LG TONE Platinum SE hands-on: Comfort and performance at a premium1
Without question the one to popularize the around-the-neck style, LG’s Tone series of Bluetooth headphones and earbuds has been well-received by critics and consumers. It’s no surprise why it continues to thrive to this day! The latest addition to the lineup, the LG TONE Platinum SE, adopts the signature design that the series is known for – while adding Google Assistant and Google Translate integration into the mix.
With its distinctive design, the Platinum SE is the perfect thing to use for casual music listening. Whether you’re just kicking back on the sofa trying to relax after a long day or just leisurely walking through the park, it sits gently around the neck with the earbuds staying firmly in place. The all-plastic construction, however, doesn’t scream "premium". Thankfully, integrated controls around the unit allow for quick access to playback functions – without us having to rely on our smartphone.
The earbuds sit snugly in our ear with a fair amount of isolation, so they do nicely to block out ambient sounds – allowing users to focus on the music. When the earbuds are not being used, they can be pulled back into the frame, but we’re a little bit skeptical by the super skinny cable connecting the earbuds to the frame. Regardless, the overall design is a comfortable one, but it’s not really cut out for workouts that involve a ton of movement on your part.
Where the LG TONE Platinum SE shines the most is in its audio performance, one that produces some rich, full-bodied tones. There’s no distortion or strain with the output either, while the bass is complementary to the overall experience. Even better, you can be kept up-to-date with all of your notifications thanks to its Google Assistant integration, which can be activated by pressing the dedicated Assistant button whenever a notification tone is heard. From there, it’ll proceed to tell us what it is.
Now that we've mentioned the Google Assistant, we find it cool that to use its help, we only need to hold down the dedicated button and speak out our question or command – without the need for the "OK Google" hotword. And through the integration of Google Translate, the LG TONE Platinum SE can break down language barriers. You take advantage of this feature by having the Google Translate app running on your phone in Conversation mode – a mode we successfully launched with the voice command "Translate English to Spanish for me". Note that many other languages are supported. In this mode, our voice is picked up by the earphones' microphones, then a translation is "spoken out" by Google Translate through our phone's speaker. A tap of a button on the screen reverses the process: our phone listens for the other person's response which then gets translated, with the audio played through the earphones.
While we certainly appreciate the Google Assistant integration, as well as its continued strong audio performance, the LG TONE Platinum SE's $200 price point is certainly up there when compared to other models that cater to both casual music listening and workout fanatics. For one, it could’ve employed more premium materials with its design, just to add more justification to its hefty cost.