LG Tone Infinim (HBS-900) review: Retractable earbuds give this Bluetooth headphone an edge

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MSRP: $149.99

The Good The LG Tone Infinim Bluetooth headphone offers decent sound, retractable earbuds and strong battery life (up to 14 hours) in a lightweight, around-the-neck design. Its buttons are well positioned. It also has some nice extra features, include vibrate alert when a call comes in or you're straying too far away from your phone.

The Bad Retractable cords are a little thin; earbuds themselves are all plastic and look a little cheap.

The Bottom Line It's more expensive than other LG Tone stereo Bluetooth headsets, but the retractable earbud feature is nifty and will be worth the extra cost for a lot of people.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 8

Bluetooth headphones come in all shapes and sizes, including the around-the-neck design of LG's Tone stereo Bluetooth headsets, which have done shockingly well in the marketplace, topping NPD's bestselling wireless headphone lists (in terms of unit sales), according to a few different headphone manufacturers I've spoken to.

The LG Tone Infinim HBS-900, with audio by Harman Kardon, is the current top-end Tone, with a MSRP of $150 (£110 in the UK, AU$229 in Australia) , but it can be had online for a little over $100. Like other Tone models, it has the aforementioned around-the-neck design and is lightweight, making you forget at times that you're wearing it, particularly if you wear it around the collar of a button-down dress shirt. And that's why people like this type of Bluetooth headphone. You simply leave it on and stick the earbuds -- or often just a single bud if you're taking a call -- in your ears when you need to.

The retractable cords are very thin. Sarah Tew/CNET

I can't say it will fit everyone equally well, however. I have a fairly average neck size (16), and the headset was big enough for me and didn't clamp down on my neck. On the other hand, if you have a bigger neck it might be less comfortable for you. I also though the earbuds fit comfortably and securely in my ears. I wouldn't run with this headset (it isn't water-resistant), but it would work fine in the gym for lighter exercise or lifting weights.

I found it a little sturdier built than some of the step-down Tone models, but some people prefer the less-rigid feel of the Tone Ultra HBS-800 , which is even lighter. I personally prefer the Infinim; it just feels a little swankier overall, though it is an all-plastic design.

The key new feature with this model is its retractable earbuds. Previous models offered earbuds that adhered magnetically to the front of the band when not in use. While the buds still attach magnetically, you probably won't notice at first that they do (I didn't) because you'll always use the automatic retraction feature. Each side the neckband has a button that, when pressed, reels the thin cable back in.

The call answer/end button is right to the integrated microphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

It's a pretty nifty feature, but those cables are very thin and I just don't know how well they'll hold up over time (I used the headset for two weeks and it worked fine). You won't want to snag them on anything.

There are additional buttons for pause and playing your music, volume control, answering and ending calls and skipping tracks forward and back. It's a lot of buttons so it takes a little time to get used to where everything is, but once I did, I thought the ergonomics of the headset and button placement were well thought out. It was easy to operate by feel alone.

As for extra features, you get AptX, which is supposed to make Bluetooth streaming sound better for devices that support it, though it's unclear how much of an impact it really has. I liked the vibrate feature, which is exactly what it sounds like: the Infinim vibrates when a call comes in or you stray too far from your Bluetooth device and are about to lose your connection. You can turn it off if you want.

You may forget that you're wearing the headphone, which is designed to sit on your neck all day. Sarah Tew/CNET