Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth Headset

By Ryan Blundell on 26 Dec 2008 10:55 am EST
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Sony Ericsoon HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth Headset

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

Sony Stereo Bluetooth

Inside the white and CrackBerry orange box, you will find:

  • Sony Ericsson's HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth Headset (try saying that three times fast)
  • AC Charger
  • Small, Medium and Large rubber ear tips
  • Plastic carrying container
  • User manuals in multiple languages

Sony Stereo Bluetooth
package contents

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.

Sony Stereo Bluetooth
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.

Sony Stereo Bluetooth
LCD, play/pause button and shameless advertising

Sony Stereo Bluetooth
singlepoint/multipoint switch and volume control

Sony Stereo Bluetooth
previous/next track button

Function

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.

Audio

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.

Last Look

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

Pros

  • sexy design
  • clear LCD display
  • switch from singlepoint and multipoint mode

Cons

  • music skips
  • no bass boost and/or equalizer
  • no clip to secure to shirt/jacket

Ratings

  • Design and function: 3/5
  • Sound Quality: 4/5
  • Aesthetics: 4.5/5
  • Ease of Use: 3.5/5
  • Comfort: 5/5

Purchase

Reader comments

Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 Stereo Bluetooth Headset

11 Comments

I had one. The button to answer calls fell off then one of the earbuds had intermitent sound. Then the wire covering started stripping where it meets the earbud.

Any plans to review more bluetooth headsets? Particularly ones without any wires hanging like the Jaybird JB200

had one, sold it after a week on ebay. its horrible. the sound is horrid, the setup is bad. its just a badly made item. and its been out for a loonnngg time, over a year, dont waste ur time!

Do NOT waste your time with this one. Fortunately I got a great deal on it, but I would have been upset if I had only paid $10 for it. This thing has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Except one, maybe. If fits great. Too bad it sounds so awful.

got mine like 2 yrs ago...thought it was gonna be great! i was wrong...i have only used it like 4 times....its not worth the money...

I also use Jabras headset and found that the ability to use my own headphone for it made it much more worthwhile than something like this could ever be.
sure there are improvements that could be made still, but the jabra headset is really good at what it does.

Don't waste your money. Mine had no connection to my Pearl unless it was within about 2 feet. Even when working out if the base went to the opposite side of the phone it lost connection. I had to work out with my phone on my stomach and still connection broke often. Also the little spring slide buttong breaks easily. I returned my first and the second was just a bad.

It appears the track skipping is more of a BlackBerry issue than with the headset, I bought the headset over 2 years ago when it was first released in the UK and it worked flawlessly with the W950, displaying track and caller id (rather than just a number) and the music never skipped, yet with both the Curve and now the Bold the headset has the issues as pointed out by Ryan. The track id AFAIK wont work with any other phone than a Sony Ericsson. Also when linked up to the Omnia the headset works great at any distance up to 10m with no skipping. For me it is RIM who need to make improvements to the A2DP protocol. And for those of you whose units are falling apart, it may be that you have purchased fakes as my unit is still going strong after over 2 years of daily abuse!

I bought 3 of these off ebay, before I got one that WASN'T a fake. The fake ones had various issues, including, lack of bass, short battery life, and various other issues. The 3rd one worked great, but I managed to lose it, so I bought another at the Sony Store. I've been using it for about 2 years, and now use it as my backup, as i bought the improved version, the HBH-DS980, which is basically the same, with a nicer led display, and shinier appearance.

I've owned it for a couple of years and really like it. I've been trying to get this headset to work with my 8820, but so far, they won't pair. I did update the 8820 to ver 4.5.xxx but still no luck.
If anyone has any suggestions, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks.

Having used it for 8years or more now, the DS970 still beats headphones many over $400 brands: Dr Dre, Audio Technica, Bose, etc. Those who doesn't think it's good obviously have a lousy player. I used it with Sony Xperia series and the bass is thumping and pulsating on MegaBass even the Iphone 5 doesn't come close. Only thing came close or better would be the Klipsch.