I first saw them on a New York subway car. The gleaming black accessory rested against a man’s collarbone; it seemed like something yanked from a dystopian blockbuster. Huh, I thought, before directing my gaze back to my phone.
The next time I saw them, I noticed earbuds extending like thin tentacles. I realized they were headphones, and chalked it up to a fleeting tech-geek fad. I would see more and more men wearing these horseshoe-shaped collars in the days that followed, but when the driver of my moving truck showed up wearing a pair, I had to investigate.
I Googled “wireless headphones” and found — aha! — the LG Tone, which retails for $70 to $150, depending on the model. While it predates behind-the-neck options from Beats by Dre and Samsung, the neckband is selling well enough that the company is bundling it with cell phones to boost that flagging category. And LG is putting more marketing dollars behind the Tone this year, conceivably targeting women, specifically women who exercise.
But still, questions remained:
Isn’t this kind of like wearing an extra set of headphones around your neck for no reason?
Do you wear the band over or under shirt collars?
Is the vibrate feature powerful enough to give you a neck massage?
Won’t the earbuds get tangled in scarves come winter?
Can it double as a headband in a pinch?
If you wear it during a workout of any kind, will it short-circuit from sweat?
How long until someone hacks the operating system and turns it into a shock collar?
And, finally, will people still wearing Bluetooth earpieces upgrade to this?