Local News

Consumer Reports Looks At The Best Headsets For Cell Phones

Posted February 21, 2002 2:48 a.m. EST

— Lots of drivers want to be hands-free, so they use cell phone headsets.

Consumer Reports

looked at 13 headsets, costing $15 to $46. Testers evaluated how well they can hear and be heard. They also assessed each headset's ease of use and comfort.

Some headsets go over your head while others fit onto your ear. Smaller ones go right inside your ear.

"A headset that isn't comfortable can be really annoying, but comfort isn't something you can judge by looking at a box," tester Rik Paul said.

Plantronics makes one that is comfortable and has very good voice quality for about $45. For about half the price, another very good headset is one from Radio Shack, which costs $20. It has what is called an ear bud that testers found easy to use and comfortable, and users will hear calls clearly.

A big reason for many people to get headsets is safety, but

Consumer Reports

said if you think headsets make cell phones safer to use while driving, think again.

"We did some limited testing and found what other studies have concluded, that driving performance suffered when someone was having an involved conversation," Paul said. "It doesn't matter whether the driver was holding the cell phone or using it hands-free."

Consumer Reports

said the safest way for drivers to have a cell phone conversation is when the car is parked.

The two top-rated headsets from Plantronics and Radio Shack work with most cell phones, but users may need to buy an adapter if they have an Ericsson or Nokia phone. Adapters cost about $8.

©2002 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All rights reserved.