Review: Kinivo BTH240 Bluetooth Headset

Image © Kinivo.

Behold, the dude walking around with a wireless headset — sometimes affectionately known as, well, something that rhymes with “Bluetooth push-bag.” Is there anything more annoying than a guy walking around with a Bluetooth headset and talking loudly for the whole world to hear?

Then again, there certainly are legitimate uses for wireless headsets that don’t involve, uh, push-baggery. As a reporter, for example, I find a wireless headset to be invaluable when typing interviews were done by cell phone.

Which brings us to the latest headphone to grace my well-manicured hands, the Kinivo BTH240. The successor to Kinivo’s popular BTH220, the BTH240 looks like a tweener between a pure headphone and a wireless headset. See, unlike the single-ear pieces favored by Bluetooth pushbags everywhere — well, at least the ones I seem to always run into — the BTH240 features two ear cups just like a regular headphone. This comes with the immediate advantage of visibility so you don’t look like a doofus who’s talking to yourself in public. I tested the black version but models in such colors as white, blue and pink are available as well.

The headset itself sports a design that mimics those behind-the-neck headphones that some exercisers like to use. It also folds up for easy storage, allowing users to quickly stash it in their bag or pockets. Add its light weight to the BTH240’s compact size and the headset becomes a pretty convenient companion for frequent traveling.

Pairing proved simple when I linked the Kinivo with both my iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S3. I just turned on Bluetooth functionality on my smartphones with the headset on and I was able to quickly find the device in my pairing menu. Buttons on the headset, meanwhile, allowed me to take calls and hang up once I was done.

Music functionality such as pausing and skipping tracks also worked on both my iPhone and Galaxy device. Talk and music time lasts up to 10 hours with the built-in battery while standby time is rated at 200 hours as well.

Of course, audio performance is the most important metric for any headset. In terms of voice quality, the BH240 performed nicely both for incoming and outgoing calls. Wireless range is also good and I was able to get reception on the second floor of my house while leaving my phone on the first floor. Music quality, on the other hand, isn’t as good compared to my regular headphones. When listening to tunes, I pretty much got tinny, flat sound with barely a hint of low end, even when using an equalizer. Also, although the headphones are nice and light, I still got some ear soreness after extended use. The behind-the-neck design also means the headset will push out a bit if you lean against a cushioned surface.

Ultimately, this headset’s biggest strength is being an all-around player. Admittedly, folks looking for a pure wireless music headphone have better options such as the Jabra Revo, for example. Still, as a hands-free headset, the BH240 performs well. Add its 10-hour battery life when fully charged and the fact that you can easily find it online for $30 (despite the $50 MSRP) and the BH240 becomes a great alternative to its one-eared, Bluetooth counterparts.

This dichotomy makes it a bit of a challenge to review as I’d give it 2 stars as a pure music headphone but 4 stars as a hands-free Bluetooth device. As such, I’ll just average the difference and give the Kinivo 3 stars, though you can certainly adjust that rating depending on what you primarily plan to use the headset for.

Final rating: 3 stars out of 5

Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. For more about headphones and speakers, visit the Portable Electronics Headphones & Speakers hub.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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