The evolution of headsets has come a long way in a rather short period of time. From the days of the bulky half-moon, over-the-head, wired connections to the space-age look of in-ear and over-the-ear hands-free styles, Bluetooth wireless communication devices are now an integral part of using a mobile phone.
If you are choosing a hands-free device for your cell phone, especially as some states are requiring drivers to use them, there are some things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Types of Hands-Free Devices
There are two types of headsets: in-ear and over-the-ear. Both of these devices use Bluetooth technology to transmit signals wirelessly between the earphone and your cell phone and have comparable price points. An in-ear or ear bud hands-free device works by transmitting your voice through vibrations picked up inside your ear. This type of device can make it look like you’re talking to yourself.
Over-the-ear headsets are the most common types and are beginning to become the headset of choice with both consumers and the companies that make them. This type of headset comes in two styles: a flex grip that clips to the earlobe, and a cradle that wraps around the top of the ear.
Whatever type of device you choose, take into account the amount of time you will be using it, as they can all become uncomfortable after an hour of continuous use. If you’re a first-time user, it will be nearly impossible to test the different types, so the best thing to do is ask around and see what people prefer.
We can thank technology companies for working together and creating a standard technology that makes everyone’s life a little easier when it comes to electronics. If you own a cell phone that was made within the past two years, it’s most likely equipped with Bluetooth, a short-range 2.4GHz chip that transmits radio frequencies between compatible devices. If your mobile phone does not have Bluetooth, you will not be able to use a headset with a wireless connection.
Pairing your Bluetooth-compatible headset with your mobile phone requires just a few simple steps. Many Bluetooth-compatible earpieces will pair with any Bluetooth-compatible phone; however, you may want to make sure your phone model is listed somewhere on the box.
All wireless hands-free devices have a battery and require charging. Make sure when you purchase your hands-free device you get one that has a range of at least five to nine hours of talk time. Also, if you think you will use your headset more than having your ear to the phone, you may want to consider one with fewer features and one that promotes an extended battery life.
The Joby Zivio Boom Bluetooth headset has a talk time of 10 hours as well as a slew of other features and retails for $129. If that’s a little out of your range, try the Plantronics Voyager 520 Bluetooth headset. This device is a little older but has a talk time of eight hours and has many of the new standard features you would expect in a hands-free device. You can find this device in online stores for as low as $55.
Advancements in sound and noise-canceling technologies are making earpieces an easier transition to wireless. Many of the upper-tier headsets offer noise-canceling capabilities, such as the Jawbone, available for $129. These are supposed to eliminate up to 10 times more noise than the closest competitor because they have technology that separates speech from ambient noise.
Although many headsets offer pretty clear sound quality and clarity, the higher-end devices are going to be your best bet when it comes to canceling ambient noise. Unless you sit in a quiet office, you may want to consider a device that avoids the wind-tunnel effects that happen with many of the cheaper devices. Remember, just because you can hear your callers doesn’t mean they can hear you as clearly.