When choosing a Bluetooth Headset, its easy to become overwhelmed by the vast range of headsets available. They all look the same, do the same basic job, so whats the difference and what should you be looking for when choosing a Bluetooth Headset?
Bluetooth Headsets come in a range of shapes and sizes. They range from the more conventional "over the ear" with a boom microphone, to small "in the ear" headsets that are barely visible. Each style has its advantages – In ear headsets can be more comfortable, especially for those who wear glasses, where as "over the ear" headsets can be a bit more secure, with less risk of them falling off. All headsets can be adjusted to be worn on either the left or right ear.
The smaller the headset, the lighter it should be. If you’re going to be wearing your headset for long periods, a lighter headset will be more comfortable, but with less weight and smaller size, you may have to compromise on battery life. The weight of a Bluetooth Headset ranges from around 9g to over 20g.
Battery times on headsets have improved significantly over the last few years. It’s not unusual to find headsets with upto 12 hours talktime and upto 300 hours standby time. If you’re going to be using your headset more for making regular calls, talktime will be more important to you. If you don’t really make that many calls, but need a headset for when you do get the occasional call, then opt for one with a longer standby time.
Bluetooth Headsets aren’t just for taking calls. Stereo Bluetooth Headsets allow you to listen to your music in stereo (if supported by your phone). They work in the same way as a normal Bluetooth Headset, and will automatically pause your music when a call comes in. Stereo Bluetooth Headsets aren’t recommended if you’re driving, but are ideal for using at the gym, or during sporting and leisure activities. Most Stereo Bluetooth Headsets have music controls on them, allowing you to control your music without having to touch your phone. In order to stream music to a Stereo Bluetooth Headset you will need to make sure your phone supports the A2DP profile. Read our Bluetooth Guide for more information.
How your headset charges can be quite important. A lot of headsets charge using the same connector as mobile phones, so its normally a good idea to opt for a headset that’s made by the same manufacturer as your phone. By using the same charger as you use on your phone, you won’t have to purchase a second charger for in the car, and you will only have to carry one charger around with you when you travel. Some headsets also support USB charging, making it easy to charge using a USB cable connected to your laptop if you’re out and about.
Multipoint is a relatively new technology in Bluetooth Headsets. Standard Bluetooth Headsets normally allow you to pair with 2 or more phones, but only one can be active at any one time. Multipoint Bluetooth Headsets allow you to connect and use two phones at the same time – ideal if you carry a work mobile and a personal mobile. With Multipoint, both phones are connected, and when a call comes in, the audio is transferred to the headset automatically. If a call comes in on your other phone, you can easily switch between calls, just by pressing a button on the headset.
For more information on Multipoint and how it works, check out our guide to Multipoint.
There’s nothing worse than leaving your phone on silent in your bag or pocket, it’s very easy to miss calls, especially if you’re in the car. Some Bluetooth Headsets now have vibration alert, so when a call comes in the headset will vibrate gently on your ear to alert you. Some headsets now have a discreet LED light that flashes when you have an incoming call.
Most current handsets support voice dialling. Activating voice dialling with a Bluetooth Headset is a case of simply pressing a button and saying the persons name that you want to call. Depending on your phone and the headset, it is possible to answer, end and reject calls all through voice control. For the best compatibility for voice dialling we would recommend a Bluetooth Headset made by the same manufacturer as your handset.