Hardware

Mobile Phone

Long-term Field Test: 15.12.2015–31.07.2017


Samsung Level Link

Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver

The Samsung Level Link adds Bluetooth 3.0 to any device and can serve either as a transmitter or receiver.
All important coding methods are supported: aptX Low Latency, aptX, Samsung HD, SBC and the rather old AAC.

(I will add photos later)

Purchasing

14.12.2015 10:45: Morning order at amazon.de. Ready to ship immediately, guaranteed delivery tomorrow.
14.12.2015 22:16: Amazon emails me that the goods have been sent (Prime Premium shipping) and will arrive tomorrow.
15.12.2015 14:23: Delivery by DHL to the desired packing station, notification by SMS and email.

Equipment

  • Bluetooth-Dongle Samsung Level Link EO-RG920
  • Stereo headphones Samsung with 3.5 mm jack
  • Quick Start Guide in several languages (English and German, among others)

Tech Specs

(Quick guide does not contain technical data)

Microphone, multifunction button, volume rocker, track skip forward/backward, transmitter/receiver, 3.5 mm jack for headphones or other devices.

Dimensions: 16.8 x 9.2 x 3 cm

Weight: 82 g

Colour: black with silver frame (plastic)

Rechargeable battery:
Talk time: max. 6 h
Standby time: 200 h
Fixed, not exchangeable

Bluetooth radio range: 10 meters (in clear view without walls etc.)

Auto-pairing: Pairing devices easily and quickly without a PIN, but securely

Redialling by pressing the multifunction button twice

Listen to music and make phone calls:If a call comes in while you are listening to music, the music playback is paused and you can answer the call via the multifunction button.
Your voice is transmitted via the microphone built into the top end of the Bluetooth dongle.

Compatibility:
Designed for use with Samsung devices, but also works very well with devices from other manufacturers (Bluetooth standard).
Successfully tested with iPhone 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8, X and Xs. It did not work with some iOS versions (after updating to iOS 12.1.3, it did not work at first – disconnecting and re-pairing helped). But that's up to Apple.

Addendum 10.10.2021: Successfully tested with the Fairphone 3+.
HD audio with AAC. “Grace Jones: Private Live” sounds very good!
Positive: you can (de)select the permissions separately:
HD audio, phone calls, media audio, contact sharing.
Since I definitely do not want to send my phone book to Samsung, which would happen with voice dialling for voice recognition (innocently called “S Voice” by Samsung), I have not switched on contact sharing!

Practice

15.12.2015 21:30: Initial operation of the Samsung Level Link. First read through the Quick Start Guide and miss detailed information.
Samsung refers in this Quick Start Guide to its own website, where the operating instructions are supposedly available. However, I had already visited this website yesterday before ordering and could not find any operating instructions there. I still visit the Samsung website again, but I can't find any operating instructions for the Level Link.
Samsung was better at this years ago when it launched its first clamshell phones in Germany!
Back then, they were the first to simply put manuals openly on the Internet and thus did the best advertising for their products!

10.10.2021 Addendum: I had not yet translated this test report into English, but I have now done so and have also looked again on the Internet for product information – and immediately came across Samsung's multilingual quick start guide, which I was looking for in vain at the time! I have now linked it so that no one has to search for it again …

