Review: Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset 9

by Derek Kessler Sun, 11 Apr 2010 7:42 pm EDT

Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset

While pretty much every pair of bluetooth headphones offers at least basic functionality to go along with playing music, the Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset is one of only a few headsets that manage to bring basic stereo music functionality to the traditional headset form factor. It doesn’t hurt that the modular design means you can get music in multiple ways. And it’s also good that this whole combo both looks and sounds pretty decent.

Audio Quality

The Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset has two major components: the traditional single-ear headset, and a pair of earbuds that plug into the headset, instantly turning it into stereo bluetooth headphones. As such, your audio is delivered in two different manners and through two different sets of speakers. We’ll look at the headset first: the speaker is nice and large and was relatively clear for the generally flat tones you’ll during phone calls. Callers reported that my voice was delivered clearly and crisply, nearly matching the quality of the Pre’s microphone. To avoid the complexity of switching back and forth between identifying as a headset and a headphone, the WEP870 is a pair of headphones always, at least as far as the phone is concerned. This means that you can stream audio to the headset alone if you want to listen to music in a discrete manner (like in the office).

Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset

If being discrete is of no concern to you, you can dongle-ize the headset by plugging in the earbuds to the Micro USB plug at the front. Because of the weight, the earbuds are of the type that wraps around the back of your neck (more on that later). The earbuds do have a much better dynamic range than the singular speaker in the headset. Bass tones were adequate and soprano pitches came through with noticeable, but not distracting, distortion. The earbuds aren’t anything special, but they’re certainly better than the headset alone. Because the headset hangs front-end-up, the microphone is still pointed at your mouth and it still works for phone calls. Just don’t expect the earbuds’ better speakers to work any sort of magic on the quality of the telephonic audio.

Controls

For all the versatility that this two-part headset/headphone set-up provides, there are trade-offs to be made. The biggest you’ll encounter are the controls. There are exactly three buttons and one switch on the headset: a call button, a volume rocker (counting this as two buttons), and an on-off slider switch. While a rather basic headset layout, the controls all operate as you would expect for a headset. What they don’t do (at least with the Palm Pre) is control music playback in any manner. Additionally, while the volume control synchronizes with the phone for calls, the volume on music is controlled independently on the headset and phone. At least there’s a little LCD to display battery life and connection status.

Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset

Comfort

A surprising omission for the headset was the complete lack of any fit customization options. No extra ear gels for the headset or the earbuds. For me, this was especially frustrating as I’ve always had problems with in-ear buds like those on the WEP870. The style continues to sell, so I’m going to assume that it’s my ears that are the problem and not hold that against the headphones. But the lack of customization options I will.

All that said, the rubber bits on the earbuds and headset were perfectly comfortable and didn’t offer any pain even after wearing for hours on end. What was frustrating, however, was cable management, something that I prefer to keep relegated to the realm of desktop computers and media centers.

Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset

The weight of a dongled bluetooth headset meant that the headphones needed to be designed in some way to support the mass. Samsung chose to go with the old iPod Nano-style around-the-neck ear buds, a setup that ultimately proved too complicated to manage. A cloth cable wraps around the back of the neck, attached to a pinched wire on either end, one end of the wire leads to the earbud, while the other heads down to the headset. While a sliding cable shortener is provided for each side, the short cable with an anchored base meant that there was almost always excess cable looping out between your ears and your neck. If you adjust the slider to shorten the excess you end up with a taut cable that tugs on the earbuds every time you turn your head. In short, a good concept, but in reality it doesn’t work that well. A design suggestion: next time simplify the design by crossing the cables and putting a single anchor point behind the neck.

Style

From an aesthetic standpoint the Samsung WEP860 Convertible Bluetooth Headset is nothing to write home about. The headset is framed by a silver bezel with a faux carbon fiber texture inside, covering both the call button and housing the small status LCD. The rest of the body is matte black plastic with a clear plastic ear hook. The earbuds are a similarly understated affair: thin black cable, silver bead-like adjustment sliders, and a shiny black housing for the speakers with a thick silver ring towards the speakers and stamped-looking silver caps. Put together it’s neither offensive nor overly attractive, but it works.

Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset

In the Box

Apart from the headset and the earbud dongle, the WEP870 comes with a handful of manuals and safety pamphlets and an AC-to-Micro USB charger. No fit customization options are included, nor will you find any carrying bags for the headphones - either you wad them up and stick it in a pocket or leave them hanging around your neck (one thing the around-the-neck style is good for) when not in use.

Conclusion

The Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset strives to offer the best of both worlds, those worlds being the bluetooth headset and stereo bluetooth headphones. While it hits pretty well with audio quality on both ends, the lack of controls for bluetooth music streaming is particularly disappointing. All told, it’s not a bad set-up and the frustration of cable management and missing controls is the price you pay for trying something new and unique.

The Samsung WEP870 Convertible Bluetooth Headset is available in the PreCentral Store for $79.95, a savings of $10 (11%) off the list price.

Pros

Stereo bluetooth and traditional headset in one

Cons

No music playback controls