Review: LG Tone Stereo Bluetooth Headset from Verizon Wireless

I am kind of strange when it comes to listening to music from a mobile device. Don’t get me wrong, I love to listen to music and having it with me wherever I go is great, but I have complaints about every headset or earbuds I’ve tried so far.

Ear buds are comfortable for me to wear, they don’t bother my ears at all, even after I’ve worn them for hours at a time. But I hate being attached to my phone or tablet with a wire. I love the wireless convenience of Bluetooth stereo headsets, but they’re typically bulky, heavy, and uncomfortable to wear. I rarely listen to music from my mobile devices while on the go because of those reasons.

I’m sure that there are others that feel the same way I do. Thankfully, LG noticed these complaints and made the LG Tone (HBS-700) headset for people like us. The uniquely designed, LG Tone combines the convenience of going wireless with the comfort of traditional ear buds.

As soon as I found out that Verizon Wireless was selling the LG Tone I knew I had to try them out. So I did something I usually don’t do, and requested a demo unit. Verizon Wireless was kind enough to send over a couple pairs of the LG Tone and I’ve been using them pretty much non-stop over the last few weeks. Read on to find out what I think about this headset.

What comes in the box:

What you see is what you get. There is a LG micro USB wall charger, a pair of replacement ear bud tips and the instruction manual/warranty information. I don’t have much to say about the included accessories. The only thing I have that’s worth mentioning is that the included charger’s cable is rather thin and feels a bit fragile. But that’s not too concerning since the unit uses a standard USB cable for charging. I imagine most people already have a few micro USB chargers laying around their house any way.

Design:

Most Bluetooth headsets are worn over the ear, something that I’ve always found to be uncomfortable. LG done away with that type of design and instead chose to make the LG Tone wearable as a neck band. That allows all 1.1 ounces of the LG Tone’s weight to rest on your neck and shoulders, meaning you won’t feel anything pushing down on your ears.

Its much easier to forget about weight on your neck than weight on your ears. Over the ear headphones, no matter how light they may be, are always noticeable to the wearer. But the LG Tone’s unique design creates a headset that you can actually forget you’re wearing. Another advantage with this design is it easily tucks in underneath most shirt collars.

   

 

The LG Tone Bluetooth stereo headset consists of two arms connected to a flexible band. Each arm features a retractable ear bud that is held in place by a powerful magnet, and a group of controls – phone call controls on one arm and music controls on the other. The placement of the controls is easy to remember and the buttons themselves are easily identify by touch.

 

I’m a little bit fascinated with the middle section of this headset, I’m not sure how LG made it work the way that it does. It is rigid enough to maintain it’s shape when left alone, but flexible enough to be folded over itself and stashed into your pocket. As soon as the tension holding the folded shape is relived, it springs back to it’s original shape.

Just as a disclaimer – I don’t know if LG intended for folks to go around folding this headset up. I did it to see if I could, and to demonstrate how flexible it is. But as far as I know, it isn’t an advertised feature and doing it all the time may damage them. So you’d probably be better off leaving your LG Tone unfolded.

Performance:

Audio played through the LG Tone sounded as good as any other Bluetooth headset I’ve used. Audiophiles won’t be impressed with them, but they perform quite well for the normal everyday person that just wants to hear some music. Realistically, you shouldn’t expect a wireless headset to have the same level of audio quality as a wired unit anyway.  Unfortunately, that is one of the compromises you must make when going wireless. In my opinion, the convenience of this headset is worth the minimal amount of audio quality lost when compared with a standard pair of wired ear buds.

I mostly used the LG Tone for listening to music, but the few phone calls I placed with the LG Tone sounded great on my end and good on the other. I say good simply because callers were able to tell something had changed. No one said that I sounded bad while speaking to them on LG Tone. They just said I sounded different. A couple of my frequent contacts knew something had changed immediately and they pointed it out before I even had a chance to tell them I was using a Bluetooth headset. But it definitely isn’t a deal breaker. Everyone was able to hear what I said with no problems and no one complained of any issues other than me sounding slightly different, which is to be expected from a Bluetooth headset anyway.

One of the my favorite calling features of the LG Tone is that it vibrates when your phone rings. This allows you to wear the LG Tone tucked in under your shirt collar, with the ear buds stored and still be notified when receiving a phone call. Once you feel it vibrate, you can easily pop the ear buds into your ears and answer the call like you normally would.

Like with any other Bluetooth headset, usable range is very important. I found the range of the LG Tone to be acceptable. In my tests, audio began to drop out once I had moved around 17 to 18 feet away from the paired device. Putting a wall between the headset and audio source caused the usable range to be cut nearly in half.

The box claims that the LG Tone is universal, but mentions only Android and iOS compatibility. So I decided to go ahead and try this headset with everything I have that features Bluetooth. Besides my Android devices, the LG Tone HBS-700 headset also worked with BlackBerry (Both BlackBerry OS7 and my BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha), Windows Phone 8, PSP Vita, and even my desktop PC’s Bluetooth dongle. The pause, track forward and back buttons functioned properly with every device and music application that I tried them with.

Battery:

LG claims that the HBS-700 will provide up to 10 hours of talk time and an impressive 360 hours worth of standby time. My testing determined that LG was pretty accurate with their stated battery life. My review units had no problem playing over 11 hours of continuous music from a single charge.  The LG Tone headset charges via a standard micro USB port and the included charger will take the device from completely dead to fully charged in about 2 hours. All things considered, I’m happy with the battery life of the LG Tone Bluetooth headset. In normal daily use, I found myself needing to charge it once every few days.

My only minor complaint when it comes to the battery is that there is no remaining battery life indicator and no warning that the battery is about to die. Once you’ve exhausted the LG Tone’s battery, it simply dies. Right then and there, and with no warning at all. It would have been nice if LG had included an audio notification for when the battery is getting dangerously low.

 

Conclusion:

I was actually a little sad when I gave the LG Tone review units back to my Verizon Wireless contact. I liked them enough that I plan on ordering my own pair so that I can continue using them. I’m also planning on giving a pair of LG Tones as a Christmas gift to a couple of my friends this year. Simply put – I highly recommend the LG Tone stereo Bluetooth headset.

The LG Tone stereo Bluetooth headset can be purchased from Verizon Wireless’ website for $69.99