SOYO is a brand name best known as a manufacturer of designer motherboards, but they also have an impressive line of consumer electronics and computer peripherals. Their Honeywell Consumer Electronic line is considered the best of their lineup. So when SOYO announced their new Honeywell Airlite 700 Wireless Bluetooth Headset, shown in Figure 1, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2008, it peaked a lot of interest. The headset featuring Bluetooth 2.0 and Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) technology, was touted as a “smaller, lighter, and more comfortable headset with crystal clear sound.” We tested to see if it delivered on these promises.
[nextpage title=”Included Components”]
The Airlite comes with everything you need in the box, as shown in Figure 2. The headset itself is very compact, measuring .57 x 0.44 x 0.70 (inches). Two sizes of flexible, ergonomically designed ear hooks, and 3 different sized (small, medium and large) soft ear caps are included to allow the user to choose the most comfortable size for their ear. A small 11-page owner’s manual is also included, as shown in Figure 3.
[nextpage title=”Setting up the Headset”]
Before the headset can be used it must be charged. The included charging unit comes in two parts, as shown in Figure 4, the wall plug unit and the USB cable. The unit can be charged in two ways. First, open the tiny plastic cover on the headset, as shown in Figure 5, and plug the small end of the cable into the headset. Then plug the USB end of the cable directly into a laptop where it can draw its power. Or, plug the USB end of the cable into the wall plug unit and plug it into a wall outlet. The initial charging took 2 hours. We liked having the capability to use two different power sources. Road warriors will certainly like the ability to charge the unit from their laptop in airports and other environments when a wall outlet is unavailable.
After charging, the headset must be “paired” with a Bluetooth-enabled phone to make the Bluetooth connection. As shown in Figure 6, the phone has one main button, the call handling button. At the bottom of the unit, just above the Honeywell name is a small light. To put the phone in pairing mode you simply press and hold the call handling button until the light flashes blue and red continually. Then you put your phone in pairing mode and allow the two to “mate.”
If you are unfamiliar with using the Bluetooth on your phone, you can look at your phone’s documentation for instructions, but it is usually pretty easy. Just find the Connectivity area in the phone’s Settings. Then follow the phone’s menu prompts to put it in pairing mode. You will need a Pairing Key code. As the Honeywell owner’s manual states, the default code on most phones is 000.
When the pairing is complete, the indicator light on the headset will flash blue and the headset will be ready to be used. Most phones also have a small Bluetooth icon or light that indicated that they are connected to a Bluetooth device. In most cases, you will only have to go through this pairing process once. When both the phone and the headset are turned on in the future they will find each other automatically unless some settings have changed or other pairings have taken place.
Before you hang the headset on your ear, you will want to try out the various ear caps and ear loops, determining which is the most comfortable for you. There are 3 ear caps and 2 ear loops of different sizes to choose from. Unfortunately the owner’s manual gives no instructions to getting the ear caps on. Although it seems an easy thing to do, it wasn’t. With some headsets, you twist and push to get them on. With this headset, we never found an easy way to attach them and wound up just playing with the caps until they attached properly.
[nextpage title=”Using the Bluetooth Headset”]
The one-button access makes the headset easy to use. Press that button once to answer and hang up. Press and hold to turn the headset on and off. The headset uses a variety of red and/or blue flashes of the indicator light and a variety of short and long, high and low note sounds to indicate various conditions. For instance to turn off the headset, you press and hold the call handing button until you hear a short high tone followed by a short low tone.
Most, but not all of these light and sound indicators are mentioned in the manual. The small 4 ¾ x 3” manual contains only 11 pages. Of those, 6 pages give illustrations and information to explain the headset operations, and 5 pages are dedicated to FCC statements, disclaimers, and warranty information. While those 5 pages give adequate information, we felt that the manual should have contained more trouble-shooting information. We also found that we had to search through the text to figure out what several of audio tones and flashing lights meant (some we never found). It would be nice for the manual to list the various light and sound indicators on one page for easy access. One thing that we applaud SOYO for, however, was that the toll-free technical support number was printed right in the manual.
Besides the call handling button there are only two other small buttons on the headset. As shown in Figure 7, the volume up and down buttons on the side of the headset are easy to access and can be used during a call as necessary.
[nextpage title=”Design, Comfort and Performance”]
The Airlite comes in two color combinations: black and silver and black and black. It is very well-designed as far as size and functionality. It is, however, a little boxy looking. Personal preferences will determine if this is a plus or a minus.
The same holds true of the angle and size of the in-ear portion of the unit. One of our testers found that it was the first headset he ever tried that actually fit in his ear. Another got lesser audio quality because it sat too far out from her ear. This emphasizes the fact that since individual physiologies differ, you are always best to try a headset before you buy, or to at least buy with a good return policy.
As promised, the Honeywell Airlite 700 Wireless Bluetooth Headset is one of the most comfortable headsets that we have tried to date. As shown in Figure 8, the Airlite is much smaller that many others. Weighting in at only 9 grams (.32oz) it is also extremely lightweight. All of our testers found the ear loops lightweight and comfortable and were able to wear the headset for hours with little or no discomfort.
The unit is rated by the manufacturer to be capable of 7 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time. We found that even if we talked on the phone for an hour each day, the unit could go for 3 days without recharging, which should be adequate even for heavy users.
The headset had good range. Although the manufacturer rates it for 33 feet, we found that after about 20 feet, the audio picked some static. However, this was not bad compared to other headsets that we’ve tested.
The voice transmissions were generally clear and understandable. While the person we called always sounded good to us, often that person found our audio had an echo or they stated that we sounded like we were in a tunnel. Noise cancellation was adequate. We could talk in a noisy area and still be understandable to the other person.
Knowing that clarity and sound performance is dependent on many things besides the headset, we tried the headset with several phones including a Motorola Razr 3, a Samsung, and a Motorola W885. All had similar results.
[nextpage title=”Technical Specs”]
Honeywell Airlite 700 wirelss bluetooth headset main specs include:
- Bluetooth specification: 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
- Connection: Point to Point
- Frequency range: 2.4GHZ-2.4835GHZ ISM Band
- RF output power: 0dBm(class II)
- Sensitivity: [email protected]%BER
- Operation range: Up to 10 meters (33 ft)
- Battery: 3.6V Li-polymer battery
- Standby time: Up to 200 hrs
- Talk time: Up to 7 hours
- Charging time: 2-3 hrs
- Dimension: 1.57 in x 0.44 in x 0.70 in (40 mm x 11.2 mm x 17.8 mm) (W x H x D)
- Weight: 0.32 lbs (145 g)
- FCC & CE Certified
- Security: 128 bits encryption
- Modulation: Jumping Frequency
- Warranty: 1 Year
- More information: http://www.soyo.com
- Retail Price: $49.99
If you are looking for a comfortable Bluetooth headset that’s easy to use, give the Honeywell Airlite 700 a try, but know that the audio quality probably won’t be perfect.
- Good range
- Good battery life
- Clear in-ear audio
- Small, lightweight
- Adequate noise cancelation
- Instruction book needs additional information
- Slight echo and tunneling mar audio quality