Talking on your cellphone without the pain of holding the gadget in your hands is cool, and convenient while you are in your car or on the train. But there is a technical minefield out there. Bluetooth, A2DP, multiple pairing — the terms can confuse you. And then, some are cheap and some are expensive. Besides, canceling out interfering noises is also of vital importance to ensure quality of sound. On top of that, there can be stereo or mono handsets.
All this can intimidate you. In fact, if you walk down to a large electronics store, the options may leave you bewildered.
The trick is to know what you want, keep your budgets and aspirations in mind, and choose the best combination of features at the best possible price point. Let us take a look at the range of options, so that you can pick the one that fits you the best.Value-added headsets
There will be headsets marked A2DP (advanced audio distribution profile) that enable a phone to send stereo sounds to your headset. Some will also have a feature that lets you give voice commands to the headset and get voice feedback. I find this useful with a sports headset as the truly hands-free function kicks in. There is no need to take the phone handset out especially if you are cycling.
Some units now come with PBAP (Phone Book Access Profile or simply PBP) that allow your hands-free set to read out the name or the number of the incoming caller in case your phone does not do this already. Some hands-free units will have a GPS (geographical positioning system) capability that allows your phones to send GPS navigation instructions to the hands-free unit. This is highly useful when you are on the move.
In case you carry more than one cellphone, it is advisable to check that the hands-free can connect to both devices at the same time. Remember, not all units can.
Clipless/clip and boom options
Clipless vs clip-on
Models: Many hands-free units now do not require a clip to go over your ear. This means lower strain for your earlobe, but a slightly harder fitting in the ear canal. This is something that you have to figure out after trying out the stuff. Your comfort levels are critical and each person is different.
Some hands-free units now come with an extended microphone that makes you look like someone on a stage show. In case you feel you will be frequently in noisy environments, with either chatter behind you or someone else talking on the phone at the same time as you, the boom microphone puts the emphasis on your voice, and the background noise is left out.