Samsung Stereo Clip-On Bluetooth Headset for Samsung HS3000 - Retail Packaging - Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- Lightweight and comfortable
- Ideal for listening to music on the go
- Headset delivers high quality Stereo Audio and Full Calling features in a sleek, comfortable design
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Samsung HS3000 Stereo Bluetooth Clip with 3.5mm earbuds Bluetooth enabled phones and devices
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Upon purchasing and receiving the two Bluetooth Headset Adapters, I unboxed and charged them fully before testing. I utilized the headsets that came with the units along with a control set of Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 vi In Ear Monitors. I tested everything with my Apple iPhone 4s (Sprint) using iOS 5.0.1 and my Late 2011 MacBook Pro 15" using OS 10.7.3 (Lion) for the tests. Music comparisons used were Creed - Full Circle, Les Miserables - The Complete Symphonic Recording, Beethoven -The Immortal Collection and Nightwish - Angels Fall First. I also utilized World of Warcraft for gaming on my laptop with these headsets as well playing for at least an hour while questing.
It goes without saying (but I'll say it here anyway), that most of these devices have a generic look and feel to them. I mean how much can you do with a Bluetooth Headset adapter? Even so, the packaging was actually very well done on both items. No plastic to cut, no annoying twist ties to get anything out of the box. Just the closed box and tape holding the flap closed. Both the Sony and the Samsung had nice presentation of the device and both were very easy to remove and start using. Both of these devices utilize MicroUSB chargers, so if you have other devices that use those connections, you only need to carry one type of charger to charge all of them.
After the unboxing and initial charging of both items, I decided to take a closer look at each item. Here are the lists of my thoughts on each item upon first inspection:
Sony: I really like the display on this device. Very bright when needed and then shuts off. No annoying flashing lights or any other attention getting gimmicks. The buttons are nice to the touch and the Play/Pause button is slightly raised to make it easy to hit it. I dislike the push and hold power on button as I prefer the sliding switch, but it wasn't like Sony used the button for anything else, so not a problem. The clip on the MW600 seems a bit weak and seems a bit on the flimsy side, so that might be a problem. BTW, this device has a radio and it does support RDS so it shows the song title, station ID, etc, but this feature is useless for me as I can't stand to listen to commercials so, I don't use the radio. The size of the this device is very nice, but for clipping on my work shirts, this item is a bit thicker than I'd like. The charging port on this device is open... I am not sure that I care to have the connectors open all of the time on this device while wearing this potentially everywhere. I am sure this was done to avoid using dust covers, but I think this would have been a good idea.
Samsung: I like the feel of this device in the hands... It feels sturdy without being heavy or bulky. I dislike the single blue/purple/red LED on the front of the device to indicate battery, use, etc as I dislike attention getting flashing lights, but LED is useful as it does indicate the battery level. I really like the power switch on this device. It the perfect tension as to not turn on when you don't want it to and not too stiff as to require too much force to turn it on. I have the Bose Bluetooth headset that I often turn on by accident when putting away, so this switch is a nice change from that headset. Also the Play/Pause button is indented slightly from the other buttons making it easy to find as well. Personally, I think I like the button better on the Sony as my fingers naturally find the extended button easier than the indented one... But I supposed engineers for Samsung were worried someone might accidentally press it if anything stuck out. Only time will tell on that. This device is the larger of the two being roughly twice the width of the Sony device, but it's half as thick. I think this will be better for my work shirts as I can hide most of this device in the shirt. The clip is very nicely done on this device and the charging port has a dust cover.
After turning the devices on and pairing with my phone and computer, here are my thoughts on their usage before I take them out with me on the road. BTW, pairing on each of these devices was very simple and I never had to enter a code anywhere for the devices to work. Incidentally, if you decide to use these devices the pin code for both is 0000 if required by your phone or computer. Oh and both devices worked with Siri on the iPhone. I was pleasantly surprised how well both functioned. Also, both headset adapters came with headphones that have a short cable... This is very nice because it allows for the wearer to have the clip where it can be reached without 4 foot of extra cable hanging about.
