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Sony Ericsson HBH-300 Headset

Mon Aug 8, 2005 - 2:27 PM EDT - By Douglas Morse

Overview

To quote Yogi Berra, "it’s déjà vu all over again." When I reviewed the Plantronics M2500, my initial reaction was “What a monster!” The Sony HBH-300 is a long lost sibling to the M2500. Looking at the manual brought another flashback. I shuddered because of the difficulties I had pairing Sony’s HBH 602 and this was the same playbook. What I discovered as I worked with the headset that it paired easily, and really delivered where it matters most: sound quality.


Design


The fact of the matter is this: the closer the microphone is to your mouth, the better the sound quality will be. This is something we learned our first year in film school and every audio person knows. Yet, we still see these headsets with tiny mics far from the mouth in an effort not to offend someone’s sensitive visual experience. I guess people want to yap away obnoxiously on a cell phone and look good doing it.

The HBH-300 isn’t going to win any subtlety contests. The boom streaks down your cheek and hovers just to the side of your mouth. When doing sound on a film, I was once told to use the mic as if I was ‘catching fishes’ coming from the actors’ mouths. This boom of the HBH-300 gets right in there and down to business catching fish with aplomb.

On the face of the boom is the standard multi-function button to pick up, hang up, and transfer calls. There is a volume rocker switch that when pressed gives a trilling sound to indicate the current volume of the earpiece. It has raised bumps in the shape of a ‘ ’ and ‘-‘ to help guide you. Also along the boom is a loong blinking LED, usually green. I know this is Gene Roddenberry’s fault with those damn Star Trek communicators. If headset makers were going to make any effort to make these things stylish, then they would omit the finking blinking light on the side of the earpiece. It’s ridiculous. Instead of goofy colors, maybe a more subtle tan or brown that would blend in a bit better. The HBH-300 has the standard gunmetal gray casing found in many headsets.

The earloop is downright frightening. It is big and heavy. I assume to hold the battery that is supposed to last for ten hours of talk time and a gazillion hours of standby time. It swivels easily for left or right ear use – sometimes much too easily because I’ll be fumbling to put the earpiece on and find it has swiveled for the wrong ear. The earloop itself is made up of mostly hard gray plastic with a one centimeter stretch bendable section.

The speaker itself rests just inside the ear. And yes, here too proximity is key. Also, the speaker is a round affair that seems to want to position itself as to keep other sound out of the ear.

One thing of note: the unit comes with a stand that also works as a charging unit. Even if the Treo ships without a charging cradle, at least this headset has one and it’s pretty darn spiffy. The AC adapter can plug directly into the headset or into the stand. And the AC adapter is super lightweight. Other accessories include a lanyard and a little piece of plastic and some double sided strips to create a carrying spot for the headset in on your car dash… should you be so inclined.


Functionality


Well, the headset paired in record time, it grabs calls without a moments hesitation, it charged quickly too. Of course, the most important thing is sound quality. This baby delivers where it counts. Forget about unobtrusive headsets. Forget about the ultra lightweight bugs that fit in your ear. If you want to get the job done and get it done right you turn to the Sony HBH-300. When I first checked my voicemail messages, I could hear that this headset was a step above. When I called my friend the audio engineer, he called me back and said that finally I got a good one. Then I decided to test it out in more arduous circumstances, as the noise canceling circuitry is supposed to weed out the bad stuff. And it did, not spectacularly, though it did the job well under modest conditions.

This headset really operates invisibly. There seems to be no difference between using the headset and using the Treo mic and earpiece. But while testing, I was reminded that cell phones still sound like cell phones—a bit tinny, scratchy, limited Bluetooth range, and interference is a factor. I’ve taken to wearing a waist pouch with my Treo, wallet and assorted knickknacks, and this tends to put the Treo in a good position for use with a wireless earpiece.

Next Page: Conclusion >>



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