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Samsung SBH170 Bluetooth Stereo Headset review: Samsung SBH170 Bluetooth Stereo Headset

The Samsung SBH170 stereo Bluetooth headset has a solid combination of design and performance.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read
Samsung SBH170 stereo Bluetooth headset zbs
As more cell phones with stereo Bluetooth profiles continue to hit the market, manufacturers are responding with a gallery of new stereo headsets as well. As we've said before, the proliferation of stereo Bluetooth is more than just a welcome development, it genuinely excites us. And as stereo headsets go, the Samsung SBH170 offers a satisfying user experience and a unique and comfortable design. It's a tad pricey at $119, but it's a good investment if you love wireless music as much as we do.

When you first take the SBH170 from its box, you may be confused as to exactly how you're supposed to wear it. The rubberized cord that connects the two earpieces is designed to wrap into a ball so the entire headset can fit into a small carrying case. While it makes for a convenient--not to mention portable--arrangement, it also means you have to take the time to play with it to get the most comfortable fit.


Samsung SBH170 Bluetooth Stereo Headset

The Good

The Samsung SBH170 stereo Bluetooth headset has a comfortable fit, user-friendly controls, and reliable sound quality.

The Bad

The Samsung SBH170 stereo Bluetooth headset didn't perform quite as well in noisy conditions.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung SBH170 stereo Bluetooth headset has a solid combination of design and performance.

But once you put the SBH170 on correctly--with the cord hooked over ears and then wrapped behind your neck--it's a comfortable fit. It's so light (2 ounces) that we didn't mind leaving it on for long periods, and we like that the foam-covered earpieces rest on top of your ears rather than in them. Some users may think the 1.5-inch wide earpieces are a bit too big, but we didn't find them too conspicuous. The black-and-silver color scheme is attractively subdued and the overall construction is solid. Yet the one-foot cord may be too short for users with larger noggins. When we tilted our head back we felt the earpieces pull off our ears just slightly.

The controls on the SBH170 are easy to use, but a quick look at the user's manual is necessary. All buttons are on the left earpiece and include a dedicated power switch (nice!), a volume rocker, and a multifunction button for managing calls. For the music player, there's a Play/Pause button and a Fast Forward/Rewind switch. The earpiece also features a small LED light that indicates the headset's status and a covered headset port for the charger. Though the arrangement may sound crowded, there's plenty of space for all controls and we had no trouble using them when the headset was on.

We successfully paired the SBH170 with the Samsung Upstage (SPH-M620). The pairing process took no time at all and the connection remained strong during calls. Also, we were able to reconnect the headset instantly after we turned off both devices. Call quality remained decent on both ends; voices sounded natural and there was no static. On the other hand, callers had slightly more trouble hearing us at times, and voice-automated systems could understand us only when we were in a quiet environment. That can be an issue if you're calling your airline and you're, let's say, in an airport, but we didn't consider it an overall deal breaker.

We also used the SBH170 to listen to music, and we were generally satisfied with the sound quality. There was slight bass-heavy effect to our tunes, but it wasn't too bothersome. We had a bit of trouble when we disconnected the Bluetooth headset in the middle of a paused song. When we restarted the song, the Upstage was unable to play songs downloaded from the PC. The error message didn't clear unless we turned off the phone and started it again. It happened only once, but it's a still a point of concern and it could be due to the phone only.

Other calling features include voice dialing, three-way calling, call reject, and last-number redial. Voice commands on the headset worked pretty well but they performed better when we were in a quiet room. The Samsung SBH170 promises 10 hours of talk/music time and seven days of standby time.