BLUETOOTH HEADSET BUYING GUIDE
Ever since their inception, Bluetooth headsets have been extremely sought-after devices for practically everybody having a mobile phone with Bluetooth functionality. Quite obviously, the number one reason for this demand is that fact that they provide the utmost convenience during calls, as one does not need to keep one hand occupied in holding the phone close to the ear. Also, one can take calls while driving now, which ensures that in case of emergencies, one is never out of reach. The technology has been made available since 1999, and surprisingly, it was named after a 10th century Danish king who loved blueberries!
The way Bluetooth headsets, or for that matter any two devices connected via Bluetooth, is simple – low frequency radio waves in the 2.4 GHz range are used as the line of communication, without the need for wires or cables. Also, the connected devices don’t need to be in the line of sight, much unlike as is the case with infer-red. However, a reasonable amount of proximity is needed for clarity and proper functioning. To be specific, Bluetooth devices do not work if they are not within a distance of 30 feet from one another. Also, the good part is that akin to infra-red, only the initial investment is all it takes to keep on using this technology for as long as one would want.
Pairing with the headset
Connecting Bluetooth devices among themselves is technically known as ‘pairing’ them, with both the devices searching for, identifying and recognizing each other. Once the connection has been made, the user needs to secure it via a Personal Identification Number, also known as PIN. One can connect as many as 7 devices simultaneously, and stream information at the rate of 500 Kbps, or maybe higher. Moving on, choosing the right Bluetooth headset is no t as easy as the technology, unfortunately, since there are so many choices. So, here is a study of all the factors that should influence one’s decision while buying the right Bluetooth headset.
A majority of the Bluetooth headsets available in the market today have the basic functions like the option of answering or rejecting calls, redialing the last number, etc. However, sound quality is something that is not the same in all models, but it is certainly a very essential factor, since that is the whole point of having a Bluetooth headset. Sure, convenience is the USP, but one can’t get much out of a Bluetooth headset of the voice clarity is not there. Unlike earlier days, the last couple of years have seen even smaller Bluetooth headsets matching up to their larger counterparts in terms of voice clarity, despite their tine microphones and speakers.
The multipoint technology is another great feature, as it allows one to connect up to two devices simultaneously. This is the perfect situation if one wants to use one headset with two phones. Full voice command control is another great addition in select Bluetooth headsets of the day, which allows one to program voice commands on the headset. So, if one says ‘call work’, the phone will dial the workplace number. What’s more, this facility can be availed even with phones that don’t have voice dialing. However, a point of consideration while buying a Bluetooth headset is that not all models are compatible with the different kinds of mobile phones. It is true that all of the latest headsets are backwards compatible, so until and unless one is using the basic features, any Bluetooth headset will work. However, for more advanced features, a detailed specification is required. Most of the current mobile phones use Bluetooth version 1.1, with features like call mute, last number redial and voice dialing. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group had launched a version 1.2 in 2003, and a version 2.0 the next year, followed by version 2.1. These offer different kinds of features, with the latest one offering the maximum.
Besides the features, there are also plenty of Bluetooth profiles, whose availability one can check with the headset in question. These profiles are interfaces, using which separate devices can communicate with each other. However, for the arrangement to work, both the devices must support the same profile. Following is a list of the most popular ones:
Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP): Known to many as the stereo Bluetooth headset profile, A2DP facilitates dual channel audio streaming via a stereo headset. It is extremely popular in conjunction with music phones, since one can listen to music without connecting any wires. A switch can be made between music and calls at the touch of a button.
Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP): This profile offers the standard interface to control TVs and advanced audio visual equipment. Using this profile, one can control all the audio visual devices compatible with the same, using a single remote control. AVRCP also defines how to control characteristics of streaming media, like starting, stopping and pausing playback, volume control and other kinds of operations.
Dial-up Networking Profile (DUN): This profile enables access to the internet and similar dial-up services via Bluetooth. One can surf the internet from a laptop by using the internet connection through the mobile phone without connecting any wires.
There are many other profiles that are available in Bluetooth headsets, and one must select according to the requirements.
Bluetooth headsets are categorized into two groups – models with a boom and models without a boom. Basically, a boom is the extended microphone that bends towards the mouth, which results in better voice clarity. However, the downside is that boom headsets are bulkier. The compact headsets are making waves these days, and are the more preferred ones due to their discreet appearance. Also, generally Bluetooth headsets used to come with a loop to keep them in place, but recently, even models without a loop are being increasingly used, as they can fit inside the ear canal.
In the end, it’s all about one’s requirement and comfort. There are plenty of options, and since cost is not exactly a factor in this case, it all depends on personal preferences.