Panasonic RP-HT21 (Black)
Price Range: $3.99 - $66.37
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: Panasonic's very inexpensive RP-HT21 on-ear headphones are lightweight, fairly comfortable, seem sturdy enough, and sound quite decent for their low price.
The bad: The headphones have a generic design, don't fold up, and their thicker, reinforced L-shaped plug may not be compatible with certain smartphone cases. They also leak sound.
The bottom line: As far as really inexpensive headphones go, you're not going to do too much better than the Panasonic RP-HT21s.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
In the past few months I've been on a minor mission to check out some budget headphones that cost less than $10. I started with Pansonic's sub-$10 ErgoFit RP-HJE120 earphones, and came away pleasantly surprised by their performance and fit. But what about something really cheap, like Panasonic's simple on-ear model, the RP-HT21, which I bought for $4.87 on Amazon, tax and shipping included thanks to my Prime membership? Could they be any good?
Well, in the world of superbudget headphones, good is a relative word. For starters, this model isn't going to win any design awards. It's not totally devoid of aesthetic flare, but it's pretty generic-looking, and out of the box, my first thought was that it was something a flight attendant would hand me on a plane. OK, maybe it's a step up from that, but if it is, it's not a big step up.
Indeed, the RP-HT21 is almost as basic as an on-ear model gets. But it is lightweight, comfortable enough, and has a seemingly durable L-shaped plug (alas, that plug may be problem for those with thicker "tough" cases on their phones). They don't fold up, there's no built-in microphone for making cell phone calls, or anything in the way of extra features. (If you can afford to splurge a little, Panasonic also makes the RP-HT46, which has a folding design and supposedly offers a bit more bass for around $13 online).
As for the sound, it's actually pretty decent, and will most likely exceed your expectations. The RP-HT21s have a reasonable amount of clarity, play loud with mobile devices, and output ample bass. No, the sound isn't all that refined, and no the bass isn't terribly tight, but I've heard plenty of $20 to $25 headphones that sound about the same. These guys also sound as good as many entry-level Bluetooth headphones that cost around $50. But that isn't saying much.
We're fans of the Koss PortaPro on-ear headphones, which retail for around $35 online and have a folding headband. The RP-HT21s don't sound as good as the PortaPros, but their sound quality doesn't fall that short and they cost nearly $30 less.
If you're looking for a cheap pair of headphones for casual listening on the go or at the gym, the RP-HT21s, despite their generic looks, actually sound pretty decent and are fairly comfortable to wear. Sure, some people may think you swiped them from your last flight, but the good news is that if you leave them anywhere (or accidentally break them), they'll only cost you $5 to replace. There's something to be said for that.
|Product Description||Panasonic RP HT21 - Headphones|
|Product Type||Headphones - Wired|
|Recommended Use||Portable audio system|
|Headphones Type||Headphones - Binaural|
|Headphones Form Factor||On-ear|
|Sound Output Mode||Stereo|
|Response Bandwidth||16 - 22000 Hz|
|Manufacturer Warranty||3 months warranty|
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 0
4 Star: 0
3 Star: 1
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0
Rating: 3 / 5
on August 1, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Price point.
Cons: None relative to cost.
Summary: It sounds just fine if you're not expecting a Dr. Dre experience. And I'm not going to scream if they die. Super light-weight. Perfect if you're working out and you cannot stand sticking jelly-things in your ears. I imagine great for kids with this price point. Six months and they still sound fine. It's good to know that a quality utilitarian product doesn't have to cost a fortune. Kudos Panasonic.
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