I don't like Bluetooth earpieces, and I don't like the people who wear them. Sounds kind of like a deranged T-shirt slogan, doesn't it? There's something about the tiny little headsets that's always bothered me. A few years ago, I noticed a strange phenomenon sweeping New York City: suddenly it wasn't just the crazies who were chattering to themselves on the street anymore -- business people were doing it too! And now, with the technology far less exotic and more affordable than it used to be, it seems like almost everyone is walking around talking to the little voices inside of their heads. But even with that kind of widespread acceptance, I still loathe the little buggers. Of course, this opinion of mine was formed without ever having used a Bluetooth headset in my life. Can some firsthand experience change my tune? I tested out a couple of earpieces to find out.
If you're going to test drive a Bluetooth headset, then you might as well get behind the wheel of a Porsche -- and so I got my hands on the recently released Jawbone Prime by Aliph. Read a few reviews of the original Jawbone and you'll soon arrive at the inevitable conclusion that it's, by far, the best Bluetooth headset available. The Prime improves upon the original with a slimmer form factor, redesigned buttons and a serious upgrade to the NoiseAssassin sound-canceling technology. Aliph isn't at all shy about calling it "The Best Headset Ever Created." At $130, it better be. But to be sure, I also tested it against the $40 Plantronics Explorer 230, which was the cheapest headset I could find at RadioShack (and one that the RadioShack employee repeatedly cautioned me against purchasing!). If the Jawbone is a Porsche, then I guess that would make the Plantronics a Saturn, right?
Both units connected to my phone really easily, and both were super simple to work -- press a button to pick up a call; press it again to end it. In terms of fit and comfort, it really depends on your preference. The Plantronics requires an ear loop to stay on, while the Jawbone gives you options for either a loop or for a special earbud that stays lodged in your ear without the need for a loop. The Jawbone also comes with six different earbud sizes that pretty much guarantee a proper fit on anyone. I chose to go with the loop at first, not truly convinced that the special earbud could possibly keep the Jawbone from falling into my coffee. To my surprise, I prefer the fit of the Plantronics one, which is attached to the earpiece on a swivel wheel that lets you easily position the headset for maximum comfort. The Jawbone loop is locked in one position, and that one position didn't happen to fit me very well at all. Eventually, I mustered the courage to go loopless, and once I realized the Jawbone wasn't going to fall out (unless I was unexpectedly tackled), there was no going back -- death to the loop!
But design isn't what's most important. It's sound quality. And, to be honest, I didn't detect any difference at all between the two units when it came to what I was hearing on my end of the conversation. Both were equally capable of injecting my eardrum with voice that sounded crisp and clean. It's the other end of the conversation, though, where the Jawbone's $130 price tag starts to make perfect sense. The name NoiseAssassin isn't just crafty marketing slang: The technology absolutely murders background sound. To test it out, I left two voice messages for myself while sitting in front of my computer speakers with music playing at a fairly loud volume. The message left using the Plantronics headset was junk -- hopelessly inaudible. The Jawbone, on the other hand, removed the music completely, leaving only my voice. It's quite astonishing, actually (see the official demo). I also tested both headsets outdoors where sirens, car horns and wind rendered the Plantronics useless. The Jawbone worked great. In the end, this is what you're paying for. If you plan to use a headset in the silence of your office or car, then go for the Plantronics. If you plan on using it outdoors or in crowded public spaces, then there really is no choice but to spring for the noise-annihilating Jawbone.
OK, so after a week of living with a Bluetooth headset, am I ready to set aside my prejudices and embrace the Nerd Dongle? Well, there are some things I'm surprised to find I like. For one, I didn't miss any calls all week. I've always got my phone set to vibrate and as a result I'm always missing calls (why can't I adjust the vibration level like I can the volume?!). With the earpiece in, I hear an unmistakable little "bleep bloop" with every incoming call. Another thing I like is not having to fumble around in my pockets for my phone every time a call comes in -- though that's only if I'm bold enough to answer a call without first peeping the caller ID. Another advantage: being able to talk on the phone while it's charging over by the outlet. And finally, there's the whole car thing. With a ban on cell phone use while driving in New York (and many other states), I'm forced to ignore calls that come through when I'm on the road. I liked being able to answer them with the earpiece in.
