The Only Bluetooth Headset with the BlackBerry Name On It!
Innovative and sleek, the Blackberry HS-655 delivers Plantronics technology in a stylish BlackBerry livery. With 128-bit encryption for enhanced privacy and digital signal processing the HS-655 features advanced technology in one of the most attractive packages out there. The fact that it bears the BlackBerry logo means you can be assured it is optimized for use with most BlackBerry devices. It is also compatible with the BlackBerry Power Station, making for an ultra-convenient charging solution.
The BlackBerry HS-655 Bluetooth headset has been on the market for a while now - it came out in 2006, but despite its "age" is still a great headset offering BlackBerry bang for the buck -- especially considering you can pick it up these days for nearly half of it's original list price ($69.95 @ ShopCrackBerry.com compared to $119.99 @ShopBlackBerry.com). Made for BlackBerry by Plantronics, you can also find the 655 in a non-BlackBerry branded version as well as Plantronics' more recently released Discovery 665 headset, which was reviewed here at CrackBerry.com a few months ago.
Opening the box
Not so much a box as a bag. The headset comes with the actual BlackBerry HS-655 headset, a pocket case/charging pod, three ear gels, ear hook, and a recharger chord.
Setting up the headset
As with most headsets, the process for setting up the Bluetooth is the same. Simply go to ‘Set Up Bluetooth’ icon on the BlackBerry. Ensure the headset is in pairing mode (hold down the big button for a few seconds and it will flash blue and red). Hit OK and the BlackBerry will start searching for devices. Once it finds the HS-655, simply click on that, enter the 0000 pin key and you are ready to go.
No doubt about it, the HS-655 is a seriously sexy looking headset. Its bullet shape is sleek and stylish. The matte grey and black look is a fashionable nod to the BlackBerrys with which it is paired. It is very modern looking. Large enough to do what it is supposed to yet not obtrusive enough to look odd or be a pain to use.
Using the headset
You will have to fit the ear loop and an ear gel. The ear gel snaps into place easily and seems to hold quite securely. Getting the ear gel in place can be a fiddly job for those of you with big fingers, and on one occassion I didn't have the ear gel firmly secured and it popped out on me. It's also fairly easy to knock off the ear gel if you carry the headset loosely (say in your pocket). The unit comes with three different sized ear gels so it takes a couple of tries to figure out which feels the most comfortable. The simple plastic ear loop actually fit me well (not always the case with Bluetooth headsets) and was comfortable to wear.
The headset comes in a cool-looking pocket-friendly case. It’s about the same size as a lipstick holder, which can be confusing if you have a large purse or you’re an on-the-go transvestite (my attempt at humor - don't shoot me!). The pocket case also has a vibrate feature to indicate incoming calls and a clip that allows you to stick it in your top pocket (nerdy), the side of your BlackBerry case (a little less nerdy) or in your European man purse (retro nerdy).
The HS-655 features three buttons. The large button, which also doubles as a power and connectivity indicator, is easy to find and press when connecting. The button also acts as a mute button or can access the voice dialing function in conjunction with your BlackBerry. The volume buttons are placed on the shaft of the headset and are also very easy to locate because of raised nodules. The volume buttons do require a bit of pushing to depress them, which can end up jamming the gels into your ear.
At just nine grams, the headset fits into the ear easily and seems very unobtrusive. It also feels very snug to the ear and has very little movement as a result. The headset can be worn without the ear loop but, frankly, I found that too loose to be comfortable. The ear gel is quite comfortable and fits well. The ear loop is also nice and rigid, which keeps the unit firmly in place.
One feature that I thought was clever was the small rubber pad at the base of the headset that effectively kept the device from rubbing up against the side of the face. In some other headset I have tried, that rubbing of the microphone against the face, especially an unshaven one, can contribute to a lot of background noise. It just so happens this "rubber pad" serves a more important function as well -- it contains the charging port for the headset, which plugs into the holding case which in turn plugs into the standard microUSB connecttor (the same one that charges your BlackBerry).
On the subject of noise, the HS-655 has a great microphone that picks up the voice easily and clearly. People I talked with via the headset indicated it picked up some background noise in both the car and outside too however. The unit features DSP or digital sound processing, which reduces background noise although if you’re using it in a public area be prepared for some background noise to be picked up.
Saving the best for last, the BlackBerry HS-655 Bluetooth headset offers a charging solution unlike any other Bluetooth headset -- it has been designed to charge off of another great BlackBerry OEM accessory, the BlackBerry Power Station. The headset charging pod vertically clips into the BlackBerry Power Station, and from their the headset easily clips into the charging pod. All said and done, you have a convenient place to store your headset when not in use, and a failsafe means of charging it. It's a great combination for any BlackBerry User or Abuser!
The BlackBerry HS-655 supports 128-bit encryption to ensure the privacy of your phone calls. Full encryption is available when pairing to a BlackBerry device using v4.2 software. The device also features DSP – Digital Sound Processing which is designed to reduce background noise and improve sound quality.
The HS-655 is compatible with all Bluetooth enabled Blackberrys -- the 7100 range, 7290, 7250, 7520, 8700s, Pearls, Curves and 8800 series devices. Another key feature is the great roaming range for the unit. The technical specs claim a range of 33 feet. That seems about right and I maintained great connectivity and sound response wandering away from the connected Berry.
BlackBerry claim talk time is up to three hours and more than 80 hours standby time. I keep the headset in the BlackBerry Powerstation so I have yet to see it run down, although I had the unit out of the recharger for five days without running any calls through it and it was still functional.
Overall, this is probably the best headset I have personally tried to date. While its sound quality may be bettered by some of the latest high-tech headsets on the market I have read about, in terms of everyday usability I have no real complaints with the HS-655. The sound quality is good, the unit is small and very comfortable and it looks good. I liked the styling and the ease of recharge. And the holder is a nice touch, especially if you use it inconjunction with the BlackBerry Powerstation. Much like BlackBerry smartphones, this headset just works!!
Purchase the BlackBerry 655 Bluetooth Headset in the CrackBerry.com Store