As the number of Bluetooth cell phones has increased, the number of headsets has grown even faster. With such a variety of these headsets, you may have a bewildering time finding the correct model for you and your cell phone.
Here are some tips on what Bluetooth Headset you should be looking for when you're out shopping for one.
Bluetooth headsets vary enormously in price. Some can be found for $30 or less, while others cost $300 and more. Careful shopping, using the information in this article, can save you from an expensive mistake.
Design Challenges in Creating Bluetooth Headsets
Creating a good Bluetooth headset is surprisingly difficult. Regular wired headsets are very easy to design - with styles ranging from an absolutely minimal earbud speaker and shirtclip/microphone, up to a major dual earcup, over the head, set of headphones and angle-boom microphone. Light weight versions are so light that having them securely mounted to/on your ear is no problem, and heavy duty headsets include secure mounting as part of their structure.
A Bluetooth headset can never be as small or light as small wired headsets, because it needs to include a battery and extra electronics. This extra size and weight impacts on how the headset can be mounted on/around your ear.
All Bluetooth headsets to date have concentrated on offering as small as possible single piece designs. The idea of having a headband has never been implemented, and neither has the idea of having a separate microphone joined by wire to the headset.
There seem to be two main styles of Bluetooth headsets. Some are held in place by a loop around the ear - there are generally more comfortable, but may be less secure. Others are held in place by being physically jammed into your ear. These are generally less comfortable but may sometimes be more secure.
This is much less an issue now than it was a year and more ago. You should check that any headset you buy has these two compatibility features:
(a) It complies with the Bluetooth 1.1 (or greater - 1.2 is now becoming widespread and 2.0 is on the way) specification
(b) It offers both headset and hands-free profiles
As long as the headset observes these two requirements, and assuming your phone also has Bluetooth 1.1 or greater, and either of the two profile sets, then you should have no compatibility problems.
The good news is that with Bluetooth you don't have to worry about matching headsets to phones. With regular wired headsets, you need to be certain that they have the correct type of plug for the phone you use, with many different types of plugs being used by the different phone manufacturers.
Realworld Use Implications
A key factor to decide is whether you want to wear your headset any time you think that you might be about to receive a call, or if you'll choose to only put your headset on when actually placing or receiving a call.
This creates some key usability issues: Will you keep your headset in a pocket or purse or perhaps on a cord around your neck? Is the headset suitable for keeping casually in a pocket? Does it have a loop to affix a neck strap? Is it easy to place on your ear, and is it quick to turn on?
In theory, all Bluetooth Class 2 devices are designed to have a range of 10 meters - about 33 ft. However, this range can vary.
If there is a direct unobstructed view between your headset and your phone, then you'll probably get this range, and perhaps even more.
But if your phone is on the opposite side of your head to your headset, and if it is in another room with a wall between you and it, you'll find the range drops considerably.
You should 'calibrate' the range of your phone and headset so that you know how far away from the phone you can go and still have a reliable connection. You'd do this calibration simply by testing the phone/headset combination in various common places - for example, leaving the phone on your desk at work and seeing how far away you can go while still keeping the connection open, and perhaps repeating this exercise at home, with the phone wherever you normally keep it and you walking around the rest of your house.
Factors to Consider in Comparing Headsets
- An obvious issue
We've seen little to confirm that more expensive headsets are consistently better than cheaper ones!
- Is it easy to quickly and conveniently put the headset on your ear, and to take it off again
- Is it easy to use the control buttons on the headset
- Is it comfortable to wear for a long phone call
- Can you use it with a pair of glasses
- Can it be worn on either ear
- How would you carry it when not wearing it
- How heavy is it
- Might it fall off
Ease of Use
- Are commands/controls easy to remember (eg transferring calls between headset and phone, last number redial, voice tag dialing, etc)
- Can you adjust the volume level
- How quickly does the unit turn on
- Does it have a well written easy to understand manual
- Is there a support number you can call for extra help if needed
- Does it have its pairing password printed on it, so if you have to re-pair the device, you don't have to hunt for its manual to find its password?
