Like last year's Samsung HM3600?($59.99, 4 stars), the $39.99 Samsung HM1800 is?an inexpensive mono?Bluetooth headset with a small, minimalist design. It improves upon the HM3600 in a number of ways, but suffers from two of the same drawbacks. Poor noise cancellation and a lack of A2DP streaming mean that this headset is only useful if you plan to keep your calls indoors.
Design, Fit, and Pairing
The HM1800 measures 1.6 by .7 by .4 inches (HWD) and weighs .28 ounces, placing it among the tiniest Bluetooth headsets we've tested. Made entirely of plastic, with a black body and dark gray front panel, it looks unobtrusive and classy. The top edge is home to a hardware power switch and LED indicator light. The back edge holds a covered microUSB charger port, while the bottom edge features two volume control buttons. The front panel contains the headset's multi-function Talk button.
The headset features an on-ear design, which means the rubber ear tip rests on your ear rather than in your ear canal.?It comes with two identical, detachable plastic ear hooks, along with three different rubber tips. One of those tips is meant to be worn in conjunction with an ear hook, while the other two allow you to use the HM1800 without a hook. Of these, I found the hook to be the most comfortable, secure option. One of the standalone rubber tips fit my ear more comfortably than the other, but neither made the headset feel completely secure. Using the hook felt safer, and because the headset is so light, it barely felt like it was even there.
The HM1800 is automatically set to pairing mode the first time you turn it on. For subsequent pairings, just hold down the Talk button for three seconds until a voice prompt says "Ready to pair." The HM1800's uses a voice prompt-based interface that provides battery and connection status updates, along with usage instructions. I found it helpful, but you can turn it off if you'd like.
Voice Quality, Noise Suppression, and Conclusions
The HM1800 is a multipoint headset, so you can pair it with two devices simultaneously. For this review I paired it with an Apple iPhone 4S?($199.99, 4 stars) as well as a Samsung Galaxy Nexus?($299.99, 4 stars). I had no trouble pairing the headset to either phone or initiating voice dialing. Battery life is good, too, at 7 hours and 36 minutes of talk time. According to Samsung, the headset should last for over twelve days on standby. Given its small size, those numbers aren't too shabby.
Voice quality is mostly good, minus one key element: noise cancellation. Voices sound rich and full through the headset, if just a touch muddy. And calls placed with it are clear, if somewhat thin. Samsung doesn't specify what type of noise suppression technology the HM1800 employs, but calls placed outdoors were extremely difficult to hear, even when it wasn't that noisy. Lots of wind came through, along with plenty of ambient noise I barely even noticed while placing the call. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend this headset if you mostly plan to use it while on the go.
Additionally, the Samsung HM1800 doesn't support A2DP, so you can't use it to listen to streaming media like apps, audiobooks, music, or podcasts, on your cell phone.
The Samsung HM1800 is small, inexpensive, and features mostly good call quality. The lack of A2DP is understandable at this price, but poor noise suppression holds this headset back. The Plantronics M50?($49.99, 3.5 stars) is another good budget option, as it adds A2DP streaming into the mix, though it too suffers from mediocre noise cancellation. The?Samsung HM6450?($99, 4 stars) is a better buy, thanks to its improved outdoor transmission quality. While it lists for $99, you can pick one up for less than $50 from numerous retailers. And if you need to be sure you can use your headset anywhere, the?pricey Jawbone Era?($129.99, 4.5 stars) is tops for noise suppression, along with the previous-generation Jawbone Icon?($99.99, 4 stars).?
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