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Friday, June 03, 2005

Logitech Mobile Freedom bluetooth headset review

So given that I now have a new bluetooth phone I figured it was high time to get myself a good bluetooth headset. I read a number of reviews and compared different models. There were a few that appealed due to their geek factor (the Jabra Bluetooth BT800 Headset in particular because of it's screen and ability to dial phonebook entries) but given that they all got panned for poor audio quality or extreme weight I decided to look for something a little more practical. After reading extensive reviews of about 15 different headsets I settled on the Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth Headset given that all the reviews were consistent in their praise of it's audio quality and comfort factors. Now that I have it I figured I would add my own review into the merry fray.

When I got the unit it was entombed in the standard plastic casing that requires near military levels of might and force to open. Luckily I have an implement designed for the job and made quick work of opening the package to reveal the headset, instructions, and an A/C charger. As per the instructions the first thing I did was plug the charger into it and let it sit for four hours. The charger itself is well designed and fairly small. The plugs are rotated 90 degrees from a normal plug and the brick is narrow enough to plug it into a power-strip without blocking any other outlets. The adapter has a decently long cord with a small plug that fits neatly into the backside of the headset.

While it was charging I took a moment to read the manual and look at the actual headset. It was a little larger than some of the others I've seen, but just as light. It has a very simple interface - a toggle switch for adjusting the volume, and an "action" button for turning the headset on and off as well as taking and rejecting calls. The action button is actually an LED which can turn red or blue to indicate various statuses. Although the simple user interface prevents some really advanced features it does make using the unit simple. You really only need to hit one button to do anything (aside from muting - you press and hold the volume button for a second to do that) and it's pretty intuitive in figuring out what you want to do.

Once the unit was charged I paired it with my phone. This process was surprisingly simple - I held the action button for 10 seconds until the light started flashing red and blue. This put the headset in discoverable mode and I just had to tell my cell phone to add a new device. After typing in the pre-selected password they were instantly paired. Now whenever I turn the headset on (pressing the action button for four seconds) they instantly pair and the headset automatically goes into headset mode.

I also paired it with my Powerbook. Unfortunately that broke the pairing with my phone so I won't be using it very often with the powerbook. For users who are looking for a good VOIP headset this might be an ideal solution. OSX fully supports the headset profile and when it was connected routed all sounds through the headset. I did a quick recording test and it did indeed pull audio in from the microphone as expected. After that experiment I re-paired the headset with my phone and started some audio tests to determine the sound quality.

The main selling point of the Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth Headsetin my mind is its amazing audio quality. I called several people in a number of different situations. First in a quiet room with no air movement. I then turned on some music quietly in the background. Finally I went for a drive and tried the headset with the air conditioning off, on, and then finally with the drivers window open. For all but the final test wit the window open the headset sounded fantastic for both ends of the call. Some of the people I was talking to said it sounded clearer than when I was using the handset held up to my face. With the window rolled down (and the headset on the window side of my face) there was a little wind noise, however it was still possible to hear me - something that no other headset on the market could muster to my knowledge. With its 7 hours of talk time I could see using this for a majority of my phone calls!

Overall impressions:
I'm impressed and would give the Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth Headseta 9/10 rating. It's quite usable, has incredible sound quality, and is comfortable enough that I can wear it for hours and nearly forget that it's there. The only two things I can mark them down on would be that the unit is slightly larger than some of the competition and that you can only pair the headset with one device at a time. I would find being able to pair it with two or more devices incredibly useful given that I have both a bluetooth laptop and cell phone. Well worth the $50 on Amazon.com!

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