JBL making solar-powered wireless headphones with ‘unlimited’ battery life

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JBL's new Reflect Eternal headphones are solar powered.
Image: JBL

Who doesn’t love a good pair of wireless headphones? Whether they are the over-the-ear variety or AirPods-style true wireless earbuds, listening to music without wires is great. Unfortunately, these devices are often limited by small batteries that don’t hold a charge for that long. Despite recent advancements in the battery world, even the best headphones only last for about 20 hours before needing a charge.

JBL is hoping to solve that problem. It is currently crowdfunding a pair of wireless headphones, named Reflect Eternal, that run on solar power. Like the solar charger of a calculator, the headphones are designed to charge off of any light—not just the sun.

Light Up Your Music

The Reflect Eternal headphones made their debut on IndieGoGo just a few days ago and have already met their crowdfunding target. That means the solar-powered headphones will start shipping in October 2020. Those who preorder now can pay just $99 rather than the eventual retail price of $165.

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JBL makes some lofty claims about its innovative new headphones. If they prove to be true, then the Reflect Eternal will be a great pair of wireless over-the-ear headphones. They will feature up to 68 hours of continuous listening when fully charged. JBL says that just 1.5 hours in bright sunlight will charge the headphones to full capacity.

However, they will also charge (albeit much more slowly) in non-outdoor conditions. For example, while you wear them at the office, the headphones will theoretically draw in enough power to avoid the need for external charging. This all comes thanks to an Exeger Powerfoyle solar material that is built into the top of the headband.

If the headphones do die and there is no light source nearby, they can be charged via traditional USB as a backup. Not that anyone is listening to music in a pitch-black room with their headphones, but it’s nice to have that added safety blanket. Just 15 minutes on a regular charger will deliver two hours of extra battery life.

Standard Plus Solar

Aside from having solar charging, JBL’s Reflect Eternal headphones are remarkably similar to most other wireless models on the market today. While no one has heard them just yet as they are still in the prototype phase it’s safe to assume based on the price tag that they will deliver mid-level sound. The headphones will feature JBL’s 40mm drivers that are commonly found across its line of products.

They will support both Google Assistant and Alexa to give users hands-free control of their device. Meanwhile, hands-free calling and ambient awareness are also included thanks to external microphones.

Notably, this isn’t the first time that a major headphone company is turning to crowdfunding for an innovative new product. Bose did the same thing with its Sleepbuds back in 2017 and launched them after a highly successful Indiegogo campaign.

Considering that JBL’s Reflect Eternals have already surpassed their funding goal, it’s safe to say that we’ll see these headphones in the wild sometime next year. For those who buy a pair, it will be nice to have quality wireless headphones without worrying about charging them. Yet, only time will tell if the idea of integrating solar into consumer electronics will catch on.

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