What we have here today isn't just another pair of ordinary headphones: Sony Ericsson's MH907s are button-free, minimalistic headphones that activate upon the magical touch of your skin. Well, your ears to be precise. You must bear in mind that the MH907s are exclusive to Fast Port-equipped Sony Ericsson phones thus excluding the forthcoming XPERIA X10 -- so chances are you're already not interested. That said, we shall see if Sony Ericsson is really going to change things forever with these gleaming buds featuring SE's SensMe Control technology, or by just stopping everyone from using their 3.5mm headphone jacks. Read on to find out how these €39 ($57) headphones fared.
Ears-on with Sony Ericsson MH907 Motion Activated Headphones
First off we tried controlling music playback: we put in both earbuds and music started playing automagically, and similarly we took either side out to stop the music, which worked most of the time. We then tried some phone calls: to pick up an incoming call we just took out one earbud and put it back in, and to hang up we just yanked one out. This all seems very straight-forward but SensMe Control is a double-edged sword: there were times when we managed to accidentally pick up a call or resume music playback by just touching the rubber caps, and likewise you can hang up by mistake if one earbud comes loose. Even if you master the art of avoiding this contact problem, you'll still be annoyed by frequent interruptions if your ears need the occasional itching -- although you might get used to things over time.
Unfortunately, Sony Ericsson is being very tight-lipped about its secret sauce so we had to do our own digging into what actually triggers the playback. Initially we assumed it was skin contact on both shiny pads on each bud, but soon we realized the actual culprit was the canal extension -- the part covered by the removable rubber cap. What we have here is effectively a capacitive touch switch: the canal extension acts as a lone electrode insulated by the rubber cap, and when in contact with the human skin its capacitance is increased, thus activating the switch. Fascinating, even though this isn't new technology.
In terms of sound quality these are pretty good: plenty of bass and good clarity in the treble region. Compared to a pair of Apple in-ears -- which cost about twice as much -- the MH907s definitely give a better buck-per-performance ratio. R&B listeners who aren't picky about the minute details would love the stronger bass on it.
We like the MH907s. We really do. Too bad Sony Ericsson's managed to go backwards with the Fast Port -- something that its future flagship phone doesn't even have! Perhaps this is a cunning way of keeping current users interested for a few more months, and we sure won't stop them. In fact, we'd encourage all Sony Ericsson musicphone owners to check out the MH907s, while the rest of us continue to dream of the day when all phone accessories work on one port.