LG Tone Infinim HBS-900

Harman-Kardon audio is the big-ticket feature, but retractable earbuds may be the best improvement to LG's wraparound headset

The best part about the LG Tone Infinim (HBS-900) Bluetooth headset (available from ShopAndroid.com, AT&T, and at Amazon) has nothing to do with its top bullet point, the inclusion of Harman-Kardon sound. No, the most important part of this neck-wraparound device is much more simple than wave form algorithms or any other sort of audio jargon. It's not even the slick integration of notifications, so you can hear what folks are pinging you for without having to look at your phone. It's not even the redesigned buttons.

No, it comes down to this: No more loose wires.

That's it. That's all you need to know.

LG Ton Infinim HBS-900

Oh, the Tone Infinim (which on the box is referred to as the Tone+ for some reason) headset sounds just fine. In fact, you could say it sounds pretty great for a Bluetooth device. Because it does. I'm coming from using LG's HBS-730 for the past year or so, and it's a noticeable difference. For sure some of that is due to software tweaks, and even more the passive noise-cancellation thanks to some improved earbuds, which seem to fit just a bit tighter and block more sound than the old 730s. (They also seem to stay in my ears better. LG includes some replacement sizes, of course, so you can get a more custom fit.) Call quality is pretty good as well — we easily accepted calls while jogging, though the Infinim can't really do much about our being out of breath. Music quality is above average — bass response is OK but not great, and highs are clear and distinguished.

And the Tone Infinim fits just fine. It's grown a bit from the 730 I'd been using, losing that cylindrical shape in the process. It's also more rigid. Fact is you're going to notice it more when you're wearing it. And it's entirely possible someone might ask you if you're wearing a shock collar. (Or maybe that's just my kids.) But you get some new features with this redesign. For one, the call and play/pause buttons are much bigger and more ergonomic, depressed into the body instead of living their life as raised buttons. The spring-loaded "jog buttons" are a nice change, though it's still up to you to remember what each direction does while you're wearing the thing.

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900

And it's not even the firmware and software. The Tone Infinim sports AD2P and AVRCP, of course, as well as APTX. And LG's Tone & Talk software works on phones with Android 4.0 and up, so you can get your Facebook and text message notifications (among others) while you're wearing the Infinim. (And we won't blame you a bit if, like us, you start to resent silly Facebook updates interrupting your listening to a podcast, or peppering you while you're jogging. The good news is if you can turn them off as easily as you turned them on.) I've used the Infinim on the LG G3 as well as the Moto X, with nearly the exact same experience. You do lose the "Answer Me+" function, which lets you take a call on the G3 while the headset is connected by merely picking up the phone. But that shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

And it's not about the battery life, which LG rates at up to 17 hours of talk time, 23 days of standby time, and 14 hours of continuous music playback. (I use headsets sparingly and only bother to charge them when needed — which the Infinim is more than happy to inform you about verbally.)

HBS-900 retractable earbudNo, the standout feature of the LG Tone Infinim is this: The earbuds are retractable, with the wires housed in the plastic body. That might not seem like a huge deal, and the magnetic holders on previous models worked just fine. But no wires is always better than tangled wires. You pull the earbuds from the body of the Infinim to use them, then push the button on the inside of either arm to retract. It's totally worth the slight added bulk (if indeed that's the reason for it, and even then it might not be the sole reason).

Let's talk price, though. The Tone Infinim is not cheap, at $150. The good news is that the older HBS-800 and HBS-750 are down to $99 and $59, respectively, and are both good buys.

But is it worth it? Retractable earbuds, folks. Retractable earbuds. And some really good sound.