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Bluetooth Headsets Are Put to the Test

Posted December 20, 2007

The first Bluetooth headsets looked like something from Star Trek and had the price tag to match. Today, though, Consumer Reports found that you can get a good headset for a reasonable price.

More and more people are searching for hands-free ways to use their cell phones, and Bluetooth headsets are an increasingly popular product. The headsets are programmed to pick up the signal from the user's cell phone if it is nearby.

Consumer Reports tested 34 models ranging in price from $30 to $200. One major finding was that sizing a Bluetooth headset to an individual is key to getting the best use out of it.

"Be sure to get a headset that fits properly," Paul Reynolds, with Consumer Reports, said. "Poor fit can be uncomfortable, and you may not be able to hear very well."

Most headsets sit on the ear, with a clip or hook holding them in place. Some in this style, though, are bulky and can flop around.

Other headset models have buds, which go in the ear. But if these earbuds do not fit well, they can pop out.

"If you're going to buy an earbud, be sure to get a model that has adapters, so that you can ensure a good fit," Reynolds said.

Be aware that there are trade-offs with smaller headsets. For example, you do not get as much talk time before you run out of power.

Another consideration with any Bluetooth headset is its easy of set-up. The headsets have to be paired with the user's cell phone to begin the wireless communication.

"Pairing can be tricky, but there are headsets that have a dedicated pairing button, which simplifies the process," Reynolds said.

Consumer Reports' top pick was a $35 Jabra BT-500 headset, which has a dedicated pairing button. Tests showed that this headset was very comfortable, with an impressive 8.5 hours of talk time.

Bluetooth headsets are also available in stereo, which people who listen to music on their cell phone might consider a plus.

Stereo equipped headsets, however, are expensive. Before buying, be sure to check your cell phone to make sure it can accommodate one.


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  • ImAmLeJo Dec 22, 2007

    My husband has the Motorola H350 and I have the H500. We like them both. I do wish that I had one that fit INTO my ear instead of just hanging on it. But that's what I get for letting my husband buy it for me. lol ;) But it works well and I like the fact that I can talk on my phone and do other things as well, usuing both hands. So I think it's worth getting.

  • KrackinUp Dec 22, 2007

    I have the Motorola too and have not had any issues with it at all. As someone who doesn't like to carry a phone around (and my cell is my home phone also), this works wonders. I used to have one of those earpieces with buds that attaches to the phone but they hurt my ears, got tangled up with everything, and I lost I don't know how many of them. Eventually, there will come a time I'm sure when you'll have to have an earpiece while driving such as they do up North in some states and I'm glad I already have one ready for that day.

  • GodBless Dec 22, 2007

    morrislogistics...Thanks for the info.

    I use a Motorola H350. It works really well and I sometimes forget I have it on. But there are issues if you have the window rolled down in the car.

  • Yeah I know Dec 22, 2007

    I'll just duct tape a phone to my head before I'll wear one of those things. That has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever seen marketed to people and convinced that they need one.

  • morrislogistics Dec 22, 2007

    some bluetooth pick up alot of background noise the only product I've found that sounds like your on the phone and not bluetooth is the plaintronics 510 it has wind smart technology, and it woeks the best for me. Mabe they can run a test on which performs the best

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Dec 21, 2007

    An important feature that they don't address is how you sound to the person on the other end when you use a bluetooth. A friend of mine uses one and he either sounds very muffled, or very mechanical and often the background noise is extremely loud.

  • TruthBKnown Dec 21, 2007

    I thought the subject line was "Bluetooth HeadACHES Are Put to the Test". I was afraid for a minute that people were getting brain cancer from using these. They make me nervous.