Sony: I have to say that the display is the nicest feature of this device. It shows when you need pairing and when the device is connected. It shows the time on the display once connected to my phone and while playing the track is displayed as well. When using the next or previous buttons, it also shows what's happening as well. Also, the battery indicator is always present on the display as the battery graph most phones have today. After playing with the basic functions of the headset, I found that everything was very well done except the volume buttons. I guess you really can't call them buttons and it's not really a slide either. The surface is flat and has very slight marking indicating + and - and you slide your finger in the direction of either to turn it up or down. Two things about this make this a really by design. 1) You can't figure out which is which by feel. Without looking at the device it is hard to figure out how to turn up or down the volume. 2) It is very easy to change the volume accidentally while handing the device. Since this design doesn't work with an indentation or some other means of force, while holding the device to look at the time you can easily change the volume of your music/call/radio. This device supports multiple devices so when pairing with a computer and a phone you don't have to pair each time you use it. Not sure how useful this item really is, but could be nice for those that use more than one device to connect to their headphones. Volume changes on the headset does change the volume on the phone. This is nice for the fact that you can change the volume from either the phone or the headset and the volume indicators are the same.
Samsung: The coolest feature of this device is the voice prompts. Immediately on startup you have a Voice Prompt of Power On. Further, it goes into pairing mode and gives you the code while waiting for you to connect. A nice feature as you don't have to look up anything. When you flip the switch, it gives you a voice prompt of Power Off... It seems a bit basic, but it is actually nice when you have the confirmation without having to look at the device to tell if it's on or off. (BTW, you can turn off the Voice Prompts.) The button layout seems to be setup nicely for operating everything by touch. All buttons are slightly different places or offset in comparison to other buttons, so it makes it easy to determine which side of the device and which button you are actually going to depress. My biggest disappointment here is Sound Alive feature. While some people may like their bluetooth devices to control EQ, I do not. If I want to adjust the EQ, I want my Music Player to do it... So this feature means that when you press the button, the audio changed to add or remove Bass. While I can see this being useful on Phone calls, this button works all of the time, so I have to be careful to not turn on the feature. This is one of those items I would prefer a press and hold to enable it. The feature I like best on this phone is the volume control. Unlike the Sony, I can change the volume on the phone and the headset adapter independently. This gives me a very nice granular control of how loud or soft I can make the volume. When using the IEMs (In Ear Monitors) this feature is very nice. I can turn down the volume enough to sleep with at home or turn it up enough to work at noisy environments equally. I can see how some people wouldn't like this, but since my IEMs have 26 DB of sound attenuation, I have a very quiet noise floor to start from and I can thereby keep my music volume very low while maintaining a good volume in ear. This keeps my hearing in tact while allowing for a very enjoyable listening experience.
Let me start on this section with a bit of theory and human nature. First, I am an audio engineer for a medium sized church and I do live sound mixing 8 hours a week. Further, I have to train others to run the mixer for live sound often enough that I know a thing or two about how people perceive sound. Since most people don't listen for hours on end to the details that comprise music (IE how well the drum mix works with the vocal mix, etc) and since most people can't hear the difference between the 128Kbps and the 256Kbps MP3s they get from Amazon or elsewhere, I am not going into an expanded discussion on how good or bad these are. I am not saying that people won't notice that something is different, I am saying they won't know what is different or how the difference effects their music experience. Since all of the audio sources I used are from 256Kbps encoded sources, I am sure that the limit of the technology of the music source is the biggest limiting factor in the audio quality and therefore all comparisons are extremely subjective unless I were to grab lossless files and spend hours listening to the same songs over and over in order to give a details analysis of how good the Bluetooth transmits those high bandwidth songs. Long story short, please forgive me for not going into detail about the entirety of the audio quality and using generalizations instead.
