JBL reveals a colorful $100 AirPod alternative

Marc DeAngelis
Contributor
JBL

JBL had a strong 2019, releasing impressive Bluetooth speakers, true wireless earbuds and soundbars throughout the year. The company is hoping to continue its winning streak with the upcoming TUNE 220TWS buds. At $100, they're clearly positioned against Apple's AirPods. The earbuds have a simple and slim design and are coated in eye-catching colors. They last for three hours on a charge -- a bit less than entry-level AirPods -- and the charging case has an additional 16 hours of battery life. The possible drawback for some is the lack of features found in JBL's higher-end models, like built-in virtual assistants.

JBL 220TWS wireless charging case

JBL's other new earbuds, the LIVE 300TWS, are a big step up from the 220TWS in terms of features. The IPX5 water resistance rating makes them better suited for workouts, and the in-ear buds are less likely to fall out while exercising. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are built in as well, so you don't have to rely exclusively on your device's AI. The LIVE 300TWS includes JBL's TalkThru mode, which lowers the audio from your phone and amplifies voices so you don't have to take out your earbuds when talking to people in real life. AmbientAware mode does just what you'd expect: It lets you hear background noises so you can stay aware of their surroundings. The 300TWS units last four hours on a charge and the case has an additional 14 hours of juice. At $150, these features could be worth the premium over the 220TWS.

JBL LIVE 300TWS

If the 220TWS and 300TWS have similar sound quality and durability as other JBL offerings, they could be worthy contenders in the true wireless earbuds market. And while neither model has active noise cancelling, we wouldn't expect them to at these price points. Both will be available this spring, but we'll hopefully get a close-up look at each model during CES.