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Parrot Zik headphones use NFC, Bluetooth, accelerometer to control your music (hands-on)

Parrot Zik headphones use NFC, Bluetooth, accelerometer to control your music (hands-on)


Parrot introduced its first set of headphones at CES this week, the NFC, Bluetooth, and noise cancellation-enabled Zik headphones.

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When we finally put down Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0, we got a chance to look at the company's first-ever set of headphones, the Zik Parrot by Stark. At first glance they're just super-comfortable, beautifully retro over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones: Once the headphones are connected to your phone (there's a mic inside, so you can use it to make calls too), all playback control is done by gestures — slide your finger up or down on the headphone to change the volume, or swipe forward to change tracks. If you take the headphones off your ears, an accelerometer notices and automatically pauses your music; put them back on, and it starts playing again. There's even NFC connectivity, so you can tap your phone to the headphones to connect (maybe don't try this in public, though — why you're whacking yourself on the head with your phone might take some explaining). The headphones are battery-charged, and last about five hours, but even if the battery dies the headphones still work if you plug them in — you just don't get any of the added features.

Cool tech aside, the Zik headphones sound pretty great. I tested them in a crowded, loud room, and the active noise cancellation shut off absolutely everything, to the point where people right in front of me were totally mute. As reps played songs (Jay-Z's "99 Problems," a solid choice) and I scrolled through playlists (a mix of rap, and seriously smooth jazz), I was impressed with both the dynamic range and the sheer power of the headphones. Parrot specifically designed the headphones to sound as if the audio is coming from in front of you, rather than beside you — reps called it the Concert Hall effect — and it makes for a much nicer listening experience.

Reps couldn't say when the Zik headphones would be available, but like most of Parrot's gadgets they're likely to be as expensive as they are awesome.