For those who know me, they will agree that I love to have music playing all of the time. For relaxation, exercise, even work (don't tell the boss) - it enhances the day. Yes, even as I write this review, I have music playing in the background. Sometimes, a hands free headset just doesn't cut it. If I leave my desk to go to the printer, or to make something in the kitchen, I may forget that I'm connected to my Berry. Mix well with a dash of gravity and you have a great recipe for disaster. My solution? A stereo Bluetooth headset. There are a few types out there. The kind that works the best with me, are the wired headsets over the wrap around.
I've now been a long time user of Jabra's BT3030, as its own review shows me walking in style. I'm always on the look out for the newest accessory. Sony Ericsson's HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth headset looks to be a solid contender. It's sleek look and features have caught my eye. Looks could be deceiving, so let's see how it measures up shall we?
Package Contents and Physical Overview
Inside the white and CrackBerry orange box, you will find:
The Bluetooth device hangs from a lanyard/audio cord sits on your neck. From this, two ear buds branch off and find a home in your ears. The left ear bud cord houses the call handling button, while the right cord houses the microphone. The cord/lanyard is covered in a nylon material, which is quite comfortable. If you find that the device hangs too low (and runs the danger of falling into your cornflakes), the cord can be adjusted, shortening the lanyard and extending the ear bud cord length. The ear buds sit nicely in the ear, easily blocking most outside noise while being comfortable enough to be worn for hours. In light of this, I strongly recommend not using the device while operating any type of vehicle as you may not be able to detect outside noise. With all of these wires, there's a good possibility that you will become quite tangled, if the headset isn't handled properly. That's when you turn to the plastic carrying container.
simply plug and play
The headset itself, covered in a sleek black and orange combo, is where the musical magic happens. It's 74mm in length and weighs roughly 27 grams - it's light enough to not weigh you down. On the face of the device you will see the LCD display and the pause and play music button. For good measure, Sony Ericsson has included their logo and the Walkman logo as well. We'll look at the LCD functions later on. Turning to the sides of the device, the volume control and the singlepoint/multipoint mode switch is on one side and the Previous/Next track switch is on the other. If you are confused about singlepoint and multipoint, it basically means you can choose to have the ability to connect to more than one device at once turned on or off. The headset can be connected to approximately 10 devices at once. On the rump, you will find the charging port and the connection between the device and the cord/lanyard.
LCD, play/pause button and shameless advertising
singlepoint/multipoint switch and volume control
previous/next track button
The headset offers roughly 6 hours of talk time/ music time and 300 hours of standby time. The music/ audio you are listening to will be paused when a call comes in, and resume automatically when the call has been completed - though sometimes I had to manually restart the music. The LCD has multiple functions to manage. It will display battery status, call status, volume adjustments, music track info, incoming caller ID and more.
The caller ID feature worked well - the incoming phone number displayed bright and clearly in white text on a black background. The track info feature didn't work at all. It's supposed to display the song title, but not even an "error" message popped up. It's not a necessary feature, but I was hoping it would work.
The buttons were easy enough to operate with one hand, especially the spring loaded action of the previous/next track button. I expected they should be easy to operate, seeing how the headset hangs loosely on the lanyard without a way to clip it to something. The Jabra BT3030 could hang, but also had a removable clip which I used religiously. For jogging, you should either have a shirt pocket or duct tape handy or the headset will be bouncing around with every step.
Once in a while, the music would skip, even when my BlackBerry was on my belly, in plain sight! Last time I checked, there wasn't a CD spinning behind my Berry's battery cover. Call managing was flawless with the headset. It supports the typical functions, including; answer, reject, mute and end the call. Call waiting and redial worked great too. The redial feature will work if you haven't cleared your call log.
When connected to multiple Bluetooth enabled devices, be mindful of the order in which they were connected. The headset can control the music/audio of the most recently connected device.
Sony Ericsson is known for their comfortable headsets. The audio quality of the music and call audio was great. One thing I noticed was a lack of bass in the headphones. I need my brain to be bouncing with the boom boom boom! Unfortunately, the headphones cannot be swapped out, so you will have to make do. The device sports a few audio "geek"tures. It's AFH, or Adaptive Frequency Hopping, helps minimize wireless interference from other devices. Utilizing DSP technology and automatic volume adjustment, the headset gives you an above average level of call quality. In noisy environments, the volume increases with a split second response time.
If I could switch the headsets occasionally, or clip the headset for added security and comfort, the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth Headset would be satisfactory. Call quality is fantastic and, although I prefer bass, the music comes through clearly. I wish an equalizer feature would be included. The issues of skipping and lack of track listing is annoying. Skipping isn't an issue while on a call, just listening to music, and happened regardless of distance. If you feel adventurous enough, the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 is available at the CrackBerry store for $119.99. I think the first thing to improve on is the name, HBH-DS970 doesn't roll off the tongue very well. Hey Sony Ericsson, if you want to rename it the Blundell, I wouldn't mind...
Summary: Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth Headset