I love Bluetooth headsets! There is just something so comfortable about listening to good music (thanks Pandora), a ballgame (thanks MLB.com) or a good audio book (OK, thanks Audible.com) without the annoyance of a cord that is too short, too long, or just too much in my way! One look at the old GERD’s desk will prove that I have many Bluetooth headsets – I use them all (more or less), and I have discovered what I like the most and the least about them. If you are considering buying a Bluetooth Headset you must consider three things.
(1) Mono or Stereo, (2) Ease of Use, and (3) Cost
(1) Mono or Stereo: Mono headsets, designed almost exclusively for use during cell phone calls, can also be used to listen to music. There are advantages to using a mono headset; you can use them at home or the office and still be aware of what’s going on around you; it’s legal to use them while driving (just please be careful); you can use them while shopping or standing in line at the bank (I love to listen to a baseball game or an audio book while shopping). The sound quality of these mono headsets have improved dramatically over the years.
(2) Ease of Use: The GERD is a patient man, but he has been known to fling an uncooperative piece of technology in the trash. I want my toys to work without taking courses from the Home Office. Also, recharging the headset should be easy – specialized adapters are fine until you lose them (trust me, I have). Give me a standard Mini or Micro USB plug in my Bluetooth headset any day!
(3) Cost: Despite what my daughters may think, the GERD is not a wealthy man (having two daughters is a major contributing factor). I don’t want to have to get a loan to buy a Bluetooth headset. However, you do usually get what you pay for, so expect to plunk down at least $50 for a good product.
Recommendations: As I said before, I have many different Bluetooth headsets. Not everyone can win the Gold, so here are my personal favorites, both mono and stereo.
Best Mono Bluetooth Headset: The Motorola Elite Silver. This headset has superb sound quality for both music and phone calls, it’s easy to use, light as a feather, and won’t kill your wallet. At $129 (Best Buy, $89 at Amazon) it’s not cheap, but the results are worth it. The Elite Silver fits over your ear and has a rotating ear bud that allows you to get just the right fit. Unlike an ear bud, it won’t fall out during use, but I wouldn’t use it while exercising (the book says to keep it away from moisture). It comes with an innovative recharging case that has it’s own battery. I know, I said not to use a specialized power adapter, but the recharging case is small enough to fit in your pocket and uses a micro USB connector. Take it out of the case and rotate the ear bud (left or right, depending on which ear you want to use) to turn it on. Once synced to your phone/tablet/iPod, it reconnects better than any other Bluetooth device I’ve used (actually, it’s a tie with the Best Stereo Headset, read on!). It gives you an audible confirmation of the connection and the battery status. If I didn’t already have one, I’d buy one! The Elite Silver is a superb product that I use everyday.
Best Stereo Headset: The Rocketfish High-Definition (RF-MAB2). Excellent sound, comfortable to wear, great battery life, and a steal at just $59.99. This over the ear/behind the head design uses a mini USB connector to recharge and the battery life is rated at 14 hours by Rocketfish; I’d like to challenge that but I’ve never had the darn thing run out of life (I tend to recharge often, your experience may vary!). Good for music and cell phone calls, I get the most out of mine while running on the treadmill. I hate worrying about battery life while I’m worrying about a heart attack! Volume and Forwards/Backwards buttons along with the Power/Pause/Call answer button that are very easy to locate and use, even while slogging along on the treadmill. My Rocketfish has never let me down. Once synced, it reconnects to my iPhone/iPad everytime.
Honorable Mention: The Plantronics Back Beat. Good sound, decent battery life (~3 hours); it uses ear buds that seems to fit well and in-line sound and pause controls that can be difficult to locate during use. The Back Beat is light, unlike some others I’ve tried, and less likely to shift around during wear. I’ve used them while running; take my advice – don’t. The ear buds need constant attention (falling out). I found it very distracting. I always find reconnecting to my devices harder than it needs to be. A little pricy at $99, but if you like ear buds, this will work for you.
Jaybird Freedom: Good ear bud headset for around $99. The cord goes behind your head (or in front if you want – why would you?) and tends to lie against your neck. This can be a bit uncomfortable. The volume controls are on the right ear bud with the power switch/pause/call button. The Jaybird uses a special power adapter. Lose it (I did!) and you’re sunk. It has decent battery life. In my experience, the ear buds tend to slip out (maybe it’s just my ears, there are several bud types in the package). If you use just one ear, the other ear bud pulls the cord down, pulls the other ear bud out, then you get mad, you start to frown, and everyone thinks you are a bad person!
Next Time: Apple or Android; I’ve Used Both.