It’s raining truly wireless earphones in the affordable segment. No, really it is. The past few months have seen a number of brands toss their hats into the truly wireless earphones ring, especially the affordable side of it. The latest to move into this zone is Indian brand Play, which has launched the PlayGo T44 TWS.
We had been impressed with Play’s ANC headphones, the PlayGo BH70 ANC, earlier this year, and well, the T44 TWS are just as impressive in their own manner.
Trying for a different sound…and succeeding!
And that is because, in a price segment that tends to put sound quality on the backburner and simply turn up the bass, the T44 actually tries to go for what one could call a V-shaped sound. Which means that both ends of the frequencies get well represented. Or to make it simple, you will hear thumps and beats and sharp sounds (like those of stringed instrument) equally well. There is a downside to this – if there is too much instrumentation, vocals sometimes get a little lost.
And well, as in most budget TWS, the soundstage (the feeling of sound coming from different directions) is not really that wide, although you go get good enough volume levels with the 10 mm drivers, without any distortion even at high levels. We actually liked the overall sound in most cases and were glad to see it was not as bass-heavy as many of its counterparts at this price point. The bass is very much pressed but is not emphasized as by most of its rivals.
Ticking those TWS boxes – compact case and decent battery life
In other regards, the T44 tick most boxes. They are smart enough in terms of design, drawing a bit of inspiration from the first and second-generation AirPods with buds with handles, that hang from your ears rather than dig into them. Our unit was white in color and came in a slightly rectangular white case with oval sides (instead of the squoval – squarish oval – case that we got with the original AirPods), that will slip into most pockets with ease. The buds themselves lie down flat inside the case.
There is a USB Type C port on the back of the case, but no charging indicator outside the case – you have to flick it open (can be done with one hand) to see the charging levels and the connectivity button, which is a little inconvenient when you consider that these features are generally available outside in other TWS. The buds and case will pick up some smudges because of their whiteness (go for black, if possible), but are generally smart looking.
The long stems of the buds might not be to everyone’s liking in aesthetic terms but they do make buds easier to pick up and use. They seem stable enough in the ears – they did not fall out of our ears even during some pretty vigorous skipping and running, so we guess we can rest easy in that regard. They come with an IPX4 rating, which means they will be able to survive the odd splash of water but are not meant to go swimming in. Battery life is about three to four hours and the case takes it to around twenty hours, which is very good in this segment. The case itself takes about three hours to charge, which is again good.
Smooth pairing, but slightly iffy controls
Pairing is impressively smooth in most cases – you open the case (with the buds inside) and the T44 straight away get into pairing mode or connect to the last device they were connected to. You can use the button in the case (it really would have been better outside, we think) only if you need to connect to another device. Connectivity is good – the T44 come with Bluetooth 5.0 and we were able to go to another part of the room without losing out on calls and music, although walls do get in the way (the official range is 10 meters). Call quality is decent enough as well, especially when you consider the price point. Incidentally, powering off the buds is as simple as putting them back into the box. The music does not pause when you pull out one bud, though, which might disappoint some. You can, however, opt to use just one bud if you wish, which is handy!
The controls take some getting used to, mind you. There are no buttons at all on the PlayGo T44, which means you have to depend totally on gestures, and these can be a little iffy. They are not very intuitive either – a long press on the left bud takes you to the previous, a long press on the right to the next song, while double-tapping on any of them plays or pauses the music. A Double-tap also allows you to take or reject a call while a triple tap gets you the virtual assistant. That is a lot of tapping and it takes some getting used to, with the odd slip-up – we sometimes got the Google Assistant when we were trying to take a call for instance and vice versa, because the human tendency is to tap one more time when something does not seem to work. But once you kind of get used to them, the T44 respond well enough. We would have loved volume controls, though.
For those looking beyond bass-ics!
They are comfortable enough to wear, perform decently, and have good battery life. But at Rs 2,999, the PlayGo T44 join the Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 as one of the few TWS in the affordable segment that are actually fighting on the feature that earphones were first made for: sound. Do they sound better than their Mi counterparts? Not quite, but then those worthies are more expensive – Rs 4,499.
The PlayGo T44 are comfortably among the better sounding TWS earphones we have heard in the sub-Rs 3,000 category unless you are totally crazy about the bass (hint: not everyone is). If you want a truly wireless experience, but are short on cash, and want reasonably good sound, rather than just those bass vibrations, the PlayGo T44 are a very good option.
- Good sound
- Decent battery life
- Sweat resistance
- Touch controls are a bit hit and miss
- No auto-pause when you pull one bud out
- Multi-function button and light indicator inside the case
Budget TWS earphones might be getting more affordable but their sound quality tends to vary with their price tags. And when you get into the budget segment, you tend to expect bass-heavy TWS devices. The PlayGo T44 however seeks to deliver better audio than most. And often succeeds.