GRDE isn't the first name that comes to mind when you think of Windows Phone accessories but the company offers a nice range of gadgets and gizmos that includes everything from cases to reading lights powered by your micro-USB port.
The company also offers a very economical Sport Neckband (official model number being HV-900) that offers hands free access to your Windows Phone. The design is similar to the old LG HBS-700 neckband but at a more budget friendly price. While the design and savings of the GRDE headset is appealing, often the reduction in price translates into a reduction in quality.
We had the opportunity to take the GRDE Sport Neckband out for a test drive recently and found it to be a decent, budget friendly option. There's room for improvement but for a $25.00 BT headset that you can wear at the gym or the office, the headset is worth considering.
The design of the GRDE can be appealing for those looking for something to wear while working out or for those who are looking for an everyday hands free solution but don't want something sticking out of their ear all the time.
The neckband wraps around your neck and has a series of control buttons on the ends of the loop. Earbuds are magnetically held into place at the end of the neckband until you have a call to make/answer or want to listen to music.
Control layout for the GRDE neckband has your playback controls positioned on the right side of the neckband that includes a play/pause and forward/reverse buttons. The left side of the neckband is where you will find volume controls, the power button, the micro-USB charging port and your call button. There is also a led light indicator on the left side to alert you to charging, power and pairing status.
Paring the GRDE HV-900 is simple. To put the headset into pairing mode, press and hold the call button while turning on the power switch. This will make the neckband discoverable by your Windows Phone.
Additional specifications for the GRDE Sport Neckband include Bluetooth 4.0, APTX sound technology, noise reduction, echo cancellation and a projected battery life of 4-6 hours of talk time, 7 hours of play back time and 36 hours of standby time. The GRDE Sport Neckband is packaged with the headset, a USB to micro-USB charging cable, a few rubber earbud tips for sizing purposes and a Quick Start Guide.
The HV-900 has your basic call features that include answering calls, last number redial, voice dialing, call waiting, call reject and microphone mute. Audio playback features are also on the basic side with the ability to play, pause, stop, next/previous songs and fast forward/reverse controls.
So how does all this translate into the real world?
I had one of the earlier models of the LG HBS-700 (which I believe is now the LG Tone) and it was a solid Bluetooth headset. My kids have long since acquired the LG but comparing the GRDE from my memory of the LG, it's not too far off with regards to sound and build quality.
The microphone was on par with other Bluetooth headsets I've used over the years. The noise reduction was good and callers could hear me without issue. Sound quality from the GRDE was also on par with other headsets and I could hear callers without issue. Music playback sounded good but needed a little more bass for my taste.
Build quality was better than you would expect from a $25 Bluetooth headset but still has room for improvement. For starters, the magnets that hold your earbuds in place could stand to be a little stronger. There seemed to be a sweet spot where the magnets connected just right, otherwise the earbuds were prone to falling out of their cradle. I would have liked to have seen the earbuds pop into place with a little more authority.
The other build quality issue is that the cover for the micro-USB port is a little on the flimsy side. While that may not be a big issue, it really needs to have a solid fit to help maintain the sweat-proofness of the headset.
Wearing the GRDE neckband was comfortable. You will need to become familiar with the button layout to avoid craning your neck to eyeball the buttons but after a few minutes, it's easy to blindly tap the volume buttons or call controls.
Battery life was on par with the company's projections and I did not experience any Bluetooth connectivity issues. The device is listed as sweat-proof and while it isn't waterproof (no swimming with it on) the GRDE held up while running on the treadmill and mowing the yard. However, I did find myself checking the micro-USB cover regularly.
If you like the style of these Bluetooth neckbands but don't want to invest a lot into the device, the GRDE Sport Neckband HV-900 is worth considering. The cost is about half of what other neckbands are running and while there is room for improvement, I didn't find anything that was a deal breaker with the GRDE.
The low-profile design gives the GRDE a bit of versatility in that you can wear it to work, at the beach or while working out. You won't have to worry about having your BT earpiece bouncing out of your ear while you run to catch that taxi or drive the lane in a game of basketball.
You can find the GRDE Sport Neckband through Amazon.com for $24.99. The neckband is offered in a variety of colors with the black and white models currently eligible for Amazon Prime.