Sleek in appearance, the headset measures 2.5 by 0.9 by 0.7 inches and weighs 0.6 ounces. While most other headsets employ over-the-ear hooks, the Nokia HS-11W uses a unique two-pronged system that fits around the back of the ear. Compared to other headsets that we've tested, the HS-11W is extremely snug yet comfortable. We even tested it while riding a bike, and not once did we feel that the headset was going to slip off.
While we were pleased with the way that the device fit, we were less than pleased with its audio performance. On our end, conversations were loud and clear, but callers complained that we sounded hollow. One caller even requested that we turn it off and use the phone in its normal mode. Another catch-22 with the HS-11W is that because it's so snug, we were inclined to use it while walking or even riding a bike, but the device's poor audio quality on the callers' end makes it nearly unusable in these environments.
Criticisms aside, the HS-11W's tactile buttons are easy to use by feel. There's a volume rocker; a power button that also mutes or unmutes calls; and a call/end button that can be used for voice dialing, redialing, and switching between calls. Additionally, an LED above the call/end button keeps you updated on the headset's status. Similar to the Treo 650 headset, the Nokia HS-11W takes the same charger system as the Nokia 7610 mobile that we used for testing. The advantage: while traveling, that's one fewer power adapter to bring along.
As mentioned above, we had no problems pairing the headset with the Nokia 7610, and the device never lost its connection. But after we put the headset on, the fun pretty much stopped. While volume was plenty loud and clear on our side, callers reported that we sounded distant and hollow. We also paired the device with the BlackBerry 7290. The headset has a promised talk time of 6 hours and a rated battery life of 6.6 days. We managed 4 days of standby time in our test.