Quick Review: Rocketfish RF-MAB2 and the iPhone 3Gs

This is a quick “first impression” review of the Rocketfish RF-MAB2 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, as used with the iPhone 3Gs. The short review: Yes, I can finally leave the silly Apple wired ear buds in my backpack, as a backup!

When I saw the RF-MAB2 on the shelf at Best Buy, I decided to look for reviews at Amazon (using the iPhone and Red Laser). A rep walked up and let me know that Rocketfish is BestBuy's in-house brand of products, so I probably wouldn't find reviews there. I did load the RF-MAB2 Best Buy page, and it was well reviewed (4.5 out of 5, with 10 reviews). I ended up leaving without making the purchase – because I wanted to do a little more research.

The next day I stopped back by and picked them up. I was completely geeked on the way home, like a kid on Christmas day. Yes, that's the way I roll with my technology.

The initial impression of build quality was just OK. The neckband is 100% plastic, so I was a bit put off. The RF-MAB2 is a behind the neck headset, with two triangular ear pieces, about 1.5″ on each side. While I've never been a behind the neck kind of guy, the cool kids seem to like them. They're comfortable enough, so that's become a relative non-issue for me. I'm not a runner and I don't do exercises that jar the body, so I can't say whether or not the RF-MAB2 is good for joggers. I sit in coffee shops and work on a computer.

Setup was as easy as it gets. If you have experience with Bluetooth and pairing there was nothing unusual. If not, the pairing instructions were well done, and clear.

The audio quality is pretty remarkable given how much I paid for the RF-MAB2. Apple wants $10 more for their “premium” wired ear buds, and to that I can safely say these are a much better value. There are 5 sound processor modes, some better for voice, and some better for music. The bass is deep enough, and the highs nice and crisp. Remember this however… I sit in coffee shops and work on a computer. I am NOT an audiophile, but these sound terrific to me.

Call quality seems to be fine. I did a limited test with @torreybelle in a noisy kitchen with a playing 5yr old. If I talk to you on the phone, be sure to comment on the call quality. I'll update the post with feedback.

I was able to listen to podcasts pretty much the entire day with a few hours of idle time, and the battery still had more. The iPhone needed charging before the headphones, as a matter of fact. I can't speak to the battery life under each possible use case, but overall I'm happy with what I've experienced. I'm not on the phone much at all but listen to podcasts like a mad man.

There are some downsides.

As with any Bluetooth Stereo Headset or A2DP device, you have to remember that iPhone 3.0 doesn't support AVCRP. That simply means that you can't use the controls on the device to do things like fast forward and rewind. You can still do those things from the iPhone, and iPhone 3.1 is rumored to have a full AVCRP implementation. Basic controls like answering calls, volume, etc. all work of course.

Getting the RF-MAB2 to pair with the MacBook Pro and the iPhone was no problem. However, switching between the devices was more difficult than it should have been. It works, but needs a little more hand holding than I wanted. Alas, I bought them for the iPhone so that doesn't matter. (Ok, I'll tell you. You have to turn Bluetooth off on the iPhone, then choose the headphone profile on the Mac. Reverse the process to go back to the iPhone.)

All in all, the value and quality of audio you get for $69.99 is pretty amazing. I've been using Bluetooth devices since the 1.0 spec in the 90's, and I'm just elated at how far the products have come. They're not perfect but we're getting really close.

Bottom line? Best Buy has a 30 day return policy, if you don't like them, the risk is theirs. I think you'll really like them. Pick up a pair now at BestBuy.com

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Husband, father, epic adventurer, perpetually curious, rule breaker, startup guy, innovator, maker.

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