It’s amazing when a manufacturer can create a tech product that actually has a substantial shelf-life. Case in point? The LG Tone+ series. The HBS-700 came out in early 2011 and has been going strong ever since. This in spite of the introduction of an “improved” HBS-730 version in early 2013. Now both headsets seem to sell equally well. QTOOTH is going to re-visit this popular series of Bluetooth headsets and take a look at what makes them such a success. Perhaps other manufacturers and designers can learn from what LG has done.
There are a few common issues that come with wearing any Bluetooth wireless headset:
- The electronics put weight on the sensitive inner folds of the ear
- The ear buds block normal hearing of the environment even when not in use
- Due to their typically small size devices are often easy to lose
How did the LG Tone+ series attempt to cure these?
The main thing that set the LG Tone+ HBS-700 apart when it was first introduced was the use of a collar, or necklace, mount for the ear buds. This immediately took the weight of all of the electronics off of the sensitive parts of the ear. The control interface and the electronics are all built-in to the collar itself. Connected by wires, the only part of the device that is inserted into the ear are the small, lightweight ear buds. By placing magnetized holders at each end of the collar mount, LG provided a convenient place to store the ear buds. This simultaneously cured the issues of blocked hearing when not in use and the tendency to lose them. Because the ear buds are stored only inches away from the ear, users always know where they are and can be confident that they can quickly take the ear buds in and out of their ears quickly as needed during use.
It is their unique solution to these three issues is probably what set them apart the most from the competition. There are so many built-in limitations to Bluetooth audio that the variances between models and manufacturers have thus far proven to be very small at best.
Here are a few of the other features that have made them great. In our experience, both of the LG Tone+ HBS-700 and the LG Tone+ HBS-730 perform well and reasonably close to their stated technical specs. Great battery life at 10 hours of use and 15 days of standby time. The batteries also re-charge very quickly, sometimes within 90 minutes. The controls are located within easy reach on the collar, even if tucked inside of a shirt or sweatshirt. Because the collar can jump around on the neck a bit, this is our preferred method of wearing them, especially if moving around at work or while working out.
The main complaint we have about both headsets has to do with the quality of the microphones when making a phone call. Although they claim to be using noise-cancelling circuitry and digital noise reduction, in our experience they do not seem to be very effective in noisy environments. Background noise is an issue and we found ourselves raising our voices in order to be understood by our callers. We must stress that this is only an occasional issue and that due to the nature of this design we didn’t really expect the Tone+ to perform at the same level as a dedicated, on-the-ear headset with a microphone boom.
So what’s the real difference between the LG Tone+ HBS-700 and the LG Tone+ HBS-730? The original 700 seems to have a slightly better range and battery life. These two attributes may have gotten sacrificed just a little bit when they added the Apt-X circuitry to the 730. However the Apt-X circuitry did slightly improved the audio experience of the 730 and gave the bass frequencies a little more “oomph”.
So, which is the one for you? If you’re using it primarily for talking on the phone, dictation, or listening to podcasts, choose the LG Tone+ HBS-700. If you are going to be spending more time listening to music, movies or gaming, then the HBS-730 would be a better choice.
Note: And yes, LG did make an even better version called the HBS-800 that had slight improvements in the electronics and subtle cosmetic change. Although it’s a good headset, most people seem to agree with us that they are not worth the nearly 2-3 times amount of money that the other two models can typically be found.
Captain Obvious says: says
I think your common issues are subjective, I prefer the noise isolation (main reason I bought them, going to the gym and blocking out their crappy music) and yea I have misplaced them a few times and couldn’t find them. 😛 But I wouldn’t blame LG or the design for that.
They are very comfortable and I can wear them all day. Love these bad boys.
You did what I did at first. He’s listing the 3 issues of *traditional* bluetooth headsets that the Tone headsets fix… So you needed to read more than the first paragraph.
