In the lineup on smarthearingaid.com, the BT Pods are the new option in November 2022. Where most new hearing aids add more features and are more expensive, the BT Pods seem to be the budget option on the website. Does that mean the BT Pods have less to offer or does it pack the same features in a budget-friendly package? Let’s find out.
Below, I’ll highlight the most important features of the BT Pods. I’ll go over the technical specifications, potential problems, and give you some alternatives before concluding with a buying recommendation. This way, you’ll get to know the BT Pods hearing aids and see if they’re right for you.
As always, I’ve included a visual summary that gives you the conclusion right away. If you want to skip the reading, click here for the bottom of the page. I also rank the most important and available hearing aids on my 30-second page.
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The BT in the name for the BT Pods hints at the main key feature for these smart hearing aids. A Bluetooth connection in your hearing aids can mean a few different things. In this case, the BT Pods allow you to stream audio from your phone straight to your hearing aids. You can watch movie or listen to music straight from your hearing aids, which can switch between the normal hearing aids setting and ear buds.
Another key feature is the design of the BT Pods. As we’ve seen in other popular models, these hearing aids look more like the wireless earbuds you use exclusively to listen to music. As with similar models, that means the BT Pods are rechargeable and come in a rechargeable travel case.
Who is this hearing aid for?
The BT Pods are for anyone who wants to stream audio from their smartphone (or tablet) to their hearing aids. A lot of hearing aids don’t offer this feature, even if they are Bluetooth-enabled in other ways. Until a year or so ago, streaming audio was only available in prescription hearing aids. With technological developments, several over-the-counter hearing aids also offer audio streaming over Bluetooth.
How well do the BT Pods work?
Now, the problem with combining two different products (in this case, music ear buds and hearing aids) is that there’s often a loss of quality somewhere. The BT Pods seem an improvement compared to the first generation of these streaming hearing aids. It has all the bells and whistles we expect in normal hearing aids, such as layered noise reduction.
The battery life, often a weak spot in these hearing aids, can still be improved. A two-hour charge gives you eight hours of normal usage or six hours of streaming. That’s about average for these streaming hearing aids.
The built-in microphone allows you to make phone calls with the device. This way, you don’t just hear the audio from your phone, but it also gives you an easy way to call people.
What’s not to like about the BT Pods?
The BT Pods aren’t as powerful as its big competitor, the Olive SmartEar. The 33 dB peak gain is fine, but lacks the real power of other hearing aids in the same price range (that admittedly lack streaming). I’m still not thrilled about the battery life for these hearing aids, but that’s across the board for now. It doesn’t charge as fast as the BT Omni, and it doesn’t have as many features as many other hearing aids, but overall there’s nothing really wrong with it.
Alternatives for the BT Pods
When it comes to hearing aids that allow you to stream your phone audio straight to your hearing devices, it’s still slim pickings. I expect this feature to be commonplace in many hearing aids in about two years, but for now you’ve got limited options.
The most important alternative is the BT Omni, a very comparable hearing aid. It’s about $100 more than the BT Pods, but that gives you some extra features and a quicker charging time. If you appreciate the battery and the price, but you don’t need the streaming feature, try the Go Hearing Prime or Go Hearing Lite.
For a better alternative, try the Lucid Hearing Engage, which has different setup, but the same functionalities and a step up in quality. For the highest step in the category, there’s the Olive SmartEar. Where the BT product line gives you a discount price and the streaming feature but doesn’t deliver the full hearing aid experience, the SmartEar is a more allround device – which will cost you. The price tag of over $1,000 is more than four times as much as the BT Pods will cost you, but you do get more quality.
Should you buy the BT Pods?
It depends. If you’re looking to score a set of okay hearing aids that allow you to stream audio from your phone, then yes. At the same time, I don’t feel comfortable recommending them. On the hearing aid side of the equation, I feel the BT Pods still compromise too much. However, when it comes to hearing aids with streaming options, you don’t have a lot of choice. I imagine many manufacturers are looking at the technological developments before they release a similar hearing aid, and perhaps that’s the best move for many customers, too.