The Bottom Line
The HS-500 is a good Bluetooth headset, and with a list price of $79.99, it's reasonably priced. But it's hard to find a reason why you should buy this product instead of one of its more capable competitors.
- Delivers good audio quality
- Attractive design
- Earbuds aren't always comfortable
- Doesn't include an AC adapter; only a car charger
- Automatic volume level isn't always loud enough
- RIM's latest Bluetooth headset works with BlackBerry phones and other smartphones.
- It comes with four earbuds and two earhooks in the package, plus a car charger. No AC adapter is included, though.
- The HS-500 is attractive and easy to use.
Guide Review - BlackBerry's HS-500 Bluetooth Headset: Quality, Not Comfort
Research In Motion doesn't just make smartphones; they also make smartphone accessories. One of their latest is the HS-500 Bluetooth Wireless Headset. It's an attractive headset that delivers good audio quality, but it can be difficult to wear comfortably.
The HS-500 is small; it measures just less than two inches long and is about a half inch thick. It can be worn with or without an earhook, and the package includes four different earbuds and two earhooks. Even with these options, though, I was unable to arrive at a secure comfortable fit. The smallest of the earbuds was still too large for me, and so the HS-500 never felt completely secure in my ear.
I tested the headset with two different phones: the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and an iPhone 3GS. (Yes, the BlackBerry headset works with non-BlackBerry phones.) The headset paired with both phones easily, and I was making and receiving calls within minutes.
The headset has just two controls: an on/off switch on the side, and a call button on the main face of the device. The call button serves multiple functions, as you use it to answer, disconnect, and initiate calls, and to mute calls in progress. The call button is big and easy to locate by touch; it also clicks nicely when pressed, so you know you've made contact.
Voice quality was very good for the most part. I noticed some crackling when I strayed too far from the phone itself, but callers on the other end of the line said I sounded fine. My biggest complaint with the audio quality was the volume: it was too low on most calls. The HS-500 has no volume controls, because it is supposed to offer automatic volume control. This sounds like a good idea in theory, if only the automatic volume adjusted to a level that was loud enough. As it was, I had to adjust the volume through the phone to make it loud enough on the headset.
The HS-500 supports voice controls, so you can dial calls by voice. The voice recognition worked well in my tests. It also supports A2DP or stereo Bluetooth, so you can use it to listen to music or sounds from certain applications, such as a GPS app that announces driving directions, for example.
If it fit more comfortably, I'd be able to recommend the HS-500. But it's hard to find a reason why you should buy this product instead of one of its more capable competitors.