Product: Bluetooth headset
As a driver who regularly fumbles to insert my earpiece when my phone rings, I need little convincing about the merit of wireless headsets. Such headsets are really entering the mainstream now as more and more people recognise that the benefits of using one outweigh even the considerable social cost of looking like a call centre agent or nightclub doorman.
The HBH-300 is the latest wireless headset to come from the Sony Ericsson stable. This headset uses Bluetooth short-range radio technology to communicate with a handset. It works with all phones that support the Bluetooth headset or handsfree profiles. Our test companion was the Sony Ericsson K700i, a stylish new handset that sports FM radio, MP3 player and camera as well as Bluetooth.
The HBH-300 has the standard hook-and-arm design for a headset of its type. The flexible hook loops around the ear, while the arm, in this case a rigid communications mouthpiece with tasteful brushed metallic finish, extends forward from this. An indicator light on the arm tells you whether the device is charged (steady green), charging (steady red), low on batteries (flashing green) and so on. Control functions for adjusting the volume and taking or ending calls are also found here. Depending on what phone you use, the headset can also be controlled by voice commands, such as dial, redial, answer and reject. The device feels almost weightless when worn; the earpiece is very comfortable and takes little getting used to. The headset can be worn on either ear simply by rotating the hook.
Setting up the headset for use was very straightforward. First we charged it — a process taking less than two hours. Then we added it to the list of devices on the phone. To do this we held down the call answer button for five seconds to put the headset into ‘ready to add’ mode. After we had selected the Bluetooth function on the handset, it took just seconds for the phone to ‘shake hands’ with the headset. Once this was done (and it only needs to be done once unless you change phones) the headset automatically recognised the phone when the headset was turned on. When the phone rang the headset rang as well. To take the call, we simply pressed the call answer button. Making a call was even easier. Once the dialled number was answered, we could simply speak into the headset.
We found the sound quality on the headset to be good overall, although sometimes the caller’s voice did seem to carry a slight echo. Was sound quality better than my trusty old earpiece? I’d say no, but it certainly wasn’t worse.
The headset has a built-in battery that will need charging every so often. According to the manufacturer, it will yield 10 hours of talk time or 300 hours of standby time between charges but, as any Bluetooth headset user will know, it is best to have the device charging whilst not in use to ensure the device is always primed for action. For this purpose, the headset comes with a holder that can be attached to a car dashboard or placed on a desk or table, allowing it to be charging away while you’re asleep, reading your email or driving, as the case may be. For in-car charging, however, you’ll need to invest in the optional cigarette lighter adapter, into which the charging lead plugs.
Overall, we found this headset to be an intuitive and pleasing device to use. It picked up calls without any trouble and interacted cleanly with the handset. Natural modesty might preclude some users from strolling around the supermarket with this chunk of plastic — albeit tastefully designed plastic — jutting from their ear but in the car, office or home this headset would be a good fit for those hoping to leave their wired days behind.
The HBH-300 is available from Carphone Warehouse for €109.
By Brian Skelly