perhaps. Once you pop them in your ears, they fit snugly and don't accidentally pop out. I even tried a quick jog one evening in this horrid weather and they didn't pop out even once.
The jog also served another purpose " to check whether they were actually sweat-proof, and I am happy to report that they are. The company claims that the RZE-BT800E are sweat and water resistant but there is no IP rating for more assurance. So I would recommend taking them to the gym or for a jog but not to a rain dance.
Toshiba RZE-BT800E Performance: 6/10
Each of the buds has a soft touch button that can be used to switch them on or off (long press), play/pause a track or answer/end a call (single click) and lastly, dial the last number (double click). Unfortunately, there are no controls to go to the previous or next track or even control the volume. So you have to go back to the phone to manage that. One weird issue here is that you can power off the earbuds by long pressing the button on either of the buds to switch them both off, but you have to switch on each of the buds individually. To make matters worse, if you switch on only the right bud, it doesn't pair with the phone till you switch on the left one. However, if you switch on the left bud first, it pairs with your phone perfectly fine irrespective of whether you turn on the right one or not. Speaking of Bluetooth pairing, it was a breeze. No issues there.
Toshiba claims that the RZE-BT800E are sweat and water resistant but there is no stated IP rating. Image: Toshiba
Moving on to the music playback, I would rate it at average at best. These earphones are low on bass, and while the bass feels just about adequate while you are indoor with the volume up to 50 percent, its deficiency is greatly felt as you step outdoors and increase the volume beyond 50 to 60 percent.
Well, these earphones are predominantly meant for outdoor use, so it would have been better had the sound engineers erred on the higher side of bass than lower. The vocals are pretty clear, but the lower mids are muffled and the sound stage feels narrow. The highs are quite sharp but often overshadow upper mid-range frequencies thus making the sound a bit too bright for my taste. I prefer it a bit warm with a reasonable amount of bass. So if you listen to music driven by bass or like a thump in the beats, you won't find the experience enjoyable on this pair.
Toshiba RZE-BT800E Call quality: 8.5/10
The call quality was a completely different kettle of fish. The call quality was excellent and the person on the other end could hear me loud and clear too. I believe these earbuds were tuned specially for that. Another interesting part being, the earbuds read out the phone number of the incoming call but don't attempt to read out the name even if it's stored in your contacts. It is only useful if you remember phone numbers.
Toshiba RZE-BT800E Battery life: 7/10
Toshiba claims that the RZE-BT800E should last you for about 4 hours on a full charge. They lasted for about 3 and a quarter during my testing which isn't spectacular but par for the course for this category. It takes about 90 minutes to charge them fully. A charging dock that looks like a jumbo capsule is provided in the bundle which has a 450 mAh battery of its own. That should let you charge these earbuds four times in theory but about thrice in reality before you have to go looking for a charging point. A micro USB cable is supposed to be bundled in the retail package but was missing in my review unit.
Toshiba RZE-BT800E Verdict and Price in India
The Toshiba RZE-BT800E can be purchased for Rs 5,999 with a one year warranty. They often go for a few hundred lower on Amazon India.
So should you buy them? Depends on your needs.
If you are looking for wireless earbuds for great music playback outdoors, then these are not meant for you. But if you are smitten by the truly wireless earbuds craze and looking for an affordable option from a known brand with very good call quality and average music playback, then this is not a bad option for you. However, if you can live with a band at the back of your neck, there are far too many better sounding wireless options from the usual suspects like Sony, JBL etc. and for a few thousand Rupees less that would serve you better.