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Eargo Hearing Aids Preview | PCMag.com
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Eargo Hearing Aids
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PROS
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BOTTOM LINE
Excellent sound quality.
Comfortable. Practically invisible to
observers. Rechargeable batteries
last all day. Relatively affordable.
Adjusting volumes takes some
practice.
The tiny, comfortable, nearly
invisible Eargo in-ear hearing aids
amplify sound naturally, and at a
much better price than traditional
models.
BY MATTHEW D. SARREL Everyone knows someone with hearing loss, yet the vast
majority of those with hearing loss wait, on average, 10 years to get hearing aids.
Why? Because hearing aids are bulky, uncomfortable, expensive, and visible. The
Eargo Hearing Aids ($1,980 upfront or $96/month for 24 months), on the other
hand, are the exact opposite of what I've grown up thinking about hearing aids.
They are tiny, lightweight, comfortable, and nearly invisible. And more
importantly, they sound great: very natural, light, and airy. If you're looking for a
new, less visible hearing aid, or if you suffer from hearing loss but haven't yet
invested in a solution, the Eargo Hearing Aids should be at the top of your list.
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Not My Grandfather's Hearing Aids
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication
Disorders, there are more than 360 million people worldwide—40 million in the
U.S. alone—with hearing loss. About two to three of every 1,000 children in the U.S.
are born with hearing loss, but it's also a condition that becomes more likely as you
age. Most hearing loss is caused through exposure to noise at work or through
leisure activities; veterans of all ages report hearing loss in very high numbers.
About two percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. This
increases to 8.5 percent for 55 to 64, 25 percent for 65 to 74, and 50 percent of
those who are 75 and older.
»
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I don't suffer from hearing loss, so I wore the Eargo Hearing Aids on a low setting
every day for two weeks. I enjoyed my time testing them, hearing clearly in a
variety of settings. During those two weeks, not a single person saw them. Many
times I pointed them out and people still couldn't see them. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2488793,00.asp
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Eargo Hearing Aids Preview | PCMag.com
The tiny hearing aids are the brainchild of Dr. Florent Michel, a European ENT
surgeon. He had been recommending hearing aids to his patients for years, many
of whom refused to wear them because they were bulky, uncomfortable, hard to
adjust, and well, not cool. One day Dr. Michel was tying flies while fly fishing, and it
occurred to him that a hearing aid could be modeled after the shape of a fishing
fly. He thought that he if he could shrink the electronics and suspend them in the
middle of the ear by soft medical grade silicone fibers, he could make hearing aids
small enough that no one would object wearing them. The patented Flexi Fibers on
the Eargo are comfortable and breathable, gently suspending the hearing aid in
place while allowing air and ambient noise (mostly bass) to pass through. The
device is so small that it is practically invisible when inserted into the ear (which
you can see in the slideshow).
First Impressions
The Eargo packaging and documentation are extremely well designed. The box
opens like a clamshell and everything is arranged intuitively inside. The informative
and easy-to-understand User Guide is glued on the left side of the open box. The
hearing aids themselves are on the right side, along with their charging carrying
case. The base, used for inductive charging, is below that. The box also includes
two ear cleaners, a USB cable and power adapter for charging, and two sample
pairs (plastic mockups) with coupons so you can share the excitement with your
friends.
Removing the hearing aids from the box, I was immediately struck by how small
they are. Not much larger than the eraser on a pencil, each unit houses a
rechargeable battery, a microphone, and a speaker. The end that faces into your
ear is covered in Flexi Fibers, while the other end has a short plastic cord that's
used to remove the hearing aid from your ear.
The first step is the same as using any new device—charge it. The Eargo charger is
a black disk, roughly three inches across and half an inch thick. In addition to being
a charger, it is also a carrying case that can be charged inductively by placing it on
the white charging base, or the old fashioned way using a micro USB cable. The
inductive charger takes about six hours to fully charge the carrying case charger
and Eargo devices. I carried the charging case in my pocket, and kept the charging
base on my nightstand. I put the hearing aids in the charging case and dropped it
on the charging base to charge every night. The devices last about 16 hours on a
single charge. so you should have no trouble getting through the whole day.
