Bluetooth headset candidate #5: LG HBM-730

HBM-730
Specs:
Bluetooth version - 1.2
Range - 33 ft.
Talk time - up tp 7 hours
Stand-by - up to 170 hours
Charging time - 2 hours
Weight - 0.3 ounces
Echo cancellation/Noise suppression

MSRP: $79.99

LG's popular Chocolate phone and other candy-bar like stylings with the concealed keyboards are all the rage with teens and young adults alike. Much like established manufacturer Motorola, LG is now making headsets as attractive as their phones (have you seen the LG Prada Bluetooth headset?). The product in question for this quick review is the HBM-730 which comes in a pretty reasonable price in comparison to the competition.

This headset is sized quite small and can definitely be a major draw to it being considered for purchase. At 0.3 ounces, weight is hardly a topic for contention. But fitting it was another issue altogether. The headset is worn with what resembles a coat hanger, in a vinyl shrunk over plastic form, but that is it - it isn't plyable to form fit to you - it literally hangs over the ear and doesn't quite hang against the ear as most headsets do. I found if I tilted my head at an angle, well the headset would then hang away - very unusual. Something about the design too is that the hook actually would be attached closer to the location of the mic and not the speaker. Perhaps a balancing issue had to be considered here. It did come along with an ear bud that I would hope would improve the fit, but I also found it to be uncomfortable to wear in conjunction with the hook. Regardless, the hook easily adjusts for use with the left or right ear. The speaker, sits over the ear much like a headphone, just not as snug as I would prefer.

Controls on the unit were designed to be integrated into its styling. It is the outside panel with the LG logo that serves as the multi-use button. A rocker like volume control can be found along the left side. I found the buttons to be responsive with good tactile feedback; however, I found the multi-use to be tricky when using short and long presses to activate certain phone functionality, let along to be troublesome for people with wide fingers. One thing that I've also found, is that I had to activate mute directly from the phone and couldn't do so from the headset.

In real world mixed usage I found the battery to allow me to go 2-3 days between charges. Charge time seemed to be about 2-3 hours.

As for sound quality, I found the speaker to be quite loud for it's size. I had no issues of sound quality when using it around the normal places like home, or work, or even driving on city streets. As you all know by now, my test in using it while driving in my convertible with the top up on the freeway always seems to be the one that not too many headsets can overcome - and unfortunately the HBM-730 wouldn't come through for me. There were moments that it seemed to be loud enough, but not consistently. The person I would be talking to would report me getting very muffled and even faint as I reached freeway speeds. Again, driving around the city was possible, but on the freeway, the noise cancellation just couldn't overcome the roadnoise. In busier environments the person at the other end would report some slight echoing or faintness in my voice quality. In truly windy conditions, (i.e. in my convertible with the top down) I couldn't truly be satisfied as I had the same issues as with the top up.

This headset is quite impressive in terms of size, styling, and attepts in maintaining incoming volume, but falls short in terms of battery life, voice transmission, and fit. Unfortunately, I'd have to advise that unless you need something where style triumphs over functionality, then wait a little bit longer for their experience to improve. There are a good amount of other alternatives that perform quite better than this one for the money.

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