Vinci Smart Hearable Headphones Review

Vinci is a product out of China that is from the Inspero, Inc. team.

VINCI the first, completely independent wearable music device, which has made on-the-go music listening simpler with an all-in-one wireless music player companion.

A Little Background On This Review

I was fortunate enough to receive a free Vinci product to test. This was also a good test into not just visual and flow of the UX, which I’m experienced with for Web and mobile devices, but also what I call, Audio UX, where there was sound used as feedback (voice, chimes, etc.) This definitely has some good challenges, as the product is the combination of an audio product with a mobile touch interface, but one that isn’t being seen when in use. I think the Vinci product has done some smart UX work on this product to address some of these user interactions.

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You can see a full video of my unboxing and product/app review on our Madusability Youtube Channel.

Price

$199

Ratings

Product Quality: 5 out of 5

Usability: 4 out of 5

Features

  • MediaTek MTK6572 processor
  • 3.2 inch touch screen and touch panel
  • ME1.0 artificial intelligence system which based on Android 4.4
  •  Colors: black, white, yellow, red, green and 6 more
  • 40mm beryllium-coated diaphragms
  • Built-in 2100 Ma battery, can standby for 7 days
  • Super Hi-Fi audio channel equipment, uses Swedish Dirac HD Sound and through the filter digital processing technology, optimizing the frequency and transient response of the sound system.

Quick Summary

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  • Ease of Use – General controls and setup are easy to use. Voice controls need some improvement and advancing to different tracks when on a music service (i.e. Soundcloud) take some getting used to since you can’t see what songs are prior/next.
  • Hardware Design – Great quality, weight and very responsive touch screen.
  • Sound Quality – The Tracks definitely have some kick to them, accentuating the bass and treble, stopping just short of being overbearing. They’re going to sound their best with songs that have big, thumping bass, in genres like hip-hop, rap, and techno
  • Ergonomics –  The band and ear cuffs fit tightly and securely around the head. The rectangular shape of the headphones was very snug and comfortable, but I do prefer my circular ones by SOL Republic (I’ll explain more below). The softness of the padding and faux-leather material felt very nice on my ears.
  • Devices/Accessories used to test – My ears, iPhone 6, Gorillapod and Bower Tripod

My Initial Vinci Experience

Opening my Vinci headphones was along the most delightful experiences as I can tell there was a significant attention made from the outside/inside of the box, manual, and packaging.

Connect the dots at the bottom of the box (it was difficult to keep my kids from drawing on this before I did my review 🙂

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Nice poem on the front of the box.

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Everything in the box was packaged nicely, easy to remove and just put a little smile on my face.

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From little jokes, to funny pictures, the manual has a very unique design that kept things simple and easy to follow by being non-traditional (no big ugly booklet with superfine print). It made you want to read the manual vs. feeling the need not to or intimidated. Really smart. See my video here.

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Initial Start-up and Setup

My video walkthrough of the headset start-up can be seen here.

The headset comes with an easy peel-off sticker that explains what the buttons and ports are for as well as the actions and controls on the touchpad. Because these were in Chinese and I couldn’t read them, I had to do a little bit of guessing of what the controls were for.

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The initial loading took roughly about 50 seconds. Which then it prompted my to activate my wifi or cellular data. It picked up my network, entered my password and was on my way. Taking a 1st-time user down a directed path is a good way to make sure you get your users working properly right away with their product.

They also programmed the screen to autoscroll to the right for text that did not fit within the small screen vs. just truncating it. This is a nice usability interaction since the real estate of the screen is limited and some of the networks could start off with the same names, which makes truncating useless.

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At the moment, Spotify and Soundcloud are the two music services that are available to connect with the system.

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The keyboard and overall touch sensitivity on the screen is really good. I thought that the small keyboard or screen could be potentially a problem, esp if the quality wasn’t good, however I was really impressed with the touchscreen.

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A nice walkthrough of how the touch panel controls work was available as well after the initial setup.  This was helpful since I couldn’t read the directions on the sticker that was on it. You can see this in action here.

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Settings and Playing Music

Once my Soundcloud account was connected, I was able to select from two option from my home screen. The first icon, is for My Imported list. I didn’t make this list of about 50 songs that isn’t within the genre of my Soundcloud favorites, so I’m not exactly sure where this list came from.

When I selected the Heart icon, this navigated the screen with options: Favorites, Imported and History.

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Double tapping on the touchpad will save the song to your Favorites, which is pretty nice if you are playing through a list of new songs. A specific chime will sound to let you know it was saved successfully. Really nice audio feedback UX trick.

There was plenty of other audio feedback as well:

  • Increasing/decreasing volume will give a slight sound as feedback with it saying “Minimum volume reached”
  • Skipping forward/backwards along the list will also give a small ping for feedback

The settings was pretty straightforward with the controls for:

  • Wifi
  • Set in Airplane mode
  • Set 3G
  • Brightness of Touchscreen
  • Volume
  • Visualizer (screensaver animation when playing music) – about 5 options along with ability to display personalized text
  • Particle color – Home animation background color of bubbles
  • Music services
  • About us

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A cool feature of the headset, is when you place it down on a table, it automatically pauses the music and then when you put it back on, it starts playing again. Really nice.

 

OK…so the Negatives

The voice command feature really didn’t work for me as I tried to activate it using a Long touch/hold. It would say/ask “Ok I got you…what did you say again?” So not sure what was happening there.

The controls do take a bit of time to get used to as you need to be aware that grabbing the headset’s touchpad will inadvertently setoff a control. I’ve accidentally skipped to the next track and if I’m listening to a DJ set and about 1 hour into it and then accidentally forward it, there’s no way to go back to the same place of the DJ set. You start over and cannot fast forward. This is one limitation with the Vinci system. If there was a way to perform a slow drag and hold across the touchpad to fast forward (or backwards) through your song, that would be great.

The fit of the square headphones is an interesting design as they had to accommodate the square touchscreen to make it work. The device fit snuggly around my head, but the bottom of the square of the headset sat right at my jawline. This actually put a little bit of pressure there, which became a bit uncomfortable since they were so snug right where my jaw moves. The headset comes in either small or large. I used the large and it was reduced to the smallest head sized, so not sure if I would have the same issue with a smaller headset. This is maybe the reason why most headsets have been shaped in a circular fashion (or even square) since their creation and you don’t see many rectangular-shaped ones.

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Bottom line

I really like the quality and attention to the details from the boxing, to the UI and interactions that the designers at Vinci has done. It’s really great to see a product/company spend their time into these things and see them as a valuable part of their product.

I would recommend looking into circular touchscreen design as well to fit more of the traditional headset. This has probably already been researched, and I understand from a manufacturing standpoint, sourcing square touch screens are much easier to do right now with all the mobile devices out there. Possibly as the Apple watch and smartwatches becomes more popular, circular touch screens will also drop in price, thus reducing their costs.

I would like to test out the audio controls and see how that would actually work.

Also some minor improvements of the navigation controls of adding a fast forward/reverse controls will help with longer tracks of music.

For more details, visit Vinci website | @VinciHearable