After charging, I was ready to insert the Eargo devices into my ears. I grasped the
right hearing aid's removal thread between my thumb and index finger, and gently
inserted it into my ear canal. The process is much like wearing a pair of earbuds,
and I knew when the device was fully inserted and seated properly. For about 30
seconds it made some whistling sounds, which is a normal part of the calibration
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2488793,00.asp
2/5
8/5/2015
Eargo Hearing Aids Preview | PCMag.com
process. I inserted the second device in my left ear with the same result. The Flexi
Fibers tickled a bit, which took a little while to get used to. Later, when I ate lunch, I
really felt a tickling sensation because of how the jaw interacts with the ear, but by
day three I no longer noticed it. Removing the hearing aids is simply a matter of
grasping the removal thread and pulling gently.
The Quieter You Become, the More You Can Hear
As I mentioned earlier, I don't actually need hearing aids, so my impression of
hearing with the Eargo devices may not be the same as someone with hearing loss.
I kept them set on low amplification (more on this below) and was struck by how
natural they sounded. The world around me became more alive, and it was mainly
the little things I noticed, like the clicking of the keys on my keyboard as I typed,
the chirping of birds outside my window, and the lapping of the waves against the
side of my kayak. Sure, I was testing hearing aids, so I was hyper-focused on the
experience and I found myself devoting a lot of energy toward being quiet and
listening to the world around me. But I could definitely tell during my two-week
test period that the Eargo hearing aids produce a natural sound that enhanced my
perception of the world around me.
Adjusting the volume was the Eargo's only weakness. The hearing aids have four
amplification settings. To move from one setting to the next, you open your hand
and gently and rapidly double-tap your ear. One double-tap moves you up an
amplification setting; when you reach the top you go back to the bottom. The
device tells you that you've successfully changed the amplification by beeping (the
number of beeps equals the amplification setting). Each hearing aid can be
adjusted independently, so you can have your left ear on low amplification and
your right ear on a higher amplification, for example. But in practice this
adjustment takes some getting used to. The double tap can't be too quick or too
slow, or too hard or too soft. It took me a few days to get the hang of it. In the
beginning, people kept asking me why I was tapping my ear, especially when I
wanted to drop the amplification, which meant cycling through all four settings to
get back to setting one. Now I can do this much more smoothly, without attracting
unwanted attention.
Eargo: The Cool Hearing Aid
I was very pleased with the Eargo Hearing Aids during my two-week test period.
They're comfortable enough to wear all day, even while running. They also sound
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2488793,00.asp
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Eargo Hearing Aids Preview | PCMag.com
great, cost less than many traditional options, and are practically invisible. If you
suffer from hearing loss, but you've been hesitant to adopt hearing aids because of
the bulk, the Eargo could be just what you're looking for. Even if you already own
hearing aids, the Eargo are absolutely worth a look—and a listen. BACK TO TOP
PREVIOUS : Pinnacle S-BAR 3509
BY MATTHEW D. SARREL
MORE STORIES BY MATTHEW D. SARREL
Matthew D. Sarrel, CISSP, is a network
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So, according to Mr Sarrel, "hearing aids are bulky, uncomfortable, expensive, and visible." How nice it
would be if he had checked up with reality before writing this near­nonsense. Bulky: hearing aids today
weigh around 2 grams, measure less than half an inch in length. In fact, they're so small that many
people with manual dexterity challenges find it difficult to handle them. Uncomfortble: By far the majority
of today's hearing aid fittings are so­called "open" with no earmould being "uncomfortable". Expensive:
First of all, you forget that the Price doesn't cover the hearing aid only (the hardware), but the total
treatment of hearing loss, testing, evaluation, fitting of the instrument, post­training, service, warranty, etc.
Second, hearing aids are free of charge in the UK, in the Scandinavian countries and, to some extent in
other countries, too. In Germany the Health Insurance guarantees you free hearing aids. In the US, more
than 20% get their hearing aids for free from the Veterans' Administration. So "expensive" needs a Little
nuancing, please. And finally, visible: First of all, there are several completely invisible or near­invisible
hearing aids worn in the ear Canal. Second, todays tiny behind­the­ear hearing aids are very often
difficult to see, being often mistaken for the bends of a pair of glasses. And the tube leading into the ear
Canal is no 0.7 millimeters, and so invisible that we have reports of hairdressers who have inadvertently
cut the tube.
With the entire article being based on these old­fashioned conceptions of what a hearing aid is today, the
rest of the article suffers badly.
Soren Hougaard • 11 hours ago
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