Thursday, October 2, 2008
Stick It In Your Ear...and Love It! A Review of The Helium Digital HD650 BT Headset
Posted by Don Tolson in "Smartphone Accessories" @ 12:00 PM
Product Category: Bluetooth Headset
Manufacturer: Helium Digital
Where to Buy: Helium Digital
Price: $39.99 CAD (Approx. $40 USD)
Specifications: Bluetooth v2.0; supports both Headset (HSP) and Handsfree (HFP) profiles; 9.5g (0.33 oz); 44mm (1.6in) * 19mm(0.75in) * 19mm(0.75in); 5 hours talk, 150 hours standby
- Small, light, unobtrusive headset;
- Innovative, no-loop, earpiece which stays in your ear;
- Good quality audio;
- Great battery life.
- Need charger stand to charge earpiece;
- Noise cancelling is not strong.
The HD-650 Bluetooth headset is the latest addition to Helium Digital's product line, and you might (reasonably) be thinking, so what? What makes this headset different from all the rest? Well, this is the first one I've seen that's specifically designed without an earhook, and for me it's the first unit I've tested which is light, comfortable, works well and will actually stay in my ear for the whole day -- even while riding the bike home! In my search for the perfect headset, I may have reached Nirvana.
Yup, Another BT Headset...
Seems like Bluetooth headsets have become almost a 'commodity' item these days, with every discount vendor selling no-name and name-brand models for bargain basement prices. Even liquidator companies like Xcess Cargo are getting in the game! So how do you pick one?
In truth, most headsets will do an adequate job of the basics -- attaching to your phone and allowing hands-free operation, with reasonable battery life. I quite enjoy using a headset, since it allows me to keep my hands available for multi-tasking, lookups, and sometimes just gesticulating wildly in the air while I illustrate a point to a caller. But the challenge has been in finding one which provided good volume for both office and outdoor use (I'm frequently walking between client sites and errands); reasonable noise cancellation; and comfort. I need a headset that I can stick into my ear at the beginning of my 9 to 10 hour day and know it will stay there without me having to re-adjust every five minutes because it hurts or feels like it's going to fall off.
I've gone through both the v1 and v2 Jawbones and numerous Jabras, Motorolas, etc., but couldn't get any to fit 'just right'. I was beginning to give up when Helium Digitial contacted us, asking if we'd like to review their HD-650. I was a bit doubtful, based on the marketing material, since I couldn't see how it would be comfortable or stable without an earhook. But, ever the adventurer, we took the dive...
The headset itself is about 3/4 the size of a flash drive, and weighs practically nothing.
Figure 1: A close-up shot of headset itself. This is about 3 times actual size...
This is definitely not bulky! The big black button at the top is the multi-function switch for power/pairing mode, and there are volume up and down switches on the left and right sides, respectively. The LED just below the HELIUM logo shows the status of the unit, and the mike is located at the bottom.
Figure 2: Here's a closeup of the two ear gels provided -- again almost 3 times normal size, so you can see the detail. They look quite different from other ear inserts, but those 'fingers' on the lower end do a great job of comfortably and securely fitting the headset in your ear.
The ear gels provided come in two sizes -- the difference being the length of the fingers used to hold the headset firmly in the ear. I actually tried both and even the longer one fit. Over the long haul though, the smaller one was more comfortable for me. The holes in the gel go over the earpiece/speaker of the headset and they are reversible, so you can wear them with the fingers pointing forward (toward your jaw) or back (toward the back lip of your ear).
I thought figuring out how to insert the headset and get a comfortable fit would take a little while, but I was very pleasantly surprised that it fit right in practically the first time! Because there's no ear hook to fuss with, things are a lot easier. In my case, I just place the headset over my right ear pointing down, then gently twist it 90 degrees (to point forward) and that's it! -- everything just sets in perfectly. I find it most comfortable with the fingers pointing back -- so the front edge (top of this picture) fits under the skin in the middle of my ear and the fingers gently rubbing the back of the ear. Your results may be different. It feels very comfortable during normal work around the office (I get up and walk around a LOT) and feels totally secure while riding my bike home from work.
Figure 3: A sideview shot of the headset with the ear gel attached. Notice how the gel is angled to create ridges which fit inside the folds of skin in your ear. The big button on the side of the headset is for volume. I'm not sure what the smaller one beside it does. (There's no mention of it in the User Manual, and pressing it doesn't do anything.)
Figure 4: Just to give you an idea of the relative size of this thing, here's what it looks like on my head. Not too 'borg-ish', eh?