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The Gadget Guy Reviews, Proclaims the Best Bluetooth Headset

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Bluetooth model guyHere’s a look at four new Bluetooth headsets that promise better performance than their predecessors. Of course, we’ve been hearing that for years, so are these really better and worth buying?

I tried them under a wide range of conditions: in my car with the air conditioner and radio on; outdoors in the breeze; and in noisy airports. I called friends and left messages on my answering machine to listen to how I sounded.

And at one point there was even a coffee grinder involved.

BLUEANT Q1

The Q1 is a small convex-shaped headset with a metallic finish and a large circular button on the front, and up/down volume buttons on one edge. Comfort was excellent for all-day wear. The voice quality most of the time was very good; occasionally my words were clipped a tiny bit.

BlueAnt Q1On a breezy day and in my car with the air conditioner and radio on, I was easy to understand. In nearly all situations I was able to hear those speaking to me clearly, and their voices were rich sounding. It also worked well outdoors in a slight breeze.

What’s special is the control which made it the easiest of any headset to use. I could speed dial by pushing the large button and say “call speed dial 1.” It confirmed my command and then dialed. Its voice capability is a real advantage over other headsets that rely on pressing tiny buttons for various lengths of time and in different combinations.

The Q1’s multipoint feature links it with two phones at once. So, for example, you can hook up the Q1 to both your cell phone and business phone and answer either one with the headset. Or it can connect to a phone and a computer to use it as a Skype headset. www.myblueant.com

Verdict: Best small headset yet

Sound ID 300SOUND ID 300

This headset was the most difficult to use of the three. The Sound ID 300 is similar in size to the Q1. It has two tiny buttons along the edge. Volume and clarity were good on my end, but others often complained that my words were severely clipped, static-ridden or partially dropped.

The headset was comfortable to wear, but the plastic ear loop was not adjustable. Accessing its features requires holding down multiple tiny buttons on adjacent edges, and the LED indicator was nearly impossible to see outdoors. www.soundid.com

Verdict: Nothing special; you can do better

Get more info on helpful travel gadgets with these articles:

PLANTRONICS VOYAGER PRO

Plantronics Voyager ProThis latest headset from Plantronics trades the discreetness of the others for performance and battery life without sacrificing comfort. The battery and controls sit behind the ear counter-balanced by the boom microphone that stretched halfway to your mouth. It’s quite comfortable and feels more secure and less likely to fall off while running through an airport. Small buttons on the housing and on the boom control volume, power and other functions.

Performance is excellent on both outgoing and incoming conversations. Sound is rich and natural, and some I spoke with were surprised to learn I was using a headset. Its ability to work in a light breeze was excellent—better than anything I’ve tried. The Pro also has multipoint technology to use with two phones.

The large battery provides almost two days of use versus barely one day from most smaller headsets. It’s ruggedly built, and the company emphasizes it can be carried in a pocket without getting damaged. One useful feature is a voice prompt when your battery is low.  www.plantronics.com

Verdict: Best overall performance

JAWBONE PRIME

Jawbone PrimeThe just-released Prime replaces the Jawbone 2. While it looks nearly identical to its predecessor, it’s significantly better in performance. Sound quality at my end was fuller and less trebly. Its background noise reduction, the second generation of its “NoiseAssassin” technology, is much more effective, and it works in very breezy areas.

With the car’s air conditioner on high and the radio blasting, I was easily understood. Even standing next to a running coffee grinder I could be heard. Those I spoke with thought the performance was the best of the group.

For Jawbone’s noise reduction to work it needs to be up against your face to detect your jaw movement. With earlier models, if the headset wasn’t positioned properly, chances are you could leave a message that no one could understand. The new model features a backup system that proved quite effective. In addition, a new eartip design improves contact against the face. The Prime comes with a multitude of eartips and earhooks, a USB charger, and a non-standard connecting cord.

Verdict: Great performance and the best of the small headsets in adverse conditions, but not for ease of use. For now, expect it to sell close to its list price of $130.

Recommendations:

The BlueAnt and Plantronics Pro are excellent performers, but the new Jawbone Prime betters the BlueAnt when used in noisy environments. The BlueAnt and Jawbone are more discreet; the former gives you great ease of use while the latter works better under adverse conditions. The Plantronics offers top performance and long battery life, a necessity for business travelers. The Sound ID 300 fails to match the performance of the others and is not a good value at the highest list price of the three.

Don’t lose that headset!

If you’re concerned about losing or misplacing one of these expensive Bluetooth headsets, check out the BlueClip retractable leash. The reel, with a thin retractable cord, clips onto a purse, pocket, belt or a shirt collar.  When not using the headset, the cord reels it in. From $15. nectaraccessories.com.


By Phil Baker for PeterGreenberg.com.  You can read Phil’s blog at blog.philipgbaker.com, and check out his new book, From Concept to Consumer: How to Turn Ideas into Money.

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