Lightweight and affordable pipe-style TWS

Because Apple AirPods are trendsetters with their distinctive pipe-like design, many audio companies follow and adopt the design in their true wireless offer. Play, a Gurugram-based company that has recently moved into the audio segment, recently launched the PlayGo T44 True Wireless Earphones featuring the famous pipe-like design. However, these are much cheaper than the AirPods, with a competitive price of Rs 2,999. Within this price range, the earphones have an array of competitors from Wings, Noise, Bolt Audio, Boat and other brands. So, let’s explore how the looks of these airpods worked in our review.

Construction and design

The PlayGo T44 adopts the general design of the Apple AirPod, but there are some changes in the design that make them stand out. The charging case, for one, is an elongated pill-shaped design that is both pocketable and powerful. Initially made of plastic, the white charging case has a matte texture that feels good to the touch and is also quite resistant to fingerprints and dust.

The Play logo is stamped on the top of the case while the back has a USB Type-C charging port. Lots of affordable real wireless earphones have finally adopted USB Type-C instead of the dated micro-USB, and it’s nice to see that the Playgo T44 is following suit. In addition to having a small form factor, the case is also light, weighing only 35 grams (excluding buds). The earbuds weigh about 5.5 grams and weigh up to 41 grams Sadly, there is no LED battery indicator outside the case. Instead, the indicator sits in the case and you have to open the case whenever you want to check the battery status, which is quite inconvenient.

The case opens easily with both hands, but we thought it was quite a chore to open it with one hand. The buds sit horizontally in the case and the magnets hold them in place extremely strong. Excluding the case, the earphones do not ring, which is impressive. The lid magnet is also quite strong and the case closes with an audible and satisfying snap.

In the case of earphones, too, they feature the same plastic material and matte finish as the case. The long pipe-style stem has a microphone, a magnetic point connecting to the charging case, and a play logo. At the top of the stem house are touch sensors that can be used to control music playback and calls. More about their effectiveness later.

The earbud, much like the AirPod, does not have a silicone eartip and features a half-in-ear design. Now, this is a very polarizing design. While some swear by it, others absolutely hate it. Despite not having silicone eartips, we found most of the ears to be quite smooth and secure. However, if you have a small ear canal, the earphones must slide occasionally. The reviewer’s ears are smaller than usual and have noticed that earphones are not very safe during jogging or high-intensity workouts.

Overall, the earphones are extremely light and for that reason, they fit most ears without the need for silicone tips. Compared to Realme Buds Air, we found it much more secure and comfortable. The compact charging case captivated us with its aesthetic appearance and feel.

Features

The PlayGo T44 earphones aren’t what we call feature-laden, however, they do feature some fantastic Nifty features. You get the Bluetooth v5.0 which translates to quite a solid connection and a wireless range of about 33 feet (without interruption). Even if we put a wall between the earphones and the source device, the connection remains strong, which is quite decent.

They are equipped with an auto-reconnect feature that removes the buds from the case and essentially connects to the last pair of devices (if the device has Bluetooth on). The feature worked extremely smoothly and the connection to the paired device was almost instantaneous whenever we pulled the earbuds from the charging case.

Earphones come with full touch controls that can be used by tapping the top half of the stem. A double-tap on both sides pauses / plays music while a long pressure on the right earphone moves to the next track and a long pressure on the left takes you to the previous track. Triple-tapping any earbud will call your device’s voice assistant (Google Assistant or Siri). You can also accept or reject phone calls with touch control. Unfortunately, there is no way to control media or call volume through touch control.

Touch controls seem very intuitive, however, they’re a bit of a hit and miss. Lots of taping and sometimes, earphones refuse to register taps So, when we tried to triple-tap call Google Assistant, the earphones registered only two taps and instead paused the music. Often, even music breaks take 2-3 times to try to get it right.

The earphones are also equipped with an IPX4 sweat and water-resistant rating, which means it can easily get rid of sweat and light rain, making them suitable for workouts and for use in rainy conditions. For charging, as mentioned above, you’ll get future-proof USB Type-C charging instead of micro-USB, which is nice at this price point. The earphones also support standard SBC and AAC audio codecs. We’d love to see aptX support in it, but we won’t complain too much about it at this price point.

Finally, when it comes to battery life, the PlayGo T44 True Wireless Earphones are capable of 4 hours of playback on earbuds, bringing the total to about 20 hours with 4 additional charges through the charging case. The numbers here are medium, optimal, especially in the buds. True wireless earphones typically cost about 6 hours through earbuds, even on affordable models, so 4 hours of playback is certainly uncomfortable.

Moreover, in our experiments, we found that Bud’s battery actually lasts a little less than 4 hours. The PlayGo T44 clocked 3 hours and 35 minutes of music playback time at 50 percent volume, which is quite disappointing. However, the case has charged the earphones 4 times, so according to our tests this figure is quite accurate. Overall, the PlayGo T44 features moderate battery life, Wankie Touch control but solid Bluetooth connectivity, and USB Type-C charging. Our test took about 2.5 hours to fully charge the case from the empty battery.

Performance

Featuring a 10mm driver, the PlayGo T44 has a nice customizable sound profile. The company claims that the earphones come with a proprietary EBEL (Enhanced Bus Extra Loud) driver that outputs the Punchi bus and can be quite loud. Because the earphones in our tests are quite loud, we have definitely found the next claim to be correct, which means we can comfortably listen to music in the 40-50 percent volume range.

However, although the base is certainly quite piercing, it is not at all exaggerated as we usually witness other affordable real wireless offers. There is certainly weight at lower frequencies than in the mid, but the heights are evenly matched to create a sound-pleasing V-shaped sound signature. Inside Pull me down By Dream Theater, Clap sounds as lively as bass guitar. However, there are some strange peaks in the altitude that cause the sound to become a bit sharper at times.

Vocal, due to the V-shaped signature, may seem somewhat muted, especially when it comes to male vocals. Lead guitars sound detailed but low and high-frequency instruments steal limelight and move slightly into the background. Yet, on vocal-centric tracks, e.g. Hello By AdeleWith minimal instrumentation, you can actually appreciate the clarity and brilliance of the voice.

Soundstage and imaging, however, are a bit missed in these earphones. Tracks like Selkis by Between the Buried and Me may sound a bit chaotic due to the overlapping of the instrument. Nonetheless, we are still fascinated by the overall sound quality with punchy but controlled bass, clear vocals and emphasized accents.

Coming to the microphone, the advantage of the long stem is that the microphone is much closer to your face than other real wireless earphones. Therefore, clarity and melody increase a lot. In the calls, we received no complaints about the clarity and height of our voice. Our voices did not sound mixed or distant to the receiver, however, the microphone picks up a lot of ambient noise.

The last row

With decent comfort and fit, an IPX4 rating, and good sound quality, PlayGo T44 genuine wireless earphones are going to be quite a lucrative purchase for under 3K. These earphones sound much better than some of the sub-3K TWS earphones we recently tested, such as the Boat Airdopes 441 and Boult Audio Airbass Livebuds. The compact form factor of the charging case is also a huge plus for those who value portability. However, if you have smaller ears than usual, the fit may be slightly inadequate. Nonetheless, the PlayGo T44 has a lot for them and is a good buy for under 3K.

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