Nov 1, 2009

Review: SE HBH-IS800Z Bluetooth Headset for Android

A few months ago I noticed that my Android G1 phone mic didn't work when I used it through a wired headset. It's an unusual problem since the USB jack performs all its other functions well: mounting the harddisk, listening to music, charging, etc. But when said headset was plugged in, I could hear phone calls but not speak to the person on the other end. A secondary purchase revealed the issue was with the phone not the headset. I needed another solution if I was going to talk hands free

A little while later I found a small bluetooth adapter on eBay. It was small enough but broke in a about two weeks. I needed a different solution which is when I ran into this Sony Bluetooth Headset

In a nutshell, this thing works incredibly well. Previously, I had blamed all my bluetooth woes on the Android software itself, but after using this new headset, I can see that Android is fine as long as you give it decent hardware.

Things to Like
1. The first thing I love about this headset is that it's small. There's just a single thin wire that connects the right and left earpieces. The bluetooth and mic are small and hidden. Charging the headset is also pretty cool with the adapter plugging in directly to the right earpiece (read the manual.. it's a bit sneaky but very nifty)

2. The quality of the audio is also great. I'm a big fan of passive noise cancellation so the fact that the earbuds insulate me from ambient noise is wonderful. They're comfortable as well so no complaints there.

3. The ability to use and not use the headset also works really well. After the initial pairing, you'll find you just need to turn the headset on and enable bluetooth on your phone and it'll pair quickly and automatically. This beats opening up the bluetooth settings and scanning for your device any day.. something I had to endure with my previous bluetooth device.

Things not to like
There's not much to dislike with this headset. Buying it from Amazon will run you about $110 which is reasonable compared to comparable in-ear headsets that don't have bluetooth. But here's a list of some minor gripes

1. You can only use this through bluetooth. Looking at the image should have given you a warning about that but in case you didn't realize.. you aren't going to be plugging these into your 1985 walkman.

2. You can only pair with one device at a time. Largely due to the automatic pairing, it's impossible to associate these headphones to multiple devices. This is the biggest gripe amongst people who give it a bad review so consider yourself warned!

3. There's no way to adjust the audio. If you have a G1, this is not a big deal since you can easily adjust the volume on the handset even when locked. Other phones, like the iPhone, apparently can't do this. So if you're an iPhone user you'd be best sticking with Apple-blessed accessories.

Things to make you say 'meh'
I'm neutral about a few things. They're not quite gripes but they are worth mentioning.

1. The battery life is ok. If you remember to turn it off you can get some good audio time out of it. But if you go on a trip you'll definitely need to bring a charger.

2. The beauty of the charging interface is that it's unobtrusive. The downside is you have to have a proprietary charger. When I travel I usually just take a usb cord which I plug into my laptop to charge the phone so this is a small bummer for me.

I really like these headphones. They are small, light, and provide a great user experience. If you have a G1 and want a bluetooth headset, you won't be disappointed with these.


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