It seems like it has been a while since the MW600 was first announced along side the XPERIA X10, but I have finally been able to get a hold of a MW600 and give it a good testing. The MW600 is a Bluetooth headset with a built in FM radio, small OLED screen for information and a standard 3.5mm headphone port for using your favorite headphones/earphones. It’s not an in-ear setup, instead it’s designed to clip to your shirt and provide more than just telephone services, but wireless stereo audio from your phone/mp3 player and stereo FM radio with RDS.
The box for the MW600 is fairly basic, with multiple languages on the back explaining the features of the device. Inside you’ll find the receiver, an AC charger with a micro USB plug at the end and a set of earphones with three different size ear pieces; small, medium and large. The receiver has a built in Li-Ion battery, which doesn’t appear to be user replaceable. Also located in the box are instructions in twelve different languages, so rest assured it’s very likely that no matter where you are around the world, the MW600 will be available to you.
First Charge and Battery
The instructions state the device should be charged for 8 hours the first time, after that it’s approximately 2 hours to get to a 90% charge. I did as the instructions told me and let it sit on the AC charger for 8 hours, even though the OLED screen indicated it was at full charge within a few hours. I can be charged with either the included AC adapter which provides about 450mA to the device or via a not included USB cable, one with a micro USB plug at one end, which has a maximum of 500mA of juice, however that is dependent on the USB port itself, but a minimum power is 100mA.
My initial setup is with an HTC CDMA Hero running a custom Android 2.1 build. I was able to easily connect the two devices without reading the instructions. Simply turn on the MW600, go into your phone’s wireless settings and turn on blueooth and tap “Scan for Devices”. On the MW600 press and hold the power button at the end of the device for 5 seconds until you see the searching animation indicating it’s looking to pair. It will show up on your phone, select to pair with it and done. It should read: ”Connected to phone and media audio.”
- Call Key
- OLED Display
- Touch Volume Control
- On/Off Button
- Charger Connector – Micro USB
- 3.5mm Headphone Connector
- Track Forward Button
- Play/Pause Button
- Track Backward Button
The MW600 comes with a number of great features, and depending on your phone some or all could work for you. The basic features most all phone should be able to access are things such as answering a call, ending a call and muting a call. This is the basic set of controls that most any Bluetooth enabled cell phone should have, however your mileage may vary. Other features include switching lines, to answer an incoming call, redial the last number, reject an incoming call and make calling voice commands. Unfortunately, I was not able to get my Hero and the MW600 working with the last feature, one that I would really like to have. Each function is easy enough to understand and work, and I won’t go into the details of how, but I will tell you that I found it easy to do and straight forward. When you have an incoming call, the display will provide either the phone number or in some cases the contact’s name so you can determine who’s calling before either answering the phone or declining the call. On my HTC Hero, I did not get my contacts name, but instead their phone number, which is somewhat helpful, but since I haven’t memorized all my contacts phone numbers, leaves me a little in the dark.
I did run into a problem during my testing. At one point, my MW600 and my cell phone were no longer connected in phone mode. I could not answer or place calls using the MW600 as the audio source and after digging around I found that in my Bluetooth settings on my phone, it simply read as: ”Connected to media audio” without any mention of phone as stated above. A quick reset of the phone corrected this, but not sure how it happened.
The MW600 also connects to the media audio and allows for streaming your stereo audio to the headset. I tested this with a couple Android applications, Slacker Radio and Pandora as well as the standard media player in the HTC Hero. The physical buttons for audio playback are fairly simple, it includes a built in Play/Pause button as well as a track forward and track backward on one side of the player and on the other side of the MW600 is a touch sensitive slide bar for volume. To adjust the volume, tap the bar and slide your finger towards the Plus or Negative sign. If you want to increase or decrease more, at the end of the slide keep your finger there and the MW600 will continue to increase/decrease the volume. You can use the track forward and backward buttons to also seek within a track as a Fast Forward and Rewind by holding the button down. All of these functions worked flawlessly with the standard audio player in my phone, but I had mixed results with Slacker and Pandora. I found with Slacker radio the Play/Pause function worked and the track forward button worked. You could not fast forward or rewind within a track, nor could you go back a track, but considering that’s sort of how Slacker radio is setup, I’m not too surprised. One note about Play/Pause with Slacker radio, it often had a long delay, a few seconds or so after pressing the play/pause it would actually perform the function. It made me feel like it wasn’t working at first, but once I figured out the delay, it wasn’t a huge deal. Pandora worked similarly as Slacker, in that Play and Pause worked as well as track forward. I did however run into issues the first couple times…I crashed Pandora when pressing track forward. Not sure if it was a fault of the Mw600, Pandora or something else entirely. However, after restarting Pandora it seems to work well and is more responsive to the Play/Pause than Slacker radio.