Still, I'm not ready to sign up just yet. I'm not ready to become one of ... those people. I walked around with an earpiece in all week scared to death that I'd run into someone I know. Whenever I was paying for something at a store, I felt like the person behind the counter was wishing bodily harm would befall me. In fact, I noticed a lot of non-Bluetoothers looking at me with a little bit of disdain and, frankly, it made me uncomfortable. I kept wanting to throw it off and say, "No! This is just an experiment. This isn't the real me!" But after playing around with the technology for a while and seeing all of the things it's good for, I've come to the conclusion that it isn't the Bluetooth headset I loathe so much -- it's the behavior of some (not all) of the people who use them. I think we've all been in the presence of that person who rudely carries on two conversations at once: the one they're having with you or with a store clerk in person, and the one they're having with their BFF or dog groomer over the phone. I see that sort of thing and I feel sad for the future of our society. For me, the person who misuses such a good technology in this way shows a lack of respect for their fellow human beings -- as if something much bigger and more important is happening elsewhere. It also shows a lack of engagement in the living, breathing real world right in front of their eyes. After this week, I look forward to using a Bluetooth headset while driving or while working at my desk, but that's as far as I'm willing to take it. For now.
Well i don't think these are the best blue tooth if you haven't try the Oakley's O rokr pro http://oakley.com/pd/5217 i tried everything and since the first pair came i own 3 pairs right now and my other blue tooths headsets are somewhere in my house.
you can take 100% of your phone features includong listening to music and don't forget the appeal and yea your conversations over the phone are stereo, yea so you don't have to cover the other a=ear with your hand to listen clearly. This is the Lamborgini of the blue tooth
It's an unfortunate virtue that this or any headset lets one use a phone while driving. A study done at the University of Utah shows that driving and cell phone use is equivalent to driving legally drunk. While many people do it (drink & drive) without killing themselves or others it's still a pretty poor benefit to potential cost. Listening to music or conversing with someone else in the car is much safer. Or how 'bout this: have some quiet time to actually think about things? Life's too precious to kill yourself or a stranger who hasn't ever pissed you off. Here's a link an article that references the study: www.cellular-news.com/story/18083.php
Peace and all that good stuff.
I think it's rather lame to blame our tech on our lack of focus. In-dash CD players, cassettes, even 8 tracks and navigation systems, seem like they'd be more distracting, because you have to look away from the road to fiddle with them.
Talking is talking, whether on a bluetooth headset or without one, lots of people think it's imperative to LOOK at the person you're talking to, thus making a passenger more of a hazard than a headset, in a lot of cases.
Me, I deliver pizzas for a living, and my focus is always on the street and traffic around me. But I use a phone to call customers if I can't find their places.
I've never, in 13 years of working for Domino's, had a wreck.
It's really about focus. And that is dependent on the person, not the tech in their vicinity.
Yes, talking is talking, but it is the listening that is different between a conversation in person, and focusing your listening attention on the one ear that the earpiece is attached to.
When you talk on the phone you are subconsciously focusing your attention on one ear which takes a bit of concentration beyond just listening with both ears to someone in person. It may not seem like much, but think about it next time you are on the phone, much of your attention is focused on listening to what you are hearing in that one ear. This means that you are not paying as much attention to driving since we only have so much attention to pay at any one time.
Now we just need somebody to do a study on the amount of attention that someone pays to:
2. Driving while talking with someone in the car
3. Driving and talking with one ear to a cell phone earpiece.
4. Talking while not driving
If there is some way to quantify, or measure the amount of attention that a person focuses on a task (some sort of MRI ?) that it will become clear the problems with any multitasking while driving.
just 'pod' works, everyone misspells it.
Sounds like maybe you're an advocate of limiting the freedoms of the majority based on the trouble caused by the minority?
