How-To: A Non-Bluetooth Wireless Headset for a Mobile Phone

Nexus 5 & Logitech H820eA few days back someone over at the DSL Reports VoIP Forum posed a question. Along with expressing some frustration with Bluetooth headsets, they asked how they might use a wireless headset that was not based upon Bluetooth with a mobile phone?

That is a curious question. I certainly understand that people can be frustrated with Bluetooth headsets. It’s something that I have suffered now and then.

Class 2 Bluetooth, which is limited to 2.5 mW radiated power, is the most common variety. It’s supposed to deliver a 10 foot range. That’s fine when a mobile phone is in your pocket, but inadequate when it’s on your desk and you need to refill your coffee.

Class 1 Bluetooth kicks the RF power up to 100mW, aiming to allow you to wander up to 100 feet from the host device. Unfortunately, to achieve this freedom to roam, both the host and the headset must be class 1 devices. AFAIK, no mobile phone has ever had a class 1 Bluetooth radio.

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Crazybaby Mars Levitation Bluetooth Speaker

Crazybaby-Mars-SmallNormally I would not grace this sort of thing with my time or attention. However, I think that the Mars levitating Bluetooth wireless speaker from Crazybaby is a triumph of style-over-substance. That alone inspires at least a quick examination of the product. I’m curious to ascertain it’s raison d’etre.

Most of the active component of the device seem to be housed in the flying saucer-like part of the system called the “Craft.” It literally levitates on a magnetic field, 20mm above the base, when in operation.

When the device is off the Craft settles down on top of the base, which allows for “Wireless Smart Charging.” When turned on the Craft hovers above the base until the battery fades. It’s quoted as lasting 6 hours.

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Proving An Unregistered IP Desk Phone Can Still be Useful

Granstream GXP-2160Here’s an admission of sorts. I quite admire Dave Michels’ friend Colin Berkshire. He’s a consistent source of both wit and wisdom. For example, today he describes his somewhat unusual use of a Grandstream GXP2160 IP Telephone in My Line-less Desk Phone.

Not to spoil the punch line, but the phone can be paired to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, making it effectively a great handset for his iPhone. So it’s genuinely useful even without having a SIP line registered.

Other companies like Mocet & Invoxia (review) offer similar capability in dedicated function devices, but these cost considerably more than the GXP-2160, which is currently listed on Amazon for just $99.

I wish I could do the same with my Polycom VVX-600!

Mini-Review: Plantronics Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth Headset

plantronics-bbtgo2After my adventure with the Nexus 4 and an LG Bluetooth headset last fall I had pretty much given up on wireless headsets for listing to music while out and about. I resorted to using my trusty Etymotic Research HF5’s with a Bluetooth audio transmitter. That combination overcame the fact of the failed headset jack on my Nexus 4. However, I had unwittingly left a BT headset on my Amazon wish list, which resulted in a Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 BT Wireless Headset under the Christmas tree.

In truth, trying yet another wireless headset has me once again wishing that I had a dummy head. No, no…not the head of a dummy…let’s not get snarky, ok? I mean a dummy head with reference microphones, like the Neumann KU 100, for properly measuring headset frequency response. Such tools are beyond the scope of even an advanced hobbyist.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made use of the Backbeat Go 2 while walking the dogs and working around the yard. I’ve listened to various podcasts (Marketplace & Escape Pod are favorites) as well as music via Amazon Prime. In general, I find the Plantronics Backbeat Go 2  completely satisfactory for listening to music.  To my ears they’re much better than the LG HBS series.

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The LG HBS-730 Bluetooth Headset Sucks Rocks

Nexus7-Headset-BT-xmitter verticalAs was mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking for a Bluetooth headset primarily for listening to music. This is a very different use case for me. For years I’ve reserved Bluetooth wireless devices exclusively for use with my mobile phone, making phone calls.

I bought one of the leading devices in this class, the LG HBS-730. It was recommended by several friends, so I thought it would surely be great. Except that it wasn’t. Compared to my reference, the Etymotic HF5, it sounded dull and lifeless when paired to anything I had on-hand.

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The Passing Of A Legend & Related Fallout

For the past year and a half I’ve used a Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset. It was the evolution of the Voyager Pro UC that I reviewed in 2011. Not long ago I discovered just how many times such a device would survive a pass through the laundry…which is exactly once. A second pass through the laundry caused its’ demise.

The loss of the Voyager Legend left an obvious hole in my arsenal. Such matters I take as an opportunity to try something new, or at least re-evaluate my needs.

There was a time when I made a lot of use of a BT headset while travelling. In that application it’s role was in support of basic telecom use. More recently I have not been travelling at all. My primary use of a headset has been for listening to the local NPR stream while walking our dogs.

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