The dirty little secret to buying the perfect Bluetooth headset is that there is no “perfect” headset. Like most electronics, it’s a case of different strokes for different folks, but the salesperson probably won’t tell you that.
The trick to picking up the right Bluetooth headset for your needs is to first understand your needs. It’s more difficult than it sounds because your first reaction is probably, “I’m an average user with average needs.” A simple spreadsheet is actually all you need to figure this out. Before you buy the Bluetooth headset, analyze your daily phone call pattern for a week.
At the end of every day, go through your call log and write down when you took or placed the calls, the amount of time you spent talking on your phone, where you were, and what you were doing. By the end of the week, you will see a pattern emerge, such as finding out that you spend most of your time talking on the phone at your desk in the office or pacing around.
It should end up looking something like this:
With this data in hand, ask yourself these four simple questions to find out the right Bluetooth headset you should purchase.
In your chart, the “Place” column lets you figure out the environment you are most likely to use your headset. Given the routine of our lives, chances are, you’re in a few places more often than others. So examine that column to see where your calls take place most often. Then, add up the total amount of time spent talking in your top three places.
If most of your conversational time is spent outdoors (commute, jogging, etc.), then you need a Bluetooth headset with active noise cancellation. Noise-canceling headsets use two or more microphones. One mic picks up your voice and another eliminates background noise.
You can also look at headsets with bone conduction technology. Bone conduction technology claims to eliminate background noise by eliminating microphones altogether. Instead, they pick up your voice from the vibrations in your skull as you talk.
Bluetooth headsets come in all shapes and sizes. The “Activity” column indicates what you are most likely doing when talking on the phone. And that can help you figure out which the right fit for you.
If you are often moving around, then look for an in-ear headset with an ear hook or something with silicone rubber tips. These manage to stay on your ear more securely than others. In fact, you can even wear some of them while jogging.
If you are mostly immobile while talking, then you can afford to look at models with just an ear hook or those that place a premium on style alone.
If you usually aren’t wearing it and need to quickly slip it on and off, then a simple pop-in in-ear headset will probably work best.
As a general rule, battery life and size are directly proportional in Bluetooth headsets: the bigger the device, the longer it lasts. Of course, the bulkier models don’t look as good. However, people often overestimate how much they actually talk on the phone in a day and buy larger headsets than they need.
This is where the “Duration” column of your chart comes into play. For each day, just add up the amount of time you talk. Once you have that figure, buying a Bluetooth headset is a whole lot easier.
Most Bluetooth headsets are worn on one ear. But if you care about listening to music with it, you need a headset that fits over both ears and has “A2DP” (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) to transmit audio in stereo sound. Also, make sure your phone supports this too — most modern smartphones do.
Associating this with the earlier rules holds true. The bigger and heavier the device, the longer its battery life. And in-ear, hook-style stereo headsets will stay on firmer than a headband or behind-the-neck headsets with a supra-aural or circumaural design.
Also, make sure your headset has music playback keys.