It's good that you can operate such a simple device without an instruction manual – but I would have liked to read more about battery charging.
I connect the Level Link with the supplied USB charging cable to a USB socket of the notebook to charge the battery. The LED lights up red.
15.12.2015 22:30: The colour of the LED has changed from red to green. So the battery is full. Minutes later, I disconnect the device.
18.12.2015 22:13: Battery charging after battery warning at about 21 hrs while playing music. The LED changes from green to red.
19.12.2015 00:06: I notice that the LED is green again. So I disconnect the USB charging cable from the notebook.
20.12.2015 00:23: Beep and red LED signal low battery. Have been listening to music continuously since 7pm.
20.12.2015 00:25: Plug the device into the notebook via USB charging cable. With the almost two (?) hours after yesterday's charge about seven hours!
20.12.2015 01:55: The LED finally turns green. So a full battery charge takes 1:30 h during continued use.
21.12.2015 01:49: Battery warning and red LED – the battery has lasted a full six hours as promised by the manufacturer.
21.12.2015 18:54: Listening to music again, while I let the battery charge in the Bluetooth adapter.
21.12.2015 09:23: Green LED, battery full, so I disconnect it from the notebook and continue listening to music.
22.12.2015 08:05: I have been listening to music for about an hour; the warning tone and red LED remind me that the battery is full. So I immediately plug the device into the notebook.
22.12.2015 21:35: Today, too, the battery is fully charged after 1:30 h with parallel continued use and shows this by switching the LED to green.
05.06.2017 21:22: While listening to music with the Samsung Level Link, I am surprised by a call for the first time – and can thus assess the sound quality when making a call. On my end, the sound quality is flawless. I ask the caller if the transmission is interference-free – yes, everything is fine.

Battery Performance

Manufacturer's Information

Talk time: max. 6 h
Standby time: 200 h
Fixed battery, not exchangeable

Pros

  • depending on the headphones used, very good sound quality without noticeable discolouration
  • high signal-to-noise ratio
  • long battery life
  • the smartphone can stay in the pocket – To redial, simply press the headset button twice briefly
  • if the smartphone is capable of voice dialling, the corresponding assistant in the smartphone can be woken up and commanded by pressing and holding the multifunction button (play/pause)
  • Caution! Depending on the smartphone, the voice command is executed via the Internet connection and Samsung server and the phone book is sent to Samsung! So better not to use it …
  • Apart from play and pause, jumping back and forth from track to track also works!
  • integrated 3.5 mm jack for free choice of headphones – with your own high-quality headphones, you can achieve real music enjoyment
  • practical clip for attaching the Level Link to clothing

Cons

  • no display, only one Status LED
  • fiddly function switch (RECEIVE | OFF | SEND) makes it hard to switch off to save battery power
  • fixed battery – (also premature) end of battery life means total loss
  • no detailed operating instructions with information on battery treatment enclosed and also not to be found on the Internet

Conclusion

On the first test evening, nothing can be said about the true battery life in practice, but about the sound quality.
This is excellent in combination with the Sony MDR-EX90LP in-ear headphones. I have already listened to some of my favourite CDs as MP3s with the highest quality (encoded with LAME and 320 kbit/s, VBR) and could hardly notice any difference to the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS220 I have been using so far. The latter has an excellent sound quality, but does not yet offer the new, better codecs.

The only negative thing I noticed was the lack of operating instructions and the therefore undocumented status LED.
Of course, one can imagine that a red LED means an empty battery or battery charge, blue signals pairing between devices and green means a fully charged battery. But what about in the event of a fault or are there other statuses?
How long does an empty battery need to be charged? Since the battery is permanently installed, you can only positively influence the life of the device by taking good care of the battery, so it is better never to let it run down and never to fully charge it. This is difficult to control with a single LED, unless the firmware would take this into account and let the LED light up green in good time at 80–90% and warn of an empty battery for the first time at 20% residual charge at the latest. Perhaps this is all in the unpublished operating instructions?

Even without a manual, one immediately recognises that this cute transceiver has buttons for track skip forward/backward, volume control and music pause. This is very practical if you don't want to take your smartphone out of your pocket in adverse weather conditions to operate it via the touchscreen. And what's the point, because voice control is more convenient with modern smartphones.

My Impression after two Months

I am still very satisfied with the sound quality. As long as I don't switch off the adapter, there are no problems.
If you use the annoying triple slide switch and put it in the middle position to switch it off, the next time you switch it on, the adapter wants to pair again and no longer accepts the previous connection!

05.06.2017: In the meantime, I have also used the Level Link for a longer phone call and the sound quality was very good and noise-free in both directions.

Alternatives

  • almost nothing comparable - on the internet you can find many devices for sending to the hi-fi system, but only a few high-quality devices for receiving with a jack socket (!) for headphones
  • if you know of a good alternative, I would be happy to hear from you!

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