My biggest problem with the US$79.99 a-JAYS Four by JAYS of Sweden (http://www.jays.se ) was getting them out of their hard plastic case. That little sticker that says to remove it so you can press the tab beneath? Well, do as instructed, and you'll save some time.
Once you've got 'em out of their more-than-sturdy case, you'll have some sleek in-ear earphones with tangle-resistant, flat cables and a one-button remote. It took a while to get used to the cables -- they're flat but bulkier than you might expect -- but they do indeed resist tangling. You can tangle them intentionally, and they'll straighten themselves out. For this, I can live with a bit of extra bulk.
The embedded three-button remote on the a-JAYS four with SMART-feel, soft touch buttons provides full feature control on your mobile device including: play, pause and skip for music and videos; answer and hang up for calls; and volume and voice control. I've used the a-JAYS Four with my iPhone 4S and iPod classic (still a great, and under-appreciated, device) and it worked well with both.
The a-JAYS Four come with a selection of sleeves available in five different sizes. Yours Truly, my wife and my daughter were all able to find sizes that kept the earphones snug but comfortable. Plus, the sleeves are washable, so it's easy to keep them clean.
The cable leading to the right-hand earpiece is home to a three-button, Apple-style remote with buttons for Volume Up, Play/Pause/Call, and Volume Down. I found the cable a bit on the short side, so you'll have to learn to use the remote by feel, but that's not difficult as the volume buttons are concave, while the center Pause/Play button is convex.
The microphone module's black-and-silver design is a nice aesthetic match with the iPhone. It offers more-than-acceptable quality and performance for phone calls. However, you may notice some microphonic noise when the cable bumps into your clothing.
When it comes to music, the bass is relatively solid, the midrange is smooth, and the low end pleasantly warm. There's little sibilance or harshness, though audio detail is a bit lacking.
You can find better headphones for phone conversations and better earphones for enjoying music. But the a-JAYS Four is a fine balance between the two at a decent price. And those tangle-free cords are something else.
Rating: 8 out of 10
-- Dennis Sellers