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Editor's note: The above rating is based on a short-term review of the Iqua Sun, as we have not been able to conduct long-term tests at the time of the review. The rating may change after longer term tests are conducted.
Though Iqua is quite an unknown brand in the U.S., it's popular in Europe and is known for making stylish, well-made Bluetooth products. We've reviewed both the Iqua BHS-302 and the Iqua BHS-303 favorably in the past, for example. Now Iqua has introduced a new Bluetooth headset that is surprisingly eco-friendly, dubbed the Iqua Sun. This is the first solar-powered Bluetooth headset as far as we know, complete with a tiny solar panel right on its front face. It has pretty standard Bluetooth headset features and it doesn't look like much, but Iqua promises practically infinite standby time depending on ambient light. If that alone is enough to get your wallets out, prepare to cough up around $100 for one.
By most measures, the Iqua Sun looks like a pretty ordinary headset. Measuring 1.88 inch long by 0.98 inch wide by 0.47 inch deep and weighing a little under 0.5 ounce, the Sun is certainly not the smallest headset we've seen, but it's not that much of a clunker, either. The defining feature of the Sun is, of course, the slab of photovoltaic cell that lies right on its front face. Iqua says that it uses any available light--indoors or outdoors--to extend the talk and standby time of the headset. Theoretically, you may only ever need to charge the Iqua Sun once if you live in a sunny climate. We'll discuss this a little further along in the review.
The top portion of the Sun's face can pressed and serves as the multifunction button, which is used for answering and ending calls. On the left spine is the volume rocker, which is also used for last number redial and initiating a voice command. The multifunction button is easy enough to press, and we had no problems with the volume rocker either. On top is the charger jack and on the back is the in-ear earpiece.
The size of the earbud is pretty standard--it doesn't go too far in the ear and sort of rests against the opening of the ear canal. There's a rubber shell around it so it fits securely in the ear. For this reason, we didn't think the optional ear hook was necessary. Still, the ear hook is nice and flexible, and can be swiveled to fit either ear. The overall fit is pretty comfortable, but it's not something I would wear for all hours of the day. The Sun comes with an optional lanyard if you wish to hang this around your neck instead.
We tested the Iqua Sun with the RIM BlackBerry Pearl. The pairing process went smoothly, though the method is a tad unusual--you have to hold down the volume buttons to initiate the pairing process. But other than that, it was fine. Call quality was good for the most part, but we have to warn you that our callers sometimes reported slight echoes in the background, and sound quality suffered in windy environments. Also, since the Sun's earbud doesn't sit too deep in the ear, we had to crank up the volume a little in noisier surroundings. However, In quieter situations we heard each other fine.
Features of the Sun include answering, ending, and rejecting calls, last-number redial, voice-dial support, call mute, and the ability to switch calls between the phone and handset. There's also a battery status indicator, support for VoIP calls, and the ability to pair up to eight devices (You can only be connected to one at a time, though).
Of course, the big attraction of the Sun is that it has almost "infinite" standby time. It has about 12 hours of talk time with a standard charge, but Iqua says that can be theoretically extended depending on available light. At the time of this review, we have not had a lot of time with the Sun just yet, but it has so far survived a few days underneath office lights without needing to be charged. We hope to run a longer-term battery test with the Sun for a more conclusive review.