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HP Bluetooth Headphones


January 9, 2005 01:00 AM PST

LobotYes as part of the new year I am fully embracing the wireless lifestyle. Iím just plain tired of wires. Since J brought it up, here is a mini-review of the HP Bluetooth headphones also known as ďLobotĒ phones.

So I picked up these headphones to go with my hx4705. Rumor has it that they are made by Logitech who will be selling them under their own brand after awhile. They only work with Bluetooth Ipaqs at the moment, but hopefully there will be drivers soon for other devices and computers. Toshiba just released an identical pair for use with their laptops so we know it can be done. So whatís so cool about these? Well Bluetooth is pretty lame to be certain, but itís handy for some things. These headphones are reasonably small, completely wireless, have a built in control buttons on them and will run for 8 hours on a charge. Not bad. Currently the controls operate mobile media player 9 only. They allow you to do play/pause, volume and next / previous track. Last week I managed to keep them on at work almost all the time. The controls come in very handy, when someone comes in the office to chat I can just reach up and pause the music, very cool.

The good: They are reasonably small, behind the head style. They are a bit heavier that similar headphones, but comfortable. The speakers are very high quality and have very good range. The sound quality is good even though these headphones use compression. They are easy to setup and operate. The range is acceptable, HP claims 30ft which I doubt, but certainly anywhere within a reasonably sized room. The battery life is very good, I havenít tested the limits but Iíve done at least 6 hours with no problems.

The bad: These are definitely a rev 1 product. Sometimes you get some skips or hiccups in the music. Iím not sure what causes it but it does happen. The Bluetooth stack is reported to be a memory hog, so you need to keep you Ipaq RAM clean. Although you can run other programs and do other things on you pocketPC while listening to them, this usually results in more audio Ďhiccupsí even on fast devices like the hx4705. The control buttons only work with media player currently. The volume always works however. This is a shortcoming Iím hoping a 3rd party will fix. I would really like to be able to use the play / pause / track buttons with PocketPlayer, AudiblePlayer and BetaPlayer. Due to bluetoothís limited bandwidth these headphones are forced to use compression. I donít know what the effective bit rate is and they sound good to me, but adding another layer of compression to my already compressed music canít be good. Iím sure audio purists will complain about this. Now for the big two. For some reason after 45 min to an hour the headphones and the Ipaq lose sync somehow. The music just stutters. To get out of this I either have to reboot the headphones or power cycle the ipaq to force them to reconnect. This isnít a show stopper, but it is annoying. Probably something that could be fixed in firmware, but Iím not sure the firmware is upgradeable. And finally there are reports already (after being out only one month) of the headband cracking in the back causing them to loose tension so they donít fit well anymore. I hope this doesnít happen to me, they are too expensive!

So the bottom line is that I think they are cool and I donít have any buyers remorse Ė but I am an early adopter so my expectations may differ from yours. They could use some improvement however so I would recommend waiting if you are in the market. I expect that later in the year some of these issues will get fixed in Rev 2.0. I also expect to see better driver support when Logitech releases them under their own brand. These would be very cool to use with a PC. All you would need is a little USB to Bluetooth dongle. Maybe Logitech will throw that it the bundle. I also expect to see more 3rd party solutions this year as well.

You can read a goog review at Dave's. Also there is a cool product coming out that will allow you to use them with an Ipod. Of course as with any Ipod accessory it is freaking expensive.

Comments (1)
Paul, January 9, 2005 01:52 AM:

Wires == Death

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