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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Monday, 20 December 2010

The Sony MW600 bluetooth headset.. quite handy!

I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon voucher and some money for my birthday, so it seemed like a good time to see if there was a gadget I might find useful.

In the fullness of time, I would very much like one of those new-fangled tablets - the Samsung Galaxy Tab looks amazing, but it's rather expensive, and, with the Apple iPad, represents the cutting edge of a market that, like the explosion of netbooks a couple of years ago, will probably take off very soon, making some rather more affordable devices available.

My idea is that the traditional mobile phone isn't really necessary any more. If it's possible to make phone calls on a tablet (I keep saying 'Tablet PC' but it's not!) I would think that all one needs, to avoid the inconvenience of holding it to one's ear, is a bluetooth headset.

And it was that idea that prompted me to carry out some research. There are an awful lot of different headsets available, from very inexpensive but functional (like the Nokia BH-203) to the expensive and executive (for example, the Aliph Jawbone Prime) but I wanted one that could be used to answer phone calls but perhaps be used as stereo bluetooth headphones, since my iPod Touch has A2DP stereo bluetooth capabilities.

After some substantial research, I came across the Sony MW600, which appeared to have most of the things I wanted, including a socket to plug my own headphones in if I want. Since it was on 'special offer', I ordered it, and it arrived after just a couple of days. I have to say, I was delighted with what it could do.

Sony Ericsson MW-600 Bluetooth headset
The Sony Ericsson MW600 bluetooth headset

The good bits
1. As I mentioned, it's not just a single unit where you're forced to use the standard headphones - I have a pair of Creative EP-630 in-ear phones that are inexpensive (a necessity on the commute, since they get easily caught!) so I'm able to use them
2. It can pair with three different devices. So, I've got it paired with my personal mobile, my work mobile and my iPod touch.
3. It has two modes - one as 'bluetooth stereo headphones' and one as a 'bluetooth phone headset'. It can be connected to two different devices, then - my iPod Touch for music, and my work phone for calls. This means that, if I've got music on and a call comes in, I just press the button and it puts the call to my headphones and stops the music.
4. It works from quite a long way away - in fact, I can leave my iPod Touch charging in the kitchen and wander round the house or do some vacuuming while still listening to music. This means I don't have to carry anything heavier than the little headset unit around with me.
5. It can pair with a computer to be used as a private pair of cordless headphones. So I can put iPlayer on my laptop and listen to the sound without being tethered to it! That said, Bluetooth audio support on Windows XP is tricky to get going - and there's a bit of a delay on the Mac... but it definitely works!
6. It's got an FM radio included. I have no idea why (and I don't really use it) but hey.. it's a radio!
7. It doesn't make me look like a member of the Borg collective. I get quite a few calls on my mobile at work, and it's very useful to be able to have my hands free to type. Having one of those classic design bluetooth headsets looks a bit odd, so this is a little more subtle, since I can just pop an earbud in my ear when a call comes in.
8. Despite its size, the battery lasts really well - a good couple of days of use between charges.

The not-so good bits
1. From a "things I can now do" point of view, it's a bit disappointing, but unfortunately my iPod Touch doesn't appear to recognise the headset as a microphone, so I can't use it to record AudioBoos. So I still have to keep my standard (rubbish) Apple headphones in a pocket, since they have a microphone that - unsurprisingly - is recognised.
2. The volume control is really annoying. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but the volume is controlled by stroking a touch-sensitive edge of the device. If I pick the headset up a bit wrong, either I end up adjusting the volume or pressing one of the rather sensitive play/pause/forward/back buttons. There's no keylock, unfortunately.
3. There is a very quiet but audible hiss in my earbuds when it's switched on. To be honest, this isn't a major gripe, but I can tell it's there, when everything is quiet.
4. The microphone is a little insensitive unless I have it quite close to my head. I shall have to work on the optimum position for it, because holding it up to my mouth to talk directly into it kind-of defeats the point.
5. When it's charging, it is switched off. That's a bit annoying, but again, if they could, I'm sure they would have done something about this.

But that's about it. I really love the freedom from cables that this has given me - it means I can get dressed up in my winter outdoor clothes without worrying that I'll get all tangled up if I want to change a song, or answer my phone.

And, of course, when I get my tablet phone computer thing, I'll already have a bluetooth headset to go with it!

Overall: 8/10.

Posted by james at December 20, 2010 10:26 AM

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