Urbanista’s new wireless noise-canceling Los Angeles headphones have a solar panel integrated into the length of the headband, allowing them to draw power from both indoor and outdoor light, Wired reports. Although its built-in 750mAh battery can be charged traditionally via USB-C and offers up to a respectable 50 hours of battery life, the real appeal to these headphones is the solar charging. They’re due to ship in early summer for $199 /£169.
Although Urbanista’s site promises “infinite playtime” from the headphones, the exact amount of power these headphones can generate while solar charging varies. One hour spent in the sun should generate enough power for three hours of playtime, but on a cloudy day that drops to just two hours, the company says. In a worst case scenario on a long-distance plane flight, Wired notes you’d need around eight hours of light exposure to get an hour of listening.
Beyond their solar-powered smarts, the Urbanista’s Los Angeles headphones are similar to its existing Miami range. They’ve got built-in microphones for use with voice assistants like Siri or Google Assistant, on-ear detection, an ambient sound mode, and they wirelessly connect over Bluetooth 5.0. In the box you get a carrying case, audio cable, and in-flight adaptor.
JBL announced a very similar pair of solar-powered headphones back in December 2019, which was subsequently crowdfunded on IndieGoGo. However, the Reflect Eternal headphones aren’t yet available. In December 2020 the company posted an update on the project’s page saying the headphones were facing “major delays” due to the pandemic, and that it would be offering refunds to its backers.
Both JBL’s and Urbanista’s headphones rely on the same Powerfoyle solar charging technology developed by a company called Exeger. “JBL were a bit unlucky with Covid hitting, and so Urbanista became lucky because we’re in the same city,” Exeger’s CEO Giovanni Fili told Wired. “We’re looking forward to picking it up with JBL as soon as they can.”
Update April 15th, 4:46AM ET: Updated with US pricing.