Review: Phiaton BT 100 NC Headset

I always look forward to reviewing the latest headset from Phiaton, a company that is consistently refining its product line. While some of its headset releases take small incremental steps forward, others, like its wireless BT 100 NC ($119) innovate on an entirely new level. But in the case of the BT 100 NC, do these innovations go far enough to justify replacing your existing headset?

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The most striking aspect that sets the BT 100 NC apart from the rest of Phiaton’s product line (and many other manufacturers' headsets for that matter) is the collar design. Rather than house the guts of the Bluetooth radio and control electronics in a separate box, like Phiaton's PS 210 NC headphones, the company chose a more comfortable approach.

One of my criticisms of the PS 210 NC model was the fact that the separate electronics weighed on the connected earphones so much that, in addition to the bulk of the control box, there was little advantage to using them compared to wired headsets. Thankfully this is not the case with the BT 100 NC. The collar not only rests comfortably, but also provides the room necessary for the wire-attached earphones to not be pulled or yanked down when moving. While I initially experienced tugging when swiveling my head, adjusting the slack in the earphone wiring alleviated the problem. Given the lightweight nature of the earphones themselves, it felt at times that I wasn’t wearing any earphones at all.

Another feature that accentuates the BT 100 NC is the NC, or Noise-Cancellation, feature. Like other Phiaton headsets that encompass this technology, the noise cancellation works wonders. I was wearing the headset relaxing in my backyard lounge when my neighbor decided to start cutting his lawn. With a flick of the noise-cancellation switch on the inside left of the collar, the sound of the lawn mower faded to the distant background. Even in quieter situations, the noise-cancellation ability reduced the cooling fan of my air conditioner to almost imperceptible levels. And while I haven’t had the chance to test this feature yet on an airplane, I’m certain that scenario is a perfect use case for noise cancellation as well.

Phiaton BT 100 NC Noise Cancellation

The collar and headset construction is also sealed in a water- and sweat-resistant plastic housing that allows them to be worn in a variety of active and environmental situations (except for swimming and a heavy rainstorm). The headset also allows up to two simultaneous audio-source pairings, allowing you to pair both your iPhone and iPad and hearing the audio from both devices at the same time. So if you’re watching a movie on your iPad and you get a call on your iPhone, you don’t have to do the pairing dance to answer the call on time. And given how noticeably the headset vibrates when a call is being received, there’s no chance of missing a call no matter how low your headset volume may be. And compared to other Bluetooth headsets, placing or receiving a call is just a simple click of the phone button on the left top side of the headset—no fumbling around for the right switch to flip or press. The audio volume toggles and NC switch located on the inside left of the collar are not quite as accessible but they’re easy to get feel for after using the headset for a few days.

Phiaton BT 100 NC Call Button

In addition to the usual Bluetooth pairing, the BT 100 NC also supports NFC pairing for those devices that support it (such as some Android handsets). NFC pairing is by far the easiest method since all that needs to be done is tapping the handset to the right side of the headset. 

Finally, the most important consideration with any headset is audio quality. Once again, Phiaton delivers with crystal clear highs and booming deep bass. I didn’t notice any perceptible difference between wired (using Phiaton’s included microUSB to earphone jack "Everplay-X" cable, handy for those days when you forget to recharge the headset’s battery before heading out for the day, even though a fully charged headset battery offers over 11 hours of audio and around 7 with noise cancellation enabled) and wireless modes.

Phiaton BT 100 NC In Ear

Final Verdict

The BT 100 NC provides an evolutionary step forward in Phiaton’s wireless headset product line. While they have yet to attain the fully contained wireless earphone dream that has been achieved by competitors like Jaybird's BlueBuds X, the BT 100 NC is notably less expensive and packs more features than competing alternatives.

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.