Phones'n'headsets: December 2008 Archives
I've been using Bluetooth headsets with my cell phone for about a year and a half (see my TechWeb review of three headsets), and recently tried out a few more (for an article that isn't up yet), and here's my overall thoughts on the matter (confirmed, or even pointed out first to me, by my colleague Ernest Lilley, editor of TechRevu.com):
- Probably the most important feature is using a standard charging port on the headset, i.e., mini- or micro-USB, which is what Jabra does, and also Plantronics on some, rather than something proprietary, which is what the Aleph Jawbone still does.
- Second, IMHO, is how well the dang thing stays in your ear, which in turn means, is there an ear loop, and how securely is it secured to the earpiece.
- Button close to the edge, or whoops, didn't mean to hang up on you. The main button on some is easy to mis-hit, like when I'm adjusting the fit to my ear, and whoops, I've hung up on the call.
- How well can you hear me now? The big problem in selecting a Bluetooth headset is that while the callee may sound fine to you, you can't tell how you sound to them, short of having somebody call you using that headset. (Which Ernest Lilley and I have done many rounds of, often playing "Guess which headset.")
Reason: Without the cable, you've got a very small boat anchor (or ear decor). And these cables are easy to lose, misplace, forget to pack, not have on hand, etc., while you can probably get a mini/micro-USB cable at most drug stores. And it's easy to accumulate enough to provision your carry-bag, car, pocket, etc. And a growing number of pocket chargers come with these cables.
I lost one loopless headset a month or two ago, while doing chores in town. I sort of felt it pop out, but I wasn't paying attention, and by the time I realized it had fallen out, and retraced my steps five or six yards back from my car to the copy/ship store, I couldn't find it. No big deal, I've still got several headsets, but it's annoying.
On the Jabra I use a lot (partly because it has a mini-USB charging port, per above), the ear loop sometimes pops off. The Aleph Jawbone's is very securely connected, but (per above) I'm not using the Jawbone as much as I otherwise might.
Lastly, a general observation: Be quieter. Pretty much every headset I've tried can pick up my talking at a conversational or even sub-conversational level, so quiet that you wouldn't hear me more than two feet away. I even conducted at least one test call from the stacks of my library, in a semi-whisper, and was heard well enough. You don't have to yell. The same goes for when you're not on a headset. So don't. If you have to talk loud when other people are around, go elsewhere or make your call later.