Samsung's Tiny WEP500 Bluetooth Headset

With its WEP500, Samsung brings the world an even smaller Bluetooth headset than last year's WEP200. Unfortunately, the WEP200 was a device burdened with problems such as echo issues. Well, Samsung is back from the drawing board and this time it has included echo cancellation and noise reduction.

Smaller than before, and certainly stylish, the question remains: Can an even smaller headset be better than the old one? Will it just be a smaller device with the same big problems? Read on to find out.

The first thing you notice about the WEP500 Bluetooth headset is that it's small - really small. The silver and glossy black test unit is about the diameter of a US quarter. The glossy portion shows fingerprints, while the silver area is much more resistant to prints and smudges. Overall the surfaces seem resistant to scratching, as most of the edge surfaces are non-glossy. Should you wish to have a different color, black with a chrome accent will be available from Sprint. AT&T will have the device available in shimmering dark blue. External dimensions are 30mm x 28mm x 8mm (1.2" x 1.1" x .31") and it weighs in at a hardly noticeable 8.5g (.31oz). When paring a device down to this size something has to suffer, and with the WEP500 it is battery life. Samsung reports battery endurance at 80 hours of standby with a talk time of three and a half hours. A full charge was completed in about 2 hours.

Like the WEP200 before it, the WEP500 is an in-ear type design. Again, as with the WEP200, an assortment of rubber earpieces is included to help achieve the best fit. Buttons total three; up and down volume and a multifunction button which I found prone to misapplication.

We received the WEP500 with an array of alternate earpieces in 3 sizes, an AC power transformer and a lidded box for storage which, in similar fashion to the WEP200, serves as a charging dock for the headset. Repositioning the earpiece allows the use of either the left or right ear. The case/charger may be a bit clunky and awkward to use, but it no doubt allowed for a cleaner design. Of at least one free of a charging socket.

Powering up the WEP500 is fairly straightforward: simply press the multifunction button for about 4 seconds until the blue light starts blinking. Turning it off requires a 4 second press of the same button. Pairing is simple as well. From an off state, simply hold the multifunction button until it transitions from blinking to a steady blue. The headset is then discoverable and can be paired using the default code of '0000.' Pairing on multiple devices and 'Headset' and 'Hands Free' profiles are supported. I had no difficulties with my test phones, a Sony Ericsson K750i and an occasionally finicky HP iPaq 6315.

The buttons on the WEP500 are easy to press and convenient to operate. I did however have a problem with the multifunction button which is positioned in a manner that had me inadvertently pressing it a few times while trying to position the headset properly. The good news is this became less of a problem as I learned to avoid it, but I found it to be an occasional problem. Experimenting with the positioning of the earpiece helped with this as well.

A tone on the WEP500 signals an incoming call, a quick tap of the multifunction button allows you to answer, and a sustained press will reject the call if your phone supports the feature. Similarly, a quick press of the multifunction button with no call incoming will redial your last call, while a sustained press will initiate voice-activated calling on supporting phones. A muting feature is present as well; activate and deactivate the microphone with an extended press of either volume button. A quick press of the multifunction button will terminate an active call easily.