Small, lightweight Bluetooth headsets, while stylish, tend to compromise on clarity and battery life. Not so with the Sound ID SM100 EarModule, a miniscule headset with an array of sound modes, surprisingly consistent sound quality, and lengthy talk time. It's priced accordingly, but the 0.4-ounce SM100 justifies its premium.
The SM100 comes with three rubber ear tips and small earloops that help stabilize the headset in your ear. The combination makes for a good fit and stays put without the use of an uncomfortable plastic hook. As with in-ear stereo ear buds, you'll need to clean the SM100's tip periodically, but that's the only downside; you can wear this headset all day without discomfort. The unit also has dedicated buttons for Volume Up, Volume Down, Call Answer/End and a separate button for adjusting the sound modes.
The SM100's NoiseNavigation and PersonalSound circuitry make the other party's voice in your ear clearer and louder without increasing background noise. It comes with three settings: normal, moderate, and strong. During a variety of test calls, the SM100 sounded unusually crisp, clear, and even, without any pops, clicks, or stray hiss.
When not in use, SM100 switches to an Environmental Listening mode that passes external sound through to your ear. It reduces the "plugged ear" muffle effect you normally get when wearing a headset without using it, and it improves awareness of what's going on around you, but it was tough to get used to. We generally preferred this mode on its lowest setting or off entirely, particularly when in a car and listening to the stereo.
The SM100 also includes automatic wind-protection circuitry, which held up well when subjected to a moderate breeze. There's even a "One2One" mode that lets two SM100s communicate with each other, as a kind of private two-way radio.
Endurance was another strong suit for the SM100, with the headset lasting 7 hours and 44 minutes on our talk-time rundown test, almost matching Sound ID's claimed rating of eight hours.
The SM100 rises above many other Bluetooth headsets to give you a killer combination of sound quality, comfort, light weight, and excellent battery life. While $129 may seem a bit steep for a Bluetooth headset, the SM100 is worth the premium for hardcore talkers.