Thursday, October 18, 2007

State of the Tooth

As most of you know, I am a sucker for a Bluetooth headset. When the latest, greatest stuff comes out I just have to try it. It's a relatively cheap habit. And I've been through a bunch of them. As of right now, I own five different ones, three of which are in my regular rotation now. Here's a short summary of the ones I've had so far, their strengths, weaknesses, and fates (the three current ones will be at the end):

- Jabra BT250: Huge. Great battery life. State-of-the-art at the time I used it (back about 5 years ago). Long since retired - David used to play with it and pretend he had a headset like Daddy.

- Palm Treo wireless headset: Not bad, relatively compact. Good battery life. It had a really annoying light on it. I gave it away to a tech freak at one of my clients.

- Jabra JX-10: Worked better with my Treo than any other headset. Light. A little uncomfortable for some reason, and had very good sound for a device with no DSP. It broke after about a year.

- Plantronics Discovery 645: Very good sound, but was unstable as hell with my old Treo. The battery life was awful. I tried to resurrect it when I got my iPhone and it was more stable, but the battery hadn't aged well and it could only hold up for about two hours' worth of talk. Currently sitting on the back of my desk at home, where it blinks forlornly every day or so.

- Cardo Scala 700: Very good sound, great battery life, cheap, and it worked well with my Treo. But it was also really uncomfortable. I used to keep it in my car as an emergency headset, since it could hold a charge for months at a time.

- LG HBM-730: Nice, but horrible with my old Treo. When I bought Jane an iPhone, I gave it to her and its been a hit so far. Fits her well.

And now the keepers:

- Aliph Jawbone: Great sound. Great battery life. The noise cancellation works as advertised. However, it's not great in outdoor conditions with any breeze at all, getting the right fit is tricky, and it looks like you're wearing a blinking cheese grater on your face when it's on. I use it now when I'm indoors, typically at home. I used to wear it all the time but the Dork Factor was too high.

- BlueAnt Z9: It could be perfect. Really good sound quality, comfortable, and excellent battery life. The noise cancellation is almost as good as Jawbone, but not quite. It's easy to turn off the blinking (hold both volume buttons down for 3 seconds). And, unlike all the other ones I've had, it can be software-upgraded. Why don't I always use it? Because it's prone to interference from other devices. If I use it in a room with a lot of electronics, I'll have nasty noises occasionally getting in the way. I'm hoping that it can be fixed in software. If not, I'll probably have them replace it soon.

- Plantronics Explorer 520: It's dorkier than the Z9, but less so than the Jawbone. Pretty comfortable, very good battery life (I haven't killed it yet), and the sound is impeccable. No, it doesn't cancel out all the background noise, but it does filter it down somewhat. I wish it didn't blink, though. It's my current everyday headset.

Oh yeah - I'm really tired of 8:30 start times for playoff games, too. It's about to turn midnight, and the game's not over yet.

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