Sony has made a few earplug based headphones, but as far as we know, this is the first Bluetooth earplug headset to hit the market. In a nutshell, this differs to other headsets because a small, interchangeable rubber tips burrows into your ear to block out ambient noise, while a small driver in the middle delivers unobstructed sound to your ear.
If this all seems a little scary, don’t worry. It actually makes for very pleasant mobile conversations, where you don’t have to increase the volume of the headset to deafening levels or strain to hear what’s being said over background noise.
The volume of the device is controlled by the phone and as a result, there are only two buttons on the handset: power and control. It’s small and lightweight, which makes it very comfortable. The battery life is quoted as being three and a half hours talk and 160 standby, which will decrease with use and time. It’s not uncomfortable, but you wouldn’t want to wear it for long sessions.
Although we like it, it has two little problems, both of which result from the in-ear design. Firstly, you’ll find that the rubber tip become less hygienic over time, as more grime sticks to it. But, as long as you keep it clean and avoid letting others use the headset, your ears should stay clean too.
Secondly, it comes with a small lanyard with a dummy power connector attached to it. Although it keeps it around your neck when not in use, you can’t use the headset when it’s connected to the lanyard (well, you can, but it’s impractical) and on one occasion the headset fell out when we were walking around with it.
When you’re using the HBH-IV835 you’ll be more aware of its presence (out of design and necessity) than other headsets, but for the mostly desk and car bound Bluetooth user, its benefits outweigh these minor problems. And as Bluetooth headsets go, it looks pretty sexy, too.