Tech your head
Now that we've examined the styles of cell phone headsets and comfort levels (or lack thereof), we can take a look at cell phone headset technologies.
The most important technology to come along in cell phones is Bluetooth. Maybe you've heard about it and wonder what all the excitement over Bluetooth is?
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a beautiful thing - mostly because it represents a new habit of high tech firms getting together and agreeing on standards. This practice is indispensable for consumers because all too often we're left stranded with confusing and incompatible choices between products that seem to do the same thing.
Big guns in the industry like Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba all got together on this industry wide standard for wireless connectivity between mobile devices. It's designed to make a world of handheld devices like cell phones, Pocket PCs or other mobile computing apparatus communicate wirelessly to peripheral gear. Bluetooth peripherals can include not only headsets but printers, GPS or anything manufacturers care to make Bluetooth compliant.
New to cell phones and want to make sense of it all? Check our Guide to Cell Phones.
Bluetooth communications occur over a short range 2.4 GHz radio frequency. The trick to getting on board with Bluetooth is that your handheld devices have to be Bluetooth compatible. If you look at the specs of your cell phone you'll usually see "with Bluetooth." This will easily bump up the price a bit but it's getting more and more common.
The most common Bluetooth device is wireless headsets. This is the most welcomed development in headsets since, well. the headset itself. Now you don't need cords running from the phone to your ear; now you can have a device clipped to your ear that communicates with your cell phone wire free.
Bluetooth is a no-brainer if you're going to be talking while doing things with your hands. We can't recommend Bluetooth technology for people that will drive and talk on the phone. It's no safer than talking on the phone without a headset - it just makes it easier for you to be distracted. Studies have shown that headsets do not cut down on the chances of getting into an accident while driving.
Key Headset Features
The most important specification in a Bluetooth headset is its battery life. The battery built into your headset will have talk time that lasts anywhere from 5 hours to 9 hours. Standby time is the other aspect of battery life that measures how long the headset can be in standby when you're not actually talking but ready to accept a call. A short talk and standby time may not seem so bad, but it's difficult to gauge if you haven't had experience with one before.
Consider how much you're likely to use your Bluetooth headset. If you're using it for hours each day, longer battery life becomes more important. Scrimping on battery life means having to recharge more frequently which can be a pain if you'll have to recharge it almost every day with steady use.
Weight and size almost always go hand in hand. The weight and size of your Bluetooth headset is going to be directly proportionate to comfort - look for one as light as your budget will allow. Other important features to look for in a Bluetooth headset includes a volume control button built into the headset as well as a switch to accept and end calls without having to touch the handset. Any controls on the headset should be placed ergonomically and easy to press.
Bluetooth headsets will make your cell phone a true wearable communications machine. But as we mentioned earlier in our guide, you should expect real advances in the near future. Even Star Trek went from flip phone communicators to tiny buttons pinned to your shirt that passed voice communications perfectly. In the future look for something that doesn't connect to your head and can reliably find your voice. But for now, the most transparent communications you'll find are in ear headsets. Some even claim that after a while they forget they're wearing them.