Many mono Bluetooth headsets these days have A2DP functionality, meaning they can stream audio wirelessly. However, mono headsets don't offer nearly the same listening experience as stereo headsets, especially for music. You can get a stereo Bluetooth headset, of course, but mono headsets are more convenient for making calls in certain situations, in the car, for example.
Enter the mono-to-stereo convertible headset, such as the Plantronics Voyager 855, the Samsung WEP870, and the latest one from Samsung, the HM3700. The HM3700 looks like an ordinary Bluetooth headset at first glance, but it comes with a pair of stereo earbuds that connects via the Micro-USB port on the top. You can then wear the HM3700 like a pendant, or attach the optional clip so you can clip it to your shirt. What sets the HM3700 apart from the other headsets is that it offers voice controls and it's compatible with FreeSync, an Android application that adds additional features like text-to-speech, caller ID, and alarms. The Samsung HM3700 is $59.99 retail.
The HM3700 is shaped like a regular Bluetooth headset. It's rectangular with curved corners and tapered sides, measuring around 1.9 inches long by 0.7 inch wide by 0.4 inch thick. On the front is a noise-cancelling microphone. On the right spine are the power slider switch, the talk button, and a tiny LED indicator. We like having a dedicated power switch as it's much easier to turn the headset on and off this way. The volume rocker is on the left, while the primary microphone is on the bottom. On the top is the Micro-USB port, protected by a removable cover.
Turn the headset over and you'll find a simple small earbud that fits easily in the ear. The HM3700 comes with three different earbud covers. Two have small loops attached so the headset can be worn without the optional ear hook. The third and default option is a regular round earbud cover that does require an ear hook for headset stability. We found all choices quite comfortable, though we personally preferred the hook option for added security.
The stereo earbuds that come with the HM3700 have curved and slightly offset earpieces that are designed to fit snugly in the ear. We found the fit quite agreeable, but we certainly recommend using a clip with the HM3700 when wearing it with the stereo earbuds--otherwise, the headset has a tendency to pull down on the ears. The earbuds have a built-in microphone on the left wire, so you can still answer calls when the earbuds are plugged into the headset.
If you would rather not use the provided earbuds, the HM3700 comes with a Micro-USB-to-3.5mm jack connector, so you can use your own standard headphones with it. We recommend using a pair of headphones with a microphone built in so that it's easier to answer calls.
The HM3700 can of course be used to answer, end, and reject calls. It also has last-number redial, call mute, and multipoint support, meaning it can connect up to two Bluetooth devices at once. Its A2DP functionality means you can stream music wirelessly to it with or without the stereo earbuds. The HM3700 has voice prompts, too, informing you of various conditions of the headset such as whether pairing mode is on or off, if the headset is connected, or if multipoint mode is on.
With the HM3700's voice controls you can answer and reject calls just by saying "Answer" and "Ignore." Other voice commands include "Pair mode" to enter pairing mode, "Redial" to redial the last number on the primary phone, "Redial two" to redial the last number on the secondary phone, "Phone voice command" to access the voice dialing feature of the primary phone, "Phone voice command two" to access the voice dialing feature of the secondary phone, "What time is it?" to check the current time (only available when using the FreeSync app), and "Cancel" to cancel the previous voice command.
We thought the voice controls worked well for the most part, but there were times when the headset didn't quite understand what we were saying. Samsung warns that the system won't recognize words if you speak softly or unclearly. Also, if there is a lot of background noise around you, the headset might inadvertently respond to voice commands from other people. Finally, you can't use the voice controls during music playback. In our tests, we found that voice controls didn't always work with the FreeSync app, which we'll get to later. If you would rather not use the voice controls, you can turn them off.
The HM3700 is compatible with Samsung's own FreeSync Android app, which adds more functionality to the headset, like incoming caller ID and text-to-speech for text messages and Gmail. You can adjust the number of words the headset will read to you, as well as the reading speed. You can also schedule alarms to go off at a certain time. With the Android app you can control the LED indicator and easily toggle the voice command function on and off. You can enable multipoint mode via the app (you can also do so without the app; it's just a bit more troublesome). The app also gives you a handy cheat list of all the voice commands available to you. As a bonus, when the app is activated, you'll see the headset's battery meter at the top of the phone's screen.
While we appreciate the extra features the Android app provides, we have to say that we didn't always get the best experience with it. When the app was on, the Bluetooth headset would often disconnect, and we would have to reconnect it to get the app to work. When we tried the "What time is it?" voice command, it would sometimes stall. The text-to-speech feature also failed to impress us, with horribly robotic readings of text, often to the point of incoherence. It's better than nothing, especially if you're driving a car and don't have the time to read your text messages, but we would really rather leave the messages to be read later.
We paired the HM3700 with the HTC Evo 3D. Sound quality was quite impressive on the whole. Music sounded rich and full, with decent bass. We didn't mind the acoustics of the provided earbuds, but quality could certainly improve if you use your own preferred headphones.
Call quality was decent as well. We heard our callers clearly, with hardly any hiss or crackle. Voices did sound a little distorted at times, but nothing distracting. On their end, callers reported good audio quality. They too said there was some distortion, with our voice sometimes going in and out. However, it only happened occasionally, and wasn't a big problem. We also tested the headset in a relatively noisy environment at a busy cafe during lunchtime. While callers could hear the hum of the crowd in the background, we were able to carry on a conversation uninterrupted.
The Samsung HM3700 has a rated battery life of 9 hours of talk time and 12.5 days of standby time.
The Samsung HM3700 is a great Bluetooth headset if you want both a mono and stereo option in one handy package. It works well as both types of headset, though we did miss having player controls when playing music. It feels comfortable in the ear, and we liked the provided pair of stereo earbuds too. We do recommend using the headset clip when the earbuds are plugged in so that the headset isn't dangling freely in front of you. Features are great, and we like the voice control option. While we appreciate the extra features the FreeSync Android app provides, we think it's a little buggy, and we don't really think it's necessary. On the whole, we think the Samsung HM3700 is worth its $59.99 price, but we would recommend shopping around for an even better deal.