Bluetooth headsets: the original wearable technology
Bluetooth headsets allow for almost hands-free operation of your cellphone. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology and while most Bluetooth headsets have a single earpiece, a few have two, allowing the wireless streaming of stereo music from your phone. Users can toggle between music playback and phone calls, and most of the headsets are smart enough to automatically mute the music when a call comes in. With many states now banning the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, these headsets are one way to comply. A high-quality Bluetooth headset model costs around $80.
What was once advanced technology in Bluetooth headsets has become mainstream. All of the headsets in this report have text-to-speech capabilities and are Advanced Audio Distribution Profile-enabled (A2DP) for streaming audio. Standard features include the ability to connect to two cellphones simultaneously and a visual battery meter display on smartphone screens, and many headsets now recognize voice commands. As part of the burgeoning wearables category of technology, Bluetooth headsets fall into two camps: professional models in which comfort trumps style and more casual models in which design is as important as functionality.
If you're looking for Bluetooth headphones for an MP3 player and don't need a microphone, Bluetooth headphones designed specifically for music players are covered in our report on wireless headphones.
We studied evaluations of Bluetooth headsets from both experts and users, and CNET has the most expansive collection of reviews. Editors test new headsets as they're released, although a discontinued model is occasionally spotted in their roundups. While PCMag.com's coverage isn't nearly as extensive, editors there do a great job of testing these units and comparing models. Reviews from PC World are thorough and allow for comparison between different headsets. User feedback at Amazon highlights the pros and cons of various models, as well as durability and comfort issues over time. As the Bluetooth headset field has been relatively quiet for awhile, we've left in older reviews as these, and the headset models they examine, are still relevant.