Help me find a behind the ear bluetooth phone headset with good sound for people on both ends!
January 7, 2008 8:54 AM   Subscribe

I often make calls that I need to take notes during, and have up until now been using the speakerphone function on my cell so I can type. A good friend told me that it sounded unprofessional, it picked up too much other sounds around me, I should consider getting a bluetooth headset for my phone. I did, getting the Jabra BT500, which was the top recommendation in Consumer Reports. It's a stylish behind the ear one. I really liked the looks, the intuitive use of it, that you could get it on your head quickly (I don't want/need to wear it all the time) and that it felt like it would stay on your head. However, in talking with that same straight shooting friend, they said, after two calls, that it was picking up the external sounds even more so, and often even more then my own voice! They suggested looking for one with good noise filtering abilities. That's where you come in. I'd like to know some of your favorites, that you've used for more then a day.

Liking the Jabra, I looked at what's been called the successor to the BT500, the BT 5020. Seemed to fit the bill, but then in looking at the feedback on Amazon, it was absolutely trashed!

So, sadly I searched on, and most of the behind the ear ones just looked like then had a glorified paper clip on the end. The Aliph Jawbone seemed to better fit the bill, with excellent noise filtering abilities, but many of the feedback seemed to say it was difficult to fit, and needed to be rigged with extra ear gels for you to hear properly. The Plantronics Voyager 510 seems the closest, getting awesome feedback on Amazon, looking stable on the ear, with fairly good noise handling abilities. That microphone is a bit homely though, but I bet it's effective. I have a big head, so a tiny device/mic may not work for me.

So here's what I'm looking for:

•Behind the ear, stays on ear without you having to attend to it, and is comfortable. As in not just a glorified paperclip. (I don't have glasses, so no need to work around that.)

•Can get it on your ear quickly, as I don't plan to have it on my head all day.

•Clear, loud sound on both ends, that filters out or doesn't pick up background noise. (I'd typically use it in my home office w and w/o the window open, while driving, and in the kitchen)

•Intuitive, easy access to controls. Volume can be turned up/down quickly.

•Doesn't look like you have a pencil/weiner on your ear.

•Ability to be used with cell phone and laptop too (I have a RAZR, and would like to use it with Skype and iChat. But it doesn't need to be one of those specifically built for Skype, etc, ie the Plantronics Voyager 510 USB)
posted by healthyliving to Shopping (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Why can't you mute yourself, and unmute when you have to speak?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: SSF, the background sounds may happen when I'm speaking, and to mute and unmute all the time would be impractical. TWF, this is someone who is going to often be on the other end of my/my wife's calls, so she matters, and is more honest then picky. And in reading reviews of the headset, the same issues have been mentioned.

So, any suggestions out there? :-)
posted by healthyliving at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2008

To be clear - was Consumer Reports just wrong? Or did you get a defective unit?
posted by scarabic at 10:16 AM on January 7, 2008

I've always been exceptionally pleased with any headset from Plantronics. Unfortunately, I currently only have them on my desk and home phone, so can't recommend any specific model for cell phones.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:24 AM on January 7, 2008

If you can stand to do more research, you might want to look through the Bluetooth Forum at HowardForums, whose members are obsessed with finding the best headset. From what I've read, there seems to significant quality variation in headsets, often requiring several exchanges to get a "good" one.
posted by meowzilla at 10:24 AM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: Scarabic, they're just wrong. It works well. Too well.

NMSRN, thanks, the Plantronics does sound like a potential winner to me.

Meowzilla, I'll have a look. Really? That's a drag, who has time to send headsets back and forth multiple times? It sounds, from the feedback I read elsewhere, that other people have the same issue. Some just talk about how clear it is to hear (which it is) but the review is sounds like they just got it, and didn't get to the how does it sound for the receiver part.
posted by healthyliving at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2008

Plantronics is what I've always used in work settings at two or three large companies, and they've always been great. I have a very small head, though...
posted by cocoagirl at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2008

I do second the mute/unmute option. I think this is farly standard. Don't type while you speak, and the annoying clicking sound won't be there. Just saying, don't dismiss that option automatically.

The World Famous - This really does bother people. I've heard this complaint come up several times in conference calls.
posted by Amizu at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2008

I love my jawbone. It fits great.
posted by filmgeek at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2008

The jawbone fits great, it comes with about 5-6 interchangable ear pieces for better fit.

One you learn the trick of taking it on and off (use your finger to lift up the rubber that fits over your ear), its a breeze to take on and off.
posted by mphuie at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2008

Have you looked at the Plantronics Voyager 520? It's the new upgrade of the 510 and has been getting great reviews. I just researched bluetooths with pretty much the same goals in mind - primarily taking conference calls in my home office while I type notes, and this was the one I settled on. I just ordered it from last week for around $47. Hasn't come in yet though so I haven't seen it in action!
posted by platinum at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: Platinum, funny you should mention that. I went to the Bluetooth forum mentioned above, and found this thread. Now I'm thoroughly confused! Would you mind writing me with your experience? I'm on soleus {at} gmail d o t com

Update: I was talking to my wife about this subject, and she agreed, perhaps our friend was being too sensitive to sound, she's had other phone issues. However, I suggested I go take a walk and call her, see how it sounded. First she said my voice was fuzzy (with the phone right in my pocket) Then when a dog barked, 30 feet away, she said it sounded like it was barking right into the microphone! We deduced that the "fuzziness" was road noise, from down the block. It's official, this one's a stinker.
posted by healthyliving at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2008

I LOVE my Jawbone. I've never had a single complaint from a caller that they can't hear me, and I've used it many times driving with the window halfway down.
posted by Roach at 1:20 PM on January 7, 2008

Hmm, interesting review, especially about the differences in sound quality on different phones. I'll be using it with a Samsung t639, I hope it is a good match. The headset should be here in a few days so I'll definitely let you know how it goes.
posted by platinum at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks Platinum. Roach, and other Jawboners (ooh that sounds bad!) I'm sure it sounds awesome, I've heard as much. The fit, and the ability to put it on quickly (as in when the phone rings) concerns me. Comments?
posted by healthyliving at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, Meowzilla, the bluetooth forum turned out to be a goldmine! Totally obsessive peoples on there, with some helpful suggestions. Anybody else reading this thread, go see this It sounds like the Blue Ant Z9 may be a winner.
posted by healthyliving at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2008

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