Sennheiser has updated the HD202 with a newer version called the HD202 II. Although I haven’t been able to compare the two versions, a few people told me that they’re the same headphone but in a newer packaging. I guess it’s the same deal as with the HD25-1 and HD25-1 II. Also, a quick check on Amazon.com reveals that the HD202 is actually sold for upwards of $60 in the US. I was surprised to find that out as Sennheiser prices are normally much cheaper in the US (we have to pay more than $300 for the HD25-1 here). So I guess this is one of those rare cases where we get a better price than people in the US. I think it’s still a competitive headphone for $60, even compared to the newer HD4x8 line.
So, how do the HD202 compares to the popular Ultra Portables? When I did my comparison of the Ultra Portables, I noticed that the older portables like the PortaPro and the older PX100, PX200 didn’t have a driver resolution as good as the newer PX100-II, PX200-II, or the Jays V-Jays. I think they have fitted some very impressive drivers on the newer portables, and in that sense the HD202 doesn’t quite have the detail level, refinement, treble extension of the PX100-II, PX200-II, or the V-Jays. Of course I’m just talking from a general standpoint and ignoring the different characters of the headphones, which will be better/worse depending on your music. Despite the better resolution of the drivers, the HD202 is still preferable because you get a bigger sound (simply a function of physical size), a more complete low bass, and actually quite a proper soundstage imaging. If you overlook the drab looking design and the price, you’ll actually be surprised to find that the HD202 has a very proper soundstage image, which is very rare to find in a headphone at this price.
I think the HD202 and the ultra portables are meant to be used in a fun and mobile way. And on those settings, you’re less likely to notice the improved refinements of the ultra portables, but you will definitely notice the more complete bass and the bigger sound you get from the HD202. So, unless the size is a concern to you (also remember that you can’t fold the HD202), then I would recommend the HD202 over the ultra portables.