Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 Stereo bluetooth headse




Sony approached me a few months ago about a stereo bluetooth headset. I had my doubts because I’ve used my share and the declarations never meet up with experience. The Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 however are all that and a bag of chips provided you have a fully compatible device. Hit the jump for my review.

The earbuds reside on a 20? long cord with a built-in mic. Wearing it in front or wrapped behind your ear (sport is what they call it) is personal preference. The cord is rubberized and pretty thick so there’s no need to worry about accidentally tearing it apart. Like any bluetooth headset, pairing it with your phone or computer depends on the receiving device but to activate pairing mode on the earbuds, just press and hold the mic button on the cord until a you see an alternating red/green light.

They’re smart enough to know when to turn off and last over a day with full use which surprised me because the battery cell must be TINY. They’re hidden inside the earbuds and to charge them, you flip open the right bud’s cover. Inside is SE’s standard 2-pin charging port. Charging takes several hours tho which is the crappy part but I guess if you do it overnight, it’s not as bothersome.

In use they sound fantastic. Music was loud and clear. Phone calls seamlessly switch without a hiccup and the caller could not detect any unusual audio artifacts. These earbuds are excellent. The buds come with silicone caps to fit different shape ears too.

Why would anyone want these over the large selection of bluetooth headsets currently on the market? First off these guys are stereo and they fulfill two duties - handling phone calls and play music the way they were intended to be heard. $140 may seem pricey but when you consider those two factors, you’re actually getting a bargain. There are plenty of worthy headsets for phone calls only but all the wireless earbuds for music are terrible. These are by far the best ones on the market.

Now a note of caution. These are not fully compatible with the iPhone or iPod Touch. They pair just fine, calls come in, music plays but there’s no volume control. The touch-based volume buttons on the iPhone and Touch never appear leaving you stuck in volume limbo. It’s only a matter of a simple software update on Apple’s end but that has yet to happen and I can’t say when it will. It’s not anyone’s fault really - just a case of software oddities. I still firmly believe these are the best stereo bluetooth earbuds on the market.

What we loved:
Great design, compact case
Solid metal and plastic construction
Long battery life
Easy pairing
Noise canceling technology
Awesome sound, crystal clear
Snug fit good enough for exercise

What could be improved:

More color options
Battery charge time
Seamless switching between music and phone calls

Designer:
Sony Ericsson

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