Hands on: Bose 700 UC
17 December 2020 | 0
I’ve been trying out a few sets of ear buds lately and have generally been impressed by their comfort, sound quality and feature sets. You know, the things we buy them for. Still, there’s no substitute for an indiscrete set of headphones to stick on your head and leave for an entire working day. I’m more used to seeing Bose branding on devices expected for the consumer space, so the 700 UC (for ‘unified communications’) brings forward a picture of a brand using the best of what they’ve got with the best of where they think people will want: hi-fi quality for the home and clarity for conference calls. A leisure device this is not. So has Bose managed to serve up a device worthy of a high-spec home office? Sort of.
Out of the box
Even the packaging is a sign that Bose is aiming the 700 UC at a business audience. No shiny box, no clever unpacking experience. This is a brown box with a lid and instruction guide illustration, designed to be stacked high and rolled out with minimum fuss.
On the inside, things get a bit more familiar. There is a carry case with a neat internal pocket holding a 500cm USB-C and a 100cm 3.5mm-2.5mm cable for wired use.
Also inside is the key to getting the most out of the 700 UC, the USB Link module – more on that later.
On to the headset itself. The unit measures 20.3×16.5×5.1cm and weighs 0.25kg. The headband is made of stainless steel cushioned with a ‘gel-like foam’. There’s more foam coating the earcups protected by a pleather layer.
The ear cups (marked on the interior with a helpful ‘l’ and ‘r’) have an anti-stick coating that’s particularly welcome given the touch-sensitive controls are positioned on the right cup. It would not do to have one ear stained with lunch crumbs while the other remains in pristine condition.
Some digging reveals eight microphones, six used in noise cancellation and two dedicated for voice pickup. Two of the noise cancelling headphones can also be diverted to voice use if neccessary.
The set wears well, forming a comfortable seal around the ears and the top of the head. There was a little slippage during the working day but I give it a pass considering the amount of tech at work compared to my basic Sennheiser cans.
Officially the 700 UC can deliver 14 hours battery life on a 2.5 hour charge. I found this to be about right for all-day music and a few calls thrown in. I wasn’t worried about charge at any stage and the control app gives you a battery status in real time.
Getting the 700 UC up and running is a three-step, three-device process. The set connects to your main device via Bluetooth, preferably through the USB Link. The Link, in turn, connects to your smartphone which requires an app to complete the installation. It is possible to use the headset without the Link but you do miss out on custom features to give you more control over your listening experience.
My set-up was a strange experience. Connection was straightforward over the dongle but the headset would not connect directly to my PC over Bluetooth without the Link plugged in, despite having no such trouble with my iPhone and iPad.
This isn’t the optimal set up so I’m now working with the headset, dongle and smartphone app combination. Be warned, this immediately takes over your PC and phone settings. Switching off the headset does not revert to your available speaker and microphone. You will have go into your sound settings and change them back manually.
The right cup has the Bluetooth/power button, a button for activating your digital personal assistant of choice, and a UCB-C port. On the left there is a button for custom functions like selecting preset noise cancellation levels.
As mentioned, the right cup also has a touch sensitive section. Volume is controlled by swiping up and down. Double-tapping plays and pauses tracks and swiping forwards and back skips through them.
If a call comes in the controls take on a different set of functions. Double-tapping answers the call and a ‘tap and hold’ declines the call.
I found the response fast and accurate with little practice needed to get up to speed.
The 700 UC is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant via their respective iOS and Android apps. My review model recognised Siri as being active on my iPhone, but wasn’t compatible. Merely tap the assistant button and use the wake word as normal. The Link winks purple when this option is selected – a nice touch.
Now for the key part. As you would expect from Bose, the sound is excellent. For both calls and music I found the sound quality crisp, clear and well balanced. The app comes with an EQ menu to adjust treble, middle and bass but I found little use for them. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t get the bass to pound through my skull, which was no bad thing on this occasion. I’m guessing a conscious decision was made to ensure that whatever the setting, voice calling would take priority over the brutality of my metal playlist.
As for the noise cancelling, the effect was stunning. After wearing them for a few hours on a single sitting, I slowly forgot about the ambient noise and was totally surprised on taking them off how effective they had been. There is a ‘conversation’ mode where you can turn off the effect and have a chat without removing the headset. It’s a nice feature but not one I’d pay a premium for. There is no better way to show you are listening to someone than by taking a headset off.
It’s hard to fault the quality here, so I’ll move on.
Should you splash out €450 the Bose 750 UC? If you have a home office, make a lot of calls and enjoy some tunes during the working day, then yes. The headset is comfortable to wear over long periods, has excellent battery life and plenty of optional controls. The touch pad is responsive and the control set easy to learn. If used with the Link and a smartphone you will have little to complain over. If you want to take a more casual approach to your work, don’t take a lot of calls and spend more time using a headset as code for ‘don’t bother me’ you might find better value from a more modest alternative.
One thing’s for certain – you will not be wearing these outside the home. At least, Bose seem to hope you won’t.