Even though stereo Bluetooth is now more widely accepted, there are those who just want a simple mono headset to make and receive calls. But there's no reason you can't have both; there are a few headsets out there that can convert from mono to stereo and vice versa, like the Jabra BT8010 and the Plantronics Voyager 855. The Samsung WEP870 is the latest to do just that, with the help of a stereo earbud lanyard attachment, letting you listen to your music as well as manage your calls. With its ease of use, comfortable fit, and good sound quality, the WEP870 is a fairly good deal at $89.95 retail.
The Samsung WEP870 looks like a normal Bluetooth headset from the outset. The WEP870 is rectangular with curved corners, with silver chrome trim and a mostly black surface, and it measures 1.77 inches long by 0.7 inch wide by 0.47 inch thick. Though it isn't too obvious, the upper part of the front surface can be pressed down to act as the multifunction call button. We found it easy to press, even when worn on the ear. Underneath that is a tiny OLED display that shows the battery life, Bluetooth connection status, and phone call connection status.
On the left spine is a dedicated power switch, which we like to see on Bluetooth headsets since it makes it much easier to turn the headset on and off. The volume rocker is on the right and the charger jack is on the bottom. Turn the headset over and you'll find a simple in-ear earpiece with a soft rubber cover. It's small enough to fit comfortably in the ear, though we did wish it came with different size earbuds for a more customized fit. We also found that we needed to wear the flexible ear hook for added security and stability.
In order to switch the WEP870 over to stereo mode, you need to attach the included stereo earbud lanyard. Simply snap the connector to the headset's charger jack, and you're good to go. The lanyard is made to be worn around the neck much like a necklace, and it has two gel in-ear-style earbuds hanging off it. We found the earbuds very comfortable; they fit in quite securely in the ear and we felt as if we could wear them all day if desired. Again, we did wish there were additional earbuds for different-size ears, but we were pleased with the ones we had. The earbud wire length can be adjusted thanks to sliding cord management grommets on the lanyard. Also note that there is no mic on the lanyard, so whenever you get a call, you need to bring the headset to your mouth so your callers can hear you.
Features of the WEP870 include the typical answering, ending, and rejecting calls, last-number redial, voice dial support, call mute, placing a call on hold, and the capability to transfer the call from the headset to the phone and vice versa. Also a nice feature is that whenever a call comes in, the audio playback will fade away, and when the call ends, the music will gently fade back on. However, we were disappointed that we could not control the audio playback from the headset--we could only play, pause, and skip tracks on the device itself.
We paired the Samsung WEP870 with the Apple iPhone 3G. The pairing process went smoothly; we didn't even need to enter the PIN code, though this might depend on your phone. We were quite pleased with the call quality on the whole. On our end, we heard our callers loud and clear, with a little bit of static here and there, but nothing distracting. Voice quality was good and natural as well.
On their end, callers said they could hear just fine, too. They did say our voice sounded a bit hollow with a slight echo, but the overall call quality was good. When we had the stereo earbud lanyard attachment connected to the headset, callers said they heard slightly more static. We also tested the WEP870 in a moving vehicle and in a crowded restaurant, and it did a decent job of canceling out background noise. Callers could hear some environmental noise, but not much. Still, we wouldn't use the WEP870 in a windy environment; the wind muffles the calls too much.
As for audio playback, we found the sound quality to be very good. The stereo earbuds provided rich and warm audio, though bass was still a bit on the light side.
The Samsung WEP870 has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time or 6 hours music playback time. It has a rated standby time of 6.25 days.