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The first mono-to-stereo convertible headset we ever saw was the Jabra BT8010 in 2007, and since then there have been several Bluetooth headsets that do double duty as both a mono and a stereo headset. The idea is simple: wear the mono style when all you want to do is take calls, and slip on the extra earbud if you want to listen to music. The Samsung Modus 3500 is Samsung's first take in this category, plus it promises dual-mic noise-canceling and multipoint connectivity. Though we have a few gripes about it, it's overall quite good and affordable, especially for a two-in-one headset. The Samsung Modus 3500 will be available for around $59 to $69, depending on the retail channel.
The Samsung Modus 3500 consists of a couple of parts. The first is the headset unit itself, which looks like a regular mono Bluetooth headset, and the second is the stereo earbud attachment. The headset has a very simple blocky silhouette. It measures 1.85 inches long by 0.7 inch wide by 0.35 inch thick, and has curved corners and a slight point at the microphone. It is available both in black and in white.
On the front of the headset is the multifunction button in the form of a raised triangle. It's easy to find by feel and presses down easily as well. The volume rocker is on the left spine, and there is a power slider on the right. We like the dedicated power switch, which makes it easier to turn the headset on and off. On the top is the charger jack.
Flip the headset over and you'll find a standard headset earpiece that sits gently inside the ear. It comes with two styles of earbud covers: one with an attached loop, and one without. The attached loop version can be worn without an ear hook; the other one does require you to attach the optional plastic ear hook for stability. Both are made out of a soft rubber material for extra comfort. We found the earpiece a tad big for our tastes, and the round plastic area of the earpiece scratched our ear at times.
If you want to turn the Modus 3500 into a stereo headset, simply plug in the included stereo earbuds into the headset's charger jack. It's too bad that there isn't a 3.5mm jack so that you can use your own headphones, but maybe Samsung will release an optional attachment in the future. The stereo earbuds have soft silicon covers that are designed to fit a little snug in the ear, which we like. The earbud cable has a microphone so you don't have to unplug the earbuds every time a call comes in. Also on the cable is a little clip so you can attach the wire to your shirt. If you want, you can attach a shirt clip on to the headset as well. We would recommend doing this, as your headset might flop around a lot if you don't.
Features of the headset include the typical answering, ending, and rejecting calls, last number redial, call waiting support, voice command support, and multipoint technology, which lets it connect up to two devices at once. Of course it also has A2DP, which lets you listen to streaming stereo music. Unfortunately, we discovered we couldn't actually use the headset to play or pause music, only to manage calls. We still had to control our music using the phone.
We tested the Samsung Modus 3500 with the Apple iPhone 3G. Call quality was quite good for the most part. Thanks to the headset's dual-mic noise-canceling, we were able to field calls even in relatively noisy situations, like in a crowded cafe during lunch. We had little problem hearing our callers, though callers did say that they heard a bit of static and crackling at times. Also they said that though they could hear us, our voice quality sounded rather harsh and machine-like. As for listening to music or podcasts, the audio quality was good. Nothing groundbreaking, but it works well enough for our nonaudiophile ears. There was a decent amount of bass and good stereo sound. Our only caveat is with where you place the phone; we found that if we put it in our back pocket, the Bluetooth connection would cut out intermittently. We're not sure if it was because of the distance or the constant movement. It's a bit of a letdown, but as long as we placed the phone in a front pocket or purse, it seemed to work as intended.
The Samsung Modus 3500 has a rated talk time of 6 hours, a rated play time of 6 hours, and a rated standby time of 7.5 days.