Once nice touch is the inclusion of an FM radio in the MW600. To switch from phone to FM radio mode, simply press and hold the Play/Pause button until the OLED display shows the phone and a radio icon. Use the volume control to select the radio. Pressing the Track Forward and Backward buttons will tune by incrementing the frequency, while press and hold those buttons will Seek to the next available station. If the station supports RDS, the display will provide you the information such as radio call letters, song titles and artist names, like any other RDS radio. Quality was good and reception seemed adequate. Once in the Radio mode, you can switch between the radio and the telephony services of the MW600 by pressing the Play/Pause button. This makes it easy to answer a call while listening to the radio. The long press of the Play/Pause allows you to switch back to the phone’s media audio instead of FM radio.
The audio performance while on a phone call was very good. I did not notice any difference between audio via the MW600 and the exact same phone call, within minutes of each other, using the phone’s built in microphone/earphone. I tested it a couple times and I’m no audiophile or expect, but my feel was no difference. The user at the end of the other phone was able to clearly hear me and stated they could not tell a difference either. I was able to whisper as well as was picked up easily. You have to have the MW600 clipped up close to your mouth as the mic is built into the unit and not your earphones.
Again the stereo audio sounded very good to me via the MW600. It provided good volume levels and I was able to get it up to “uncomfortable” levels. One note here; While the MW600 has it’s own volume level adjustment, it doesn’t tie into the phone itself. I can adjust the level in two places, the phone and the MW600 and they are independent of each other. I found that by adjusting the phone’s media volume to maximum, I can then have full authority of volume with the MW600, but be careful if you put in your headphones directly to the phone, as it’s still at maximum volume. Since I only listed to MP3s on the phone and audio via Slacker and Pandora, the music had a bit of compression already, but in general I didn’t notice any change between the MW600 and direct listening on the phone itself. Cymbal crashes were nice and deep bass hits came through just fine.
The range of the MW600 really surprised me. After pairing the device and starting a stereo audio stream I proceeded to wander about my home. I was able to walk three rooms away behind closed doors and still have my stereo audio streaming to me. I did notice that the Play/Pause button was a little tricky at that distance, but not bad. That stated specs indicate the MW600 as a Class 1 power rated Bluetooth devices with a 10M range. I’d say that range is conservative.
The stated battery life is 8.5 H of streaming via A2DP, 11H of talk time and 11H of FM radio listening with 500H of standby. I haven’t gone through a full cycle yet, but I can state that those numbers are indeed conservative and you can expect even more than that.
The included SE earphones are fairly standard. I found them adequate, but not exceptional in audio quality. And as is the way of SE, the left ear piece had a much shorted wire lead than the right making of an asymmetric earphone. However, the good thing about the MW600 is the 3.5mm audio port will take any of your favorite earphones, so no worries too much.
The biggest negative I have with the MW600 was lack of support for voice commands with my HTC Hero, however I feel that’s more of an Android issue than the MW600 issue. However, if you own supported SE phones, such as the XPERIA X10, it should have full voice control support. Maybe SE would release an Android app that helps to enable that support for any Android phone, what do you say SE? Also a lack of contact name support on my HTC Hero was disappointing.
The MW600 cannot be used while charging. It’s either in use or charging and not both. However, I have found the battery life exceptional so this may not be a huge issue and because it can be charged via a standard USB interface, there are many options for charging available.
As mentioned above, I wasn’t impressed with the included earphones and their strange wire lead lengths.
This is a great device that combines a number of my wants into a single device. Control of my phone’s media audio was great and being able to walk around listening to my streaming audio while the phone sits charging is a great feature that allows some freedom. The build and audio quality were both exceptional and the controls were intuitive and easy to use. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a nice stereo Bluetooth receiver, as the ability to use your own headphones is the biggest plus. If you are wanting a Bluetooth headset, this is a great option that removes the transceiver from your ear to a somewhat safer location, while providing some nice call features such as caller id.
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