TLDR: Lacking on fine tuning ability … will probably be too loud and less clear than a properly verified hearing aid for most people. Noise suppression is slow to activate.
I hadn’t been paying attention to previous posts on Hearing Assist like this YouTube video review by Dr. Cliff, AUD on the HA’s available at Walmart.
Yesterday we were visiting my daughter’s family (with masks and gloves!) and the TV was set to MeTV with episodes of The Three Stooges (pretty amazing in 2020, almost 100 years later, that Moe, Curly, and Larry are on the air! - and the video quality of the episodes was excellent!). In between episodes, the predominant commercial that seemed to be airing was the one for Hearing Assist HA’s available at Walmart and Walmart.com. (Perhaps fans of The Three Stooges are older folks like me and perhaps more likely to need HA’s <just kidding here> because they also emulate The Three Stooges head slapping and other physical pratfalls?!)
I’d say the most important thing, whether Hearing Assist devices are all that good right now, is that they have the weight of the U.S.'s largest physical retailer (world’s largest physical retailier?) behind them right now. And also, Walmart can now call them “Hearing Aids” and brag that they are “FDA-approved.” They only offer up to 43 dB amplification. And they are only warranted for one year, unlikely the typical three-year warranty that one gets with “Big Six” “real” HA’s. Walmart web page on rechargeable version:
I would personally send people to lexiehearing.com if they are on that kind of budget and insistent on buying online … Much more compelling offering for $300 more.
However, you can also get a pair of aids from a local audiologist for under $1000 if you shop around and are willing to go with the signia 1x technology level… so if people are willing to go to the clinic in person, that’s an even better option imho.
I wasn’t so much commenting about quality but rather on (the appearance, at least) Walmart throwing its hat into the ring on the hearing aid business. If the Hearing Assist devices are flying off the shelves as much as Dr. Cliff’s review suggests (or, alternatively, does Walmart just have terrible inventory control?!), then especially with Costco as their archrival for warehouse stores vs. Sam’s Club, one wonders how long it will be before someone very high up in the Walmart chain of command says, "You know, we really have to get a LOT more serious about this). I was mainly struck by the repeated ad message, “Go to Walmart or Walmart.com to get your HA’s.” And in Walmart, there is a distribution chain that far outmatches Costco. There is Amazon, too. But with a device that might require some physical troubleshooting, Walmart has the potential to provide physical display and physical adjustment in a way that Amazon (or even Costco) cannot match in terms of the reach of the U.S. distribution of its stores. So it’s Walmart joining the commoditization of HA’s through “saturation” TV ads (at least on MeTV), that’s amazing to me, not the HA’s themselves. Perhaps if live remote assistance ever gets going in OTC HA’s, then it’s a whole new game (and we can all get jobs in call centers helping tune people’s OTC HA’s!!! ).