Lovers of quality audio will doubtless be intrigued to see that Japanese novelty-gadget specialist Thanko has joined the noise-cancelling party with its latest USB-powered headphones.

At just ¥4,280 (£18.45), the ' Kaiteki de Earphone ' ('Comfortable Earphones') in-ear 'phones are around £100 cheaper than most entry-level noise-cancelling (NC) models, so eyebrows will surely remain raised until a little quality testing can be done.

Unwanted noises erased

The standard NC technology of an external microphone for picking up sounds that are to be negated by tonally opposite audio appears to be in place, although the construction of the unit looks a little cheap.

The internal battery charges by USB in two hours to give 15 hours of playback with the cancelling function switched on. Once that runs out, you're back to standard headphone mode until some USB juice can be found.