Look: I’m not saying that the Vinci headphones, which puts a full touchscreen interface on wireless headphones, are a good idea. But they are definitely an idea that managed to raise over a million dollars on Indiegogo. The idea is simple: you just want your music on your headphones instead of on your phone, but really you also want Spotify and the only good way to do that is to use a touchscreen. Bam: customize Android a bit and put it on the side of some cans — well they’re more like Altoids tins because they’re rectangular — and away you go.
What can I tell you about the Vinci headphones? I can tell you that they definitely sound like nothing special for on-ear headphones, especially ones that cost $129. I can tell you that once you get over the ridiculousness of having a screen on the side of your face, there is something slightly clever about making a fully self-contained music gadget that nevertheless works with Spotify. I can tell you that you can turn the screen off automatically when they’re on so you don’t look completely insane. I can tell you that you can slap a SIM card in there and use it to stream music without Wi-Fi.
Hell, I can even tell you that although touch controls on headphones are universally bad, the touch controls on the Vinci work halfway decently, because the touch surface on the side is so large that you can just make huge, broad gestures that are easier to pull off. I can tell you that the custom build of Android here is actually well designed, fast and simple. My 2016 Honda Civic has a custom version of Android, too, and it’s garbage compared to how well this works. Go figure!
I can tell you that there’s a custom smart assistant in them so you can use voice control to manage Spotify and SoundCloud — one that didn’t really work all that well for me.
I can tell you they threw Alexa in there, too, because why not?
What I can’t tell you is to buy them, because even though these are much better executed than I would have expected, they’re still executing on a weird idea. And they don’t sound good enough to justify everything that’s going on here. But I like that they exist and I even like that’s there’s a “Pro” version with better sound and more storage coming out later this year.
Some people see a screen on a pair of headphones and ask “Why?” But a better question is “Why not?” They aren’t hurting anybody and some people might actually like this idea and why should we begrudge them their gadget? We should not begrudge them their gadget.