New Bluetooth Headphones

I took the plunge and spent some real money on some bluetooth headphones; I picked up the Sony DR-BT21G from Fry's for $130.

My first impression of them is awesome; they look good, they sound awesome and the battery life is rated for 11 hours on a full charge. in addition, they sport a microphone (still need to test this with my Treo) and are Bluetooth 2.0 (higher through-put to reduce signal drops/clips) and have A2DP/ACRCP buttons for FF/REW, Volume +/- and a 'custom function' button. They also fold up to a fairly small size (a much welcomed change from my Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod).

I paired the headphones up with my Dell Axim X51v. The first pairing failed (there are no instructions in the box, so I winged it). After trying all the default pairing passwords (0000, 0000000, 1234, 12345678) I gave up and downloaded the manual from Sony eSuppprt. (Turns out I was right with the '0000' passcode!). Another attempt and success!

The headphones sound great; there is a full, deep bass from Nine Inch Nail's 'Down In It' and the highs are clear and not overpowering. The volume seems to be limited- I cranked volume on the Axim and the headphones up to 100% and they didn't seem to be super loud; but I doubt I will be wearing these to cut the grass or on an while sitting close to the engine in the coach class of an airline. They are open-ear and I am pretty used to the ear buds so this could be the difference.

The bluetooth connection was much more stable than my prior set; rarely had a signal drop while wandering around my house. The range is advertised for 30' but walls and such can easily cut this down- but at 20% I still had a solid signal.

Note: if you are using a 'Armor' or 'Rhinoskin' case made out of aircraft grade aluminum for your audio source you should note that the metal blocks most of the radio signals- my roommate found this out the hard way with her cellphone that kept dropping calls. These cases are great for protection but they also act as a shield and block most bluetooth/802.11/cellular/GPS signals!

The headphones seem to be fully charged out of the box- I used them for about 3 hours before I took them off to work on other things. At about 2 hours the weight of the headphone started to make the top edge of my ears hurt (where the band loops back from the ear piece). A slight re-adjustment alleviated this discomfort but I think it was more of a temporary relocation of the pressure points.

I looked at the phones again and the folding feature makes the band look cheap and fragile- I wonder how long it will take to break these in my gym bag. The behind-the-neck design also does not open out to an even arc but has a strange bent angle in the middle- sort of like it should snap open but it cannot; this greatly deters from the look and feel of the unit. The overall finish of the phones is Ok, but it looks like something that will quickly wear and leave partial text and dull areas after a few months.

I am also curious as to why the charging plug is in the left ear piece but the LED/charging indicator is on the right ear piece- with all the buttons/controls for the system; perhaps to show that both sides are connected via a wire inside the unit?

Sony could have also included some extra foam ear piece covers for $130; these will probably look fairly nasty after a few months (as most on-ear headphones do)

Overall I am pleased with the unit; great sound and bluetooth response, more than adequate buttons/features, and simple and easy to use. The design/finish looks a little 'cheap' but time will tell how this holds up.

Tomorrow I will purchase Softikck Audio Gateway for my Treo 700p and test out the headphones with PocketTunes and try the microphone out with a few random calls...

Next project is embedding/merging GPS data into the EXIF data of my digital pictures!

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