Wireless headphones come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny in-ear buds to over-ear whoppers. But we've never seen anything like Sony's new offering, which appears to double as some kind of futuristic necklace.
The SRS-NB10 (catchy name, yep) is a 'neckband speaker' that sits on your shoulders and features an upwards-angled full-range speaker unit. Sony says the neckband is designed to be worn all day, and is particularly aimed at those working from home. It's a curious proposition – but should the more traditional offerings in our best wireless headphones roundup be worried?
Set to cost $150 when it goes on sale this August, the SRS-NB10 can be used for voice and video calls as well as listening to audio. Sony says (opens in new tab) it's powerful and practical, designed to "handle a whole day of business calls, music playlists, TV shows and more".
Our immediate concern at the prospect of a wearable speaker is that it'll essentially be a boombox on your shoulders, forcing everyone around you to listen to your tunes. Sony says you can listen "without bothering neighbours, roommates or other family members," although it isn't clear exactly how the speakers will avoid sound leakage.
And then there's the look. The design is certainly unusual, and despite Sony's efforts to portray it as a casual wear-around-the-house affair in its product shots, there's no denying that this one will be divisive. There's something a little creepy about the neck massager look – but then again, Apple's AirPods were brutally mocked on announcement, and look how popular they are now (check out the best AirPods deals).
That said, we can see how the neckband could be useful. Headphones can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods, and if you want to be able to hear external sounds, it could be ideal, with "open-ear style that allows you to listen to calls yet still be aware of what’s going on around you."
Time will tell whether Sony's neckband reaches anything near the popularity of AirPods, but hey – it's always cool to see unusual new products (unless it's a transparent TV, we don't need that.) But if Sony's new invention looks like a pain in the neck, check out today's best AirPods deals below.