by Michael Crider on
A universal remote is the go-to solution if you want to control everything in your entertainment center without juggling pieces of plastic. Here are the best options on the market at the moment.
The world of smartphones may prefer small bezels over headphone jacks, but you can still use your beloved wired headphones with fancy new phones. Just use one of these Bluetooth adapters.
For now, new phones without headphone jacks come with a cheap wired adapter. That’s a decent option, but you still can’t charge your phone and listen to music at the same time. A Bluetooth adapter for your old wired headphones lets you do both. You can also finally cut the cord without giving up the headphones you’ve grown to love for years. There are a few options when it comes to Bluetooth adapters, but these are the ones we think are the best.
If you’re going to buy an accessory to keep using something you already own, the least you could hope for is to not break the bank. At $20, the BlueAnt Ribbon is cheap enough to not hurt your wallet too much right after you’ve bought a new phone. Its folded ribbon design lets you clip it to pockets, straps, and bags so it’s easy to access the remote control buttons (like play/pause and volume) without danging around aimlessly.
The BlueAnt Ribbon also supports the aptX compression standard. You can read our full explainer on it here, but the short version is that if your headphones, phone, and in this case adapter all support aptX, then you get better audio quality out of your headphones. Supporting aptX in such an inexpensive adapter is great, which makes this adapter the best all-around option for our money.
Like the BlueAnt Ribbon, the Avantree adapter features support for the high-quality aptX standard, so if you want the best audio quality (or at least the best you can get when using a Bluetooth adapter), you’re still in luck here. At $25, it’s a little pricier than the BlueAnt, but it promises a lower latency, so you hopefully won’t notice much lag or delays in your music.
The design on this adapter is a little less elegant, but it comes with a handy clip so you can snap it to your clothes or bags for easy access. It also comes with an audio splitter so you can share audio with a friend. So, for example, if you and a partner want to watch TV without disturbing anyone else, you can both plug into this adapter and listen in. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can use it for phone calls.
At the time of writing, the Griffin iTrip costs $17, making it just barely the cheapest option on our list. In exchange for a few bucks off, you lose that coveted aptX support, but if your headphones don’t support aptX that might not be that big of a deal to you. At the end of the day, you’re still using Bluetooth for audio which isn’t ideal for audio quality.
The iTrip does, however, give you the best button control of any adapter on this list. You get a play/pause button, volume controls, as well as next and last track buttons. The circular layout doesn’t make it very intuitive to press those buttons without looking at the adapter, but if you can get used to it, it’s great. Like the Avantree, the Griffin iTrip has a built in microphone so you can speak into it when on a phone call, even if your phone is in your bag or pocket.
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