One of the most essential accessories for your cell phone is a Bluetooth headset — one of those little metal-bug-like things that fits in (and perhaps over) your ear, allowing you to chat without having to hold the phone up to the side of your face, or have a wire dangling between your head and one of your pockets.
Bluetooth headsets are useful for working with your mobile phone, tablet, or notebook computer and they cost anywhere from $15 to $150. Obviously, they’re not the same. So what should you be looking for, feature wise?
Based on having tried/used a dozen or so over the past several years, here’s my advice:
An earpiece that won’t stay on your ear won’t last long. If it’s going to fall off and get lost, it’s a bad investment. You’re moving your head around as you walk, talk, get in and out of your car. If it falls out easily, it could be minutes or miles before you even notice it’s missing.
My current favorite with this in mind are SoundID, which has a clear plastic earloop. I also like the Jawbone, but its earloop can come loose from the headset too easily. I’m partial to earloops, and to earloops that can’t detach, or at least not without some effort.
If you’re going to be wearing this for hours at a time, it’s got to be comfortable enough, even if you wear glasses.
USB Charging Port
This isn’t as much of a problem as it was even a year or two ago, when Jawbone, Plantronics and others had proprietary, and often annoying charging ports. Thankfully, now almost all mobile vendors (other than Apple) have standardized usage of smaller USB ports, so your tech travel kit is likely to include the right cable, and if it doesn’t, you should be able to borrow or buy one easily enough.
Sound Quality at the Other End
How do you sound to whoever you’re talking to? How’s the sound cancellation — can you talk quietly in a crowded coffee shop, or as you walk by a leaf blower? You’ll need a testing-buddy to check this with, and you may want to ask a friend to wear the headset so you can hear what they sound like.
The various vendors tout a range of continually evolving noise cancellation and other audio features. Whether they make a difference — and if they do, enough to override other considerations — only you can decide.
Bluetooth headsets don’t have a lot of controls – basically, on/off, answer/end call, volume, and maybe sensitivity. Some have voice-control. Are the buttons/controls easy for you to reach up and use? Or are you making more mistakes than correct reaches?
For out-of-office use, you’ll probably also want something relatively unobtrusive — small. In the office — or if you don’t care — you may prefer a Bluetooth headset with a boom mike, either short or long, which can pick up your voice better. Similarly, you may look for one that really is a headset, meaning it has some over-the-head loop, rather than just stick-in-and-over-your-ear.
Now all you have to do is not lose the headset when you’re now wearing it…