Monday, 23 March 2009

Sony Ericsson stereo Bluetooth Headset HBH-IS800 review

The Sony Ericsson HBH is800 Bluetooth headset was announced in July of 2008, promising an ‘extraordinary music experience’ to the user. With its small footprint in comparison to other Bluetooth stereo headsets, the is800 could change the way we look at Bluetooth headsets forever.

Box contents:

The is800 comes in a small white and purple box with a cut-out at the front so that you can see your new headset. You’ll find the following inside the box:
-Sony Ericsson HBH is800 Stereo Bluetooth Headset
-Carrying case for HBH IS800
-Documents relating to Bluetooth and a User manual
-A set of different sized earbuds for the HBH IS800


The HBH-IS800 could easily be mistaken for a normal pair of wired earphones at first glance due to their relatively small size. The headset’s actual earpieces are slightly larger than those of headsets you’d find bundled with phones and other multimedia devices. This slight increase in size is a small price to pay for the truly wireless experience offered by the HBH-IS800.

Creating a single product that can be used by millions of different people all with different tastes, styles and needs is something that Sony Ericsson have excelled at with the HBH-IS800. Included in the sales package are three differently sized ear plugs for the headset, allowing users to find the configuration that’s ‘just right’.

The wire connecting the earpieces of the HBH-IS800 is approximately 50.5cm in length and the entire headset (including the earpieces) is about 57cm. This once again ensures all users can enjoy the comfort of the HBH-IS800.

With the HBH-IS800, Sony Ericsson has gone for a simple yet pleasing look. The headset features only three colours: silver, black and green.

Small grooves can be found on each earpiece, providing some extra grip for the fingers.

Although the HBH-IS800’s minimalistic colour scheme allows it to match most electronic devices and clothing, it would be great if Sony Ericsson could offer a few more colour schemes. I’m sure an all-black version would go down well with tech lovers such as me.


The HBH-IS800 comes with a slightly modified Sony Ericsson charger. The headset is charged via a port beneath the Sony Ericsson logo on the right earpiece. The HBH-IS800 should be able to be charged by practically any Sony Ericsson charger, including chargers from SE’s phones, portable chargers and of course USB cables.

The HBH-IS800’s user guide states that prior to any use of the device, it should remain plugged into the charger for a minimum of eight hours. This only needs to be done once and I believe it helps to ensure that the user can get the highest possible usage time out of the HBH-IS800.

Sony Ericsson claims a maximum of four hours music playback time and 270 hours of standby time. In reality, I’ve been able to squeeze a bit over 3 hours of constant music playback (at maximum volume) out of them. Though the battery life of the HBH-IS800 isn’t as amazing as some other Bluetooth headsets available on the market, I was more than happy to exchange stellar battery life for massive improvements in size and practicality.

Unfortunately, the HBH-IS800 takes a few hours to bring back up to full charge from empty. I’ve found that it has taken as long as two hours before seeing the green ‘battery full’ indicator LED on the right earpiece.

Like with most other Bluetooth headsets, pairing the HBH-IS800 with its first compatible device is a very quick and easy process. To pair the headset, it must first be put into pairing mode by turning it off and then pressing and holding the multifunction button for about 5 seconds or until the LEDs on the device start to flash. As with all other Bluetooth accessories, the HBH-IS800’s pairing code is 0000.

After pairing, the headset automatically connects with the last used device when turned on. The HBH-IS800 is incapable of storing more than one previously paired device in its memory.

In my opinion, the sound produced by the HBH-IS800s is excellent; music is crystal clear with very good bass, if that’s what you’re into. Due to the in-ear style of the earphones, practically all external sounds cannot be heard when music is playing. Volume cannot be adjusted on the HBH-IS800 so the loudness of your music depends on your phone, I’ve found that Sony Ericsson devices were significantly louder than Nokia ones when at maximum volume and paired with the headset.

I’m no audiophile but I can comfortably say that, for me, the sound quality from the HBH-IS800 is far superior to that of the default earphones that come with Nokia’s N series, Apple’s iPods, Sony Ericsson’s walkman devices as well as a pair of Sony MDR-EX500LPs.

Conversations are easy to maintain on the HBH-IS800, voices were clear and loud and I had no complaints about the clarity of my voice. When asked if they suspected that I was talking on Bluetooth headset callers said “no”.

It’s very easy to forget that there’s anything in your ears when using the HBH-IS800, they’re really that comfortable. Using the smallest of the included rubber earbuds, I’ve had no problems using the HBH-IS800 constantly for close to 3 hours.

Bluetooth signal strength:
In a clear line of sight, the HBH-IS800 is able to play music from my phone without any skipping up to about 5 metres. The headset can still play music perfectly when your phone is in any of your pockets (even rear trouser pockets) but music might start skipping if you’re wearing a thick hood; thin hoods work fine. You might also run into trouble if:
-You’re holding your phone while it’s in your pocket
-If it’s windy.

