This week I had the opportunity to partner the Swissvoice ePure BH01u Bluetooth handset as a companion to my smartphone. Touting a minimalist design referencing the classic ergonomics of traditional telephones, The Swissvoice ePure brings back memories of picking up the phone and hanging up landline models before cell phones took over...
Specs and features:
- USB Charger
- Phone Handset
- Hands Free
- Music Speakers
- Voice Dialing
- HD Voice
- Fulleco technology: less exposure to the potential harmful effects of using mobile phones
- Bluetooth with range up to 20m line of sight
Design: First Impressions
The Swissvoice ePure is actually quite an attractive device. Built with a very smooth matte black plastic and simple curves, it looks good and it feels good in your hand. The device comes with a charging base for the handset (the base connects to USB for power) a single USB cable, and the handset itself.
The handset has a 4 way navigation pad for controlling and powering up the device, and a volume rocker on the side of the handset. The handset controls are lit with bright blue and white LEDs which blink in various ways to indicate the state of the device.
The device manual suggests three hours of charge time before using the device, so after letting the device charge I made my first attempt to pair the device. For testing I decided to use my Nexus 7 tablet, which I sometimes use for Skype calling.
I must admit I did have quite a bit of trouble figuring out how to pair the device. From the instructions it suggests that holding the power button for 5 seconds will cause the controller LEDs to flash blue and white, which indicates the pairing mode. Unfortunately the device produces a lot of disparate blinks and noises and it wasn't until I queried tech support that I finally figured out exactly exactly how to activate the pairing mode.
The device has a variety of noises for different actions, powering up and powering down produce a ascending and descending melody, and activating pairing mode produces a series of echoed bass tones.
Once ready for pairing, the device showed up as "Swissvoice BH01" in my Bluetooth settings on the Nexus 7, which when clicked, queues another quick melody from the Swissvoice to let me know the device is successfully paired.
Finally I was ready to test the device. Since I'm using a tablet to test the device, I decided to start with a Skype call to test audio quality and the interface. The Swissvoice just seemed to pass what ever audio is coming from the tablet to it's to speakers, so the Skype call rang through to the Swissvoice. According to the instructions, I should be able to answer the call from the device by clicking the power button, but with Skype I couldn't get this to work.
I should also note that the device only worked in speaker mode using Skype, which I learned the hard way holding the device up to my ear during my test call. The manual suggests that hitting the speaker button quickly should switch modes, but again I couldn't get this feature to work (in fact hitting the speaker button also doubles as the media play button, so in attempting to get this feature to work, I kept queuing music from my tablet during the call).
In my second set of tests I switched to an actual smartphone, my Samsung Captivate. Here the handset succeeded in connecting, and allowing me to answer an incoming call with the handset. The handset had its own unique ring for the incoming call (instead of just passing audio from the phone) and thankfully when I answered the call, the device was in handset mode (instead of speaker like with Skype). Generally the sound quality was good, and I managed to put about 15 feet between the handset and my phone while still retaining good sound quality from the call.
As mentioned the device also works as a set of Bluetooth speakers for your mobile devices. This feature worked quite well, the speakers delivering fairly decent audio quality which was definitely more bass present than my tablet speaker or smartphone. When used as speakers the handset sits on it's side quite naturally, as if the speakers were an intended design feature, instead of just an added bonus.
This device could have easily received a strong recommendation, had a couple of the finer details been worked out. The look, feel, and build quality of the device really impressed me from the moment I took the device out of the box. Unfortunately the time I spent trying to get the device to work as intended, confused by the interface, definitely detracted somewhat from the overall experience. That said, if you're in the market for a desktop Bluetooth solution this is definitely a solid choice, just make sure you read the manual carefully.
Pros: The Swissvoice handset is beautifully designed and multi-functional. The device is quite ergonomic and is clearly built from quality materials. If you miss the look and feel of a traditional handset this device definitely fills that niche.
Sound quality was generally quite good, both in phone calls and when used as speakers, and the range of the handset is likely as advertised on the packaging.
Cons: The interface isn't exactly intuitive (after fumbling with the device for an hour, I needed tech support to elaborate on the instructions). Better controls and a small LCD could go a long way in improving how the device interacts.
I'm not sure the fact that it didn't work with Skype can really be blamed on the manufacturer here (it could be the Skype app not using the proper Bluetooth protocols). But since the device does advertise it works with tablets, and laptops, there really should be a clear way to use handset mode (instead of speaker mode) with IP or chat calling.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by manufacturer for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Sean Rioux)