Sony: The audio quality of these adapters were quite adequate and I couldn't hear any significant loss of fidelity using my IEMs with this device and plugging into the iPhone. I will say that the Sony headphones provided with the device were a pleasant surprise. Normally Sony likes to drive their Bass much more than everything else as most people like to bring the Bass out when listening to their music. These headphones were actually quite flat and for single drivers were very decent for daily use. I did also try these while sleeping and they fit nicely in the ear to allow for you to put them in on the plane and take a nap. Also, the headphones were comfortable and didn't hurt after long use. The headphones do isolate but not nearly as much as my IEMs. However, for daily use at work or about town, that's probably a good thing. The only thing about these headphones I disliked was that the short part of the cord was on my left while the device when clipped to my shirt faced the cable to the right... This made for some tugging on the left, while not having any problems on the right. Also, the audio quality of the phone calls made with this device was as good as any wired headphones I have tried. Overall, the audio quality on these were quite sufficient for daily use, but if you are the serious audiophile, you are probably listening with High Quality Monitors and Lossless Music and these aren't for you.
Samsung: The audio with this adapter and my IEMs were amazing considering the technology behind streaming music wirelessly. I think that stems from how the bluetooth on these function and the profiles it supports. Since these are newer, one would expect some improvement over other models that are much older and these don't disappoint. The headphones that come with these are pretty much worthless. They don't provide much in the way of isolation and they are so obviously single drivers. I am not sure how much people would buy either of these devices because of the headphones packaged with the devices, but with a build quality like this from Samsung, they are better off dropping the headphones in the package and bringing the price of this device down some more. It would certainly probably help with the reviews from people complaining about audio quality. Call Audio was also decent. Again, I would say that daily use of this device would be very adequate. If pressed to give a nod to either of these devices on audio alone, I would choose the Samsung providing that you don't use the included headphones.
The Work Test:
This is what my planned use for these devices is and this is really where I need to see how these function. I didn't do as much prep on this as I did with everything else, so this section is mainly my preferences and my expectations of the device.
Sony: My initial problems with the volume didn't turn out to be a problem while working. I only had to adjust the volume once as most of the time, I just removed the headphones when needed. Also, my initial praise for the display turns out to be misguided as well. I never once went to the headset display to do anything. Since I needed to press a button on the phone to accept forwarded calls from work, I just picked up the phone each time thereby making the display unimportant. Also, the clip did turn out to be a problem, but only because of the Sony headphones. If I were using something else, I think the clip would be ok, but as it was, the left ear headphone will pull the device from my shirt. I finally swapped the headphones from left and right and solved my problem. Also, since I synced these with my computer, I had to go through the interface to change everything back to phone from computer just to see the time and have Siri working again. Not a huge deal, but it keeps it from being useful that I can connect this device to multiple sources.
Samsung: Overall, these worked best for how I do my daily work and allowed for me to use Siri, answer the phone and listed to music without getting my headset tangled in coats, desks, etc.
Overall, I give the edge to Samsung as they are 33% less than the Sony's, have slightly a better sound and work better for what I need than the Sony's. Honestly though, either device is actually very good considering the cost and either should work for anyone that is looking to get their cables out of the way while still using cabled headphones. I give them both 4 stars (Amazon represents this as I Like It and I do.)
Quick Update (5 Mar 2012):
The Samsung button being indented instead of sticking out is very annoying after much more use.. Also, I have found with the current version of Audible for the iPhone, neither headset seems to control the audio once playback begins. So I can hit play and the audiobook will play, but I can't pause, forward or back. These functions seem to work while not playing (as I can skip forward or back chapters), but I can't get them to work once playback starts. Very annoying and I am hoping that this is addressable via Audible update as it works fine with music.
Also, per a question from the comments here, the Samsung does NOT announce the caller with it's built in voice prompt system. Both headsets will play the ringtones through the headset though, so if you assign a ringtone to your contacts, you will know whom is calling. On the iPhone, this works great even if the ringer is turned off, so it's a great feature.
As I purchased both for this review, I am contemplating keeping both as I do really like some features of each... I'll update again when I decide, but in the mean time, please keep posting questions for me as I'll try to find the answer for you.
