OpenBrain OBH-0100 Bluetooth-Stereo-Headset

Geschrieben von (01.07.2004 00:00 CET)

Bluetooth has become a standard for a variety of devices. After some chaos in interpreting this standard, things have calmed down and there really is compatibility between different types of devices.

In May 2003 I first heard of a headset that was said to be both a stereo headphone for listening to music and a handsfree kit for mobile phones equipped with bluetooth. It´s beginning of 2004 now, and finally the OBH-0100 by OpenBrain from Korea is finally on the market.

The OBH-0100 has an integrated rechargeable battery (in the left speaker wher the microphone is placed) and an integrated memory of 64 to 128 MB. To charge the battery, it is easily unmounted and placed in the docking station that comes with the device. That docking station is truly a gem of design: Formed like an UFO, round, with feet looking like chrome and a crown of light around the battery that glows red when charging, green when fully charged (which approximately takes 2 hrs max.)

The design of the OBH-0100 is close to the Koss KSC-55, it´s foldable to a little package, unfolded a fully zite headphone worn around the neck. The speakers are very comfortable and tight, which has the advantage of being isolated from the outside world when listening to music. A little softcase is included that can carry the folded OBH-0100 for transport. Due to the dependance on the USB adapter (see below) it´s quite unlikely that this will be used very often (only with the OBH used as standalone MP3-player).

OpenBrain was keen on the headset both being able to act as a standalone MP3-player and getting music though a stream over bluetooth. To be able to make this work, a USB BT stick is included in the package that adds general bluetooth-functionality (e.g. file transfer and the serial port) to the PC and, important in the context of the OBH-0100, the audio profile.

Installation is easy, even if you´re no expert, only thing that should be taken care of: No other bluetooth adapter should be in the system. In our review, a stable installation was only possible when all drivers and programs of a once installed BT adapter were completely deleted. On the other hand, working with the OBH-0100 was not possible with that third party adapter, as it did not have the audio profile which cannot be installed separated from the driver installation.

After scanning the bluetooth-neighborhood and pairing the headset (as it would be with any other bluetooth device) it is no problem to establish an audio-connection through the bluetooth settings. The standard audio output device is automatically set to the OBH-0100, which results in the complete sound from the PC being transferred to the OBH-0100. Start an MP§, and you´ll hear it streamed over the air in the OBH-0100.

Don´t be surprised: Obviously it is currently only possible to stream audio with 32KBit, which can be defined in the settings panel. Leaving the standard setting of 48KHz results in a stuttering sound that is unlistenable. For streaming of high quality MP3, WMA music sources in its original form, OpenBrain will be offering a dedicated PC program (SONORIX Player) in the near future which will enable streaming of MP3, WMA music up to 192kbps.

For me a thing that is even cooler is the fact that through the enclosed software, called the "Sonorix Player", the internal memory of the OBH-0100 can be maintained. Again, a little more effort than described in the manual is necessary to get this to work: The USB adapter itself delivers a serial port, which is uneffective for the application in question. Just double click on the headset in the bluetooth manager software, and an additional driver is installed and is then available for the software.

The tray line of the application shows a battery gauge and the status of the headset´s memory, the upper part is for transferring tracks from the PC to the headset (upper part of the window is file system and contents of the local PC, bottom part shows the track already stored in the headset). In the middle of that screen a little control panel can be used for controlling the headset from the PC, adjusting volume, treble, bass.
Once the files are transferred, the OBH-0100 is an MP3-player which is an independent unit of his own. The controls on the right speaker of the headset allow control over playback, volume and next/previous track, the standard functionality of an MP3-player.

Using the OBH-0100 with a PDA, it has to be distinguished between the different models: The MDA2/XDA2/Qtek2020 directly accepts the OBH-0100 as a handsfree kit, transfers incoming and outgoing calls to it. The fact that the speakers sit tight to the ears and thus isolate the noise of the outside world is an advantage here...

Sadly none of the current PDAs has the audio profile integrated which would be mandatory to use the OBH-0100 as a stereo headphone with Windows Media Player. For the iPAQs, there is a little tool that manages to do this. That works, only the quality may well be sufficient for listening to radio or an audio book, but not to music. But as bluetooth is gaining more and more attention, it can only be a matter of time until more and more PDAs have that profile integrated.


Gorgeous: A bluetooth headset for streaming audio and an audio player with integrated memory and a hands free kit for a mobile phone in one device. More functionality cannot be there. One wish, though: Pocket PC software would be greatly appreciated....

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