Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 Bluetooth stereo headphones
Wireless earphones the way they should be
Review Sony Ericsson has a lot riding on these tiny wireless headphones. Barely bigger than wired earbuds, they're a flagship product for a company known for its quality peripherals, and SE wants these boys to cement its reputation.
Sony Ericsson's HBH-IS800: tiny 'phones
As Bluetooth stereo 'phones really are very small. The buds fit into the ear canal and stick about 1.5cm out of it, so each headphone is about twice the length of a regular bud earphone and slightly bulkier towards the back. In use, you wouldn't get a motorcycle helmet on over them, but you're not going to look like Uhura, either.
The sticking-out bits house the electronics - the battery on one side, the Bluetooth circuits on the other - and the bulge in the wire holds the microphone, the single control button and an LED that isn't used much. One of the earpieces conceals a hard-to-remove cover - decent nails are needed - behind which lurks a proprietary power connector unlike anything previously seen. Don't expect to be able to charge this set up using your existing transformers.
Once charged, the headphones need to be paired with a phone - the HBH-IS800 supports auto-pairing, which means that the device automatically goes into pairing mode when powered on, so you turn on the headphones and then search for them using your cellphone or Bluetooth-enabled music player. If your player supports auto-pairing then the connection is instant, otherwise you'll have to enter the passcode.
We tried both, and while connecting with a Sony Ericsson handset was smoother, pressing zero four times wasn't too taxing.
Barely bigger than wired ear-buds
When paired, the earphones reconnect to the last-used device each time they're powered on. They worked seamlessly with a range marginally superior to other Bluetooth earphones we've used, though not by much.
The HBH-IS800's single button is held down for a couple of seconds to switch it on and off, with a shorter press answering - or making - calls.
but will they fall apart?
I've gove through about half a dozen in-ear sony buds over the last five years which have all died due to the rubber/wire breaking where it meets the earbud - the cheap bundled ones i've got with SE handsets have survived for years, but consumer ones from sony with the softer rubber on the wires simply dont last.
That being said, stereo bluetooth is the way forward, i've use my moto S9s for a couple of hours a day almost every day for the last year. I know they dont fit everybody perfectly but for me they're great - the controls work really well and nothing else comes close to being as usable while running/cycling/squashed on a busy tube.
no FM radio? no AV controls?
many headsets are a triumph of style over comfort and usability. I guess pretty much all the technical issues have been solved so the marketing people can squeeze a headset into any shape they like. so far the best device I've found is the Motorola S705 which will pair with multiple devices, does the A2DP stuff, has an FM radio and AV controls. Even better, you don't have to use them with the supplied earphones, which is essential since in the main I hate the in-ear things!
Larger bluetooth headsets with more buttons (and less shiny boxes) are also available...
If all gadgets were strictly functional at the expense of form the world would be far less interesting. These look like they'll go nicely with my very shiny (if ever so slightly compromised Sony Ericsson X1)
They're as wireless as they can be
Hey Bassey! Nice rant about wireless with wires. The wire-less part is the connection between mobile and headphones which makes sense when you think about it. If it was truly wire-less how are you going to get stereo if you don't have a physical wire connecting the two earbuds? I suppose you could have a Bluetooth receiver in each one that decodes just left or right but you'd need a battery and a charger connector in each one too. So that doubles the price. And what about a microphone for when someone phones you up? You haven't thought this through.
I've got the SE HBH-DS220 which has a Bluetooth receiver with a clip which has the distinct advantage of allowing you to plug in any headphones of your own choosing if you don't like the in-ear canal ones supplied. Plus you can replace them when the cable inevitably gets damaged. And they're a lot cheaper too.
Still Prefer My Motorola S9's
They have controls on them (for the limited range of player that support Bluetooth controls), have no annoying wires, have equivalent battery life, charge from a standard USB cable and cost about 1/2 the price of these.