If your phone supports AVRCP (and many do), this device can play/pause, fast forward/rewind, and change the volume of your audio selection. However, as with all of those I have tried, you can only go forward and backward an entire track at a time. This has been true when connected to every Android Phone I have tried (G1, Nexus One, Samsung Galaxy S2). Pushing and holding is supposed to move a little bit within a track, but that never works.
Also, if your device supports HFP (most phones do), you can take calls while listening to music. There is a microphone port on the "top" side of the device, next to the headphone jack, for this purpose.
This HS3000 connects the quickest, usually only a couple of seconds, of all those I have tried. It has a dedicated slider for powering on and off, which really helps for the quick connect. The others I have tried require you to push and hold a power button for several seconds, which only increases the time it takes to connect to your phone.
This is the only dongle I have tried to feature voice prompts. It actually says things like "Ready to pair", "Power off", and "Device connected." The others just give you a sequence of beeps that you must remember what they mean. This makes the HS3000 exceptionally easy to use.
When used with a Bluetooth 3.0 capable device, the HS3000 has excellent range and resistance to interference from obstacles, such as my own body. Of those I have tried, this one comes in second, only being beaten by the Sound Pilot S705 -- which is a Bluetooth Class 1 device and is spec'd at 10 times the range (100 meters) of most devices, which are typically Class 2 (10 Meters). I can set my phone down in one room and reception is fine in nearby rooms.
Battery life, as with all of those I have tried, is good enough to listen to several (3 - 4) hours of continuous podcasts or music between charges, which take about 45 minutes.
*** And now for the bad bits
Probably the worst feature of this dongle are the tiny, incredibly similar buttons sprinkled along both sides of the device. It is almost impossible to tell by feel alone the small differences between the volume buttons and the play-related buttons on the other side. But even looking at the HS3000 itself to figure this out could be made better. The play/pause and forward/backward buttons are designated by tiny symbols indented on them. If these symbols were painted in white (or yellow), they would be much more visible than they are. I usually have to tilt the dongle back and forth until the light glints off it just right in order to see the indentations. This means that quickly pausing whatever you are listening to is usually out of the question. But even if you do manage to find the button quickly, it takes some dexterity to not also squeeze the button on the opposite side of the device simultaneously.
And what is the easiest button to press of all? The large dedicated 'Call' button on the front face of the HS3000. Pushing this button quickly answers and hangs-up on phone calls. Pressing and holding initiates a dial-by-voice feature. This is great if you are working in a call center, taking and placing calls all day, but if you are like me, you rarely (if ever) talk voice on the phone and would mostly use this device to listen to podcasts and/or music. That is where this button is a big fail. If the dongle is clipped anywhere other than your shirt pocket, it can be easy to accidentally push (and worse push-and-hold) this button, which throws you into the voice dialing system of your phone. You can't just wait for it to time out, because the microphone might hear something and then start dialing a random number from your contacts. You have to fish out your phone just to cancel the feature you didn't want in the first place. Samsung could fix this by having an option that changes the 'Call' button into the 'Play/Pause' button. Such an option could be automatically initiated when the phone connects without using the Bluetooth HFP profile. (BTW, If you tell your phone to only connect to the HS3000 for Media Audio -- not Phone Audio, then the dedicated 'Call' button does nothing, which at least eliminates the annoying accidental presses).
Second worst feature: clip-only. Some of these devices (like the BT3030 and S705) allow you to either clip the device somewhere or wear it around your neck like a necklace. The HS3000 can only be clipped somewhere. If you want to use the built-in microphone to talk on calls, finding a place to securely clip it can be challenging. If you only wear button-up shirts with pockets, it's not so much of a problem. But any other attire and you likely have a problem. The manual states that you must not clip it to a belt loop but, at least for many guys, that is the most natural place to affix it. Unfortunately, it is also the most likely place to have that big dedicated 'Call' button accidentally pressed (see above).
The HS3000 is above average in most respects, featuring easy setup, quick connection, and above average reception. Its down-sides are tiny indistinguishable buttons that are easily pressed two-at-a-time, a big 'Call' button that can be accidentally pressed (which would be so much better if it was a 'play/pause' button), and clip-onto-clothing only design.
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