Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Looking for a Bluetooth Headphone for Your iPhone? Check THIS Out

I got the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS205 Bluetooth Stereo Headset dongle earlier today. I've been using it all afternoon with my iPhone and I've been quite impressed. This is one of those Bluetooth dongles where I can plug in my own headphones. For me, I'm using the Sony MDREX55LP in-ear earbuds. They have great sound, lots of bass, and isolate outside noise pretty well (important when riding on the cacophonous subway).

In this picture, here's my car key and a quarter, then the HTC Bluetooth dongle, the Sony, and the Tritton.

So far, here's what I've found it will do:

- Play music without stuttering. I can't tell you how many reviews I've read where the Bluetooth headphones will stutter every few seconds. This stuttering happened with my HTC Bluetooth dongle connected with iPhone. The HTC dongle, used with either the HTC Fuze or the Advantage, would not stutter. Same manufacturer, I guess, for all the pieces means good connectivity.

- It will automatically connect to iPhone when turning it on. The Tritton I had before would not autoconnect. I had to use iPhone's Settings app and force the connection.

- The Sony Ericsson will answer incoming calls by pressing the Action button. I can also hold down the Action button on an incoming call and it will be rejected and sent to voicemail.

- The Action button will let me transfer the call from iPhone to the headphone so I can go private if I've been using iPhone's speaker for group calls.

- The Volume controls are *very* easy to use. Slide the button up to raise the volume and down to lower it.

- The Action button will pause/play music. I've used this with iPhone's iPod, and with Pandora and ooTunes.

- Double-clicking the Action button will redial my last outgoing number.

- When charging, the dongle doesn't turn off (unlike with my HTC dongle). The Tritton dongle would also stay on when charging.

- The distance is great. I can get across the room from iPhone before I lose the connection. This is convenient when working around the office or the den because I can leave iPhone connected to power, yet still listen through headphones.

- The Tritton shorted out from sweating during my workouts, I think, because of the way it's made. When clipped onto a t-shirt collar, one side will be next to the skin. On one side there's the on/off switch and on the other is the control buttons, so some part of the electronics was being sweated upon. I always wore it with the on/off switch against my skin so that I could easily access the volume and action buttons. With the Sony Ericsson clip, sweating won't be a problem because the part that clips to my t-shirt collar and touching my skin is just a piece of plastic, and not actually any electronic part of the dongle.

There's one caveat with these Bluetooth dongles. I have the problem with this new one, and also had the problem with the other two. When watching a movie, I find that the audio and video aren't in sync -- especially annoying when a person in close-up is speaking. To get around the problem on WinMo, I used a program called CorePlayer because it allowed me to adjust the sound so that it was sent to the dongle about .75 seconds before the movie was displayed on-screen. This made the audio and video sync perfectly. Unfortunately, until Apple adds some similar adjustment to iPhone, I'll have to directly connect my headphones to the audio jack.

All in all, this dongle is highly recommended just after one day of use. I'll update this entry if I find out anything different from what's gone on today.

By the way, don't get it from the Sony Style stores or their on-line because it's $150. I got mine from Amazon for $79 plus $20 for overnight shipping. Other places may have similar or better prices so shop around!

Update: I've been having some problems when answering the phone while in ooTunes or Pandora. Something happens and I almost always have to tell iPhone to route the music back to the headset after the call is complete. Otherwise, it's been a great setup!

Update: As I'm reading about other headphones like the Motorola, it seems this is common on the iPhone. It isn't a problem now that I'm used to it -- I was just not expecting it to act this way because I never had this issue with Windows Mobile. I guess Apple will fix this as their Bluetooth software matures.


Constance said...

Great! Thanks for the info!

woo said...

Thanks for the review, I suppose it would be wise for me to get a bluetooth headset specifically for testing with ooTunes, I guess apple did a good job in adding it if it just worked :)
Sounds like this was the best? Any other thoughts on it, I'm not a fan of Sony to be honest, but I know nothing about bluetooth and this sounds like you have some experience.

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks. I've been looking for a stereo bluetooth headset that lets me use my own headphones for a while. This seems like it will do the trick.

How's battery life and call/audio quality? I'll be using it for calls and for listening to music so the A/V sync problem won't be an issue for me.

Eddie W. said...

@woo: I'm finding that now I understand how the dongle works differently from the WinMo devices and iPhone's currently limited Bluetooth stack.It's not really hard to work with the headset and I found out that if I lose the connection from the iPhone (it only has happened a couple of times like when I get out of range), I can push the action button and the connection will pick up again.

@NiteWalker: The battery usually gets me through the entire day (12 or so hours). This is with a combination of music listening and phone talking plus non use times. I did notice a couple of times that if I listened to music non-stop, the battery would give up after about 6 hours or so. The best part was that I could plug into the power supply and keep listening (I was sitting at my desk anyway so no problem).

The quality is really good for both music and phone calls except when I have the top down on the car -- the dongle is not noise cancelling so people have a hard time hearing me if I'm on the highway.

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Patrick said...

The iphone headphones i like are those
which should be very easy to handle and my apps should be one click away on those. For
iphones stylish headphones do not matter a lot but they should be in attracting colors
atleast. Prices are very high generally.