HP’s Hearing PRO Powered by Nuheara, making its debut at CES this week, promises to be the best Bluetooth earbud-style over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids thanks to the inclusion of active noise canceling, compatibility with both iPhones and Android smartphones, and their $699 price, nearly half the price of the comparable CRE-E10 model from Sony ($1,299).
While HP’s name adorns these medical-grade hearing aid buds, the tech largely comes from Nuheara, the Australian Bluetooth earbud company that makes the highly regarded IQbuds2 Max earbuds. The HP Hearing PRO are what the FDA is calling a “self-fitting” hearing aid, which means you don’t need to get them tuned and fitted by an audiologist, which is why their price is so relatively low. Like standard Bluetooth earbuds, the HP Hearing PROs will not only amplify sounds for those affected by low to mild hearing loss, but also stream high-fidelity music and phone calls.
The Hearing PRO’s self-fitting feature comes via Nuheara’s Ear ID, a five-minute self-administered hearing test included in the PRO’s complementary smartphone HP Hearing app. The hearing test automatically calibrates the PROs to your personal hearing levels. Like other Bluetooth earbud-style OTC hearing aids, the HP Hearing PRO are powered by rechargeable batteries and will come with a recharging case.
Unusual among these new earbud-style hearing aids, the HP Hearing PRO also includes active noise canceling, applied via a single tap in the HP Hearing app rather than tapping on the bud itself. Instead of the usual 45-day trial period, HP will offer a 60-day money-back guarantee, along with a two-year warranty. The HP Hearing app will also include adjustable volume, tone, and microphone directional controls.
One tech the HP Hearing PROs will likely not include is the new Bluetooth Auracast, which will enable compatible earbud wearers to hear audio broadcasts directly through the buds in concert halls, movie theaters, and public places such as airports and mass transit.
You’ll be able to buy the HP Hearing Pro online (they’re currently available for pre-order on the HP Hearing PRO site and Best Buy) or via hearing screening kiosks and product displays in independent pharmacies, Walmart Vision Centers, and through over-the-counter hearing aid displays in Rite Aid pharmacy stores.
[Image credit: Josh Kirschner/Techlicious]
Stewart Wolpin has been writing about consumer electronics for more than 35 years, including news, reviews, analysis and history, and has attended and covered nearly 50 Consumer Electronic Shows and around a dozen IFA shows in Berlin. For the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), he is an elector for and writes the official biographies of the annual CT Hall of Fame inductees, and is the keeper of the industry’s official history.
How are these different than what Nuheara sells?
From Joe Dusel on February 15, 2023 :: 7:39 pm
Are these any different than the Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX?
Yes, different classes of devices
From Josh Kirschner on February 16, 2023 :: 9:16 pm
Specific details for the HP Hearing PRO aren’t available yet. However, based on what we know so far: The HP Hearing Pro are FDA-approved OTC hearing aids, which is vastly different than the relatively less complicated 10-20% sound amplification provided by the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max. OTC hearing aids use far more sophisticated technologies to amplify sounds at varying frequencies, and don’t use Bluetooth to transmit music and call audio, from your smartphone to the hearing aids (iPhones use Apple’s MFi standard for transmitting music and calls to the hearing aid, for instance). In terms of relative sound amplification differences between the IQbuds2 and the HP Hearing PRO, think of the difference between the free headphones you get on an airplane to a pair of Beats.
Our author, Stewart Wolpin, has used several Bluetooth bud-style OTC hearing aids as well as the IQbuds2 Max. His opinion is that the HP Hearing PRO deploys far more sophisticated hearing aid sound amplification technologies and thus will provide higher volume and more precise and effective tone and directional controls than the IQbuds2 Max. Judging by the photos, the HP Hearing PRO looks to be physically smaller than the IQbuds2 and the app will likely include an updated version of the Nuheara hearing test. Functionally, we don’t know if the HP Hearing PRO will include on-bud touch controls since they aren’t included on either the Jabra Enhance Plus or the Sony CRE-E10, both Bluetooth-bud style OTC hearings aids that the HP Hearing PRO will be competing against.
Bottom line: the IQbuds2 Max are first and foremost music playback devices and should not be mistaken as hearing aids – they merely serve as a personal sound amplification device (PSAD) to increase ambient noise sound levels. The HP Hearing PRO are first and foremost FDA approved OTC hearing aids and, secondarily, music playback devices.
We’ll expand on all of this as soon as we can get the HP Hearing PROs in for testing. Stay tuned!