Cirago Mini Bluetooth Headset HS-450 Review

The Smith - 2008-09-12 13:28:12 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: The Smith   
Reviewed on: September 17, 2008
Cirago
Price: $32.99

Introduction:

Nowadays, every gadget and peripheral goes wireless. Cables and wires everywhere can get very annoying when you need mobility or comfort. Wi-Fi is great for laptops that need an Internet connection on the go, but for small devices, Bluetooth became the standard. Computers, handhelds and cellular phones are now most of the time equipped with Bluetooth communication in order to make use of devices such as headsets. I now often see people with their small headset in the ear, ready to answer a call. Besides having no wire, they make cellphones hands-free. Here in Quebec, like in many other provinces or states, it became a necessity. A law was created stating that every phone user must rely on a hands-free device while driving. So the solution really is to use a Bluetooth headset, like the HS-450 from Cirago.

This high-tech company founded in Hong Kong in 1996 creates innovative products for people on the go. Its headquarter office is located in the heart of Silicon Valley in California, United-States, where the major online retailers offer its products. Cirago also sells USB bluetooth dongles and storage devices. In this article, I will take a look a the HS-450, mentioned earlier.

 

Closer Look:

Cirago has opted for a very attractive and vivid packaging. The Bluetooth logo at the top left can't be left unnoticed as it is blue on the orange background. The headset is shown in all its magnificence. The most important features are written on the front, which gives a good overall idea of the product. On the back, it is shown that the HS-450 works with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, PDAs, notebooks and PCs. The specifications are also listed as well as the package content. On the left side, some other features are listed.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HS-450  is kept between two plastic layers, the top one being transparent. Inside hides a mini USB cable for charging the unit and an AC charger. So if you don't have a computer at reach, you can plug it directly into the main socket. There are also two other ear buds of different sizes and a neck strap. As for the papers provided, there is a user manual, obviously, and a limited warranty registration card which is to be mailed.

 

Closer Look:

The HS-450 has a nice design. It is available in two different colors, for different tastes. The one in this review is the black version. The other one is entirely silver, except the earbud and the part where the microphone is. The main button is the silver part in the middle and has the standard power sign on it. On each side there is a volume button. You can decrease it by pushing the one on the left and increasing it using the other one on the right. The microphone is located under the earbud at the back, you can see the small hole on the third picture. At the top, a small rubber protector can easily be removed to access the mini-USB port, which is used for charging the unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The power sign can light in two different colors to let you know the headset state. If you turn it on, it will emit three blue flashes. When turned off, the same signal, though red, will be emitted. When charging, it will remain red. Also, when in pairing mode, it will flash both colors.

 

 

Finally, I felt it was important to show you what it looks like in my ear. At the beginning, I was wondering how I should place the ear band when wearing the headset, because it is not explained anywhere. I finally learned that I should put this rubber loop like in the picture below; it is made for stabilizing the unit inside the ear. This way, it prevents excess movement that the microphone could pick up.

Configuration:

The pairing of the Cirago HS-450 is very easy. First, push and hold its main button for five seconds in order to initiate the pairing mode. Then, when using a cellphone, it will detect the headset, and you just have to enter the passkey. Everything is handled automatically. However, there are a few different things when using it with a laptop. This is what I will show you here.

First, you need to go into the Bluetooth settings and start the new connection wizard. Then, like on a cellphone, it will ask you the passkey, which is "1234."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, the different part is at the last window of the pairing process. There is a checkbox which says, "It uses it in cooperation with the VoIP aplication." This allows you to use the HS-450 in two different ways, which I will explain soon. If you want to change this setting, you don't have to re-do the pairing. In the Bluetooth settings window, right-click on the "HS-450 Mini BT Headset" icon, and click on "Detail..." You will then see the same checkbox as when you did the pairing.

 

In cooperation with the VoIP application:

If you checked this option, a new icon appears in the notification area, at the right of the taskbar. When leaving your mouse over it, a small message can be read, which says: "Handsfree device is connected, ready to associate with Skype." This means you can only use the HS-450 with a VoIP application when connected to a computer. This association is only made when you answer or make a call, and no other sound will be heard in the headset. This cooperation allows you to answer and end a call using the big button on the headset.

