JBL may possibly set a trend with its latest Tour Pro 2 headphones. These true wireless earbuds are the first in the world to have a touchscreen on the charging case. This display gives you access to more settings than the touch-sensitive controls on the earbuds. Hence, you may find yourself not having to open JBL's smartphone app as often. But conversely, the case doesn't add anything new that you couldn't do before with the app.
- 10mm dynamic driver
- Adaptive noise cancelling
- Smart case with 1.45-inch touch screen
- Up to 10 hours battery life (with ANC off)
The 1.45-inch touchscreen on the Tour Pro 2's charging case is roughly the size of a smartwatch display. It's bright and responsive. The touchscreen has the usual volume and media playback controls, though the name of the currently-playing song only pops up momentarily at the start of the track. In addition, you can access some of the features found in JBL's app. There are six such feature shortcuts in total, including ambient sound control, equaliser, and spatial sound. You can pick which of these shortcuts you want to show up on the case's display. This touchscreen can also double up as a flashlight, like a smartwatch display. And as you can see below, you can customise the lockscreen with your choice of wallpaper.
Because of the touchscreen, the Tour Pro 2's charging case is heavier than usual. It weighs 73g compared with 51g for the JBL Live Pro 2‘s case. It's also a fair bit larger, and makes for a bigger bulge in my pocket. If you use this display heavily, it will probably affect the case's battery, though I don't see it being an issue. After all, the Tour Pro 2 earbuds have excellent battery life rated at up to 10 hours (without ANC) and up to 40 hours with the case. Besides its unique case, the Tour Pro 2 is packed with plenty of features, from adaptive noise cancellation to JBL's Personi-Fi feature that adjusts the audio accordingly after testing your hearing. There's even a maximum volume limiter (cap at 85 decibels), which isn't exactly a standard feature in earbuds.
As for its audio performance, the Tour Pro 2 is good, but far from the best. Especially when you consider that these earbuds are going at a premium S$349 price point. The Tour Pro 2 sounds a tad thin, and slightly lacking. They would be good — if they had cost S$250 or less, for example. I was also disappointed by the ANC performance. It didn't block off ambient noise as well as other earbuds in this price range. Lower frequency noise like those from passing traffic came through more than I would have liked. JBL's ambient aware feature (transparency mode) was fairly mediocre, too, and didn't sound as natural as its competitors.
Having used the JBL Tour Pro 2 for a couple of weeks, I would say that the case and its touchscreen has its moments. I did find myself relying more on the case, and less on my smartphone. If you often have trouble tapping the touch-sensitive controls on wireless earbuds, the case makes sense. But the touchscreen likely adds to the price, and puts the Tour Pro 2 in a tough spot against better-performing competitors. On the plus side, the Tour Pro 2 has more features than the average true wireless earbuds. At the time of publication, the Tour Pro 2 is out of stock at the JBL online store — JBL also has official Lazada and Shopee stores. So perhaps there's potential here. Who knows, we may even see a do-it-all charging case in the future, perhaps one that can play or stream music without a phone.
Note: Review unit provided by JBL.
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