Bluetooth headsets are rapidly gaining popularity, and why not? Being able to talk without holding a bulky and hot phone to your ear, not being tangled up in earphone wires and being able to drive without moving one’s eyes off the road are just some of the benefits that Bluetooth headsets provide. Beginning with basic devices meant for taking and receiving calls, headsets today are highly sophisticated, with some buttons which perform varied functions and designs which give the user a wide range of options for talking while being comfortable yet firm on the ear.
Now any Bluetooth headset out there would probably be able to allow you to talk, and listen to music, but you wouldn’t want to waste your money on some poor and uncomfortable piece of junk would you? To save you the time looking up the best headsets in the market, we’ve prepared a review chart.
What is bluetooth ? And what is bluetooth headset ?
Put very simply, bluetooth is a technology which allows for the transfer of data over short distances without use of solid connecting media. Created by Ericcson in 1994, it is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. If you have a device bluetooth, it will most likely mention Bluetooth version something, like 2.1, 3, 4 etc. For using a bluetooth headset fully, it is necessary to have a Bluetooth v2 A2DP device. A2DP stands for Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, and it is used to stream audio from one device to another (in this case the bluetooth headset). Some devices may also require an AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) which allows audio/video equipment to be controlled from one device, and is used with A2DP.
We all know that a headset is something which combines headphones with a microphone. Put the two together and you get a wireless headset which allows for playing of music,and transmission of calls by bluetooth, in addition to some other device-specific functions.
What should you keep in mind when buying a bluetooth headset?
The bluetooth headset that works best for you is one which best suits your needs. That said, there are hundreds of products out there, and likely at least a dozen which at first sight will appear to fit your bill when you begin reviewing them, yet have utterly confusing details, leaving you reading endless reviews or looking up techie stuff. Today, we’re going to make your decision simpler.
- Design – Each person has his/her own preference, based on their head size, hair style and simply what they feel comfortable with. At the same time the buttons and the speakers and microphone have to be so situated that making and receiving calls, is not impeded. Finally, you may purchase your bluetooth headset simply to make calls, or to also listen to music or talk while driving. Here are the three principal types of headsets, and why you should choose them.
- Mono (monoaural) Headsets – Mono headsets are the most common type of bluetooth headsets, which cover only one ear, leaving the other free to listen to people, but also to receive noise freely. Mono headsets are primarily meant for making calls and receiving them, and are usually preferred by professionals who have to make a lot of calls and don’t want their hands burdened with a phone all the time. It doesn’t mean they don’t play music, but what’s the fun of listening to a stereo song on mono? However, if you’re not that much of a music buff, and do not like to have something going over or behind your head, or simply don’t like covering both ears, the mono headset is for you. Typically, they are also more efficient in voice clarity, range, weight, and yes, price.
- Stereo Headsets – Stereo headsets have two speakers, obviously, provide better music than mono headsets. Stereo headsets usually involve two speakers, each with some controls and one or more microphones, connected by a bridge. The bridge ranges from the thin wire-like Plantronics bridges, which basically feel like having a thread behind your neck, to the bridges found in ordinary headsets. The key difference of the bluetooth headsets is that the bridge usually contains the battery, the bluetooth transponder and the USB port for charging. Though heavier than mono headsets, the actual weight varies widely, and can play an important role in deciding your comfort level (see next point). Finally, stereo headsets come in two varieties, those that cover the ear and those that fit into the ear canal.
- Bluetooth headsets for driving – Bluetooth headsets for driving aren’t really another type, but merely ones which cancel out road noise, have facilities allowing for call reception and talking without taking eyes off the road, and a car charger. A mono or stereo headset can easily be a driving headset if properly optimized, but if this is your priority, do ensure you take the best of the above features.
Apart from type of bluetooth headset, it is also important to remember that the ear-pieces, come in different sizes and types. Some ear tips just stay fit, while others ensconce within the ear canal. Still , some others cover the whole ear. A benefit of the third type is excellent noise cancellation since the entire ear is covered, but this type may feel hot and uncomfortable for some.
