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CNET: Anker takes on AirPods with Zolo Liberty Plus earphones

Anker's better known for its battery accessories for mobile phones and tablets, but lately it's been making a serious push into the headphone market with a line of inexpensive Bluetooth headphones. Now it's going a bit more upscale with a set of totally wireless earphones called the Zolo Liberty Plus that it hopes will put a small dent in Apple AirPods' sales.

The earphones aren't due out till October, but Anker's launched a Kickstarter campaign to spur preorders. The Zolo Liberty Plus will retail for $150, but Anker has the earphones on sale at launch for prices below $100 (that converts to £79 or AU$132). Anker says it offers worldwide shipping.

I got a chance to give a preproduction Liberty Plus a quick spin. The earphones fit my ears snugly and comfortably -- I got a tight seal and thanks to the included silicone earhooks, they stayed in my ears. I thought they sounded quite good for this type of totally wireless earphone, offering decent clarity and relatively plump but well sculpted bass. I'll reserve final judgment on sound quality until I get a final shipping sample, but my initial impression was that they sounded better than Apple's AirPods.

Anker says the Liberty Plus will be Amazon Alexa-enabled and will support other voice assistants, but those features weren't available in the early sample I took for a spin.   

That $150 retail price isn't bad, but the Liberty Plus is certainly a more attractive option at less than $100. While China-based Anker is an established company with lots of products, with any Kickstarter there's some chance the product will never ship, so proceed at your own risk. 

The Liberty Plus is the first product to arrive under Anker's new, more upscale Zolo brand. The company says more Zolo headphones are in the works and will be released in the coming months.    


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