Two new Bluetooth headsets: can Sony Ericsson fend off the smallest?

by Guy Kewney | posted on 26 September 2002

The new feature in Sony-Ericsson's HBH-60 is voice-command control. Against it is the rival Bluespoon model, which is "the smallest in the world." Which do you want?

Guy Kewney

<1/> A new Bluetooth headset from Sony Ericsson

Voice control is starting to be recognised as an essential part of hands-free gear - no point in taking your eyes off the road - or the screen - to fiddle with odd buttons, when all you want to do is answer the phone. And voice control is now a feature of the new Sony Ericsson Headset HBH-60.

The HBH-60 is (it says) small and light, is comfortable to wear, easy to handle and can be used with all Bluetooth mobile phones. At 22 grammes, it is astonishingly light for its size; the drawback is that talk time is only 2.5 hours. I would think this offers a market for portable chargers.

What we won't know, until we try it out, is whether this one is suitable for out-door use, especially at night. Users of the original Bluetooth headset found that the slightest breath of wind was enough to blow away anything they said, leaving listeners swamped in noise. And it had a Star Trek flashing green light, which made the user embarrassingly conspicuous walking down any street.

For further information, please search through Sony Ericsson's web site - but I can't give you a direct link to the product because of all the scripting you have to endure.

But can it compete with something so small, it is virtually invisible? Have a look at the Bluespoon a tiny, in-ear device, which is far more discreet.

This toy, weighing less than ten grammes, uses bone conduction of the sound to pick up your voice - so one will really want to try it out before parting with money. But despite the fact that it was launched back in March, we have yet to get one to test, here.

<1/> This fits right inside the ear

So voice control, is the thing, says Ericsson. Or, that is to say, it will be. Best guess as to when this neat little device will be on sale is "fourth quarter" according to HQ; when pressed for what this will mean for the UK, or any other "marketing division" the press office could only say "that would be a local marketing decision." And the local marketing people say (voicemail) that they are all out till next week.