The Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset comprises smart-looking shiny black headphones and a Bluetooth dongle with a standard 3.5mm jack.

As a wireless headphone solution the Philips compares favourably with Creative's CB2530 Wireless Headphones in terms of both price and sound quality. But the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset suffers the same problems as all similar products: it's fiddly to use, requires regular bursts of power and, well, makes you look like the sort of bloke who spent the 90s carrying a mobile phone in a faux-leather holster. And in this age of discreet and stylish audio accessories, the latter point is important.

First the positives. At £49 the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset is well priced. And while your reviewer is no audiophile, he knows what he likes. You simply cannot use the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset without liking the audio quality. Bass booms and treble soars (is this right, ed?) and, most importantly, you can whack the volume up to teeth-melting levels without (a) distorting the sound or (b) waking up the neighbours.

The Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset's ear pads are so large and well cushioned that your lugs will feel like a pampered cat in a James Bond movie. And although the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset's behind-the-head strap isn't adjustable, there are rubber loops which slot over your ears, and these can each be set to small, medium or large. Even if your ears are different sizes, you will be able to listen in comfort (although if you're a pin head, there'll be a lot of strap hanging out behind).

And regardless of your comfort, you won't be able to listen in secret. The Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset is no bigger than it ought to be, but be prepared to announce to the world that you're hooked up to music. Like all Bluetooth wireless headphones, the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset is chunky. And it's not just the headset - the Bluetooth dongle will soon make itself a nuisance in your pocket.

Pairing the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset's dongle and headphones is a simple case of simultaneously pressing a button on each. We experienced relatively few Bluetooth dropouts when sitting at our desk, but things got a little more irritating when we were on the move. (And after extensive testing, we can exclusively reveal that inclining your head this way and that has no affect on Bluetooth connection.)

There are volume and track-search controls on the right ear pad. It takes very little practice to be able to operate your digital audio player remotely through your Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset.

Philips claims that when charged the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset has a music playback time of 'up to 10 hours'. All we can say is that our informal testing suggests that the 'up to' part of that sentence is the important bit. At our desk we resorted to keeping the headphones plugged in to the supplied power adaptor, which negates the point of having wireless headphones in the first place. With a fully charged battery the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset lasts a few hours, but take some wired phones for a long plane journey.

We're happy to report, however, that Philips' Bluetooth-range claim of 10m is, if anything, on the conservative side. We lost count of the number of times your reviewer walked out of the office still enjoying the audio contents of his hard drive.

The Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset feels well built but, given its size and rigidity (and our habit of slinging our iPod into a coat pocket or bag) we're not confident we could use it for any length of time without breaking something.


Excellent sound quality at a decent price, as wireless headphones go the Philips Bluetooth Stereo Headset is a belter. But be aware that, as with all Bluetooth headsets, there are caveats to our recommendation.