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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

A Thing We Like: BlueAnt Ribbon

BlueAnt Ribbon

I have a odd assortment of headphones. If you’d asked me a few years back how many pairs I would need, I find it hard to imagine I would have said more than two: maybe one nice set for my Mac, and another to carry around for my daily use. And yet, somehow I’ve found myself with four sets that I use regularly for different purposes—most of them now wireless.

The most peculiar of those, however, is both wired and wireless. The BlueAnt Ribbon is a cheap Bluetooth adapter that features a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and turns any pair of wired headphones into Bluetooth headphones. You just pair the adapter with your device, plug in your wired headphones, and voilà: instant Bluetooth headphones.

When I first bought the Ribbon, I tried it with my daily wear Koss PortaPros (the wired version, naturally), but I found it more trouble than using the Lightning-to-minijack adapter that Apple has included with the iPhone 7 and on. There was a still a cord, after all, and in either case I was dealing with another dongle to potentially lose; at least Apple’s adapter didn’t have to be charged.

In the last couple years, however, I’ve found my ideal use case for the Ribbon, and the simple pair of earbuds that it comes with. At times I wake up in the middle of the night, so I like to put on some music or, yes, lull myself back to sleep by listening to the Star Wars radio dramas for the umpteenth time. Once upon a time, I used to just use the iPhone’s built-in speakers, but when you’re sharing a bed with a partner, that’s less than considerate. Wired headphones are potentially cumbersome and include the risk of yanking the iPhone off my bedside table if I toss or turn.

But now I can keep the adapter with me and leave the iPhone on my nightstand, no risk involved. There are play/pause and volume controls on the Ribbon, which are often preferable to using the phone’s, since I might have to fumble for buttons or turn the screen on.

I also generally pack the Ribbon when I travel: it’s a compact set up of backup headphones, and also lets me use my white noise app when trying to fall asleep in a strange location. It was also handy on a recent trip when my partner and I were trying to both listen to audio from my headphone-jack-less iPhone.

There are some minor annoyances with the Ribbon: its battery life is pretty good, but of course you still have to charge it from time to time; the included earbuds have a very short cord, which is usually fine, but can occasionally lead to accidentally yanking the headphones out of my ears; and, like most Bluetooth headphones, it can only pair with a single device at a time. But all of these are pretty minor complaints. The Ribbon’s versatility and its low price (just $20) makes it a handy tool for any techie’s arsenal.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. His latest novel, The Nova Incident, comes out in July and is available to pre-order now, so do it!]

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