New BlackBerry HS-500 Bluetooth Headset “Coming Soon”
BlackBerry-maker RIM has posted a listing on its e-commerce site for a brand new Bluetooth headset that not only lets you place and receive hands-free voice calls, it streams audio content from a BlackBerry so you can hear spoken driving directions or listen to music and podcasts. Perhaps best of all? It's reasonably priced.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
Research In Motion (RIM) posted a new accessory to its ShopBlackBerry.com online store late last week: The BlackBerry HS-500 Bluetooth Headset. In May, I brought you details on this upcoming accessory directly from the source, Antoine Boucher, RIM’s VP of advanced accessories.
I sat down with Boucher at RIM’s annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES), and he shared quite a bit of information on the product, which is just the first in a long line of new BlackBerry accessories to be unveiled in the coming months. In fact, Boucher shared much more detail at the time than what RIM recently made available on ShopBlackBerry.com.
The BlackBerry HS-500 Bluetooth Headset hasn’t been “officially” announced by RIM quite yet–there’s no press release on the subject. But we know from the new online listing that it will sell for $79.99 plus shipping, and it’s “coming soon.” It will presumably work with all BlackBerry devices running handheld OS 4.5 or higher. And ShopBlackBerry.com also tells us that the device supports “selected third-party GPS mapping applications” for streaming spoken directions, but that’s about it.
Now here’s what I can add: The headset not only streams driving directions from GPS apps, it picks up additional audio content from your BlackBerry device, including music, and podcasts. It’s not great quality audio, nor is it really supposed to be, according to Boucher, but it’s a nice feature none-the-less.
Boucher told me that the product would be available last summer, but RIM appears to have missed that target. With the product just being listed last week and no official announcement, I’d say the HS-500 won’t be released for another month or so, at least. I expect the device to be made available before the holidays, but probably not until some time in November.
So why would you want to buy a headset from RIM instead of one of the established “players” in the Bluetooth space? Boucher says RIM is making its new accessories interact with the BlackBerry operating system in new and different ways that would be impossible for other devices. Boucher wouldn’t get into specifics–and none are available on RIM’s site–but he seemed very confident that some of these BlackBerry-specific features will turn heads.
Currently the new Bluetooth headset works with non-BlackBerry handhelds, but Boucher says he hasn’t made the decision yet on whether or not to make future accessories BlackBerry-specific.
The sub-$100 price tag is also attractive, as some high-end Bluetooth headsets like BlueAnt’s popular V1 headset and Jawbone’s Prime frequently sell for upwards of $125. At $79.99, the BlackBerry HS-500 headset could be a steal–assuming it offers comparable functionality and audio quality.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.