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Accessory Review Submission [Full Details]
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Ericsson Bluetooth Headset (HBH-20) - Mobile Accessories Ericsson Bluetooth Headset (HBH-20)

24 May 2002
Written By Kinny Cheng


Sales package (should contain):
  • 1 x Ericsson HBH-20 Bluetooth headset module
  • 1 x earplug
  • 2 x earplug covers
  • 2 x changeable covers (dark metallic blue, metallic silver)
  • 1 x charger
  • 5 x power adaptors (for different countries)
  • 1 x user guide
Ericsson’s third-generation Bluetooth headset isn’t really what you would have expected if you knew what came before. The previous, new-age design has been replaced with something more traditional, which I find to be a bit more down-to-earth (not to say that the previous models didn’t look any good!)

Style - HBH-20 versus HBH-10/15

One of the major differences with the HBH-20, compared to its predecessors, is the design. Some of you may ask “why have the earplug on the wire, since it’s supposed to be wireless?” I asked the same question before I tried out the HBH-20, and came to a different conclusion after using it.

Although we tend to appreciate the fact that Bluetooth is supposed to promote the concept of “wireless”, the HBH-20 tends to be somewhat less conspicuous when worn and used. At least you don’t have to reach for the phone in your briefcase or pocket when you want to answer a call! The previous Bluetooth headsets from Ericsson were stylish, but gave a different perception when they were worn. Yes, both the HBH-10 and HBH-15 had their own sense of “style” - but, at times, you just wish that people didn’t give you that “look” when you’re talking into it while taking a train or bus.

Although I did find the HBH-20’s earplug cord to be sometimes “in the way”, I would prefer to use this headset more because of it’s more “down-to-earth” design.

But for those who rather do without the HBH-20 because of a single strand of wire, you will be glad to know that the next Bluetooth headset - the HBH-30 - will encompass an improved design of the HBH-15 predecessor. How’s that? :)

Using the HBH-20’s controls

This time round, the HBH-20 Bluetooth headset actually comes with a wire. The wire is the single earplug that connects up to the Bluetooth receiver/transmitter unit, which can either be worn on your shirt pocket (using the clip) or have it on a cord around your neck.

Accessing functions of the headset is made somewhat easier with separate answer and reject, and volume (up and down) buttons on the side of the headset module. A LED readout is also located on the front of the module, providing information on the current status of the headset (for example, battery information, in-use/standby indicators). While having the actual module in front of you, it makes it easier to access the buttons to perform necessary operations and view the headset’s current state.

Turning the headset on and off is done through a long depress of the “reject” button, while voice dialling can be activated via a long depress of the “answer” button (you will need to have the Bluetooth reception on the phone activated to use this function).

The ringing volume can be adjusted by pressing the respective keys on the side and the earpiece volume by doing the same while on a call. Muting can be achieved by depressing on both volume buttons together.

Previously, on the HBH-10/15 headsets, all these controls is accessed via the single switch (up, down, depress) at the ear end of the Bluetooth headset. It was somewhat difficult to use this button when you had slightly-larger fingers, and having these controls behind your ear.


How’s the sound?

Sound quality is comparable to that of standard wire headsets. I did find that the sound received was slightly clearer than of the previous headsets - probably because of the earplug passing the sound directly into the inner ear. Also, I had callers comment about the excess background noise when I was using the HBH-10 - but not when I used the HBH-20.

Using the HBH-20 with a Sony Ericsson T68i and Nokia 6310

Basically, everything is pretty much similar when using the HBH-20 with both phones. When using the headset with a Sony Ericsson T68i, all buttons and functions worked as specified in the manual.

But when I used the HBH-20 on the Nokia 6310, the only problem that I had was not being able to use the “reject” button on the headset. I was able to reject calls by using the “answer” button instead when a call is in progress, and of course answer any calls when one came in.

Another thing that was different when using the 6310 was that all keypress sounds (the Nokia “beep” and standard DTMF tones) were transmitted to the headset as well - similar to having a standard wire headset connected. Even when I was playing Bumper the sounds were transmitted to the HBH-20! This may be somewhat battery-draining on the HBH-20 - but I found it to be something that I would like to have rather than no sound at all (while using an Ericsson/Sony Ericsson handset).

Summary

The slightly-more-conservative HBH-20 Bluetooth headset has won my vote! Wearing this and actually using it in front of the population has attracted less prying eyes than before, and now I have the freedom of actually moving the dangling microphone closer to my voice when I’m in a noisy area (or when the other person at the other end decides to say “I can’t hear you”). If you don’t mind the wire, the HBH-20 is the choice for you.

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