NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Every wonder why those men and women who actually drive the plane -- you know, the pilots -- wear those honkin', industrial-strength earmuffs and microphones? It's not a fashion statement. Those monster headsets keep the din of plane flight out. And quiet and productivity in.
Until recently, probably the best way to get audio tranquillity on the go was with a set of pricey and bulky so-called active noise reduction cans. Those units emit crafty bits of noise that cancel out the roar of the jets and the shrieks of miserable infants.
No more. Thanks -- yet again -- to smartphones such as the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and Motorola (MOT) Droid, dozens of makers are vying to make high-quality headsets that fit snugly inside your ear canal, offer surprisingly good microphone quality for use with a mobile device and isolate your ears from the outside world.
In-ear headsets must fit properly or they can be both painful and dysfunctional. But get the right device and you will enjoy an audio experience that turns even the harshest plane flight into a joyride. And you can do it all with something that fits in your coat pocket.
Spider International realvoice headset ($90 at newegg.com)
Who knew the folks at Spider -- a decent audio/video cable company -- had it in 'em to make such a great pair of headsets? But they do. For my money, this company's realvoice headsets are the biggest story in in-ear headsets right now. For $90, you get a great-sounding pair of headphones, a mic that can work with an iPhone and remarkable isolation from the outside world. While less than true first-quality sound, this is as close as you can expect for the money. Remember, you must take the time to fit the different size earplugs to your ears, which can be, uh, hygienically dubious. But get past the ear-goo factor and you can expect some real R&R on your next redeye.