Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Fresh Gear: Why use a headset that isn’t handsfree?

Free headsets - are they worth the price?

A lot of people use the headset that comes with their mobile phone. Free is a great price, I'll grant you. Unfortunately, most of the manufacturers include headsets that don't work all that well. They ones that come with my phone usually have an earbud speaker, and a microphone that hangs down on the microphone cable. The problem? I've found that I can't use these because a) people can't hear you when you use one, and b) these pick up tons of background noise.

You'll see an interesting phenomenon when you walk around airports, etc. - people that use these headsets end up using one hand to hold the microphone near their mouth so the other person can hear them. That seems a little odd to me.

If you're going to use one hand to constantly hold your headset's microphone up to your mouth, why not just hold the phone itself?!

Use a handsfree headset that really is handsfree

I have a headset I really love - it's a Plantronics MX150 headset, pictured at left. This is my second one - the first one was an OEM version that Verizon included with one of my phones a couple of years ago (very cool that they didn't go with the cruddy ones I mention above). I still use my first one in my car, and bought a second one (non-OEM) which I carry in my laptop bag. Available from Amazon for less than $20, I think it's well worth it.

This thing is tough, doesn't crackle, has great noise canceling so you don't get all the background noise, picks up your voice very well, and is comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time. Best of all, the adjustable boom is built into the speaker assembly so you don't have to hold the thing next to your mouth. In other words: this headset really is handsfree!

Here's some trivia for you, too - Plantronics has been in the headset game for a long time. They made the first headsets for the first voyage to the moon, for example.

My thoughts on Bluetooth headsets

I've dabbled in Bluetooth headsets a few times, but I always end up back with my trusty old Plantronics MX150. I still haven't found a Bluetooth headset I love - most of them still have problems with background noise and wind. I even have a Plantronics Discovery Bluetooth headset. It's good, as far as Bluetooth headsets go (very small, can charge it from a AAA battery, etc.), but the sound quality isn't as good as my MX150. Also, most Bluetooth headsets have those Borg-like blue flashing lights and look distractingly geeky - I'm geeky enough without flashing lights on my head, thank you!

Free your hand...

Bottom line: if you're still holding that dangling microphone to your mouth, consider trading up to something better. You'll be thankful for it, I'm sure!