- What is the headset's claimed battery life for talk time and standby time
- How do you know when the battery is nearly dead
- Does it have a lithium type battery (best) or some other type
- Is the battery replaceable
- How is the battery charged and how long does it take to charge
- How do you know when the battery is fully charged
- Is the charging transformer multi-voltage for international travel and what is its weight/size
- Can the headset also be charged via a USB cable or car adapter or some other way not requiring yet another transformer to add to your collection
- How many devices can the unit be paired with
- Does it have both headset and hands-free protocols
- Is it compatible with Bluetooth 1.1 or later standards
- What is its warranty period
- Does it have a free return period as well
- Does it have any noise cancelling or digital signal processing in its microphone and sound circuits
- What is the sound quality it offers for sending and receiving audio
- What range does it typically have
Capabilities - can it support these commands hands-free
- Voice tags
- Last number redial
- Transfer call to phone or from phone
- 3 way calling
- Link to how many phones
- Call answer/end
- Call reject
- Does it look attractive
- Is it too big or too small
Using Bluetooth headsets with non-Bluetooth phones
It is possible to get a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into your regular non-Bluetooth phone. The adapter links with your headset as if it were a Bluetooth phone, and then links with your phone as if it were a regular headset.
Some Bluetooth headsets include these adapters. A better and simpler choice, if at all possible, is to simply replace your present phone with a new Bluetooth equipped phone.
Bluetooth headsets can offer a great deal of convenience and flexibility, albeit with at a sometimes hefty cost.
A good Bluetooth headset is easy to understand, setup, and use. It makes your life simpler and easier. A bad Bluetooth headset is the opposite and is something to be avoided.
Here is a list of some of the bluetooth compatible Cell phones:
Audiovox SMT 5600
Blackberry 7100T, Blackberry 7250, Blackberry 7290, Blackberry 7520, Blackberry 7780
i-mate JAM Pocket PC, i-mate PDA2k Pocket PC, i-mate Smartphone SP3, i-mate Smartphone SP3i, i-mate™ Pocket PC, i-mate™ Smartphone2, Qtek 8080 Smartphone
Motorola A1000, Motorola A630, Motorola A760, Motorola A768i, Motorola E1000, Motorola E398, Motorola E398 Blue, Motorola E398 White, Motorola MPX, Motorola MPX220, Motorola Razr V3, Motorola Razr V3 Black Special Edition, Motorola Razr V3 Limited Edition, Motorola V3 Razor, Motorola V505, Motorola V525, Motorola V551, Motorola v600, Motorola v620, Motorola V80
Nokia 3230, Nokia 3600, Nokia 3620, Nokia 3650, Nokia 3660, Nokia 6230, Nokia 6230 Pearl White, Nokia 6230 Silver, Nokia 6230B. Nokia 6260, Nokia 6260 Black, Nokia 6260 Silver Sand, Nokia 6310i, Nokia 6600 , Nokia 6620, Nokia 6630, Nokia 6670, Nokia 6670 Blue, Nokia 6680, Nokia 7280, Nokia 7610, Nokia 7610 Black/Brown, Nokia 7610 Black/Red, Nokia 7610 Silver/Grey, Nokia 9300, Nokia 9500, Nokia N-Gage QD
PalmOne Treo 650
Panasonic X70, Panasonic X700
Sharp GX32, Sharp TM200
Siemens S55, Siemens S56, Siemens S65, Siemens SK65, Siemens SX1, Siemens SX66 Pocket PC,
Ericsson R520m, Ericsson T39m, Ericsson T68, Ericsson T68i, Sony Ericsson K700i, Sony Ericsson P800, Sony Ericsson P900, Sony Ericsson P910, Sony Ericsson P910a, Sony Ericsson T610, Sony Ericsson T616, Sony Ericsson T630, Sony Ericsson T637, Sony Ericsson T637, Sony Ericsson T68i, Sony Ericsson Z600.