BlueTooth headsets are a fantastic addition to any SmartPhone. In my opinion the quality of Bluetooth headsets is directly related to the price. I have yet to be thrilled with a budget (under $50) Bluetooth headset -- but that is not to say bargains can’t be found. However, if you value quality, crystal clear audio and reliability, looking at the higher end of the price range is worth the effort.
As you shop for a headset the first thing to consider is fit. A headset has to be comfortable. I personally love the over the ear style exemplified by the Plantronics Voyager series. In fact the Voyager was my most recommended headset, but it is dear, and hard to find for under $100.
I have also been field testing a terrific option to the Voyager, the Motorola Oasis which is available on the street for under $65.
Comparing the Oasis and Plantronics
The Oasis shares the “over the ear” design of the Voyager series. Your earpiece should be comfortable enough that you forget you are wearing it, making it both a fashion faux pas and a great technical addition to your communication toolkit! Get over the looks people are bound to give you --yes, you are a geek; yes, you know you have an earpiece in your ear; no, you are not trying to impress anyone, you are just connected! Comfort is king with both headsets. If you try -- and like -- the “in the ear” design of many of the competitors, good for you. For me, over the ear is the way to go.
One other thing I look for in headsets is easy to use controls. A bluetooth headset is so small that you need to be able to manage it by feel, without taking it off and looking at it. So make sure there are simple, easy to access volume, answer and hold buttons. There is really nothing to choose between the Plantronics and Motorola offerings -- both are simple and elegant.
Dual Mics are another must-have feature. You simply need two microphones on any premium headset -- one for you to talk into, and the other measures background noise and cancels it out (to a level) so if you are walking the dog in a light breeze, you can still carry on a conversation. Both the Voyager Pro and the Oasis have dual mics and I have found the audio quality to be superb.
The similarities stop here, however. Unfortunately the Oasis does not have A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) which allows newer SmartPhones to stream music or other audio to your headset, so you can listen to music, watch videos or stream a podcast to your headset. This is where that extra $30 comes in -- you get A2DP with the Plantronics.
The bottom line is really price and A2DP: if you want to listen to tunes, you need to step up in price and go with the Voyager. If, however, you are using the earpiece for phone and command only, then the Oasis is a pleasant surprise.
Steve Dotto is Canada's most respected geek. For over 15 years, as host and executive producer of Dotto Tech, a nationally syndicated TV show, Steve has entertained and educated millions of Canadians on all aspects of technology. Steve has a passion for understanding the social impact of technology. His DVD Cybersafe with Steve Dotto , teaches parents and caregivers about the opportunities, dangers and challenges of social networking.
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