Eargo 7: The little hearing aids you don’t need to take to the shower

Eargo’s approach to hearing aids is more in line with tech brands like Apple and GoPro than its peers in the industry. While the hearing industry is busy trying to shake off its dowdy medical product image, Eargo has been releasing annual models with constant new features that challenge stereotypes as much as they do. This year’s model, the Eargo 7, doesn’t offer a huge leap over its predecessors, but like the latest mentioned phone or rugged camera, it’s still the best model to date. But with continuous improvements comes a narrow focus on areas for improvement.

Most of these areas are small software details. For example, the app’s hearing test initially left me unsure whether it was working properly or not. On my first pass, not every tone seemed to play (there was a “replay” button, and pressing that sometimes the tone was missed). On the second pass, after talking to an Eargo representative, I had a more reliable experience, but it was enough to give me some doubts about its effectiveness until I was told that my results were as expected by both you try.

After the first test, the app told me to put the hearing aids in their case to update them to the new settings – at which point it remained stuck at “connecting” until I restarted it.

To be clear, the above is the biggest wrinkle I’ve had with the Eargo 7, and if anything it’s a testament to the whole experience. Another slight annoyance is that the charging case seems to go to sleep when the battery is low, which means it won’t wake up the hearing aids when you remove them – even if they’re charging themselves. A quick connection to a power cord is all you need to fix it, but if you don’t have it and it’s close to time, you might be out of luck.

James Trew / Engadget

Apart from the above, the experience from there on out has been smooth sailing. Eargo has positioned itself as a more affordable option for “invisible” hearing aids aimed at those with mild to moderate hearing loss. At $2,650, it seems expensive compared to other OTC options, but most alternatives are not the small in-canal (CIC) type. They also don’t always offer other quality of life features like a slick charging case, personalized hearing profiles and other features you’ll usually find in conventional models that your audiologist will prescribe. .

Eargo 7 adds a new improved version of the company’s “Sound Adjust” program that adjusts the settings depending on your environment – this is all you need to get the hearing test. This iteration includes a new “clear” option that focuses on conversation. The new hearing aids are IPX7 rated which means you can wear them during vigorous exercise or even in the shower without worrying about damaging them. (It is not marketed as completely waterproof.)

Another selling point of Eargo is its continuous customer support. The company encourages new users to schedule a “welcome” call with one of its personal hearing professionals (PHP). There are a total of four ways to speak with a PHP depending on your needs (email, phone, chat, or video call). Scheduling a call is a simple task in the app and costs nothing. It is this combination of modern technology and improved user experience that puts Eargo in a rather unique place in the growing field of hearing aid devices.

Of course, a well-thought-out app experience, sophisticated technology and great customer service are important parts of the experience, but none of that matters if the hearing aid isn’t great. For me, my unilateral hearing loss is really helped by the Eargo and there is very little feedback unless you cover your ear completely. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss this is effective, but as always, you should consult your audiologist if you are not sure what you need.

The Eargo 7 charger case is open on a table.

James Trew / Engadget

What I appreciate is the way the sound aid doesn’t emphasize sharp noises like jangling keys or vigorous typing and the general lack of feedback, which is a common issue. for devices of this size. They definitely amplify the sound enough when I wear both, but with that comes a little discomfort due to increased hearing even in my “good” ear, which is a rare problem for unilateral loss. of hearing which is clearly not available to those who have problems with both. sides.

As before, the battery life is enough for a full day of use and the charging case offers two full re-charges. All day use was quite comfortable, but for me, in the first hour or two I definitely knew there was something inside my ears before I gradually adapted. In general the built-in rechargeable battery increases the convenience, although it also means a risk of damage over time compared to the use of disposables.

In short, with the Eargo 7, the company once again makes a good case for how OTC hearing aids don’t have to mean compromising on features and performance. But in the tech-forward “start-up” way of the company there are some small challenges, like the quirks of the app that I mentioned in the open. Fortunately, this is much easier to solve and cut than bad hardware with insufficient performance, which is not an issue here.

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