Thanks for your comment, tigrress! That was exactly my intention by showing the main issues of traditional Bluetooth headsets. Although I must say I agree with Dr. Phat’s point that sometimes it can be a good thing to drown out our surroundings… especially if it’s bad music at the gym. I do most of my exercise outdoors, so for me I find hearing what’s in my environment a potential lifesaver, like hearing the car that is about to pass me on my bike.
Having used both (my left ear piece started losing it’s connection on my original 700 set, so I got the 730 just this month…
The comparisons are accurate, as I’ve noticed so far. The slight reduction in range but better sound in the 730… But I am here b/c I was looking for help with sync issues. These 730’s lose sync with the audio of a movie I’m watching on my computer WAY more often than the 700s did.
I thought maybe it was a driver update issue, but that doesn’t seem to be the case (all my Bluetooth and audio drivers are uptodate per Win 7)….
(Oh, and the 730s have a reinforced wire entry point for the ear buds, thankfully… good to see smart improvements)
I’ve experienced similar issues concerning sync and not just with the 730. It happens with some of my other Bluetooth headsets too. There are quite a few variables when it comes to watching video on our computers, especially if when streaming content online. We here at QTOOTH have wondered if all of the manufacturers are doing everything they can to keep their firmware up to date in the fast changing world of browsers and internet media delivery protocols. There are many places in the signal chain where the audio can get knocked out of sync.
That said, my first suggestion for a quick fix is not an ideal one. I usually find I either need to pause the video and hope that the audio catches up once I resume play or I’ll cycle the headset’s power off and then back on to reset the connection and the audio buffer. Not convenient at all but it usually does the trick.
Since I’m on a Mac, I’ve also experimented with some success using Airfoil and the Airfoil Video Streamer to get better sync between audio and video. Airfoil puts everything into its own buffer where it stores 2-3 seconds of information before relaying it to the screen and to the selected audio out, in this case the Bluetooth headset of your choice. This seems to help minimize sync issues.
And my last suggestion for now is quit any application that might be communicating with the internet at the same time as you are watching your video. Sometimes the computer needs to prioritize what task it is working on and may sacrifice audio if it believes receiving data like incoming emails or a flurry of social media alerts is more important. You might also try searching online for tips on allocating memory for your apps or using a Memory Clean(er) type of app that shuts down unnecessary background processes that might be stealing RAM. There are versions of those for both Mac and PC.
I hope these suggestions are of some help!
Sean Piercy says
I have had the same problem for a while, am a computer tech, and believe I found a solution to this problem. First, go in to your “devices and printers”, right click on your HBS730, and go to the services tab. Now make sure Handsfree Technology, Remote Control, and Audio Sync are all enabled and that . Next, if you’re using Netflix, make sure it’s in window mode (not full screen), right click on a playing video and click ‘silverlight’. In the window that comes up select the ‘playback’ tab and make sure ‘hardware accelerated playback’ is enabled. This may allocate your system resources a bit better and allow a bit more speed to help process the streaming audio, although I’m not 100% certain. If you have an ancient computer and start experiencing any other issues you can always go back and disable this setting.
Last step, get a better bluetooth usb adapter when you can afford it. I know it’s tempting to pick up one for incredibly cheap on E-Bay or Amazon, but I think a lot of the problem lies in the adapter (e. g. I can get 30ft. away from my phone and only about 10ft. from my PC right now). Also make sure to plug the adapter into the front of your PC (direct line of sight). I am about 5ft. from mine, I have a cheap adapter, and notice if I move and lose the signal a bit it gets out of sync. It also does when I do something online at the same time I’m streaming Netflix too. I believe it’s actually an issue with Windows (because it has happend during my gaming too) but good luck getting through to Microsoft. I have yet to have any problems with the audio going out of sync when using them with my Note 3 Android phone. I really hope this helps you. These are definitely the best lightweight, inexpensive headphones on the market and it’s a shame when they have one little issue that totally screws them up.
Knuckles Poundingdapavement says
I have them both also and I like the fact that they’re light weight. I wish they could improve the noise cancelation feature. Going down the road it’s fine, just don’t stop for fuel or gas! Lol
Maria Judy says
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