What Is HD Smart Ear?
With a slim, discreet design that fits either ear, HD Smart Ear is a high-definition behind the ear amplifier that promises to deliver full, rich, high-definition sound, without requiring a prescription.
Additional advertised features include four advanced sound settings that help you achieve amazing clarity in any situation, one-touch control, long battery life, and an external on/off switch, volume button, and mode change button.
Compared to the ultra-high price of traditional hearing aids, HD Smart Ear might represent the new, high-definition behind the ear way to hear, as advertised on their website. But will the low price you pay deliver a solid level of value?
This is the central question we’ll focus on in this article—starting with an important distinction.
Hearing Aids vs. Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs): What’s the Difference?
It used to be that if you were suffering from hearing loss, you’d have to visit your doctor, obtain a prescription, and then potentially pay many thousands of dollars for professional hearing aids.
But due to the OTC Hearing Aid Act of 2017, customers can now purchase hearing aids directly from manufacturers, without requiring a prescription. The result has been a huge decrease in many hearing aid prices, which is certainly good news for consumers.
However, because of rapid advances in sound technology over the last several years, the lines have become increasingly blurred between traditional hearing aids, and more recent devices known as Personal Sound Amplification Products, or PSAPs. Often, to the untrained consumer, it can be difficult to discern the difference between them when placed side-by-side.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, though, the differences between these two devices aren’t necessarily related to design or functionality, but instead in their intent.
Specifically, they explain that both can help improve our ability to hear sound, are wearable, and use much of the same technology. However, “hearing aids are intended to make up for impaired hearing,” whereas PSAPs “are intended for non-hearing-impaired consumers to amplify sounds in the environment for a number of reasons, such as for recreational activities.”
Given this important distinction, since HD Smart Ear is advertised as amplifying sound in recreational activities (watching TV, eating at a restaurant, etc.), it would be classified as a PSAP (which have never been subject to the need for a prescription).
Are there other PSAPs competing for the same customers as the product in question? We’ll first discuss the price and the company, before moving on to the competition.
How Much Does HD Smart Ear Cost?
One HD Smart Ear PSAP is priced at two monthly payments of $29.99, or a single payment of $59.98, plus $7.99 S&H. This also includes three batteries and five different sized tips for the earpiece.
All orders come with a 30-day money back guarantee, less S&H, which you can request by calling customer support at 866-684-2004. Who, exactly, will you be calling?
What Do We Know About the Company Behind HD Smart Ear?
HD Smart Ear is manufactured by Idea Village, a Wayne, NJ-based company founded in 1999, and who’s responsible for past and present releases like Copper Fit Back, Yes! by Finishing Touch, Micro Touch Tough Blade, and HD Vision Visor, to name just a few.
Idea Village held an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, based on four customer reviews (three of which were negative) and more than 80 closed complaints, as of 5/10/18. Very few details were available, although most appeared to revolve around support issues. A company representative responded in each instance.
How Can You Choose Between HD Smart Ear & Other PSAPs?
Considering the sheer number of hearing devices out there, it can be difficult to identify which models might best meet your needs. As we discussed earlier, though, keep in mind that PSAPs like HD Smart Ear are only intended to amplify sound for recreational purposes—not make up for hearing loss like traditional hearing aids.
As such, if you’re considering one, be sure to speak with your doctor (as well as an audiologist, potentially) in advance, who can run the appropriate tests to discern which way you should go.
If they recommend a PSAP based on your results, according to Consumer Reports’ 2017 testing, the price could be one of the biggest indicators of quality. Specifically, they found that models under $50 tended to provide very little sound amplification (even overamplifying sharp noises like a fire engine’s siren), and also blocked some sounds, similar to earplugs.
Just like most other electronics purchases, consumers often get what they pay for when it comes to PSAPs. In other words, the more you pay, the greater number of features you’ll often gain access to.
But it’s next to impossible to compare HD Smart Ear’s features with competitors since we’re not provided insight into questions like:
- What level of sound amplification does it provide, as measured in decibels (dB)?
- Does it use a directional microphone?
- Is the amplification digital or analog? (It advertises high-definition sound, but is this actually the case?)
- What are the dimensions? How much does it weigh?
- What kinds of batteries does it use? How long does each battery last?
- What’s does replacing each battery involve (i.e., a quick unclipping, or locating several very small screws, thereby requiring good vision and hand dexterity)?
- Specifically, what are the four sound settings? How do they differ?
We reached out to several support staff looking for additional insight, although they only had access to the same information provided on HD Smart Ear’s website.
Despite these unanswered questions, it still comes with an ultra-low price. As such, is it worth rolling the dice on HD Smart Ear?
Our Final Thoughts About HD Smart Ear
In the end, HighYa’s goal is to help save you time by laying out all the important facts related to a product or service, and then leaving the final decision up to you.
To this extent, HD Smart Ear comes from a company with nearly 20 years in business, a long line of successful products, and a mostly positive online customer reputation. They also offer a 30-day refund policy, which should give you plenty of time to decide if this PSAP will meet your needs and preferences.
However, it seems there are more key factors about HD Smart Ear we don’t know, compared to what we do. Added to the fact that you’ll lose your original $7.95 S&H and have to pay to ship it back to Idea Village, it’s not exactly a risk-free transaction, either.
Just keep in mind that when it comes to these types of devices, getting the most value for your money often begins by having an in-depth conversation with your doctor. Also, remember that the prices listed above will only get you one HD Smart Ear, so make sure you budget accordingly if you need two.