LG has sold 10 million Bluetooth headsets over the past 5 years. It is an achievement that goes to show how popular and successful the headsets are. I want to experience what other 9.999 million consumers are enjoying with this neckband-style headset, so I requested for a review unit to try out.
For Active Lifestyle
There are several LG TONE series headsets, with different design and features while keeping the same neckband style. The LG TONE Active HBS-850 is for sports and workout, with the following features:
Water and Sweat Resistance — LG applied nano-coating technology to the printed circuit board to protect from moisture.
Durable and Rugged — Durable yet lightweight with a contoured, around the neck design.
Retractable Ear buds — Really useful to keep the cables tidy and earbuds in place. I just hope I don’t over-pull the cables and break it: the cables are too thin to feel assuring.
Quad-Layer Speaker Technology™ — The “quad-layer” refers to applying multiple layers of film and materials to deliver robust bass, crisp treble, ensures less distortion on high frequencies.
The LG TONE Active is in every sense a “wearable”. You wear the headset around the neck and if you feel comfortable with it, you can leave it on the entire day. I could even wear it during naps, and when I receive an incoming call, the headset would vibrate and I would just pull out one of the earbuds to answer the call. Or when there are messages, I could listen to the message via the text-to-voice readout. I find other headsets hard to keep it around my neck when not in use due to the dangling cables, but the LG TONE Active has a retractable cable which keeps them tidy.
Another purpose of keeping the LG TONE Active around the neck all the time is the vibrating alert when there are incoming calls. And if you installed the Tone & Talk app for Android, you can even listen to incoming messages or read out the time. There are a good number of apps that you can select to read out the content, but the Tone & Talk app may not be able to read the message format properly. During my review, Facebook Messenger reads the incoming messages with the sender correctly, but not Whatsapp.
The impressive thing about the LG neckband headsets is that they stay on your neck during workouts. The neckband has the right amount of tightness that clings onto your neck so that it does not move around when you run, or doing sit-ups. The thin cables, while perceived to be flimsy, ensures they do not move excessively to cause cable rub.
Usage and Controls
There are just 4 buttons on the LG TONE Active to control the headset. On the left there is the power button and a multi-function button for playback, answer call, and others. On the right is 2 buttons for volume and track changes, which works in opposite directions. Long-press the volume down button jumps to the next track, while pressing the volume up button jumps to the previous track.
The LG TONE Active has quite a handful of features, but you have to press the right buttons with the right duration. For instance, you can change the equalizer from bass boost (default) to normal to treble boost, by holding the multi-function button for 2 seconds when music is playing. If you want to hear the time, hold the volume down button for 1 second during standby. The same button will read out the battery status if you hold it for 3 seconds. To turn off the vibrate mode, press and hold volume down up for 3 seconds during standby. The same button will read out the latest message if you hold it for 1 second.
Hmm, try to remember that when you use the headset, will you?
The LG TONE Active produces detailed audio with sensurround sound staging which lets the listener feel the different instrumental positioning. In generally, the bass has presence but does not overwhelm too much. The treble has clarity but the higher frequencies are not pristine.
With the default equalizer setting of “Bass Boost”, the treble is enjoyably clear yet not overpowering. The bass is loud, rounded, not too hard, not too boomy. The midrange adds warmth to the overall tonality.
“Normal” mode gives the treble a bit more shine as the bass is reduced. The “Treble Boost” mode brings more sparkle to the treble although the higher frequencies remain inadequate. This mode is great for vocals and classical tracks, while removing the cosy warmth in pop tracks.
Changing the modes is easy: just hold the multi-function button for 2 seconds. The LG TONE Active is one of the rare headsets with built-in equalizer function to allow listeners to change the sound on the go. Kudos.
Would I Buy It?
Yes I would! I like the LG TONE Active audio balance, and more importantly, I can wear around my neck the whole day without the cables getting in the way.
The LG TONE Active comes in four bright colors: Lime, Orange, Blue and Pink, all of which are available at all leading electronic retailers for S$189.00.
Apart from just the LG TONE Active, its TONE Series also comprises of two other variants, namely LG TONE Infinim (HBS-900) at S$209 and the LG TONE Pro (HBS-760) at S$109. The Infinim looks better for office use, while the TONE Pro does not have retractable earbud cables.
Features: Equalizer presets, Vibrating Alert, aptX, multi-connect to 2 devices
Bluetooth version: 4.1
Bluetooth profiles: HSP, HFP, AVRCP, A2DP
Talk time: 13 hours
Music time: 9.5 hours
Standby time: 18 days (430 hours)
Charging time: 2 hours
Package includes: USB charging cable, eargels (2 sets), stabilizer tips (2 sets), user manual