Tag Archives: bluetooth

Hands-free cell-phones

If you live in California, you’ve been slammed over the head with ad after ad reminding you that July 1 starts the new “hands-free cell-phones while driving” law. And if you’re like many Californians, you’re running out to Radio Shack or Best Buy to pick up your Bluetooth headset today, instead of sometime in the last six months since you first heard it was coming.

Will I be joining the mad rush? In a word, no.

I already have more Bluetooth headsets than I could possibly need, and none of them are perfect. You can see three my five headsets below (clockwise from left): the Aliph Jawbone, Plantronics Voyager 510 and the Motorola H700. Not shown are the Apple iPhone headset and Cardo Scala 700.

Three of my five Bluetooth headsets

Each of these has neat features and fatal flaws. The Jawbone has solid audio quality. I was easily heard on the other end while driving on the freeway with my windows down. It didn’t fit my ear very well, though, despite coming with a couple of different ear-hooks and in-ear pieces, and was hard to get on quickly (an important feature if you rather not look like a dork—ok, dorkier—all day). It’s also chunkier in person than I expected. Perhaps the new Jawbone II, which is half as thick, is better.

I like almost everything about the Plantronics Voyager 510: it fits well, I can get it on and off easily, and the sound quality was decent. Unfortunately, more than any other device, when wearing it I feel like I’ve been assimilated. 

The best thing about the H700 is its size. I just couldn’t get the darn thing to stay in place, though: it felt loose on my ear.

I love just about everything about the Apple headset: it’s thin, it fits in my ear well, it syncs with iPhone automatically (well, it’s supposed to; mine failed to do that and needed to be returned), and it doesn’t have a flashing light on it. The bad part: the sound quality was poor and the reception was weak: holding the phone in my left hand instead of my right was enough to lose the connection to the headset. “Up to 33 feet” really hinges on the “up to” part.

Finally, the Cardo Scala. As I wrote about the Scala before:

The best of the (many) Bluetooth headsets I’ve tried. Fits comfortably, is lightweight and, best feature of all, it can switch between two [bluetooth devices] with a button press. It’ll probably continue being my primary headset when I get my iPhone.

It also has a buzzer built in so you can locate it when it’s been misplaced. I’d still be using the Scala today, if it hadn’t broken apart on me. Just split in half, shamelessly exposing its circuit board to the world. I don’t remember sitting on it or anything.

Cardo S-640I may pick up another Scala, I liked it so much (maybe it’s a bit sturdier now). I may also pick up a Cardo S-640, which is not your typical bluetooth headset. It’s a semi-wired headset, with a clip-on microphone wired to an earpiece. It looks more like a lavalier microphone. I like the idea of this because the headset will be easy to get in my ear and the microphone easily clipped to my shirt.

In the mean time though, I’ll be using the headset that came with my iPhone: those white buds with the integrated microphone. It works, it fits, and it doesn’t require recharging.

Oh yeah, and it’s free.