Besides the vast line of BlackBerry smartphones, and the PlayBook, RIM makes some powerful accessories, as well. Of course we always hear about protective cases, rapid chargers and such, but there’s one type of accessory we don’t always hear about- RIM has a great line of Bluetooth headsets. We’ve looked at a few of them over the years; the economic HS-300, the powerful HS-500, but of course we want to move up the scale and see how much they can pack into a headset. For this very reason, we’re looking at the BlackBerry HS-700 Bluetooth headset. This Bluetooth headset not only lets you talk to your friends, family and colleagues, but you can also interact with it as well. The voice commands/interactions are unlike anything that earlier Bluetooth headsets from RIM could provide. It does all this while looking oh so sexy.
Now I know I should get into the audio quality and vocal interaction, but I do want to take a minute to discuss the design, as HS-700 is simply beautiful. It’s sleek and simplistic, with only two buttons; one to access voice commands and the other to manage call control. The micro USB charging port is located at the back, and is compatible with all micro USB chargers, including the standard PlayBook charger. The power button is built into the ear piece and is activated with an effortless twist. The HS-700 seems to be designed with the Bold line of smartphones in mind, as it has soft leather running the length of the headset that also covers the call control button. To cap it off, a bezel similar to the one on the Bold 9900 is used. It just screams quality. An LED is found on the underside/ face side of the headset. The green colour, and number of flashes indicates the power level, whereas the blue will indicate if a call is connected, if you have an incoming call or if it is reconnecting to a device. The red colour tells you if the mic is muted, if the headset lost connection with a device, or if the power is low.
Within the package, you will also find 4 ear gels, 2 ear hooks of different sizes, a travel charger and a user guide. The USB cord is short than the ones that come with BlackBerry smartphones, but can be used to charge your smartphone in a pinch.
When you power on the HS-700 for the first time, you will be greeted by a friendly female voice which walks you through the pairing process. The voice commands do offer a fair amount of options, without becoming too complicated. During voice calls, you can say things like answer, ignore, swap (between calls), “mute or unmute”. When not on a call, you can say “redial”, “call last” or “battery (to check how much power is remaining). I liked being able to manage my music through the headset, as you can also use voice commands. Your music is easily accessible- all you have to do is say “Play”. Other commands allow you to adjust the volume, pause the music or ability to skip ahead or back. If a call comes in, the music is paused and will automatically resume once you disconnect. Speaking of incoming calls, the HS-700 will announce the call coming in. If the number can be found in your BlackBerry address book, the headset will say the name. If not, it will say the number aloud. The voice quality of the “voice” falters here, making it difficult to hear the numbers. On the plus side, it did pronounce my last name correctly.
Now the call quality with the HS-700 was excellent in my opinion. While you may adjust the volume using your smartphone, the Bluetooth headset will automatically make adjustments – depending on the background noise level. When travelling in a car, noises like the wind, rain and windshield wipers are minimized. Of course, you will need to keep your windows up in order to hear. The HS-700 also lets you tap into GPS provided driving directions. So if you use an app that gives you directions, you can use the headset to fill you in on the details.
BlackBerry HS-700 Bluetooth headset
The HS-700 has a solid build and decent voice command options. The power button is a straight forward design, which is easy to use and reduces the time needed to turn on or off.
The voice quality of the vocal assistant loses its lustre when it announces the name of the caller or the number that is calling in. This makes the numbers difficult to hear. The headset will also not work with your BlackBerry PlayBook.
Overall, the BlackBerry HS-700 Bluetooth headset is one of the best companions you can get for your BlackBerry smartphone. Having access to your address book makes it easy to decide if you want to answer or ignore calls. The aesthetics alone compliment your smartphone perfectly.
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