First impressions show the Southwing SH241 offers decent voice quality and announces incoming calls. Upon closer inspection, however, it feels loose on the ear, and the intrusive earplug design may block out sound you want to hear--including your own voice.
Design and Fit
The first thing you'll notice about the SH241 is the hook. At 2.2 x 0.7 x 0.4 inches, it's almost twice as long as the headset itself. And because it's made of thick black plastic, it's hard not to notice. The headset is short and narrow, with rounded edges. Although its shape is sleek, the Southwing SH241 loses style points for the front surface, which displays the company logo lengthwise, with dual-colored LED volume controls on either side.
It's impossible to tell by looking which volume button is which; for the record, the one closest to the skull decreases volume. Plus, the lights double as a battery indicator. The headset comes with three metallic face plates in burgundy, lavender, and gunmetal gray.
The fit of the headset itself was loose. The long hook wraps awkwardly around the ear, leaving too much wiggle room. The headset ships with only one earhook. but it includes three extra sizes of soft eartips, which while comfortable, block out so much noise that the headset feels like an earplug. Unfortunately, the eartips don't make the fit any sturdier. Moreover, the long rocker button on the front of the headset makes it easy to terminate calls by mistake; it's easy to press the end button instead of the volume controls that flank it.
Talk to Me
The SH241 is unique in that, when set to WhisperMode, it literally whispers the numbers of incoming calls. The idea is that you don't have to whip out your phone to see who's calling, and can go hands-free more of the time. When we received an incoming call, the phone rang for a few seconds, then the headset started reciting our caller's number. The voice, hardly a whisper, was loud and monotone but still easy to understand. It would be nice if the headset had voice-activated answering as well, but at least the WhisperMode feature works as promised.
As befits a budget headset, the SH241's call quality was mediocre. When we placed a call from a quiet room, our caller sounded too loud, but said ours was a reasonable volume. On both ends, the sound cut out slightly every few seconds. Likewise, when we placed a call on a busy street, our caller was mostly able to understand us, but said we cut out at intervals. She also said the background noise was loud, but then again, this headset doesn't claim to have noise-canceling technology.
Integration with AT&T
The SH241 is on sale exclusively at AT&T retail stores. AT&T customers can save numbers to their favorites with the push of a button, a feature Southwing calls Push 4. To save the last number you called, press the pairing button along with the button for increasing the volume, and you'll hear a series of tones indicating that you've stored the number.
Battery Life and Range
The SH241 has a range of 10 meters (33 feet). Although we were still able to hear our caller at that range, she sounded garbled. We can't fault the SH241 for doing what it claims to do, but it's also worth noting that many headsets exceed this 10-meter range by a good 15 feet. Its rated battery life of 7 hours is long compared with other budget headsets, but uniquely, its battery goes into auto-sleep after 12 hours of inactivity.
For $39.99, the Southwing SH241 offers decent voice quality, and the ability to announce incoming numbers. But because it fits so uncomfortably--at times blocking out the sound of our own voice--we can't recommend it over similarly priced headsets, such as theNokia BH-101.