Last week I decided I would head out and purchase a new pair of earphones; I’ve been depending on the pair that came with my Xperia Mini Pro all this while and I decided it was time for something better. But rather than pick up yet another pair of wired earphones, I thought it’d be cool to pick up a pair of Bluetooth earphones instead. I was particularly attracted by the idea of no longer having to make sure my earphones didn’t catch on anything or anyone, especially in crowded places and on the train, and how I’d no longer fear bending or disconnecting my earphone plug when trying to retrieve my phone from the pocket of my jeans. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the unpleasant feeling of having earphones forcibly yanked out of our years just because the cord got csught on a doorknob or some other object; switching to Bluetooth earphones would eliminate those issues. Besides, I’d long wanted to be liberated from having a long earphone cord dangling down my body or being jolted around when jogging. Hence, I ended up with the Sony Ericsson MW600.
The MW600 is fairly unique as far as Bluetooth earphones go. Firstly, it’s got an OLED display that is used for displaying status icons and song titles (more on this later). Secondly, you can theoretically use any standard pair of wired earphones you like with the MW600 because the included in-ear buds actually connect to the unit’s 3.5mm audio jack. Thirdly, the MW600 can also serve as a FM radio, connect to up to 2 devices at a single time and save up to 3 paired devices. It’s rather distinctive-looking too – the curved black glossy plastic wraps around the entire unit and helps conceal the display. Both ends of the dongle are finished in matte plastic, and the dongle itself is surprisingly small (its entire length is shorter than my last finger). It’s got a clip on the bag so that you can clip the unit to your shirt or bag – it’s light enough so it won’t slide around or bog down your shirt. It feels generally durable and well-built too, though I certainly wouldn’t recommend exposing it to rain or your washing machine. It probably won’t survive.
The MW600 certainly does not lack physical features. Apart from the display, clip and 3.5mm audio jack for the included earbuds, there’s also a microUSB port on the bottom for charging, a power button, a call/voice control button and microphone, media control buttons (play/pause, next song, previous song) and a touch strip for volume control. The controls generally work well and feel solid, although the touch strip can be extremely fiddly. Perhaps I’ll get used to it over time. Navigating around the different options isn’t the most intuitive of tasks and you may need to read the user manual to figure out, for instance, how to switch between devices. Notable is the fact that the MW600 connects to two different devices at the same time by having one connected in the media mode and the other connected in the call mode. You’d need to connect to the same device in both modes to listen to music and take calls with that device.
Sound quality via the included earbuds (in-ear style, with rubber tips) is above satisfactory to my untrained ears. There seems to be little to no degradation despite the Bluetooth connectivity; bass is punchy while mids and trebles are detailed creating a pleasing sound overall. The earbuds fit well in my ears and comfortable enough in my opinion even when used for extended periods, while offering a level of noise isolation that’s on par with other earphones of its kind. Even though the MW600 doesn’t dispense with cables entirely, the cord connecting the earbuds to the dongle is short enough that it really doesn’t get in the way. Battery life has been more than adequate for me – I tend to use my earphones for extended periods each day but the MW600 has only required charging once every 3 days which is good enough for me. The cost of this thing is also reasonable in my opinion – I snagged it for SGD79 (~USD61) and I’m really happy with it. It’s just that it’s got a shortcoming that’s more of my smartphone’s (and Android’s) fault than anything else.
My Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro is incapable of pushing song titles to my Sony Ericsson MW600’s fancy OLED strip.
Turns out that Android relies on the open-source BlueZ project for its Bluetooth stack. A particular Bluetooth profile that’s part of Android’s Bluetooth stack, AVRCP, needs to be version 1.3 or above for a device to be capable of displaying song info on the display of a Bluetooth device like the MW600 or in-car head unit. AVRCP 1.3 was only added to BlueZ very recently so not even Android 4.0 packs it in.
So an old Sony Ericsson feature-phone will work better with this thing than any Android superphone. What a bummer.
Still, I’d definitely recommend the MW600 if you’re looking for a pair of Bluetooth earphones that’s unique, has an attractive design, is full-featured and sounds good but doesn’t cost a lot of money. I’m certainly very satisfied with my purchase!
This post was composed entirely on my Lenovo Ideapad K1 Android Honeycomb tablet.
Shop: Find the best price on the Sony Ericsson MW600 Stereo Bluetooth Headset at Amazon.com.