I don’t know about you, but I’ve been bombarded by ads and social media posts about the PaMu Slide wireless earphones crowdfunding campaign over the past month. It’s raised 260x its funding target, and has a bunch of NBA players endorsing it – so it must be great, right?
Those are the sort of things that make me even more wary about a crowdfunded gadget. But I’m happy to report that the Slide is actually a pretty solid effort, and has a few neat features that make it worth considering over other popular options.
These earbuds come from a company called Padmate, which has been around since 2010 and has previously launched other audio gear. Here’s what you get for backing the campaign.
Design and features
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s get one major gripe out of the way. The Slide’s carrying and charging case looks like a little wireless speaker, with its squat form factor and a metallic grille on the top. It looks nice enough, but the trouble is that you’ll have to explain that it’s not a speaker every time someone sees it on your desk or in your hand. It may not sound like a big deal, but after having gone through this countless times at my co-working space, I really wish this was designed differently.
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The rounded case is well crafted, and as the product’s name suggests, has a lid that slides up to reveal the earbuds in their magnetic storage area. It’s easy enough to whip the buds out or stow them away, and the lid and magnets work well. It’s not as pocketable as some tube-shaped cases I’ve seen, though – so you’ll mostly have to stash this in your handbag or backpack.
The case also houses a 2,000mAh battery to juice up the buds about six times over, or to wirelessly recharge your Qi-compatible phone by flipping it upside down and placing your handset on top. Sadly, it doesn’t support USB-C Power Delivery, so you can’t connect a phone to the charging port to charge it up.
You can charge the case fully in three hours over USB-C, and the buds charge up in 1.5 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can chuck them in the case for five minutes and then use them for an hour – great for commuting or a workout.
The buds themselves are compact, light and fit comfortably in the ear, and Padmate gets points for including six different sizes of tips. You can control music playback by tapping on either bud, which is nice – but there’s not much surface area to accommodate your fingers while gripping or tapping on them. That means you’ll likely pause playback or end a call by accident when you try to adjust the bud in your ear. It’s not a deal-breaker, but I’d have preferred a button with tactile response or a different design.
The Slide earbuds have a lot going for them: they pair quickly and maintain a good connection over a long distance thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, support the AptX codec for supposedly better wireless audio quality than traditional SBC, and sound good with a variety of genres.
I ran through my test playlist that spans downtempo, R&B, hip-hop, metal, pop, and classical compositions from the likes of John Mayer, Audioslave, Wild Beats, Inc., Bruno Mars, Quicksand, Earth, Wind & Fire, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. These buds made for easy and enjoyable listening across the lot, with balanced output, a good amount of detail, and minimal distortion at high volumes.
That said, they’re not particularly exciting to listen to. That would require the buds to do things like articulate details more prominently, or emphasize low-end frequencies for that bass-heavy sound a lot of headphones deliver. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing: if all you want is clear, pleasant audio, you’ll feel right at home with the Slide.
Sadly, these earphones dropped the ball in the voice call department. I placed several calls and had others use the buds to phone me, and every time, the voice volume was low, and the audio frequently broke up. It’s worth noting that other reviewers seem to have had better experiences, so it’s possible that this is a quality control issue that’s affected my review unit. I hope Padmate can fix this before it begins shipping out large numbers of the Slide – but if you’re keen on using wireless buds often for calls, I wouldn’t be comfortable recommending these.
Other than that, I had a fine time with the Slide buds. Padmate claims they manage 10 hours of playback out of the case; I got several hours of use before I had to charge them, so I think that’s fairly accurate. I wish the tips provided a better seal in the ear to block more ambient noise, though.
Who are these earphones for?
If you’re looking for a reliable pair of wireless earphones that will keep the music going through the day and sound good while they’re at it, the Pamu Slide set is a good way to go. And if you’ve got a phone that supports wireless charging, this can juice it up in a pinch. Sadly, I can’t recommend this to folks who need to make a lot of calls with their earphones in.
According to the company’s Indiegogo campaign page, you can order the Slide without wireless charging for $70 right now, or opt for the version with wireless charging at $80. These are expected to ship this month.
Padmate notes that once it’s done with campaign orders, the Slide will be sold at its full price of $200, which is pretty steep for a relatively lesser known brand. At that price, it’ll cost more than most other wireless earphones, including ones we liked from RHA, Anker, and Sol Republic.
Find the PaMu Slide earphones on Indiegogo.
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Published August 16, 2019 — 13:45 UTC