Many careers require you to spend a great deal of time on the phone communicating with business partners, clients or employees. Without a Bluetooth headset, every phone call you take would limit your ability to multitask effectively because one of your hands would be occupied with the phone. Bluetooth headsets were invented to liberate your hands from the tyranny of your phone so you could more efficiently and safely multitask during important calls. In addition, many states have made it illegal to talk and drive without a hands-free device.
The best Bluetooth headsets allow you to control your phone and other Bluetooth compatible devices from the headset with your voice. With comprehensive hands-free controls, your Bluetooth device turns your voice into a remote control. You can use this voice control to play and pause a video business presentation, stream music or call your boss.
Many of the companies that make the best Bluetooth headsets, like the Plantronics Discovery Voyager and the Jawbone Era, are famous for their wearable Bluetooth technology. However, the Motorola Whisper shows that you don't have to be a company with a major focus on Bluetooth technology to develop one of the best Bluetooth headsets. If you're interested in learning more, you can read the articles on Bluetooth headsets in our Learning Center.
There are many different Bluetooth headsets in a wide range of prices. Some offer a comprehensive hand-free experience with the ability to control devices with voice commands and apps that allow you to dictate text messages, emails or status updates on social networking websites. Others simply transfer the audio from your phone to the earpiece, freeing your hands.
When considering a Bluetooth headset, you'll want to consider performance, comfort, ease of use and support. After testing and reviewing devices from the 10 most popular Bluetooth retailers, we have compiled a list of the most important characteristics to consider when purchasing a Bluetooth headset.
The most important element of a Bluetooth headset is audio quality. Without high quality sound, you can't effectively communicate with the people on the other end of the call. This has two parts: audio received and audio transmitted. The best headsets have a wideband audio driver capable of reproducing frequencies that are closer to the frequencies made by the human voice. Narrowband audio drivers, common among older and cheaper models, sound thin and tinny.
The second part to audio quality is the sound captured by the headset's microphone and sent to your caller. The best Bluetooth headsets have multiple microphones that work together with internal digital equalizers to recognize and eliminate the frequencies of background noises. The best noise cancellation systems are so effective that your caller would never guess that you were walking along a busy street.
After sound quality, you'll want to consider the Bluetooth profiles – a specification for the type of functions communicated between devices. Just because two devices have Bluetooth doesn't mean the devices will be able to communicate with each other. The most common profiles included with Bluetooth headsets are HSP (Headset Profile), HFP (Hands-free Profile), A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), PBAP (Phone Book Access Profile) and AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile).
Every Bluetooth headset has HSP and many include HFP because of the added voice commands like voice dialing. A2DP allows you to stream music from your phone or other A2DP compatible devices. PBAP allows your headset to access your contact list. AVRCP allows you to use your headset as a remote control for compatible multimedia devices.
If you don't keep your phone on your body, range is an important feature to consider. Most Bluetooth devices have a range of 33 feet, allowing you to wander around your office during a call while your phone stays planted on the desk. However, audio quality will starts to drop off around 15-20 feet or if the signal is obstructed by a wall or large object.
Battery life is much more varied. If you plan to use your headset for much of the day, you don't want a headset that you'll have to recharge every couple of hours. The best Bluetooth devices have seven hours of continuous talk time with 11 days of standby time.
If you often use your phone to text, email or update statuses on social networking sites, you'll want a Bluetooth headset that includes a voice-to-text app. This allows you to dictate whatever you want to write so that you don't have to thumb fumble through your phone's keyboard. In addition, these apps can read texts, emails, twitter feeds and your favorite news articles.
Finally, multipoint pairing is a feature that allows your headset to connect to two or more Bluetooth compatible devices at the same time. For example, if you have two phones – a work phone and a personal phone – the Bluetooth headset will connect to both, allowing you to take calls from either phone.
Comfort is important because you'll wear your headset even when you're not on a call. The best Bluetooth headsets feel secure on your ear and give you the option of wearing on either ear. This is important because you don't want to feel like the device is on the verge of falling off your ear. In addition, your ear can experience fatigue from long phone calls so being able to switch ears allows you keep your hearing fresh.
Everyone's idea of comfort is different, so you'll want to choose a Bluetooth headset that offers the most options for customizing your comfort. This should include multiple ear bud options and sizes, adjustable boom microphones, over-ear hooks, a behind-the-neck band, an over-the-head band and moisture protection.
Many devices include a carrying case for easy protection, but the best Bluetooth headsets include portable charging cases. These have built-in batteries that recharge your headset when stored in the case, adding up to 21 hours of talk time.
Ease of Use
Your Bluetooth headset shouldn't require extensive training to use effectively. You should be able to pair it with your phone out of the box and take calls immediately without a lot of setup. The best Bluetooth headsets give voice directions for pairing and setup and should connect automatically after the initial pairing.
Help & Support
If you come across any questions or concerns with your headset, you'll want to contact the manufacturer's support representatives. The more options for help, the better off you'll be. We've rated all the customer service options for comprehensive help and support.
Having your hands free to multitask while you're on a call is important for increasing your productivity while you work. If you want to stay reachable, increase your contact with clients and employees or safely drive and talk, you'll need a Bluetooth headset with excellent noise cancellation and HD-quality voice.