Ah, how lucky we are to live in the technology age. Personal Electronics just keep getting more convenient, faster, cheaper, and dare I say it, more Star Trek-like. About a year ago I indulged in my first stereo Bluetooth headset (which was an MW600), which have recently started hitting the market. A year on, with the addition of Siri, I now find myself regulalrly tapping my breast pocket, where the device susually sits, scheduling appointments and making calls, rather like I remember Captain Piccard tapping his lapel ‘communicator’ to communicate with crewmates or the computer.
Anyway, without further ado, I’d like to offer a brief review of the Sony MW600 and the Samsung HS3000, along with my overall experience of using such devices day-to-day, to help you decide if they’re for you.
To give a bit of background, both of these devices are a little larger than a pen-top, and clip onto your shirt, lapel, or top pocket. Both have a standard headphone socket on the top, and come with short length wired headphones if you want to use them (In fact, the Sony headphones bundled with the MW600 are excellent in themselves). Both have an inbuilt microphone for wireless calling. Both can pair with multiple devices. Both have play/pause, forward, back, and volume controls for music. Both work with the iPhone (the Samsung is better). Both contain small, irreplaceable batteries which charge in 2-3 hours and last 2-3 days depending on how much music and calling you do.
If you’ve never tried a stereo Bluetooth headset and you’re a bit of geek like me, I strongly suggest you try. It’s quite a liberating experience to have all the audio interfaces of your phone (sound effects, full quality music, videos, and calling functionality) ‘outsourced’ so you don’t need to have a messy cable tugging all over the place when you pull out your phone to make a call or respond to a text.
Why am I very familiar with both of these devices? I first bought a MW600 to try it out last year in 2011, and was thrilled with the experience. I was so thrilled that after leaving it in my jeans pocket and putting it though the wash thus destroying it (but not the earphones, most earphones are surprisingly resilient to being washed, I’ve found), I went straight out and bought a second one. After that one was lost during the new year festival in Edinburgh (I have a slight problem about being careless with even my favourite things), I decided to see if there was something even better in the same class I could try, and thought id give the Samsung HS3000 a try.
Sony Ericsson MW600
Having had two of these, I’m quite familiar with it. It’s rather badly designed. The screen is nice, but the buttons are hard to find, and the volume control is completely terrible. I heard Sony is releasing a other version of this class of device this year, and I hope they manage to sort out the volume. The touch sensitive sliders only works with practice. The device itself is ok to handle and wear. The battery isn’t bad, lasting longer than the samsung. The sound quality is great, especially with the included earphones. However, it does have a problem with distortion and noise at high volume ranges. It includes a radio which I’ve never used. The device sometimes has problems pairing and needs to be reset, but the signal is very strong. It has a rather convoluted way of pairing to different devices which took me a while to get use to. The microphone is not great, causing me to use the phone most of the time rather than the headset when making calls, partly because the background noise cancelling system of the new iPhone 4 is so good. The microphone is not good enough to use with Siri reliably.
- Design – 5/10
- Usability – 4/10
- Bluetooth Reliability (with iPhone) – 5/10
- Stereo Sound Quality – 7/10
- Microphone Quality – 5/10
- Sound Volume – 6/10
- Battery – 7/10
- Included earphones – 8/10
- Price – USD 30-40
After doing some research on alternatives to the Sony Ericsson, I put the Samsung HS3000 on my shortlist and decided to give it a try. Overall, I like it more, and it’s further increased my usage of headsets. The main reason is that it’s more usable! At first, the lack of screen and smaller battery worried me, but I have quickly learned to love this device, even though it’s still lacking the polish of a mass market device. The design is much better. Its smaller, and fits more neatly on my lapel. The buttons are not that accessible but they’re better than the MW600. It pairs easily with the iPhone, faster and more reliably than the MW600, and works with multiple devices. The signal strength is not as good, and will break if you are more than a few metres from the phone and turn your back. The sound quality is about the same as the MW600, maybe a touch poorer. The microphone is quite good, and even while mounted in a shirt pocket it works with Siri. A luxury. The bundled earphones are not great. The battery is probably 30-40% smaller capacity than the Sony Ericsson, and it’s frustrating not knowing what the level is because there’s no screen (there’s only an audible warning). Overall, it’s a joy to have.
- Design – 6/10
- Usability – 6/10
- Bluetooth Reliability (with iPhone) – 7/10
- Stereo Sound Quality – 7/10
- Microphone Quality – 7/10
- Sound Volume – 5/10
- Battery – 5/10
- Included earphones – 5/10
- Price – USD 30-40
I’ll keep this short. This kind of device, wireless earphones, microphone, connected to your smartphone, is going to hit mass adoption in the next few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple even got in on the act. I’ve had such fun in the last few months trying a few early attempts out. In terms of these two devices, until we get a better integration of both of their advantages and improve on their disadvantages, it’s really about your preferences. Bigger battery, integrated radio, better earphones – MW600. Better, slicker all round device, with neater pairing and good microphone – HS3000 (just remember to charge every few days). Either way, happy Star Trekking!