You might recognize the Soyo brand if you're familiar with computer motherboards and peripheral devices, but it's certainly not a recognizable name in consumer electronics. However, that hasn't stopped Soyo's recent foray into the mobile space with its new Soyo FreeStyler Bluetooth headset. The Soyo FreeStyler Bluetooth headset retails for $59.99, but you can get it for as low as $19.99 from discount retailers.
The most notable aspect about the Soyo FreeStyler is that it can be worn three different ways. Not only can you disconnect the ear hook, the entire earpiece itself is detachable. In its place, you can choose to affix a clip-style wired earpiece, which lets you attach the main part of the headset to your shirt lapel for use as a mic, while an earbud goes in your ear. This feature is probably unnecessary, but we appreciate an alternative to wearing a bulky headset.
Aside from that, the Soyo FreeStyler looks like a pretty normal headset. It has a smooth, lightweight form factor, measuring only 2.25 by 0.75 by 0.5 inches and weighing a measly 0.5 ounce. On the top of the front end is a prominent multifunction button surrounded by an LED light that flashes blue when the headset is on and red when the headset is off, when the battery is low, and when it's charging. On its left and right spine are the volume buttons, which are tactile and easy to press, but the multifunction button is simply too stiff to press with ease, especially when the headset is worn on the ear.
On the back of the headset is the aforementioned detachable earpiece, the kind that plugs into your ear. It actually feels pretty comfortable, and we slipped it on and off easily. While you can wear the headset without the rubberized ear hook, it makes for a more secure fit. The clip-style wired earpiece, however, is a bit bulky for comfort. In addition to answering and ending calls, the Soyo FreeStyler supports voice dialing, the ability to transfer a call from the headset to the phone, call muting, and last-number redial.
We tested the Soyo FreeStyler with the Palm Treo 700p, and the pairing process was not too intuitive. We had to turn the headset off, then press the multifunction button for a minimum of 9 seconds before the pairing process began. Poor audio quality is the downfall of the Soyo FreeStyler. While we could hear our callers, they could barely hear us, if at all. We had to raise our voices significantly to be heard, and even then, it was a strain. When we were in noisier environments, such as city sidewalks, conversation was impossible. The Soyo FreeStyler Bluetooth headset has a rated talk time of 4 to 6 hours and a rated standby time of eight days.