Bluetooth headsets offer more than just convenience. They also offer a safer way to use your cell phone or smartphone, especially if you're driving. Here's a roundup of the best Bluetooth headsets available today.
Before you start shopping, read How to Buy a Bluetooth Headset for more tips on finding the perfect headset for you.
Aliph says its Jawbone ICON is the "smartest, most comfortable, and smallest Jawbone ever created." After spending some time testing out the ICON, I'm inclined to think that the company is right. It offers an attractive design, a comfortable fit, and a software platform that lets you customize your headset.
Plantronics Voyager Pro+
Plantronics has updated and improved upon its popular Voyager Pro headset with the Voyager Pro+ model. It adds support for stereo Bluetooth (so you can listen to music and other audio, such as GPS directions), and features two noise cancelling microphones for better sound quality. It also comes with support for the speech-enabled Vocalyst service, which lets you do things such as listen to incoming text messages, post to Twitter by voice, and compose e-mail messages by voice.
Like the company's Discovery 975, Plantronics' Voyager Pro headset is not the smallest model around. In fact, the Voyager Pro's design has been called downright bulky. It features a built-in battery pack that fits behind you ear, and a long, swiveling boom mic that sits next to your cheek. What it lacks in fashion sense, though, the Voyager Pro makes up for with its voice quality, comfortable fit, and excellent noise reduction.
The Q2 is the latest in BlueAnt's line of voice-controlled Bluetooth headsets. Like its predecessor, the <a href=" http://pcworld.about.net/od/phones/BlueAnt-Q1Bluetooth-Headset.htm"> BlueAnt Q1</a>, the Q2 recognizes voice commands and reacts to them. The Q2 also adds custom Bing commands, which allow you to access Bing 411, movie listings, news, sports, and more, right from the headset.
Teeny-tiny Bluetooth headsets have their advantages, for sure. They're often lighter and more comfortable to wear, plus they stay out of sight. But the Plantronics Discovery 975 bucks the trend toward smaller products, and that's a good thing. The Discovery 975 Bluetooth headset maintains a light design, but features a long (2.7 inches), thin microphone that stretches closer to your mouth. That means it can pick up more of your voice -- and less background noise.
The Jawbone line of Bluetooth headsets is known for delivering excellent voice quality and top-notch noise reduction in a fashion-forward gadget. The company's latest Bluetooth headset, the Jawbone Prime, comes in a wide range of colors, from lime green to bright red. (Don't worry: basic colors like black and gray are available, too.) It's pricey, but you can still find a deal on the older, but still-excellent, Jawbone 2.
The Sound ID 510 uses three microphones for noise cancellation, features and environment-awareness mode, and comes with a variety of ear hooks to help you find a comfortable fit. But what iPhone users will really appreciate is the headset's iPhone app, that lets you adjust the sound, and offers tools such as a "Find My Headset" locator. Android and BlackBerry apps for the Sound ID 510 are expected later this year.
The Plantronics Savor is designed to let you go truly hands-free. This headset not only lets you make calls without touching your cell phone; it also features a voice service that does much more. The service, called Plantronics Vocalyst, will read emails and messages to you, and also allows you to compose them by voice. In addition, it also lets you post Twitter updates by voice and listen to the latest news, weather, and sports reports.
The Motorola Endeavor HX1 is the first Bluetooth headset available in the U.S. to feature bone conduction technology. This means that it senses the movement of your jaw, and translates that movement into speech. Therefore, the headset is able to separate speech from background noise, so it lets the speech through, but blocks all unnecessary sounds.