I'd rather people take responsibility for themselves, personally.
great article - I've had nothing but bad luck with headsets having tried about 5 of them - some motorola's some plantronics, jabra's - all kinds. I gave up before the jawbone came out since I refused to take another $100 gamble . My problem was not in ease of use or how I sounded to people on the other end but rather it was the fact that I couldn't really hear anything that great. It seems that the volume on headsets is reduced significantly in order to conserve on battery use. The other thing is that I noticed that at first, the charge lasts a while, almost what its advertised - but given a few months of use - you find yourself charging it a lot more often and you end up carrying all kinds of chargers since everyone has "their" own adapter. I liked the motorola because it uses an USB port for charging which is the same for my phone and my camera - one charger for all - great idea! I don't see why other manufacturers don't follow that trend.
another topic- I think people in public on bluetooths are mostly annoying because of the volume they're speaking in. Funny thing is that I have a client who is a speech therapists and she happens to point that out exactly. We're used to having someone in front of us when we speak and our brains adjust the volume depending on how far that person is. On a headset however, our brains tend to adjust for a long distance since we can't see the person. We then end up raising the volume of our voices - read her page on this - its very interesting. http://www.independenttherapistsnetwork.com/faceit.php
As for the driving and talking - well, I think we need to focus on teaching people to drive period. Whether they're on the phone, eating, putting make-up or doing anything else while driving just ads to an already dangerous situation. People in the U.S. are too comfortable when driving because there are way too many laws to "protect" us. I have motorcycle experience and lots of years of long driving - not to say that I'm a perfect driver but having driven a motorcycle really taught me to be aware of my surroundings and never take anything for granted - whether i'm on the phone or not really has no effect on me personally since I've developed a good habit of attention while driving. Let's not blame the phones for all these accidents - let's blame the people and let's solve the problem by making them better drivers FIRST.
from time to time - its ok to do it.
I also hate BT Headsets. First of all, who must absolutely make a call walking down the street and asking "What are you doing?". Vapid people making vapid calls. I've got a cell phone and I even text people because taht's the only way I have to get to them for something important. That something may be to confirm a date, get directions, you get the idea.
I also don't like to wear my phone in a holster on my belt. What's the sense of having a phone small enough to fit in your pocket and not putting it in your pocket.
Because my phone is in my pocket and because I'm tired of peoples ring tones like the newest Jay Z song, I found a nice piece of kit:
A Blue Tooth bracelet. It vibrates on your wrist when you have a call and has a Caller ID display so you can see if you want to take the call.
Pod, sorry I misread the q
I'm not really an advocate of limiting freedoms, I have just seen some people doing some really stupid things which distract their attentions from driving. (Too bad we couldn't limit stupidity) Drivers reading the newspaper or reading and writing on paper propped on a steering wheel driving down the highway at 75 MPH! Nobody can read, comprehend what they are reading, and watch the road at the same time. But what if it is a 1/4 mile straightaway... If a deer or dog runs out in front of you...How often have you passed by a car that is wandering all over the road, like the driver is drunk, because the driver is talking on the phone.
It takes a lot of attention and concentration to drive well, you have to coordinate your feet, arms, vision and hearing. If you are paying attention to a conversation in your ear, comprehending what the person is saying, formulating a response, etc, you are paying less attention to driving the car- watching the road, avoiding the pedestrians, road hazards... Therefor you are more apt to not be able to respond as quickly in an emergency situation.
Used in moderation, most people can talk and drive. But many people should not engage in intense conversations that use up alot of their concentration while they are driving.
I'll agree with that.
I can't abide laws restricting freedoms though, just make people pay the full consequences of their actions.
I too hate BT Headsets I have a convertible and can never hear a thing with the top down. Also to use your quote "If the Jawbone is a Porsche, then I guess that would make the Plantronics a Saturn, right?" I can honestly say I disagree saying saturn is the cheapest stay away from company. That is a bad analogy. There are far more inferior product lines than the saturn. I can afford both but chose the saturn.
podboq: I don't like restrictions and nanny governments either, but sometimes "paying the full consequences" isn't possible. For example, if someone you loved were killed by an inattentive driver, what type of payment would you accept and say good enough? Jail and financial penalties won't bring back the dead.
If everyone possessed the same level of expert driving skills, muscle reaction times, mental attentiveness, etc., and if we could guarantee that the only person injured or killed in an accident is the one responsible for causing it, then I'm all for getting rid of those laws.
i like bluetooth. thay are giting smalr
I often use it
Why don't you like using Bluetooth? I think it is very useful, especially for mobile phones, Bluetooth is necessary for a feature