Friday, December 17, 2010

More Bluetooth headset impressions

So in the interest of saving myself time, I went  back to Best Buy and picked up 4 headsets to try out.

I had a long conference call arranged for business reasons - a good opportunity to test all 4 out under the same conditions.

They were:
-  Plantronics M100
-  Motorola H720
-  Plantronics Discovery 520
-  BlueAnt Q2


Motorola H720 - $80

Like:  Like the folding design: compact, easy to tell when it is on, and really easy to connect when I yank it out of my pocket.  Earloop rotates, easy to get on and off.  Micro-USB charge port.  Might come with a carry case, I didn't even look.

Call quality:  Same as all the others, basically.  Incoming audio sounds fine.  My voice sounds a bit tinny and still has the electronic overtone mentioned in my last post.

(Heard the same on a demonstration audio clip from another reviewer using a different headset.  Must be common to all headsets.)  Good volume level.

Dislike:  Maybe not as comfy as the others - hard to tell.  No nifty voice prompts, no biggie.

Plantronics M100 - $60

Like:  Like the size, like the on-off switch.  Fits well.  Voice prompts are nice.  Looks good.  Micro-USB charge port.  Seems comfy.

Call quality:  Same as all the others, except the 520 (below).  Test caller said unit broke up more than the first unit but was manageable.  Incoming audio was fine, but seemed quieter than the 720.

Dislike:  Earloop is strange and makes it hard to get the unit on and off quickly.  Earloop looks fragile. 

BlueAnt Q2 - $150

Like:  Nice looking.  OK fit and earloop.  Like the on-off switch.  Good voice prompting.  Micro-USB charge port.  Auto-downloads your contact list.

Call quality:  Same as the others, or maybe worse.  My test participant said it was not the best - don't know if he meant static, distortion, or what.  Incoming audio was fine

Dislike: On/off switch awkwardly placed and hard to toggle.  Expensive.  Didn't try the Android text-to-speech or other apps.

Plantronics Voyager 520 - $80

Like:  Love the charging stand, cool idea.  Looks good.  Good earloop, rotates so it's easy to put on.  Universal charger.

Call quality:  This unit had a range problem.  During the call, the phone was placed arms length at my left, while the earphone was on the right.  The 520 had incoming static as soon as I switched it in.  Some static was audible on the outgoing as well, but not as bad.  The phone had to be within 12 inches of the headset to eliminate the incoming audio static.  Non-starter.

Dislike:  Range.  A little bigger than the others.  Didn't like the fact the charging contact is proprietary, making it necessary to buy a special-purpose car or spare charger.  The AC adapter also came apart in my hand while still plugged in to the mains!  (I had accidentally pressed the prong release with my hand because I didn't know it was there.)

Guess I'm sticking with the mid-size mid-range mid-price Motorola H720 for now.  The m100 is a bit less expensive but I prefer the fold over the on-off switch.  It's the smallest, easiest to deploy quickly, and will protect itself better than the non-folders.  Wish I could have had the charging stand of the Platronics, though.

It was interesting that except for the 520 range problem, all the units had pretty much exactly the same incoming audio quality, while outgoing call quality was quite similar.  Goes to the fact that all of these units are basically built around the same chipsets, probably.  Seems they all distort your voice to some degree or other.

Found it cheaper at Newegg  - $50 + free ship, vs. $80 at Best Buy.

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