PlayGo BH22 Wireless Headphones Review: Solid battery backup, average sound
We have reviewed quite a few true wireless (TWS) earbuds and wireless neckbands, of late. But, today we have a good old on-the-ear wireless headphone for review that promises two different sound profiles and 35 hours of battery backup. Time to take a closer look at the PlayGo BH22 and see where it stands in a competitive budget headphones segment.
Sturdy build but uncomfortable to wear for over an hour
The build quality of the PlayGo BH22 is quite solid and feels good in hand, courtesy of the smooth matte black finish. A golden ring around each of the earcups breaks the monotony and lends some character. The foldable design is a nice touch and makes them more portable. The headband is well padded but the earcups could have used a bit more cushion. I have refrained from calling this pair an over-the-ear headphone because the earcups aren't large enough to go entirely over the ears. While they have a reassuring fit when you wear them, the pressure on the ears is a little more than I would have liked, or perhaps it's the inadequate padding that causes a bit of pain after wearing them for close to an hour. Actually it doesn't hurt while you have them on, but your ears complain for a few minutes as soon as you take them off. Meanwhile, the company has managed to keep the weight of these headphones under 200gm, which is a good thing. Separately, all the buttons and input ports are present on the left earcup. You get a power button and a volume rocker along with a microphone, an aux input and a Micro USB port for charging this device. The buttons are a bit stiff to press and produce an audible click when pressed, but at least they don't feel feeble. A USB charging cable and an aux cable are bundled in the package. A special mention for the aux cable which feels rugged with a braided exterior.
Simple, on-the-ear wireless headphones with playback controls; no IP rating
The PlayGo BH22 is a simple headphone that does not boast of features like touch controls or active noise cancellation that we see on every other pair of its smaller cousins these days. It is Bluetooth 5.0 compliant with support for AAC and SBC codec. If it runs out of juice, you can always use the bundled (or any other) aux cable and use it like a wired headphone. You get multi-point support here, meaning you can pair these headphones with two devices simultaneously. As I mentioned, the left earcup has three buttons. The power button doubles up as a multi-function button once you switch these headphones on. Single click is used to play/pause the audio, double click to summon the voice assistant and triple click to switch between Normal and Enhanced Bass modes. Triple click can be a hit or miss at times irrespective of whether you do it quickly or at a more relaxed pace. When trying to switch between the aforementioned sound modes, it would often just pause the audio or open the voice assistant. Not cool, that! The volume up and down keys can be used to jump to the next and previous track respectively, with a long press. Thus, all the standard playback functions are taken care of. The wireless range is quite good with the headphones maintaining a stable connection of over 10 meter as long as there is no major obstruction between them and the source device. Pairing the PlayGo with a phone or tablet is also a standard and straightforward process. There is no companion app to configure this product or update its firmware. The headphones do not have an IP rating for ingress protection either, so I wouldn't advise you to wear it while working out or for a stroll in the rain.
Two sound profiles but average sound quality overall
Each earcup is equipped with a 40mm dynamic driver and the headphones are loud enough at a shade over 50% volume. The overall sound quality is average at best and the narrow soundstage makes the output feel crammed in a small space with not enough detail. If you listen to songs with not many instruments, you won't complain. In normal mode, the bass is a little less than ideal and the highs sound manageable. The mids are just about fine for the segment, but instrument separation is below par. When you switch to Enhanced Bass more, it not only boosts the bass but also the treble, and things start to get a little overbearing. As the volume goes up, the highs start dominating to a point where they sound sibilant and cause listener fatigue. While it is good to have two different sound profiles, a better profile probably lies somewhere between the two available here. The PlayGo BH22 is more than decent for watching movies or web-series. Though the company does not specify the latency, there was no noticeable lag between the video and audio when watching stuff on Netflix on my phone. As for music, this headphone is better suited for general Bollywood stuff or EDM. If you are more into instrument heavy music like Rock or Metal, this is not the right pair for you.
Below par call quality, impressive battery backup
Worryingly, the call quality is not really impressive. It is manageable indoors and people on either end of the call are audible to each other with average clarity. The person on the line immediately realized I was using a headset. In noisy environments, the microphone picks up ample ambient noise, and the conversation becomes a lot tougher to comprehend. I couldn't even hear the person properly when outdoors in traffic. So if hands-free calling is a high priority, look elsewhere. The company advertises 35 hours of battery backup on the PlayGo BH22 and it achieves 80% of that, at least. It lasted close to 29 hours of playback at a little over 60% loudness. So if you use them for about four hours daily, you will need to charge this headphone only once a week. That's quite good! What's not good is the presence of a Micro USB port for charging. I prefer to see a USB-C port on all audio products released in 2021. You don't have fast charging either and it takes about four hours to charge it fully using any standard phone charger. Best to leave it on charge overnight and you are good to go for a week.
Hard to recommend, given the availability of better options
The PlayGo BH22 is priced at Rs. 2,499 with a one year warranty, and can be purchased for 10% less in online sales. The call quality is below par, sound quality is serviceable for the segment but the battery life is quite good. While the price isn't exorbitant, there are several options with much better sound quality and comparable battery life selling for the same price or less. Two options come to mind straight away. The first is the Sony WH-CH510 that sells close to Rs. 2,500 with similar battery life and much better sound. The Sony one is more comfortable on the ears too and has a USB-C port for charging. The second option is Soundcore (Anker) Q10 that sells for a couple of hundred bucks lower. It not only sounds better but also supports fast charging through its USB-C port and flaunts a whopping 60 hours of battery backup. Needless to say, it would be hard to recommend the PlayGo BH22 at its current price, given the competition.