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Sony HBH-200 Headset

Wed Mar 2, 2005 - 7:50 PM EST - By Douglas Morse

Overview

The Sony HBH 200 is very different in design from other Bluetooth headsets. Yes, it is wireless, yet there is a wire connected to a small earbud. The wire hooks into the business end of the headset – a gum stick like device with a small LCD screen. From there the Bluetooth kicks in and it’s wireless all the way.


Setup


The AC adapter is small and one of the lightest I have used – a great boon for the frequent traveler. The charging end of the adapter clicks into place on the end of the main unit. The instructions though are really difficult to read, with too many languages crammed into a small space. Faint text on flimsy paper doesn’t help matters either.

Pairing the device was frustrating. Some headsets will step into pairing mode as soon as the headset and the Treo are on. Others require a certain number of easily explainable steps. The HBH 200 seemed to require even more steps than usual. Over a dozen attempts and the words Failed to Pair on the “oh so helpful” LCD readout almost led me to give up. However, I scoured the instructions and found the fine print.

The user’s guide included with the headset is specifically designed for a Sony Ericsson phone. If you use something else, like Treo 650, you have to go to their website, wade through layers of support pages to the FAQ where you’ll discover these directions:
  1. Enter the menu in the HBH-200 by pressing "ON/OFF" button and the "Call" button at the same time quickly.
  2. Use the " " or the "-" button to scroll to ADVANCED and press the "Call" button to confirm.
  3. Select NEW PHONE and press the "Call" button.
  4. Make sure that you've activated Bluetooth™ on the phone. (Prepare the phone according the phone's User documentation)
  5. When the phone has detected the HBH-200, enter the passkey "0000" and the HBH-200 is ready to use.


As usual, Sony is trying to steer the user towards their proprietary hardware. This is the company that brought us Betamax, The Mini Disc, ATRAC audio devices that wouldn’t support MP3 until very recently, Magneto Optical disks, SDDS movie sound encoding and so on. Sony has scored some real winners --the compact disc, Beta SP (long the choice of professional videographers). My guess is the license fees they gain from the winners are worth the annoyances of the consumer stuck with dead end or proprietary formats. Currently, they are trying to win two more standards battles as they support Blu-Ray DVDs as opposed to HD-DVD. The other standard they have introduced is HDV for consumer high definition video cameras.

Anyway, after a frustrating time, I finally got the Sony and Treo to pair.


Functionality


As I mentioned earlier, this is an odd combo unit. The pod like device clips onto a shirt pocket and then a wire zips up to the ear. The LCD on the pod gives you full status including caller ID. One great feature is that you can scroll through the call list to redial numbers. The microphone is on the dongle that floats off the wire near your mouth.

There is an on/off button on the face of the pod, a call control on one side and separate volume up and down on the other. One advantage of this design is that all of the buttons are easily accessible and usable. No multi-function wheels to navigate, no groping behind the ear on an earpiece. Even more control is possible. There is a call control button on the microphone itself allowing for very simple answering of a call if the main pod is in a shirt pocket.

The ear bud style is certainly a personal preference. It does afford good sound quality. However while some may like the ear bud in the ear others will probably give this headset a pass because it is not as comfortable as the more common designs. The fact that the microphone hangs nearer to the mouth than the boom type means that sound quality already going to improve, as you are less likely to pick up background noise since the mic is closer to the mouth.

With all of the oddness surrounding this headset, it ought to stand out somewhere. The sound quality is solid. Sometimes I felt the volume was a little low, but overall it turned in good performance.


Next Page: Conclusion >>



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Product Info
Details
> Name Sony HBH-200 Headset
> Company Sony Ericsson
> Weight 1.16 oz.
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
Availability
> Available
Pricing
> $99.95

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