More and more states are outlawing talking on cell phones while driving, causing more and more drivers who previously avoided Bluetooth® devices to purchase them. However, shopping for Bluetooth® devices can be just as frustrating as shopping for cell phones. Since compatibility with your cell phone is no longer an issue, there are literally hundreds of options you need to analyze to find the correct device. At Best Buy Mobile, we are here to help by offering informed, impartial advice, to help get the product you really need.
Speakerphone or headset?
The first major distinction needed in Bluetooth® is whether a headset or car speakerphone is the right solution. Car speakerphones tend to offer better sound quality, and often have compatibility with your car stereo, allowing you to hear your music as well as your phone calls. The tradeoff is privacy and portability: car speakerphones tend to stay in your car and not allow you to keep a conversation away from your passengers. In-ear Bluetooth® offers the exact opposite: increased privacy and portability, decreased sound quality.
The next most important aspect of Bluetooth® is deciding what your primary need for your Bluetooth® device is. While the adage “you pay for what you get,” applies heavily for Bluetooth devices, paying for features you won’t use is unnecessary.
The better the noise reduction/cancellation, the higher the cost (and often the shorter the battery life). Basic noise reduction should be enough to combat road noise and ambient noise from your daily life. As you move into noise cancellation and dual-mic noise cancellation (a more advanced technology that gives you drastically better noise cancellation), you discover Bluetooth® headsets more suited for industrial purposes. If you truly need this level of performance, make sure your phone has noise cancellation, not reduction.
A newer feature in Bluetooth® headsets is the ability to analyze and read text messages to you, and let you respond with a text through voice recognition. This feature is extremely useful, as texting-while-driving laws are even more common than talking-while-driving, but it raises a compatibility question. Before buying a Text-to-Speech enabled headset, make sure your phone is compatible. These headsets also tend to be more expensive, so make sure you actually need the feature before paying extra for it.
Most new Bluetooth® devices can be used to play your music to you: however, continuous playback during a conversation does require a special feature that is rare among Bluetooth®. There are several headsets which are focused on higher music quality. Additionally, wireless headsets exist targeted specifically at high quality music playback, which is something to keep in mind if your Bluetooth® device will also be your headphones.
For in-ear headsets, the final major feature is design. Two types exist, over-the-ear and in-ear. These are purely preferential, as there is only a slight increase in how well the headset fits. If you dislike the over-the-ear design (which tends to fit more snugly against the head and come loose less easily), there are earbud pieces that will address that concern.
While other features do exist for Bluetooth® devices, knowing some of the core features you are looking for will help narrow your search immensely. And helping you find exactly what you need is part of Best Buy’s promise to give you informed, impartial advice on your mobile needs.