Bluetooth Headset Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

September 20, 2012

Bluetooth Headset Buying Guide

When you’re juggling a bunch of different things at once, a hands-free Bluetooth headset comes in, well, handy. With a huge selection from Motorola, Plantronics, Jabra, and more, you’ll find the perfect pairing in no time.

Bluetooth is a form of short-range communications technology that allows you to form a wireless connection between compatible devices. With Bluetooth, you don’t have to plug your devices into each other in order to transmit data between them. This means you can play music from your laptop to your Bluetooth headphones and never have to worry about getting tangled up in wires.

Created as an alternative to wired devices, Bluetooth can also simultaneously handle data and voice transmissions, which makes it very useful for hands-free calling. It’s important to note that your devices must be within range of each other in order for Bluetooth to work. The range is typically 10m, but this can vary depending on the device, so be sure to check the instructions for the correct information.

The Benefits of Bluetooth Headsets

Bluetooth headsets make communicating much easier, especially when you need to multi-task. For example, you can talk to your friend about her party on Saturday while using both your hands to search for party themes online. Here are a few more things that you can do with this handy device:

  • Many provinces are making it illegal to use your cell phone while driving, so it can be hard to take a call while you’re on the go. With a Bluetooth speakerphone, you can call your wife to tell her you’re running late for dinner while keeping both your hands firmly on the wheel.
  • Because Bluetooth works as long as your devices are within range (as opposed to in sight) of each other, you have the freedom to use them practically anywhere. Feel free to leave your smartphone in the bedroom and talk to someone on your headset while you make dinner in the kitchen.
  • Typically, you can connect up to seven different devices (this number can vary across devices) to one Bluetooth device. This allows you to conveniently connect your smartphone, MP3 player, and home theatre system to your Bluetooth headphones.
  • Many Bluetooth speakerphones and headsets allow you to do more than make and take calls. You can also listen to your tunes and audio from movies playing on your big screen HDTV.
  • Both your eyes should be on the road when you drive instead of the name flashing on your cell phone screen. There are headsets and speakerphones that announce who’s calling so you can decide to answer or call them back later without looking at your phone.
  • Because it works on radio waves, Bluetooth uses very little power from your devices, making it pretty power efficient.

Bluetooth Headsets vs. Bluetooth Speakerphones

There are many different styles of Bluetooth speakerphones and headsets to choose from and the right decision usually comes down to preference. Read the information below to determine if you’re a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone user, and then use the chart at the end of this guide to determine which type of headset or speakerphone is ideal for you.

Bluetooth Headsets

A Bluetooth headset is made to fit in your ear or over your head, which can ensure that you will hear your conversations as clearly as possible since the sound is going directly into your ear. The microphone is typically placed closer to your mouth, so whoever you’re talking to will hear your every word loud and clear. Many headsets are also designed to be comfortable to wear all day, so you can take a call at a moment’s notice.

Types of Headsets

Monaural (mono) headset Designed with a single earpiece and a microphone that extends towards your mouth. The major benefit of monaural headsets is that these devices free up one of your ears, so you can still listen to and interact with your surroundings.
Stereo headset Has two earpieces that fit in or against your ear. Though the mic sits farther away from your mouth, you can hear your phone conversations better thanks to the stereo sound support. These headsets can also double as headphones you can use to listen to your tunes while relaxing on the couch.

Bluetooth Speakerphones

If you feel uncomfortable having something in your ear or if you only take calls in your car or at the office, then you could consider getting a Bluetooth speakerphone. These hands-free devices typically stay in one spot and broadcast your calls instead of keeping them in your ear, which is what makes them ideal for private areas like your car. Many of these speakers can also be used to play your music and fill the room with sound.

Types of Speakerphones

Car speakerphone These compact speakerphones are designed to fit in your car without taking up much space. Slip one on to your visor or mount it on to your dashboard, so you can hear your conversation wherever you are in the car.
Desk speakerphone This speakerphone is perfect if you prefer to take hands-free calls in a certain room of your home or office. These devices can broadcast your calls just as easily as they can blast your tunes. Wireless desktop speakers can come in all shapes and sizes and many even have a docking port that you can use to charge your device while you’re on a call.

Features to Consider

Fit

Fit pertains to the way headsets are worn. Over-the-ear headsets have a loop that fits securely over the top of your ear, so that the earphone sits on the outside of your ear canal. These are ideal if you plan to keep the headset on your ear all day.

On the other hand, in-ear headsets are designed to rest in your ear canal just like ear plugs, which makes them extremely easy to take off and put back on.

There are also Bluetooth headphones that fit over your head and the earphones rest over both of your ears. This style is ideal for home or office use, since it can be awkward to wear while you’re driving.

Battery life

Talk time refers to how many hours of actual calling and talking time you get on a single battery charge. Standby time is how many hours your headset can last when it’s turned on, but you don’t do anything with it. Both specs are important when determining how solid your device’s battery life is, but if you plan to be on the phone a lot, look for a headset or speakerphone that can handle more talk time per charge.

GPS

Get turn-by-turn navigation whispered right in your ear. Connect your headset to your GPS and you’ll hear every direction as clearly as if someone were sitting in the passenger seat, telling you where to go.

Voice Commands

For a completely hands-free experience, look for a headset or speakerphone that lets you answer calls using voice commands. With just a few words, you can end a call, dial a friend, ignore a call, and more.

Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)

A2DP is a Bluetooth audio profile that allows the wireless transmission of high quality mono or stereo sound, but only on a one-way stream (as opposed to the two-way stream used when making phone calls). This is widely used to stream music from a device to a Bluetooth headset and you can easily switch between blasting your tunes and taking a phone call. Both devices must be A2DP-compatible in order to support stereo music.

Bluetooth Comparisons at a Glance

To help you find the right headset or speakerphone for you, take a look at this chart that compares some of the most popular devices:

 
HEADSET Bluetrek Carbon Plantronics M165 Jabra Easygo BlueAnt Endure Plantronics M155 Jabra Extreme 2 Jawbone Era Shadowbox Bose 2 Right
Talk Time (Hrs) 4.5 7 6 5 5 5.5 5.5 4.5
Standby (Hrs) 120 264 192 100 216 252 240 100
Noise Reduction Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth Version 3 3 3 3 3 2.1 2.1 2.1
A2DP No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
 
SPEAKERPHONE Avantalk SundayPro Plantronics K100 Jabra Drive Rocketfish
RF-QS2-T
Avantree Cara Jabra Journey Jabra Cruiser 2 Jabra Freeway
Talk Time (Hrs) 11 17 20 11 10 20 14 14
Standby (Hrs) 450 360 720 420 640 1080 325 960
Noise Reduction Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bluetooth Version 2.1 2.1 3 2.1 4 3 2 2.1
A2DP No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
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Take the Next Step

A Bluetooth headset or speakerphone frees up your hands, so you can do more while staying connected. Find your perfect match at Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile, where we’ve got the widest selection of Bluetooth devices from Motorola, Plantronics, Jabra, Rocketfish, and more.

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