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Top Bluetooth Headsets
Bluetooth Headset Pairing
Pairing is the process of establishing the wireless connection between a Bluetooth headset and a cell phone or some other electronic audio device. Generally speaking, when pairing a cell phone and a Bluetooth headset, the phone is the "host" and the headset is the "guest." To pair the devices, turn on the pairing option for both, and then use the phone to identify the headset and confirm the connection.
If both devices use recent versions of Bluetooth software (2.1 or higher), pairing is usually automatic.
The top Bluetooth headsets we reviewed generally play nicely with other electronic devices. Users posting reviews on Amazon report that setting up the Motorola HX550 takes mere moments, even if you're pairing it with more than one device. Syncing is easy not only with Motorola and other Android phones but also with an iPhone 4S, according to reviews. The Jawbone Icon also seems to have no problem pairing with most phones out there, judging by reviews on Amazon. Even one user who initially had trouble syncing with a Kyocera Echo got it to work after a few tries.
Although experts and consumers agree that the LG Tone HBS-700 is easy to sync for the most part, reviews on Amazon indicate that some users with Apple devices (including an iPod Touch 4G) have had problems, and pairing the headset with multiple devices is a bit of a pain.
A user posting on CNET warns that the Motorola Finiti doesn't work with conference call software such as Skype or GoToMeeting, and other users have had problems pairing it with an iPhone. For the most part, though, it seems to sync as well as any other headset. While the Samsung WEP460 also appears to sync pretty well initially, many users commenting on Amazon complain that the headset randomly turns off or drops calls, indicating that the pairing doesn't really "take."
Bluetooth Battery Life.The advertised battery life of the Bluetooth headsets on our list ranges from 4.5 to 10 hours of talk time, and six to 10 days of standby time. User and expert reviewers are generally satisfied with the performance of the batteries in our top Bluetooth headsets. An expert reviewer at Cult of Mac reports that the Motorola HX550 still had half of its power remaining after four hours of talk time. LG claims its Tone HBS-700 delivers up to 10 hours of listening/talk time, and a user who posted a review on Amazon declares that this model has a considerably longer battery life than most other Bluetooth headsets.
In a review of the Samsung WEP460 on Amazon, a consumer attests that the headset lasts for the advertised eight hours. A consumer who otherwise pans the Motorola Finiti on Amazon acknowledges that the battery lasts as long as promised and charges quickly. Nearly all low-cost Bluetooth headsets come with a wall charger. The Motorola Finiti and HX550, Jabra Wave, and Jawbone Icon are USB Bluetooth headsets that come with a micro-USB charger as well. Most cheap headsets emit an audio warning when the headset battery is running low.
The Jawbone Icon has an on/off switch, so users can turn it off to save the battery and turn it on only when they need it. Still, many people on a Jawbone forum comment that the battery life is sub-par. It's suggested that the A2DP protocol, caller ID, and "noise assassin" features all drain the battery pretty quickly.
Although the battery life of the Jabra Wave seems to be consistent with the advertised talk time of six hours, one consumer posting on Amazon found that after several months the battery life diminishes.
Texting Features.Phone calls are far from the only way people communicate on mobile devices. Both Motorola headsets on our list include a MotoSpeak feature that allows hands-free texting. The LG Tone has a BT Reader app for Android phones that lets the device read incoming text messages. Such capabilities help some of the top Bluetooth headsets stand out but may be features you can live without.
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