Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 is a stereo Bluetooth 2.0 headset with remote control. The headset supports both A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution) and AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control) Bluetooth profiles, which means that you can not only listen to high quality stereo music via Bluetooth but you can also remotely control any AVRCP compatible hardware and software, e.g. Windows Media Player.
The casing of the HBH-DS970 follows Sony Ericsson's Walkman series style with its orange and silver elements and orange Walkman logos. Because of this, the headset looks best with the W950i Walkman phone, but of course it works well with all UIQ 3 based Sony Ericsson phones, including the P990i and the M600i.
Even though the DS970 is a wireless headset, as you can see on the picture above it actually has quite a lot of wires.... which is a good thing. Instead of having to wear bulky headphones (containing electronics, aerial and battery) on your ears, you just hang the remote control on your neck and use the wired earpieces like in case of traditional wired headsets. Such a design also allows for larger battery providing longer playback (about 6 hours) and standby times (up to 300 hours). The neck strap can be detached if needed and you can also modify the cord length. The device weighs only 27 g. It is bundled with a plastic protective case and spare ear cushions.
The headset contains a monochrome LCD display showing device and connection status, song title, and caller ID. On the right side there is a Previous/Next Song slider; on the left side one can find volume control buttons and multipoint/single point operation mode switch. Using this button you can restrict the headset to work with only one device or enable it for several devices. For example, you can listen to the music from your PC while still be able to make and receive phone calls. In such case the music will be muted automatically and then resumed when you finish the call. On the upper side of the device, right above the LCD screen, there is a Play/Pause button. As mentioned earlier, the Previous/Next and Play/Pause buttons control not only mobile phones but also other AVRCP compatible equipment and software, including the latest versions of Windows Media Player.
The HBH-DS970 delivers excellent audio quality. Its snug-in earpieces block external noise and the rubber ear cushions provide high level of comfort. The headset reproduces wide frequency range, from clear and vibrant trebles to quite strong and rich bass, especially with Megabass enabled in the phone. The only concern is volume level with UIQ 3 phones: it's definitely much too low even if you set max volume on both the phone and the headset. However, it's not the headset to blame, it's the current Sony Ericsson UIQ 3 phones' restricted multimedia volume range. When listening to music from a desktop computer equipped with Jabra A320s Bluetooth 2.0 EDR dongle, the volume is very high. Let's hope that Sony Ericsson will enable higher multimedia volume in future firmware updates for their UIQ 3 smartphones, especially the W950i Walkman. It would be also great if the connection range of the DS970 could be slightly extended: 4-5 meters is enough when using the headset with a phone you carry with you, but in case of stationary devices like desktop computers even walking to the other side of the same room may interrupt or disturb the connection and audio playback.
- excellent audio quality, good frequency response, rich bass
- good battery life, 5+ hours of playback and 300 hours of standby time
- AVRCP profile support allows controlling AVRCP compatible devices and programs, e.g. Windows Media Player
- weighs only 27 grams
- multipoint mode allows using the headset with many devices at the same time
- nice Walkman style look
- LCD display shows device and connection status, song titles and caller ID.
- too low volume with UIQ 3 phones (it's the phones to blame, not the headset; volume with other devices like USB BT dongles is very high)
- short BT connection range of about 5 meters.