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Reviews

Southwing SH310 Bluetooth Headset

By Brandon Miniman February 9, 2006, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

    As companies master the "headset" part of a Bluetooth headset (that of making and receiving a call wirelessly), they can begin to focus on asthetics a bit. For example, Jabra is releasing the BT160, a headset that can be customized with a plethora of faceplates. No longer are headsets just communication devices, but a bit of a fashion statement (or we’re at least moving in that dirrection). Today we’ll take a look at the innexpensive yet handsome SouthWing SH310. Did they skimp on the features for the sake of price? Read on for the answer!


WHAT’S HOT

    Here’s a summary of the SH310’s specifications:

  • Push4 favorite number button
  • 6 hours talk, 300 hours standby time
  • Colorium faceplate covers
  • Bluetooth v1.2
  • 11 grams, 0.38 ounces
  • Call features: microphone muting, disconnect from phone, automatic call pick-up, last number redialing, transferring call to phone
  • 12 ring tones
  • Battery level indicator
  • Full charging time: 4 hours
  • 2-year warranty
Bluetooth Headset
Talk Time | Standby (hours)
Weight (grams | ounces)
St Price (as of 2/1/06)
Southwing SH310
6 | 300
11.0 | 0.38
$60
Motorola H300
30 | 700
25.0 | 0.88
$50
Plantronics Discovery 640
15 | 300
9.00 | 0.32
$80
Movon MF200
5 | 150
15.0 | 0.53
$115
Logitech Mobile Traveller
7 | 300
14.2 | 0.50
$80
Southwing SH305
6 | 300
11.0 | 0.38
$55
Gennum nXZEN Plus
7 | 100
17.0 | 0.54
$150
5 | 250
20.0 | 0.71
$60
2 | 100
5.85 | 0.21
$250
Nextlink Bluespoon AX2
8 | 1000
10.0 | 0.35
$80
Nextlink Bluespoon AX
4 | 200
12.0 | 0.42
$60

    Along with the recently reviewed SouthWing SH305 (which is essentially the same headset) and the Motorola H300, the SH310 is one of the most inexpensive headsets in the table.

PRODUCT FEATURES

(all images link to higher resolution)

Here’s the box of the SH310.

The box contents include: charging cable (non-mini USB), three color faceplates, an extra earpiece, ear hoop, lanyard, and manual.

The headset uses the "other" mini USB connection for charging, meaning you can’t use your regular mini USB charging cable for this device.

The headset is quite attractive with a pearl-white finish and metallic color on the faceplates. I like how you can switch out the faceplates when you’re bored of a color…

…or when the paint chips off (grunt). This paint chip was the result of just two weeks of usage.

Here’s another reference for size. Indeed the headset is petite, but it protrudes away from your ear more than in-ear headsets, making it appear a bit larger.

If you remove the ear hook, you can attach the lanyard piece which will connect to a phone’s hook.

    The top, bottom, and side of the headset is covered with a rubbery plastic where the buttons are. With the ear loop attached, you can use the device as a clip for your belt (my preferred carry method) or shirt. Also visible here is the [+] multifunction/volume button, and the small (oddly-placed) power button. A small gripe, though big issue for me, is the stiffness of the "hinge" that allows the ear hook to rotate. To be able to place the headset on ear with one hand requires the hinge to stay vertical, though I found after a few weeks of use, the hinge began to lose stiffness, making it difficult to place.

The ear bud does not pivot, which can be uncomfortable for those with small ears. Note the microphone on the left, and the [-] multifunction/volume button on the right.

And on the rear of the headset is the charging port accessible by lifting the rubber flap.

    So how does this device perform? Well, this is an entry-level headset, so expect entry-level features. The sound quality is fair, with limited amounts of treble, making calls sound flat. There’s no DSP or other noise canceling in this product, so using it on a windy day may not be the best option. You can use the main button (SouthWing calls it the "Push4" button) to dial a favorite number, but I found myself defaulting back to voice dialing to make a quick call. I found standby and call time to be about on-par with the claim of 300 and 6 respectively. Charging from dead to full takes a finger-tapping 4 hours.

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HELP SUPPORT

    The operation of any Bluetooth headset should be pretty universal. The user manual explains all product functions well. There’s an "extended menu" that can indicate current battery level, switch the call to the handset, select ringtones, and mute the microphone, but unfortunately this menu can only be accessed by pressing three buttons at one time, which may be cumbersome to do one-handed for those with large fingers.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

    You’ll need a phone with Bluetooth for this headset to function.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
Lack of DSP/noise cancellation is a given wish, but at this price point, it wouldn’t be possible. Typically ear bud headsets have audio performance below in-ear models, so I wasn’t expecting any sort of appreciable dynamic range. Indeed, the headset’s audio was flat, but the volume was decent.

    The addition of faceplates is a great feature (I actually found myself changing the colors a few times during testing), but unfortunately the paint chips off of the edges after just mild use.

PURCHASING

   
You can pre-order this headset for from Expansys for £35.95, or about $60 USD . To view the official product page, click here.

PROS


  • Inexpensive


  • Stylish


  • Includes three faceplates

CONS


  • Paint chips off faceplates


  • No DSP/Noise cancellation

  • Ear bud doesn’t swivel, may be uncomfortable for some
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

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OVERALL IMPRESSION

    If this headset were to be priced just $20 more (putting it in a higher class along with the Bluespoon AX2, for example), then I’d undoubtedly knock a few more points off of its rating. But because it’s an entry level headset, it’s got entry level features, but executes its core function (that is, to be a Bluetooth headset) generally well, notwithstanding mediocre audio quality. If you’re new to the world of Bluetooth headsets and want a decent starting point, then the SH310 may be a good choice, but if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars, then there are better choices out there.

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