Saturday, November 6, 2010

Choose a Bluetooth Headset

Bluetooth headsets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with an array of options guaranteed for even the most discerning user. The key to choosing a Bluetooth headset that you'll love is to find one that is comfortable to wear. The earpiece of a Bluetooth headset comes in one of three distinctive styles: headset, over the ear, and ear bud.

The headset style is the least common, as most manufacturers have opted to go minimalist with Bluetooth headset design. However, headset style Bluetooth devices are the best choice for those whose jobs involve being on the phone all day. These headsets are the most secure and comfortable for long-term use.

If you want to use a Bluetooth headset for limited periods of time while driving or walking, look for one that fits over or inside your ear. These Bluetooth headsets are less comfortable for long-term use, but they're far more convenient for casual or occasional use.

As far as microphone design goes, very few Bluetooth headsets use extended boom microphones. Most Bluetooth headsets are short, with a microphone that sits around the middle of the jaw. Advances in technology make these short microphones the perfect combination of reliability and practicality for occasional use. If you spend long periods of time on the phone, you'll be better served with a longer boom microphone.

The other part of comfort is finding a Bluetooth headset that you can easily take on or off, in case you need to answer an unexpected phone call. Make sure your Bluetooth headset connects quickly, so that you won't miss a call if your headset isn't already set up. Make sure it sits comfortably on either ear, and if you wear glasses, check to see if the headset sits comfortably with them.

1. Headset Range and Battery Life - Bluetooth technology is designed to be short-range, so the longest range you'll get on a Bluetooth headset is approximately 30 feet. Many factors can reduce the operational range of a Bluetooth headset, including operating through walls or radio and electrical interference in the 2.4 GHz range. Electronics that may cause interference or reduce effective range include other Bluetooth devices, televisions, microwaves, cordless phones and wireless network routers.

The upside of the short range of Bluetooth headsets is that they require much less battery power than devices with a longer range. Bluetooth headsets typically offer between 2 and 10 hours of talk time or 25 to 250 hours of standby time. If you need more standby or talk time, you'll need a Bluetooth headset with a larger battery-and a larger price tag.

2. What Can Bluetooth Do for You? - The Bluetooth headset you choose should have all the commands you'll need programmed in easy to remember prompts. Popular features to look for include voice tags, redial, three-way calling, call waiting, call pickup and end, call reject and mute. If the commands are present, but worded awkwardly or seem like they might be difficult to remember, look for a different Bluetooth headset. You won't get the full use from your new Bluetooth headset unless it easily does what you need it to do.

Bluetooth headsets come equipped with one of three possible profiles: 1.1, 1.2 or 2.0. Bluetooth profile 1.1 is the initial profile standard, and it includes support for basic hands-free features. Profile 1.2 came out in 2003, adding features to eliminate interference and increase security. If you just need a basic hands-free headset, look for a 1.1- or 1.2-compliant Bluetooth headset.

Bluetooth 2.0 offers support for streaming stereo music through your headset. Profile 2.0 also boasts reduced power consumption and advanced sound quality. If you want a headset with advanced features, such as the ability to listen to MP3s from your phone and easily switch over to calls with a simple command, you need a more expensive Bluetooth Profile 2.0 headset.

3. Sound Quality and Security - Most Bluetooth headsets have comparable sound quality that's great for phone calls, although some music fans have been disappointed by the limited frequency response of Bluetooth stereo.

If you'll be using your Bluetooth headset in a noisy environment on a regular basis, such as on a train or in a call center, look for an advanced headset that includes noise canceling or digital signal processing. These features are overkill for the average consumer, but well worth the money for people who spend all day on the phone in a noisy environment. Keep in mind that the added processing that supports these features results in a shorter battery life, so these Bluetooth headsets must be charged more frequently than their simpler counterparts.

Bluetooth devices are vulnerable to some security exploits, although manufacturers tend to downplay these security risks to your data. Security breaches can take the form of harmless Bluejacking, where other Bluetooth users send messages to your device, to malevolent theft of data where personal data such as contacts or the calendar are stolen from your phone. Manufacturers recommend that you turn off your phone's discover mode to prevent unauthorized Bluetooth access.


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