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Lubix 3D Wireless Bluetooth Headset UBHS-LC1

Tue Sep 25, 2007 - 10:02 AM EDT - By Douglas Morse

Overview

Bluetooth headset headphone combos certainly come in all shapes and sizes. I’m especially fond of the Motorola sport headband style and really enjoy the Motorola DJ ‘can’ style for excellent acoustic quality and ability to use as wired or wireless solution. More commonly, wireless headphones fall into the ear bud category. Although the Lubix 3D headphones are earbuds, they are certainly very different than most others of the genre and become a talking point. Then there is the issue of the aforementioned 3D sound. More on that in a minute.


Design

Attached to each earbud is a small rectangular box that carries the electronic guts of the headset. Instead of a centralized unit from which the earbuds emanate, these earbuds are directly attached to the battery and circuitry. The earbuds rest in your ear, and like a pair of large earrings, the units dangle down. Fortunately, the headphones are a light 28 grams.

This dangling action is only one part of the unique design of the Lubix 3Ds. When dangled down in front of your neck, the two halves snap together magnetically creating another fashion accessory, the Lubix pendent. These headphones could certainly save you a lot on your costume jewelry as they function as both earrings and necklace. Fortunately they are a matt black offset with silver. There is the ubiquitous blue blinking light, but it looks very nice set in the matt black. This headset also comes in white and looks quite pretty in the pictures.

Another striking feature of the Lubix headset is the LCD screen . This 10 character display is usually shiny, black, and silent, until you press the control buttons. Oh, I should talk about the well-designed controls. On the left earpiece (where the LCD resides) are two jog wheels. When fiddling with music, the lower one functions as a stop, pause or play button when depressed. When jogged up or down, controls whether you skip forward or backward a track. The upper button jogs up and down for volume, but can also act as the call control button simply by pressing it. The usual features include, but are not limited to last number redial, answer, hang up, hold, and transfer from handset.

The left earpiece also has two other functions. The first is a hard on off slider switch. I’ve come to appreciate this more and more as it is simply "simple". Next to that is a little plastic cover which, when pulled aside, reveals a charging port. Although the headset charges off a USB port, the end that plugs into the Lubix is proprietary, so don’t lose that cable. The headset also ships with an adapter that allows you to charge off AC power rather than your computer. The USB to AC adapter is one of the smallest and lightest I’ve seen.

These are rated for 10 hours of talk and 9 hours of music. In my very informal testing, I think you’ll be lucky to get half that time in both music and talk combined.



Functionality

I love the controls on this headset. The jog wheels are very easy to find and simple to control; push down or up for changes in volume or track. Just a reminder that you’ll need a Bluetooth 1.2 (or above) device that supports the A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile). The LCD screen is a very big help as well. Taking the earpiece out and operating the controls allows you to see the information on whether you are playing, pausing, stopping etc. This may seem unnecessary, but for anyone who has ever pushed and poked buttons trying to remember if the device is on or off, or whether a song is paused or stopped, will appreciate the information. Volume level is also on display – these go up to 15 for those of you counting. I will also caution you youngsters that play music too loud, I’ve probably damaged my eardrums from playing music too loudly. Take these warnings seriously as loud headphone music, no matter how pleasurable, will seriously impede your ability to enjoy music and conversation later on.

The difference between these and the basic version reviewed by our friends at Windows Mobile Experts is that this has the integrated LED display which not only helps with music controls, but also displays caller ID. The version without the display is currently fifteen dollars less. You never need remove the earpiece for easy music and call control, but it’s there if you need it.

The look of the headset is up for debate, and one reaction I got from a friend was amused derision, until I nestled the headphones in her ears, and quickly she said, “These are better than my stereo.” She did not want to give them back as the stress of university exams faded away.

These headphones sport 3D sound circuitry. When I got the headphones, I thought it was probably a marketing gimmick. According to the literature, the headphones support 4 different types of designer 3D sound including normal, Xome, Live, Wide, Mex.

Basically, these settings function as a graphic equalizer, boosting some frequencies and squashing others imitating the acoustics of certain environments. Certainly there is a lot more going on behind the scenes here as I notice the speaker grill covers 12 distinct holes. I’d be surprised to learn that discrete frequencies were being sent in different directions to create a 3D soundscape, but it’s possible. Press the phone button and you cycle through the various options, all conveniently displayed on the LCD.

I’m a huge fan of graphic equalizers. My wife insists that it simply makes things louder, but I like to tweak equalization to emphasize voice and treble. I found that the ‘wide’ setting does that the best. Many others prefer a much stronger bass, and the Mex option increases the bass as well as creating a large 3D spatial effect. The normal setting is rich and perfectly acceptable, but why buy a headset such as this for ‘normal’? The live setting adds echo and distance to the music, useless if you ask me. The Xome is another interesting option and it purportedly filters outside noise, but it wasn’t to my liking.

These are simply the best wireless Bluetooth headsets I’ve used for music. Somehow I even prefer them to the Motorola DJ ‘cans’ I raved about a while back. Maybe I’m a sucker for the 3D effects, but I’m sold on that score. I couldn’t even tell you I was using a wireless solution. These also support Bluetooth 2.0. I certainly noticed an improvement in headset performance moving from 1.1 to 1.2, so I’m hoping the 2.0 improves headphone performance as well. The question is will Palm still lag far behind the competition in upgrading from 1.2 to 2.0? Let’s hope not.

As for phone call quality, these are merely acceptable. They are a bit hollow and harder to use outdoors rather than indoors (no surprise there I suppose). Under stressful sonic conditions, you’ll probably want to switch over to the handset. These don’t tout noise cancellation circuitry, so they may not have it.

As I mentioned, these headphones can create a bit of a stir, whether worn around the neck (what are those?) to dangling in the ears (what ARE those?). These days though, people are so plugged in to all sorts of earpieces that you certainly don’t stick out, even wearing something so unique as the Lubix headphones.

However, the earpieces are heavy and they can slip out of the ear if you get too vigorous. The unit does ship with both large and small sized ‘O’ rings in addition to soft foam coverings, so that may help on that score.


Conclusion

The Lubix UBHS-LC1 3D headphones offer some of the best, if not the best, wireless Bluetooth music I’ve heard. The controls are fantastic, easy to control calls, tracks, and volume. There are several downsides. The headset side of things is not on par with the quality of the music. They are conveniently worn around the neck, and my three year old loves playing with the magnetic snap. However, if you are a bit self conscious or have fashion accessories such as earrings or necklaces that would clash, then these might not be for you, though I’ll probably use them for a while.






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Criteria 

Rating

Functionality 5
Design 4
Music Sound Quality 5
Cost/Benefit 4
Overall
(not an average)
Pros
  • Fantastic 3D sound
  • LCD Display
  • Small AC Adapter
  • Cons
  • Can fall out of ear
  • Finish can scratch easily


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