Best Bluetooth

January 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
More and more people are using their cell phones hands-free these days. By July 2008, it will be California law. Whether on the job or on the go, it seems that more and more people are wearing Bluetooth headsets these days.

Consumer Reports, teaming up with an international consumer group, just sized up 34 Bluetooth headsets. The headsets cost anywhere from $30 to $200.

Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds says tests show sizing up a Bluetooth headset is key.

Most headsets sit on the ear, with a clip or hook holding them in place. Be sure to get a headset that fits properly. Otherwise you won't be able to hear very well and it can be uncomfortable.

Some are bulky and can flop around. Others are ear buds, which go in your ear. But if they don't fit well, they can pop out.

"If you're going to buy an ear bud, be sure to get a model that has adapters so that you can ensure a good fit," says Reynolds.

But be aware that there are trade-offs with smaller headsets. For instance, you don't get as much talk time before you run out of power.

With any Bluetooth headset, how easy they are to setup is another consideration. They have to be "paired" with your cell phone to begin the wireless communication.

"Pairing can be tricky, but there are headsets that have a dedicated pairing button, which simplifies the process," Reynolds says.

Consumer Reports top-rated the $35 Jabra bt-500 headset, which has a dedicated pairing button. Tests show this Bluetooth headset is very comfortable, with an impressive eight-and-one-half hours of talk time.

Bluetooth headsets are also available in stereo, which you might consider a plus if you listen to music on your cell. But Consumer Reports says they're expensive.

If you're considering one, first check your cell phone to be sure it can accommodate one of these. Just because you have a Bluetooth phone doesn't mean it's stereo Bluetooth.


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