Panasonic's first-ever true wireless earbuds are finally available to buy, months after we first heard about them at CES 2020 – and one of the two new models could prove a compelling cheaper alternative to the AirPods Pro.
- Read our AirPods Pro review
- AirPods Pro vs AirPods: which buds are best?
- The best true wireless earbuds of 2020
Panasonic says that the new wireless earbuds offer "industry-leading" hybrid active noise cancellation technology, which combine "FeedFoward Noise Cancelling, Feedback Noise Cancelling, and an Analog/Digital Processing hybrid".
These technologies work together to reduce noise generated both inside and outside the earcups, in theory resulting in an uninterrupted listening experience – and at $289 / £169, they're cheaper than much of the competition. That works out at around AU$415, though a Panasonic spokesperson tells us that these prices are subject to change.
Like the AirPods Pro, you can allow environmental sound to pass through the earbuds when you need to hear what' s going on around you; Panasonic says you can "simply tap the touch sensor to cycle between Noise Cancelling, Ambient Sound
That touch sensor can also be used to activate your voice assistant of choice, whether you prefer Siri or Google Assistant. Panasonic says that support for Amazon Alexa will be coming in the next few months, too.
As well as applying noise cancellation to your music, the new true wireless earbuds will also block out environmental noise from your phone calls, using a built-in microphone that, according to Panasonic, suppresses wind noise and other interference, improving noise cancellation performance and call quality.
Battery life comes in at six-and-a-half hours of continuous playback with noise cancellation turned on, while the charging case offers a further 13 hours of juice.
As for audio quality, we've been left guessing somewhat; Panasonic hasn't revealed the kind of drivers used within these earbuds, or given any description of the sound profile on offer – we can't wait to try them out for ourselves to see how they stack up against the best headphones of 2020.
Check out the cheaper model, too
The second of Panasonic's new true wireless earbud models are the RZ-S300W, which don't come with noise cancellation, but are cheaper than the flagship pair at $129 / £109 (around AU$185) – again, these prices are subject to change.
Without active noise cancellation draining the battery, these buds can last for 7-and-a-half hours of playback, with three further charges contained within the charging case.
Like the pricier RZ-S500W, the RZ-S300W come with an IPX4 waterpoof rating, so they too should be suitable for working out with, as well as voice assistant-compatibility.
Both models also come with "a unique antenna design" that Panasonic says will deliver reliable connectivity, even when using Bluetooth in a crowded area.
Again, we don't know much about the sound profile of these true wireless earbuds, but if they can offer decent audio quality on top of that budget-friendly price and good battery life, Panasonic could be onto a winner.