Usually when we see Bluetooth earphones, we’re expecting something tailor-made for running and going to the gym. That’s not what Zagg had in mind with their new Flex Arc — this Bluetooth neckband is made for the office, and has some pretty cool features to prove it.
Earphones and headphones aren’t always ideal, because you might need to hear what’s going on around you. If you’re at the office, you can’t really use speakers for fear of disturbing your co-workers, so what do you do? My solution has been to wear headphones with swivel cups around my neck, turning the drivers up towards my head — I get decent sound that ends up highly localized. The Flex Arc is a more elegant way of doing that — the neckband has two small speakers on each end that can play music loud enough to be heard by you, but quiet enough to not disturb anyone else around (unless you’re in a pin drop-silent library).
On the tips of the neckband, there are earbuds attached to retractable cables. So, if you need to make absolutely certain that your sound is private, you can pull those out to a comfortable length when you need them, then snap the cords back into the neckband when you’re done. Removing or retracting the earbuds will automatically switch audio output between the speakers and the earbuds.
The Flex Arc also has integrated microphones for making calls and physical controls for playing music and adjusting volume. Bluetooth connectivity makes them totally wireless, and while the eight-hour battery life isn’t great, it should get the Flex Arc through the workday.
I got to try the Flex Arc out a little bit before CES 2016, and it was comfortable and lightweight. The sound coming from those speakers really is localized, too — another person in the same room could have been listening to music, and I never would have known it. Turn the volume up high enough and you can share music with others, but I’m guessing most won’t use the Flex Arc for that.
It’s a pretty practical Bluetooth audio device for the office, where you need to be able to listen to people around you but still want to listen to music privately. Better yet, you won’t have to wait too much longer to try one out — the Flex Arc will launch sometime in February for $100, and will come in black/silver, black/gold, and white/gold.