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article imageReview: Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset: Wireless with a magnetic touch

By James Walker     Oct 10, 2015 in Technology
Wireless headphones are the way to go when you want to listen to music in private but a cable gets in the way. With no wire dangling to your phone, Bluetooth headsets like the Inateck BH1001 can provide a low-cost route to a more enjoyable experience.
The BH1001 comes in attractive packaging with a high-quality accessory selection, as with other Inateck products I've seen recently. A blue outer-box provides some key details on the headset and protects a black inner container that stores the instruction manual and accessories.
The headset itself lives in an Inateck-branded soft carry pouch. There is space within to keep the supplied USB charging cable too, a nice touch that could prove to be useful when taking the BH1001 away on holiday.
Inateck supplies two different sizes of earphone tip. Although some may have appreciated it if more options were supplied, I found the smaller size were a reasonable fit for my ears. Changing the buds was fiddly but they did slip into their correct place after a minute or two.
The control unit, attached to the right side of the cable, has three buttons. Two act as volume up and down while the third is a general-purpose multi-use key. An integrated microphone makes it possible to take calls while wearing the headset. The LED indicator light can change between red and blue colours to indicate different statuses but its constant flashing every five seconds during use was annoying at times.
The BH1001 is small and unobtrusive and appears to be nearly invisible when being worn. Sports fans will be pleased to learn the BH1001 is sweat-proof and rated at IPX4 for waterproofing.
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Inateck
The headset features magnetic clips at the ends of the two earpieces that allow it to hang around your neck when not in use and prevents the short cable getting tangled when in storage. If the magnets are attached during playback, the audio will be automatically paused if the app supports it. This consistently worked well and turned out to be much less gimmicky than I had expected it to be.
However, I was disappointed to find the music doesn't seem to resume again when the magnets are released. Even so, being able to pause the music and neatly arrange the headset in a necklace by snapping some magnets together is a neat ability and welcome feature.
Connecting to a device is a simple procedure. The headset uses the recent Bluetooth 4.1 specification and enters pairing mode when the multi-function button is held down for around five seconds. The LED indicator light flashes blue and red to symbolise that it is open to new connections.
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Inateck
The BH1001 can only be paired to one device at once. It will automatically reconnect to the last device used when turned on but has to enter pairing mode again to connect with anything else. Although this may be fine for people who only intend to use a wireless headset with one device, such as their smartphone, I would have preferred it if the headset could remember at least two previously paired devices. During my testing, I ended up regularly using the BH1001 with my phone and desktop computer so the ability for it to remember both would have been useful.
The headset's light weight and curved design make it comfortable to wear for fairly long periods of time. The earphones sit firmly and do not easily slip away. I wore the BH1001 for periods of around two hours at a time without any great discomfort, although after about an hour I did tend to remove the headset and then insert it again. Generally, I'm more fond of over-ear than in-ear headphones and after a while the BH1001's presence became noticeable.
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Inateck
The BH1001 has been the subject of rather thorough and varied testing. Its arrival came at a convenient time for me as a broken front audio port on my computer has been preventing me from using headphones. The Bluetooth-based BH1001 has allowed me to circumvent this and also to test the headset with all the tasks I'd normally reserve for wired over-ear headphones. It has been worn for hours most days and used to listen to music, watch videos and even play games.
Sound quality is generally very competent and I could find no major faults while watching YouTube videos or listening to music. Bass is punchy and treble usually well measured, although the sound can become a little harsh and distorted at loud volumes or in complex pieces. This isn't helped by a continual low-level hissing noise that can be heard through both earphones as soon as any sound is transmitted, although this may be caused by Bluetooth itself.
As a gamer separated from my usual wired headphones, I hesitantly tried a few titles through the headset, slightly apprehensive as to whether Bluetooth could even transmit data fast enough for the audio from games to be heard smoothly and clearly. The BH1001 actually managed fine, although there were occasional pops, crackles and even stutters that didn't occur at all when listening to music or playing videos.
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Marketing shot of the Inateck BH1001 Bluetooth headset
Inateck
Generally, sound quality from the BH1001 was very acceptable when just listening to music, which is what most people will probably end up doing with it. I also found its Bluetooth range to be very extensive so you can easily walk around rooms in your house and keep the music playing.
I would rather the hissing noise wasn't quite so prominent in quiet sections but this $30 almost-invisible Bluetooth headset has consistently managed to replace my usual wired Sony over-ear headphones. I'll be continuing to use the BH1001 in this way until I can add a new sound card to my computer. Then, I'll return to the over-ears — but only because I've always preferred over-ears for long periods of listening.
For general, every-day or sports usage, the BH1001 would be a perfectly acceptable headset, boasting a featherweight design that prevents itself from getting tangled and sound quality that should be adequate for its intended usage. As with other recent Inateck products, the headset is accompanied by surprisingly high-quality accessories, including a free travel pouch with space for the headset and a charging cable. It's not a perfect product but it’s certainly a competent one that joins the rather short list of relatively inexpensive but high-quality Bluetooth headsets.
The Inateck BH1001 costs $60 in the U.S. or £60 in the U.K. The headset is currently on 50% promotion to $30 and £30 respectively and is also available in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and China.
The good:
• Very light, minimalist design with useful magnetism
• Sound quality fine for general usage
• Supported by high-quality accessory pouch
The less good:
• Only remembers one paired device
• Only two size options for earphone tips
• Audio often accompanied by subtle white noise
The verdict: Recommended
The Inateck BH1001 claims to be a "Wireless Sport Headset" and it fits that purpose well. Sound quality is generally very competent and on par with some wired over-ear headphones in certain scenarios while the magnetic design is a consistently useful feature. However, the BH1001's inability to store pairings for more than one device quickly became a frustration, as did the periodic flashes of the indicator light noticeable in the periphery of my vision.
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