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SouthWing SH440 review: SouthWing SH440

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The Good The SouthWing SH440 has a voice prompt feature, the ability to store up to four phone numbers, access to AT&T's VoiceInfo services, a battery indicator, plus up to 12 ringtones. It also has a comfortable fit, impressive call quality, and an affordable price tag.

The Bad The SouthWing SH440 has a rather cumbersome and complicated method for storing phone numbers.

The Bottom Line The SouthWing SH440 Bluetooth headset has a rich array of features wrapped in a simple and affordable package, but beware the complicated instructions.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

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SouthWing may not be a recognizable name in Bluetooth headsets, but a lot of the company's devices are currently sitting on AT&T store shelves across the country. Its most recent device is the SH440, which is quite possibly the first-ever Bluetooth headset with a voice prompt system. The headset's built-in voice is used for caller identification and there's an extensive Voice Menu that includes features like easy access to AT&T's VoiceInfo services, a battery indicator, and the access and storage of up to four phone numbers. In addition to all these features, the SH440 has a built-in clip plus a comfortable fit. The SouthWing SH440 is available for a very low $49.99.

The SH440 has a rather utilitarian, businesslike design, with a rectangular-shaped inset and another rectangle on the front face. Measuring 1.7 inches by 0.75 by 0.5 inch, the device is quite compact and lightweight overall, even when fitted with the optional ear hook. Even though it has a color scheme of black and silver, it does come with two interchangeable faceplates of either pink or blue in case you want a different look. A small multifunction button sits in the middle of the headset, with the volume buttons sitting on either spine (the volume decrease button is on the left while the volume increase is on the right). Though all buttons are a quite tiny, they are raised enough above the surface and feel quite easy to press.

On the back of the SH440 is the earpiece, along with a multifunction arm that rotates 360 degrees around the earpiece. When the earpiece is inserted in the ear canal, the arm helps to hold the headset securely in place by resting against the outer ear. This is surprisingly comfortable and it does feel quite secure. If you want additional security, SouthWing has also included an optional ear hook, which you can slip over the multifunction arm. The ear hook is extremely flexible and can be stretched around for added comfort. Without the ear hook, the multifunction arm also acts as a clip for the headset, which can then be clipped onto a shirt or pocket. There's also a plastic cover for the arm that can be attached to a keychain or a lanyard if you wish. The SH440 comes with two rubber earpiece covers for additional comfort as well.

The key feature of the SH440 is its unique voice prompt system. When it is first turned on, it is instantly in pairing mode and there's a voice prompt that helps you along in the pairing process. It will also speak the number of an incoming call to you as a form of caller identification. We found this to be rather annoying after a while, so, thankfully, this can be turned off. The extensive Voice Menu can be accessed via the voice prompt system--options include accessing stored phone numbers, accessing AT&T's VoiceInfo services (like news, weather, sports, and more), storing up to four phone numbers as favorites (Known as Favorite 1, Favorite 2, and so forth), a battery life indicator, and, of course, a manual pairing mode.

Storing numbers can be a chore. The easiest way to do it seems to be to save the number of the last incoming call to either Favorite 1 or Favorite 2. You do this by simultaneously pressing the multifunction button and the volume decrease button for Favorite 1, or pressing the multifunction button and the volume increase button for Favorite 2, immediately after the call has ended. In order to store another number, or if you want to store numbers for Favorite 3 or 4, you have to go through a rather complicated process of changing the Bluetooth name of your phone to the numbers you want to store. This requires going into the Bluetooth menu of your phone and futzing around with settings, and then having to repeat the process all over again for the next number.

Other features of the SH440 include the normal answering, ending, and rejecting calls, voice dialing support, call mute, last number redial, and transferring calls from the headset to the phone (and vice versa). There's also an automatic call pickup activation feature that picks up incoming calls almost instantly, if you so choose. Finally, a feature that few other headsets have is the ability to choose one of 12 different ringtones for incoming calls.

We tested the SouthWing SH440 with the LG CU500V. Call quality was remarkably good, with a little buzzing here and there but nothing too significant. Callers heard us quite clear as well, though we had to speak up a little in noisier environments. Voices sounded a tad muffled at times, but they retained their natural tone. Overall, we were quite impressed with the sound quality of the calls. The SouthWing SH440 has a rated talk time of 7 hours and a rated standby time of 8.3 days.

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