Review: Blackberry HS-700 Wireless Headset

HS700-2

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Web Site: http://www.blackberry.com/hs700

Price: $129.99 (Sold at Blackberry Accessories Store and Best Buy Web Store)

Two weeks ago we have received the all new Blackberry HS-700 Wireless Headset from RIM for testing. I have spent the time testing the ins and outs of the unit. This lightweight bluetooth headset is a delight to use.

There some very cool features built into the headset. There is only a single visible button on it. This is used to issue voice commands. Unlike many other headsets, it doesn’t have volume or power buttons. You simply rotate the earpiece to turn it on or off. When a call comes in, you can simply say “answer” or “ignore”. Using the voice command button, you can also dial, mute, swap calls, redial and more. It is one of the few devices that you don’t have to wait for the voice prompt to complete. You can actually “barge” in, as Research in Motion calls it. So let’s say you have a call coming in. You don’t have to wait for the whole announcement to decide to answer or decline.

Once you turn on the unit first time, it guides you through the pairing process, which is very simple. Then you are good to go. Here is a brief features list:

Voice prompts: Once you’re connected, voice prompts alert you with battery status updates, mute status and more.

Built for your BlackBerry smartphone: Listen to audio files saved on your smartphone and get turn-by-turn directions from third-party GPS mapping apps.

Advanced noise-cancellation technology: Get clear conversations with noise-cancellation technology and dual microphones.

Automatic volume control: The headset adjusts the volume of your call as you accelerate onto a highway or in other noisy environments.

Sleek design: Get fit, comfort and style with metallic finishes, a leather face and carefully crafted ear gels and ear hooks.

This elegant headset is looking just like a Blackberry device, black leather, silver bezel. The package comes with 1 regular, 3 stabilizing and 1 cushioned ear gels, 2 ear hooks, micro-USB cable and a wall charger.

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I am sure everyone will find a comfortable fitting. I preferred a stabilizing gel plus the hook. It fits comfortably in my both ears. After the device is paired, you will hear a connection confirmation if a connection was successfully made to your Blackberry. Also on the Blackberry itself, you’ll see the confirmation:

Capture on 08-23-2010 13-39-41

Even though it is a mono unit, it announces “stereo audio” profile and connects as such. One nifty feature is if you forget what commands to use, you can say “What can I say” and depending on your situation, it will tell you available commands (available commands change depending on whether you are listening to music or not). Some of you might be pondering how you control the volume. The trick is the headset has an automatic volume control. Via Blackberry’s volume controls, adjust the volume to your liking. From then on, when noise level around you changes, headset adjusts the volume and does a pretty darn good job. Interestingly, when playing music, you can issue “Volume up” or “Volume down”, but not any other time. It makes you wonder why.

The voice control can be tricky. I tried the unit under different conditions. On a quiet location, I had 100% accuracy, didn’t need to change my voice or raise it. However, while driving down the highway, I had troubles. The best way is to either increase your voice or speak slower. Funny enough, one time it refused to recognise “Play” while still driving down the highway (don’t worry, my wife was driving). So in a joking manner, I increased the pitch of my voice, sounding like a girl, and wouldn’t you know it, it worked. The trick for better accuracy is to speak slower, that really does help.

The comfort of the headset is great, you don’t even feel it is there. The battery life is 4 hours of talk time, personally tested. Around the time when 30 minutes of battery life was left, it started beeping once a minute or so to let me know it is running out of battery. However, at 20 minutes battery life left, it announced it is powering off. It turned out this was a defective unit, as normally around 20 minute mark it should announce low battery but still continue to work. RIM was quick to replace my test unit. All in all 4 hours of talk time is very good. HS-700 also supports pairing with two or more devices at the same time. So you can pair it with your computer as well, without worrying about re-pairing it with your Blackberry and use it for VOIP or other applications.

I also tested the unit with Garmin and Telmap. It is nice to have turn by turn directions in your ear, instead of announcing it to everyone in the car with you. Makes life easier. For those who are interested, below is the full specs of the HS-700:

Bluetooth:

  • Bluetooth® 2.1 for simplified pairing
  • Bluetooth® HFP and A2DP Bluetooth profile
  • Range: 10m/33 feet

Power:

  • Dedicated on/off switch
  • 200 hours standby time
  • 4.5 hours talk time
  • BlackBerry® USB Power Plug included
  • BlackBerry® Micro-USB Charger included

Voice Commands:

  • For status info and call tasks:
    • What can I say?
    • Options
    • Battery
    • Redial
    • Call last
    • Call <phone number>
    • Call <contact name>
    • Answer
    • Ignore
    • Mute
    • Unmute
  • English language support only
  • For music tasks:
    • What can I say?
    • Play
    • Next track
    • Previous track
    • Pause
    • Stop
    • Volume up
    • Volume down

Other features:

  • Caller name announcement1
  • Audible voice prompts
  • Advanced noise-cancellation technology
  • Audio streaming1

1. Requires BlackBerry® Device Software v6.0 or later

I have a 9700, running 5.0.0.743 and I was able to stream audio fine. Maybe some of this functionality is already built into 5.0 OS. On another note, according to the user guide, there will be firmware updates for the headset, so who knows what other features will be made available. According to RIM, they are trying to improve user safety and provide a better driving experience, without the need to touch your Blackberry while driving. Overall I love this headset, it is lightweight, elegant, easy to use and works great.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Excellent battery life
  • Stylish look
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Under noisy environments, it can be hard to use voice commands
  • One time it caused a reset to my phone (could be an isolated issue, as it never happened again after that)
7 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. For this price, I would personally buy a Jawbone headset.

  2. Nice review. I’ve been wondering about this headset since I heard about it a few weeks ago. I’m currently using the HS-500 and I like that one a great deal.

    Relatively speaking, however, it doesn’t sound as though the HS-700 adds too much more over the previous iteration. Also, I don’t know if I like not having a button to push rather than automatic voice recognition.

  3. I just bought the HS700 throuh Amzon.com ‘new’, not used; paired it beautifully, loved the ease it setup, but had one day of operation and it no longer connects to my blackberry with 3 hours of talk time left. In otherwords, it willl “show” connected by the icon on the BB, and voice in BT say Good Morning, but no longer confirms connection. When calls come in…can’t answer by BT. Tried everything possible and can’t find an answerr to this problem anywhere. VERY Disappointed! I rate this a 1/2 Star for the one day of use I did receive and give it a full star for the “Good Mornings” I can still get from the BT.

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