Review- Sony SBH50 Stereo Bluetooth Headset

DSC02333Review- Sony SBH50 Stereo Bluetooth Headset– I picked up the Sony SBH50 over the holidays after debating between this and the SBH52 Stereo Bluetooth Headset- the major difference being the earpiece speaker in the SBH52 allowing for handheld voice calls and waterproofing (great match for the waterproof Xperia Z3). However the SBH52 ended up being more than twice the price and I couldn’t justify the handheld call usage for that price. I’ve used it for about a month now and the following is my IRL (in real life) review of the Sony SBH50.

DSC03455I originally wanted to have a remote after using them extensively or years with my minidisc and cd players (especially fond of the two tone Sharp minidsic remotes and the Sony remote that came with the 15th Anniversary walkman). As you can see I absolutely love remotes. However, they have really dropped off the map. What I did find really annoying was havign to take my phone out to manage music or answer calls when I was traveling, like on the bus. With all my winter layers, it was a royal pain in the ass and I really wanted to have that remote control action again.

DSC02335Audio Quality- Originally based off the Sony Ericsson MW600 wireless stereo remote, I had skipped out on that remote because I didn’t feel like I needed a device like that at the time and I really hated the touch based volume control strip. While it had really good reviews of its audio quality, it didn’t use aptX- alas the same thing applies to this SBh50 as well. However, I figured that I do not need that high of an audio quality in my travels. It comes with a set of meh earphones with a short cable. these earphones are pretty bland sounding and I stopped using them right away. However, they paired really well with my very very old Sony MDR-EX71SL, which is perfect with its short length cable. The sound is very full and decent. I don;t think it has the clarity that aptX might have offered, but it has a good colored thump in the bass and highs. Its definitely better than most BT headsets I have previously head (when BT stereo was new) and the bass is much better. Satisfied overall. Call quality is fine- I don’t have any issues with call quality- voices were clear on my end. The mic seems fine but its cleaer if you put the device up the mouth. Also awesome- eq is still available from my phone, so I can adjust the sound through BT- this was disabled on my Samsung Note II. 

DSC02336Design– Its a simple black plastic box with nice tactile buttons that are easily reachable all around. There’s a little two line screen on the front that displays various pieces of information. A clip on the back makes it easy to attach to a shirt lapel or pocket. I chose the black color to make sure it didn’t stand out on my professional attire. There’s a white version that would have been too eye catching. The build quality is fine but not oustanding- its a basic plastic body all over without any creaks in the seams.

DSC02340On the back we have the clip and an NFC pairing patch.

DSC02341The bottom has a return button and media control buttons.

DSC02342The top has the volume rocker

DSC02343The right side has the microUSB port and power button- it boots up in about 5-6 seconds.

DSC02345Ease of use- The left side has the microphone and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Overall ease of use is super super slick- the buttons are easily findable by feel (a plus since I don’t have to look at it when changing functions while on the go). The device is able to pair quickly right away without being finnicky with the BT (initial paring can be done through   NFC- it tells you which app to download and you manage the device through Smart Connect). BT connection is stable and it lets me roam about two to three rooms without any issues of streaming/connectivity. It is absolutely fine with my phone in my bag and the headset in my jacket lapel. The nice thing is that I just click and answer calls directly on the device because of the built in mic. Its lightweight and discreet and blends well into a suit pocket. It also has the ability to provide notifications and other things through smart apps, but I don’t use that too much since I already have my Smartwatch 2 and SmartBand for that. Unfortunately I have found that it interferes with Chromecast and messes up the controls. So it needs to be off if you are using Google Chromecast at the same time.

DSC02348I end up bringing the SBH50, MDR-EX71SL and my Motorola Oasis BT headset with me in this handy little Griffin bag- I can’t qualitatively describe the difference between calls on the two, but I do like that the Motorola Oasis has the noise canceling mics so that ambient noise like wind don’t cut in the conversation. Overall a nice mobile package to carry around.

DSC02351Theoretically you could do something crazy like this and mount the SBH50 onto something awesome like the MDR-SA3000 and make them portable hi-fi rigs.

DSC02347

Conclusion- The Sony SBH50 is an awesome nifty deivce that makes media playback easy to use and is especially great for bigger devices that are unwieldy for pockets (really anything thats a phablet). It pairs easily/stably with my Sony Z3 and the music quality is great- good enough that I don’t care its not aptX. Tactile buttons are a welcome relief in our touchscreen world so its very easy to control the device without looking at it. Battery life is fine (I really don’t cycle through it enough to know how good it is day to day). It provides notifications and takes phone calls well- overall its a nice accessory that makes it easier to use a phablet and I think its a great buy. Pros– good audio quality, stable/strong BT connection, conveinent with calling/music/smart apps, make any headphone into a BT headset, price is right, design is discrete and sleek Cons- messes with Google Chromecast, would be nice to have aptX.

TLDR- good audio quality and price, no cons really

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