Shokz OpenComm UC: One-minute review
The Shokz OpenComm UC is for one specific type of user. If you want something to immerse you in soundscapes or virtual worlds, then this is not for you. Its sound quality is best for casual use. So, who’s it for then?
Those that work from home and are tired of constantly having 300+ grams of plastic on their head or those that are always on the phone will greatly appreciate this bone conduction headphone’s comfort and mic quality. Even the sound quality lends itself well to listening to other people’s voices. This is one of the few headsets where it’s ok that the mic outperforms the audio, especially considering that the Shokz OpenComm UC is so light that wearing it is about on par with wearing a pair of sunglasses.
Of course, it does come at a price. But, if you’re on the phone for eight hours a day, it’s worth it.
Shokz OpenComm UC: Price and availability
- How much does it cost? $199 (£199 / AU$319)
- Where is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Interface: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz Wireless
Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Surround sound: No
Weight: 33g (1.16 oz)
It’s difficult comparing the Shokz OpenComm UC to other bone-conduction headsets in more ways than one. While its price of $199 (£199 / AU$319) makes it the most expensive model in the Shokz lineup, it’s the only one with an eye on the office. None of the others has a boom mic, for instance. Instead, the rest are much more focused on use in athletic settings where having something inside over the ear is a bad idea.
If you’re just interested in the bone conduction technology for listening to music, you can spend much less with something like Shokz’ OpenMove, which is the company’s cheapest at $79 (£79 / AU$129). Of course, it’s easy to spend much more as well. The Zygo Solo, which is meant for swimming, is a great example with its price of $299 / £218 (about AU$400).
If you’re deciding on whether to get this or a more traditional headset, you can spend much less. Even if you go with earbuds, you’ll spend less. But, it’s a different experience wearing bone conduction headsets. And, if you need to wear a headset for eight hours a day, spending a little extra on something that barely feels like it’s there is worth it.
- Value: 4.5 / 5
Shokz OpenComm UC: Design
- It’s incredibly thin and very comfortable
- There’s both Bluetooth and Wireless connectivity
The Shokz OpenComm UC looks more like the silhouette of a headset than an actual headset. But, that’s the nature of these types of devices. There are no ear cups or ear pads. Nothing covers or goes in your ears.
Instead, it has small transducers the size of earbuds that sit right in front of your ears. These transducers are on either end of a single band that loops over the ears and wraps around the back of the head. And, the whole thing is covered in soft, matte black silicone for a modern, rubberized look.
A boom mic that articulates almost a full 360 degrees sits on the left transducer. On the left side behind the ear, you’ll find a proprietary charging port – not USB-C unfortunately – and two buttons. These two buttons control volume, power and pairing. For better or worse, there’s no other way to control the headset.
In our opinion, one of the core reasons to get the Shokz OpenComm UC is its comfort. At 33 grams, it’s a tenth the weight of some headsets out there. And, while there’s no cooling gel or memory foam here, they’re not needed. The thin headband doesn’t even touch the back of our head and the only thing we feel when wearing this are the loops of the headband over our ears and the transducers on our upper cheekbones.
What we don’t feel is anything over our ears. If you take calls every now and then or want to watch a movie and not disturb your partner, this might not be important. But, if you’re constantly on the phone, you’re wearing something that you can barely feel and will let your ears breathe throughout the day without feeling the need to remove the headset.
While there’s no way to connect the headset physically, it does come with both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless. Both work very well and keep a solid connection. And, you can connect to both at the same time with its multipoint pairing. It’s easy to set up and use as well. It will only send one source of audio through the headset at once, but it’s a nice feature nonetheless. And, it seamlessly switches between the two.
If you’re a bit on the messy side, know that this does come with an IP55 rating. So, while you can’t go swimming in it, it can survive most office spill-related mishaps.
And, if you’re the kind to keep your equipment in tip-top shape, you’ll appreciate the hard shell case. It has a molded insert to keep the headset perfectly still when stored as well as a slot for the USB receiver. There’s also a mesh pouch to stow away the charging cable.
- Design: 4.5 / 5
Shokz OpenComm UC: Performance
- Loud volume can create an uneasy listening experience
- Mic quality is very good
First, we need to mention that bone conduction headphones are not going to compare to traditional headphones or earbuds when it comes to sound quality. It’s just the nature of the technology. That said, we were able to listen to music and use it in conjunction with streaming video for a decent listening experience – though there’s not a lot of low-end and the mids are recessed. The highs are fairly present, however, and the sound quality is fine for when you want to listen to something in between calls.
On that note, while calls sound great on the headset because of that frequency response, turning the volume up too loud is a somewhat painful experience. And, that volume is not that loud compared to more traditional audio sources. Instead of ear fatigue, turning it up creates vibrations in our bones, making us feel uneasy. We actually have to shake it out when that happens. It’s very unusual and unnerving.
The mic quality at least fares a bit better. When using it, our voice comes through loud and clear, though a little further away sounding than when holding a phone up to our head. And, the mic does a good job of rejecting background noise, much better than most headsets or earbuds that we’ve tested. In essence, it’s almost perfect. We do wish that the boom mic was a little longer since we would sound a little closer. But, we’re nitpicking at that point.
The battery life might not be as spectacular, but it’s probably unrealistic to expect Shokz to fit a battery with a 30-hour charge into this headset’s slender build. Instead, it packs 16 hours of use and eight hours when listening to music. Of course, quick charging is on hand with five minutes providing two hours of talk time. What we’re more impressed by is its ability to hold its charge. We accidentally left it on for twelve and a half hours and the battery was still high.
- Performance: 3.5 / 5
Should I buy the Shokz OpenComm UC?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
Shokz OpenComm UC: Report card
|Value||While it’s not anywhere close to a budget price range and it’s not chock full of features, it offers a lot of value for the right kind of user.||4.5 / 5|
|Design||The Shokz OpenComm UC is incredibly light and very comfortable. Though it doesn’t feel like one of those headsets covered in plush memory, it almost feels like it’s not there, which is even better.||4.5 / 5|
|Performance||The mic quality is very good and the listening experience works well enough with media when you’re in between calls. We do wish that listening at louder volumes didn’t make us feel uneasy.||3.5 / 5|
|Total||While it has a few flaws, it’s almost perfect for those needing a headset with a focus on making calls thanks to its barely there comfort and excellent mic quality.||4 / 5|
- First reviewed October 2022
How we test
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained – regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it’s on our radar.