Thinking About a New Bluetooth Headset?

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Ok, so I claim that I am not much of a “techie,” and compared to many of my friends in Austin, (which feels like the tech capital of the world!) I’m not much of one. But I admit to taking advantage of cool tools, gadgets, and apps that make my life easier (for more on this, read this post and this post). One gadget I’ve found it difficult to live without is a Bluetooth headset.

Last year I decided I needed a wireless headset for my iPhone, since I often do other things while on the phone such as empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry, make coffee, etc. (I also drive while talking on the phone more often than I should. This is NOT safe and I am trying to wean myself from this habit).

So I went on CNET to check out their reviews and at the time, one of their favorites was the Jawbone by Aliph. It claimed to use military technology called “Noise Assasin” to eliminate background noise, including wind. One or two others were similarly rated, but the Jawbone came in pink so this was a no-brainer decision for me. 😉

I used it for just about a year and while I could always hear people on it just fine, I got many complaints that people could not hear me. I tried adjusting the size of the earpiece but the complaints continued. Sometimes I had to abandon the headset and take the call directly on the iPhone. Another problem for me was that it didn’t come with a case, and would always turn itself on in my purse, thus draining the battery and it was often dead or dying when I needed it. Since I paid over $100 for the Jawbone, I did not care to spend yet more money (about $9.99 on Amazon) for a case. I found an old snap-shut jewelry box that was about the right size for a thrifty solution to that problem.

Last week, I lost my Jawbone, jewelry box and all. I looked for about a week, all over my home, office, and locations I frequent, but it did not turn up. I found it frustrating to be without one so I bit the bullet and decided to purchase another. So back to CNET to find that Jawbone had a newer version than the one I bought last year, and CNET still gave it a high rating. But another headset with exactly the same rating was the Plantronics 975. Since I wasn’t completely satisfied with the Jawbone the first time around (even though it now comes in purple!) I decided to give the Plantronics a shot.

I was hoping that the prices of high-quality bluetooth headsets would have come down, but the Plantronics was even more than the Jawbone at $129.99 (BestBuy). However, I knew that BestBuy did offer price protection so while I was in the store, I fired up Safari on my iPhone and did a little price comparison. Amazon had the Plantronics for $107 and my helpful BestBuy representative agreed to match the price. This made the price for the Plantronics headset competitive with the Jawbone (note: yesterday I saw a Jawbone in Costco for $69.99, but I’m unsure if this was the newest model. I think they make it hard to tell on purpose). But here’s what I think makes the Plantronics a better deal: it comes with not only it’s own case (solving the turn-on problem in my purse) but it’s a charging case! When the case it fully charged, it can provide the headset with two complete charges before it needs to be recharged. Also there is a small LCD screen on the charging case telling you the charge status of both the headset and the case. And it even has a handy-dandy hook for attaching the case to a strap or your purse or clothing.

All of those things give the Plantronics 975 bonus points in my book, but the real test comes in the usability. What I’ve found is that most of my callers don’t even realize I’m on a headset, and tell me that I sound clear as a bell. No sound problems on my end, either.

If you plan to use your headset a lot, my suggestion would be to go for a higher-end model (what’s the point of having one if it doesn’t work well?), and it seems that most reviewers compare the Plantronics 975 similarly with the Aliph Jawbone. Having used both, I think the Plantronics is the hands-down winner. Even though it doesn’t come in pink.

If you’d like to share your experience with your bluetooth headset, please do so in the comments, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Thanks for reading!

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