 

No cooperation with the VoIP application:

If you did not check this option, there will be no cooperation with Skype. But this time, each and every sound the computer plays will be heard in the headset. So if you want to listen to music, you absolutely need to uncheck the VoIP application cooperation setting. However, you can still make calls using Skype, but you won't be able to answer or end calls using the button on the HS-450.

 

Specifications:

Standard
Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, Class II 33ft. range
Radio Frequency
2.401GHz ~ 2.483GHz
RF Transmit Power
+4 dBm
Receiver Sensitivity At 0.1% BER for al
lPacket Types +20° C
2.402 GHz Type -84 dBm
2.441 GHz Type -85 dBm
2.480 GHz Type -83.5 dBm
(At 0.1% BER for all packet types +20° C)
Power Supply
Lithium-ion battery 3.7 V / 55 mA
Distortion and noise differential
-75 dB (at 32 ohm load)
Audio Format
 15-bit Linear Audio CODEC
Color Style
Silver (HS-450SIL)
Slate/Silver (HS-450-BLK)
Dimensions
1.5 x 0.6 x 1.3 in (unit) / 8 x 4 x 2.5 in (retail box)

 

Features:

 

All information on this page courtesy of Cirago At  http://www.cirago.com/products/Cirago_HS450.html

Testing:

To test the Cirago HS-450, I will first begin by trying each and every function it has. Then, I will make and answer calls using a Sony Ericsson z550a and a MSI Wind, with the VoIP application Skype. To test the sound quality, I will also listen to music. 160kbps MP3s and MIDI files will be played using Winamp v.5.54

 

Testing Setup:

 

Music:

The music quality was not very good compared to standard iPod earphones. Both MP3s and MIDIs were sounding as though they were played from a turntable. There was also no bass present, which also contributed to a poor sound quality.

 

Calls:

The HS-450 performed very well when making calls. Both with the mobile phone and the laptop, there was no difference in sound quality than in any telephone. The button for answering calls works very well. To use it, when the phone is ringing, just push on the main button. You can even reject incoming calls by holding the same button for about two seconds! Another great feature is that you can mute the microphone. That way, the guy on the phone with you won't hear if you have to briefly talk to someone beside you. However, it does not act as a "Mute" button on a phone, because you can still hear that guy even if he cannot hear you.

 

Overall:

The buttons worked very well. After a few minutes, you will already be used to them. Raising the volume without pushing on the main button which would end the call is not hard at all. As for the comfort, I can't say anything other than good things. Since there are three different size earbuds provided, the HS-450 will fit into most common ears. I also tested the range at which it loses communications. Cirago says 33' on the package, but unfortunately, when over 20', the sound begins to lose quality. As for testing the battery life, I listened to power metal music at maximum volume, which turned out to be loud enough to be heard in adjacent rooms. Obviously, I began the test at full charge, and it lasted 3h24 min. It is far from being the 6h advertised by Cirago, but this test was under extreme conditions. I made another test by listening to classical music at the lowest headset volume but at the highest volume in Windows audio manager, which turned out to be a reasonable final volume; not too loud, but loud enough to be easily heard. This time, it lasted 4h05 min. It is still far from the 6h, but the key point is that this is supposed to be 6h of talk time, not listening time. So depending on the usage you make of the headset, the battery can last a lot less than 6h.

 

Conclusion:

The Cirago HS-450 is, without a doubt, a nice addition to your mobile phone or laptop. Its nice design available in two colors makes it attractive. It is also comfortable to wear; I let my family members try it to get more than one opinion, one of whom is particularly picky about earphones. Surprisingly, he loved that one and felt very comfortable with it! Also, since three earbud with different sizes are provided, it will fit both larger and smaller ears alike.

The functions like call rejecting and microphone mute are very handy. Furthermore, the buttons are well positioned; when using one of these functions, you don't risk pushing any other button inadvertently. However, I do not recommend it for listening to music, as the sound quality for this purpose is very poor, but when making calls, the quality was just as good as any other standard phone. Another great thing is that there is an AC charger included as well as the standard mini-USB cable. So for mobile phone users who don't necessarily have a computer on hand, they can still recharge the unit. Or it could even be plugged in the car, provided you have a DC to AC transformer. As for the range, the HS-450 cannot go over 20ft without losing signal quality. Cirago advertised 33ft, but still, 20ft is acceptable. Finally, I was rather disappointed by the battery life. Depending on the use you make of the headset, it can last a lot less than the announced 6h, so ideally it needs to be recharged everyday when used as a headphone only.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: