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LG HBM-800 review: LG HBM-800

LG HBM-800

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Nicole Lee
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Nicole Lee Former Editor

Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.

4 min read

While many of LG's Bluetooth headsets are basic--like the LG HBM-210 for example--the company does come up with innovative Bluetooth products every once in awhile. At CES 2009, LG introduced the LG HBM-800, a Bluetooth headset and car kit speakerphone all in one. The idea isn't new, we've seen this before in the Kyocera Portable Speaker, but LG's version is far sleeker and much more functional. The LG HBM-800 is therefore a great option if you want a Bluetooth speakerphone and Bluetooth headset in one convenient, affordable ($60) package.

OVR
7.0

LG HBM-800

The Good

The LG HBM-800 is both a Bluetooth headset and a speakerphone all in one. It's easy to use, stylish, and affordable.

The Bad

The LG HBM-800 headset has small controls, and we wish it had a more comfortable fit. The call quality could be improved.

The Bottom Line

Despite a few issues, the LG HBM-800 is a good solution if you want both a Bluetooth headset and a speakerphone in one package.

The LG HBM-800 consists of two parts: a Bluetooth headset and the speakerphone that the headset docks into. The headset measures 2.0 inches long by 0.7 inch wide by 0.3 inch thick. It is slim, rectangular, and a little longer than most other headsets. The front surface is glossy black and is surrounded by a silver chrome border. There is a phone icon on the front, which houses both an LED indicator and the multifunction call button--you simply press on the phone icon to activate it. We found that we had to press the button a little harder than usual, and the button feels a bit squishier than we would like. Underneath the button is another LED indicator that shows the battery status when charging.

On the right spine of the headset are the power button and the volume controls. The buttons are tiny, but they are raised a little above the surface. We also like having a dedicated power control, which makes it easier to turn the headset on and off. Flip the headset over and you'll find the earpiece clad in LG's e-Clip ergonomic earbud cover. It is slightly tapered at the bottom to fit securely in the ear without the need for an ear hook. The earbud felt a little big in our ears, and we were disappointed that the HBM-800 doesn't come with additional earbud sizes. We did feel that it was secure enough not to wear an ear hook, but the HBM-800 does come with a flexible plastic ear hook if you want to use it.

The speakerphone cradle is quite compact. Measuring 3.1 inches wide by 2.2 inches tall by 1 inch thick, it is a little smaller than a deck of cards. It has a glossy black surface and is quite blocky. Along the top of the speakerphone are the volume controls and the power-multifunction button, which is located next to the headset dock. On the front of the speaker are two LED indicators for the battery and for the Bluetooth status. You can also choose to attach a clip to the back of the speaker so that it can be clipped onto a car's visor.

The speakerphone does not work without the headset. When you dock the headset into the cradle, the audio automatically transfers to the speakerphone, and you can now use it like a Bluetooth speaker. This also works in reverse; when you take the headset out, the audio will transfer to the headset. When the headset is docked, the speakerphone's controls take over and you can no longer use the controls on the headset. The speakerphone also works like a portable charger for the headset. You can choose to charge both the headset and the speaker at the same time, or if you want, LG also provides a smaller charger unit just for the headset.

We paired the LG HBM-800 with the Apple iPhone 3G. Pairing went well, especially because of the automatic pairing when you power it on for the first time. Its call quality was good, but not great. We could hear our callers with plenty of volume, either via the headset or the speakerphone. However, the speakerphone's voice quality was harsh. We could detect quite a bit of static and feedback at times too.

When we were using the headset alone, our callers said they didn't hear a lot of background noise, even when we were in a noisy environment. They could hear us most of the time, but they did detect a bit of static and feedback occasionally. There were a couple of times when the static was especially bad. As for speakerphone quality, callers said there wasn't much difference in overall clarity and volume; however, our voice did sound harsher when we were in speakerphone mode.

Features of the LG HBM-800 include the typical answering, rejecting, and ending calls. It also has last number redial, call mute, call waiting support, voice dialing support, and the capability to transfer calls from the headset to the phone and vice versa. It also features multipoint technology so you can connect up to two different phones at once.

The LG HBM-800 has a rated talk time of up to 4 hours, while the speakerphone cradle has a talk time of up to 7 hours. The headset comes with a car charger as well as an AC adapter.

OVR
7.0

LG HBM-800

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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