I’m not 100% sure if the wind actually affects the reception of the headsets, but on numerous occasions my music has skipped (only for a second, it recovers quickly) after I walk past a wall and the wind starts to hit me.

The Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800s could potentially mark the start of a Bluetooth revolution. Its design means that people can now finally experience wireless music without compromising on size, practicality and sound quality. Despite some of its faults, the Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 is arguably the best Stereo Bluetooth headset available on the market today and I would not hesitate to recommend them to any of my friends or family.


  1. Dave

    Ive been using mine for about 3 months now and absolutely love them! You are bang on when it comes to sound quality - i was shocked! its really good! I used them every day on the journey to work. Well worth it considering its truly wireless, people often ask where is the wire that plugs in! Love them - other companies should take a design cue here!


  2. G.R.G.

    Hi Dave,

    I was also quite surprised at the sound quality, it beats any other Stereo Bluetooth headset that I've used. They are indeed excellent for daily commutes, I use mine on the way to school every day.

    Glad you like yours and thanks for commenting!

  3. Anonymous

    I have those.
    I think they sound crap. Maybe because my reference is Shure E5.

    Very boxy sound, or how you describe it.

  4. Anonymous

    just bought them, recharging now, they look incredible, by far the coolest bluetooth device yet. if I just can get any sound out of them and if people hear me when I talk I'm happy

  5. Anonymous

    im gonna buy them as soon as w995 comes out, thanks for great review!

  6. Dubai

    Will this work with IDOU?

  7. Echike

    Yeah it'll work with the IDOU... Great review man... it looks amazing it just that i feel like the price is too high

  8. Anonymous

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to

    say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  9. Anonymous

    Hi There,

    Can anyone please tell me whether these headphones provide connectivity to normal pc with bluetooth.

    Thanks in advance
    Deepak Poolamadai

  10. G.R.G.

    Hi Deepak,

    If your computer has the right drivers and of course Bluetooth, it will definitely work.

  11. Anonymous

    Just bought these earplugs... and noticed it does not work well with iphone due to lack of control on volume. Bass sound horrible, but then again it is a very cool looking earphones. Also battery life is not that great, but it does charge very quickly..

  12. Anonymous

    IDOU (SATIO) comes with IS-800

    The best Bluetooth headset ever
    Great sound quality with w902

  13. saurabh

    tracks skipped when jogging. I wore me E71 on arm band and no good. Everytime a car or even a bike passed by, music skipped. I may go back to my wired ones. No problem however indoors. Please share if others too had same experience.
    Saurabh Gaur

  14. Anonymous

    ooohhhhh fuckk

  15. Anonymous

    I just bought one. Great sound and I like the design.But the volume... I have an iPhone 3G S and I can't control the volume, it is to high. Someone has a solution?

  16. Anonymous

    This is a very fair review for a product which I think is amazing. At first I was gutted by the lack of bass but all it took was a change of bud size. I thought I was struggling to push them in far enough but it turned out I needed bigger buds. The effect was gobsmacking and now I can enjoy their lovely warm sound. And was a great design too. Paired with my W995 Sony Walkman phone these work unbelievably well. I cannot recommend these enough.

  17. Anonymous

    will it work with the newest ipod touch??

  18. Anonymous

    Hi, Thanks for the review. I have had mine now for some time and like other posters was saddened by the fact that there was no controlling the volume when paired with an iphone. It was just too loud for comfort.
    Well teh GREAT NEWS is that now as of iphone firmware 4.x the volume can now be controlled. I knew my early investment in these superb earphones would pay off and I use them all the time with my iphone.

    As a side note, not really related to these headphones, IOS 4.1 (due November '10) will also add Prev track/Next track functionality via bluetooth.

    In summary I am REALLY happy with my IS800 earphones !!


  19. Anonymous

    I too love this set. I've had many wired headsets (Shure are the best IMO) and have been using Bluetooth devices and exploring the possible solutions it can provide since '02. I'm also really picky regarding my sound.

    One thing I want to throw out to the group is that anything that you want to have specifically to your liking will need to be researched and fought for. That is to say, devices and SW are produced and sold to meet the needs of the many.
    - It is unlikely that a set of earbuds are going to fit everyones ears. If you aren't getting the bass you expect, change the size of the covers.
    - If the signal is cutting out, it could be your device (screen timeouts, powersave settings, BT Discoverability settings, etc.) that is causing it.

    One of the major drawbacks I found when reading the spec was the lack of Nxt/Prev track controls. I knew I wanted the headset, so I bought it, and oured through forums till I found a way to configure the voice activation to allow me to press the button and say, "Next". Problem solved, and I have the features I want!

    Lastly, note that after-market players like Pocket Player by Conduits have full-featured EQs and plugins that allow you to pre-amp or increase the bass as well as extend/leverage the functionality in WM Player.

    Make it yours people!

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