- Signal range – It is important to remember that you can use the bluetooth device only when you’re within a certain range of the device. Though most devices offer the similar range, make sure you’re device gives at least ten meters of coverage. For those working outdoors, a more powerful headset, with transmission up to 20 metres or higher would be preferable.
- Call and music quality – At the end of the day, the primary concern of the user is usually calling. For professionals and businessmen, this is even more important. As noted above, this can decide your choice of mono or stereo. Whatever you choose, make sure you test the device to see how the call quality is. The best way is to make a call to someone who is out of hearing range, and usually separated by a few physical barriers. Remember that in this aspect the headsets differ a lot, and you will not want something that breaks off conversation midway.The testing should also tell you how the sound quality is, since too thin or weak a sound is not preferable. The best headsets in fact give a deep bass, and crystal clear sound, both in calls and music. Finally, inquire the recipient of your call how he/she finds the call and sound quality.
- Battery – Bluetooth headsets have to be regularly charged, usually through a small microUSB port somewhere in the bridge. Some of the newer headsets have an indicator which shows up beside the phone battery icon when using Android or iPhone, telling you how much battery is left. Typically a bluetooth headset provides 5 hours of service on full charge and 10-12 hours standby. Unfortunately, the only way to verify this particular aspect is by experiment, and reviews can only partially guide you here.
- Choose the device that suits your lifestyle and needs.
- Decide if the buttons and the ear pieces are comfortable and easy to use.
- Check the signal strength, call quality and sound.
- Check the battery .
Our choice of 5 best bluetooth headsets
1. Aliph Jawbone Era
Not the most artistic,the Jawbone Era’s USP is it’s unassailable transmission quality and audio clarity, with there being little distortion, break or distortion up to a distance of fifteen meters. With few but strategically placed buttons and a comfortable design, the Era makes it a pleasure to talk all day, every day.
If that’s not enough, it has a dedicated processor that can run real apps and accelerometer that can transform it into a pedometer, gaming device and much else. For all these reasons, the Jawbone Era claims pride of place in our review of the best mono bluetooth headset. (read the full review)
2. Plantronics Backbeat Go
With a simple design that involves a thin wire that hangs behind your neck connecting the two earpieces, the Plantronics Backbeat Go, is the go to device when you want comfort along with good call quality, great stereo performance and decent transmission range.
All in all, the Plantronics Backbeat Go wins the bluetooth stereo headsets review. (read full review)
3. Samsung HM1700
With automatic and dual pairing, superior noise cancellation and comfortable fit, the HM1700 fits great features into an enviable price tag. The transmission is decent, while the battery lasts for a long time. For those looking for the best features in a bluetooth headset with an economical price tag, ( $31.99, Amazon), the HM1700 is your best bet (read full review)
4. VX1 Roadwarrior B250xt
With its excellent noise cancellation and efficient design, the Roadwarrior B250xt ensures you can talk while driving on those endless state highways, without discomfort or having to take your eyes off the road.
Coupled with its over-the-ear design which means it doesn’t slip off ,the Roadwarrior is the best for truckers, or anyone needing to talk while driving, thus becoming our best bluetooth headset for driving. (read full review)
5. Jawbone ICON HD + The Nerd
While providing the awesome transmission and good call quality that one expects from Jawbone, the Icon HD comes with a small USB drive called the Nerd. With the Nerd, any device with a bluetooth port becomes a transmitter to your headset, no drivers needed.
The Icon HD thus gives you greater bluetooth choices. It also runs real apps, and they are steadily becoming more sophisticated to include voice recognition, auto dialup, etc. With such innovative features, the Icon HD + the Nerd makes it to our top five as the most innovative bluetooth headset. (read full review)
The devices reviewed here and the guide is just to tell you how to choose your headset, and what to expect from it. Each of the headsets reviewed is good for certain types of lifestyle, while others may find them unusable. For instance, the Jawbone Era is easily the best mono bluetooth headset, but its price will make a music enthusiast wonder if it’s worth the price. Thus, once you have read the guide, you can choose the headset that best suits your needs.