AirFly Pro Deluxe
AirFly Pro Deluxe Review
Several years ago, I was on a British Airways flight. I awoke, a bit groggy from grog and sleep, unbuckled my seatbelt and bolted up into the cabin. As I did, my head jerked back. Laying in my seat was my Bose headphone connection. Well, what used to be my Bose headphone connection. The end of the cable was shredded, with exposed wire and shielding splayed out in various lengths from what remained of the previously pristine single wire.
I have since moved to wireless headphones, but if I want to listen to content provided by the airlines, I need a wire. Well, not anymore. With the clever $55 AirFly Pro, Twelve South reimagined the relationship with airplane seatbacks and armrests by creating a dongle that transmits the audio from the jack over Bluetooth, to a set of paired Bluetooth headphones.
What we like
- Turns a 3.5mm audio jack into a Bluetooth stream
- 25+ hours of battery life
- Nice case
- Offers receive as well as transmit mode
- Charges via USB-C
The basic idea is great. Turn a dumb audio output port into a Bluetooth transmitter. They were not the first to market, but the Twelve South quality and design sense pervades this little audio companion. Pairing is easy. Push the main button and hold to enter pairing mode. It’s probably a lot harder to remember how to place a pair of wireless headphones into pairing mode. You’ll need to do that, too. Once both are in pairing mode, they will find each other.
The pairing step requires a bit of faith for people like me, who have fiddled with Bluetooth connections over the years. We expect to see visual confirmation or at least audio confirmation. With AirFly Pro, the light just stops blinking (the headphones will also acknowledge pairing, however, if they do that for the brand you own).
AirFly Pro charges via USB-C with its included cable in about two hours (via any powered port). Twelve South suggests charging to full before its first use. While AirFly will likely work while charging, (though it does need a certain amount of charge to transmit, but there is no level indicator), plugging into USB-C during use kind of flies in the face of the no-cable value proposition. I recommend topping off the AirFly after extended use when it isn’t being deployed.
The Pro version will pair two sets of headphones for shared listening. We did not test this feature.
The AirFly Pro is covered by the standard Twelve South one-year warranty.
Once connected, plug the 3.5mm connector into the audio source, pick something to listen to and listen.
With a 25+ hour battery the AirFly Pro should last long enough for any trip. The longest flight runs about 18 hours, so it will survive the trek from New York to Singapore on a single charge.
Beyond the role of transmitting audio to Bluetooth headphones, a single flick of a switch transforms the AirFly Pro into a receiver. That allows stereos and older vehicles to receive Bluetooth streams.
The deluxe edition includes a customer design international airline adapter that matches the styling of the AirFly Pro along with a bag to hold all the parts.
Its all-cardboard package was good, but I’d like to see the elimination of plastic wrap over the device, as well as the end to plastic hang tags. Several packaging companies offer alternatives for both.
What could be improved
- Straight connector
This is a nit, but I would like to see Twelve South consider a 90-degree connector. I recently revisited British Airways and both the 777 and 787 configurations in World Traveler Plus seats placed the headphone jack in the armrest, where my thighs pressed against the controls and the headphone jack. A 90-degree connector would reduce the portion of the connector extending into seat space. Of course, this doesn’t really matter for headphone jacks on the back of the seat ahead, but it would be a nice feature for long-haul flights with armrest audio configurations.
While I have groused about small things getting lost over the years, I won’t count the keyring cap over the 3.5mm connector as a negative. If not attached to a strap or clip, or keyring, it may turn up lost. With that said, take this more as a warning than a complaint to secure the cap so it doesn’t get lost. Perhaps a tether in the Deluxe edition bag in future iterations would help keep the cap close.
AirFly Pro Deluxe: The bottom line
Twelve South continues to create great products for road warriors and travels. For those who want to enjoy consumer content from on-plane entertainment systems without wires, the AirFly Pro is the ticket.
Twelve South provided the AirFly Pro Deluxe for review. Images courtesy of Twelve South unless otherwise noted.
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