Samsung's Bluetooth headsets are often the smallest and sleekest on the market, and the WEP301 is no exception. Unfortunately, there isn't much to like beyond its inconspicuous design. The call quality on the receiving end was weak, and the earplug design is likely to feel intrusive for the user.
The WEP301 is just 1.8 x 0.6 x 0.4 inches and has a classy matte silver body with a black plastic call button on the front. Labeled volume controls are on either side but too narrow for most fingers. The WEP301 is one of the most attractive devices we've seen: the matte silver finish makes it look high-end, and the large Answer/End button on the front surface is easy to reach.
At first glance, we thought the WEP301's tiny size and thin, wire earhooks would make for an insecure fit. In fact, the rubber-lined nub fit snugly inside our ear and the hook wrapped securely around our ear and wasn't distracting. The downside is that the comfortable in-ear fit works like an ear plug; it can block out noise you actually want to hear.
We had no problem pairing the WEP301 with our Samsung Instinct. Like the various Plantronics headsets we've reviewed, including theExplorer 360, you have to hold the button down until the lights flash red and blue. If you don't hold the button down long enough, it will just light up blue, which means it's on but not in pairing mode.
Because the earpiece fits so deep inside the ear canal, it offered us the best listening experience while sitting in a noisy restaurant. But our caller couldn't hear a thing: she said the clattering background noise completely overwhelmed us as we tried to speak to her. The quality didn't improve much when we moved outside; we sounded staticky at best, and the volume was poor. In situations when the background noise is less invasive, the deep earpiece becomes a nuisance. Not only did we have trouble hearing out of that ear, but the sound coming from the headset was much too loud.
Range and Battery Life
The WEP301's range of 30 feet is slightly shorter than the 33-foot range we're used to seeing. Although we could still hear our caller at 30 feet, the connection became garbled at around 12 feet. As for the battery, it has a rated talk time of 5 hours, which is a good three hours shorter than many other budget headsets, including the long-lastingJabra BT3010, which has a rated life of 8 hours and needed infrequent recharging when we tested it.
The WEP301's earplug design is a blessing and a curse. You'll be grateful for it in noisy environments, but in quieter ones, you'll be distracted, ironically, by the fact that you can't hear outside noise.