Linked by David Adams on Wed 1st Oct 2008 17:57 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless The Bluetooth headset has gone from nifty novelty to ubiquitous accessory. They've become better and better with each generation, so now that they've matured, just how good are they? And what use are they for something other than making you look like you're talking to yourself?
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Forget Bluetooth headsets...
by AdamW on Wed 1st Oct 2008 18:46 UTC
AdamW
Member since:
2005-07-06

...I want a pair of Bluetooth headphones that doesn't sound like crap and drop out every 30 seconds.

Someone fix A2DP already!

Reply Score: 4

Tomasz Dominikowski Member since:
2005-08-08

Could you be more precise about your bad experiences? This really doesn't sound good (no pun intended), maybe it was just WLAN interference? What phone/a2dp device combos did you use?

Reply Score: 1

AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

I think your ears are broken.

I've tried a Nokia 6300 and an HTC Apache as host devices, and three different phones (Plantronics P590, Jabra BT620s, and some Plantronics earphones I forget the name of). The Jabra worked best, but they all sound fairly poor, with obvious artifacts of heavy MP3-type compression (extremely tinny and artificial upper mids and highs). All three will drop out the audio for a second or two every two or three minutes (the Plantronics P590 is worse), with either host device.

A2DP is just a crap design, and needs to be improved. If you have cloth ears you might not notice the quality issue, I guess, but it's not a subtle thing at all. It's not the difference between my Eggo D77s and my Grado HF-1s, it's just really, really obviously terrible.

edit: oh, and I tried them all for at least one extended trip, so I wasn't sitting at a desk with a ton of interference around.

Edited 2008-10-02 00:14 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Tomasz Dominikowski Member since:
2005-08-08

Ad personam attacks are really classy. You know that sarcasm gets stripped over the Internet, so please use some emoticons at least.

As for your point... Well, I use my A2DP headphones outside, in a noisy environment, so I couldn't care less if they sound a bit worse than wired headphones. I can't tell the difference when I'm outside (who could, it's just MP3s I'm playing, not FLAC, I'm not an audiophile). And when I'm inside, I opt for the hi-fi stereo sitting on my desk or normal, wired, honest-to-god headphones. Why? Because I don't find the convenience of wireless headphones when I'm sitting at my desk appealing or useful. Recharging them alone is annoying and a pointless exercise if you sit at home with wired headphones on the shelf. And I've used both wired and wireless headphones, both with a computer and with a phone, so I know the ups and downs. A2DP headphones, at home, non-mobile, are pointless. On the road, you'd have to have some pretty good noise cancelling to notice any difference at all. That comes with a price of being run over by a car though.

Reply Score: 1

AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

"As for your point... Well, I use my A2DP headphones outside, in a noisy environment, so I couldn't care less if they sound a bit worse than wired headphones. I can't tell the difference when I'm outside (who could, it's just MP3s I'm playing, not FLAC, I'm not an audiophile)."

As I said, that's how I tested them. The quality issues are bad enough to stop me enjoying the music even when I'm listening to a Foo Fighters album (hardly the last word in recording quality) on a moving bus. That's how bad it is. I'm really not sure how you don't notice it. A2DP sounds like a 64Kb/s MP3. Heck, it probably *is*.

Reply Score: 2

Like the good old days
by robinh on Wed 1st Oct 2008 18:48 UTC
robinh
Member since:
2006-12-19

Bluetooth funny. This one made me laugh...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbBcGVAWuEw

Reply Score: 1

Still Waiting
by komrade on Wed 1st Oct 2008 19:13 UTC
komrade
Member since:
2008-02-28

I'm still waiting for a decent bluetooth stereo headset and stereo support to go with the iphone. Seems like that would have been a natural.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Still Waiting
by Adam S on Wed 1st Oct 2008 19:37 UTC in reply to "Still Waiting"
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

Well, iPhone doesn't support A2DP, which is the stereo Bluetooth profile, so you'll have to hold on for awhile there.

It might be possible to get mono Bluetooth headphones that broadcast into two earbuds, but stereo headphones will require a wire for the time being. Why? Only Apple knows.

Reply Score: 2

Voice recognition
by Tomasz Dominikowski on Wed 1st Oct 2008 19:48 UTC
Tomasz Dominikowski
Member since:
2005-08-08

Well, all Nokia E-series and N-series devices... to tell you the truth, probably all Nokia S60 3rd Edition devices have voice recognition built-in. There is no more pre-recording of contact names and you can enable some functions (e.g. bluetooth on/off ;) ) via voice.
There's also a cool feature that enables the phone to tell you out loud who is calling in-between rings. And I've upgraded from E61 to E51 to get A2DP support specifically (which turned out to be great choice, the phone's interface flies in comparison to the crawl of E61). A2DP works great.

rant -> Symbian maybe not the pinnacle of interface design, but I had the possibility to switch from my Nokia E51 to the iPhone 3G and I did not. But I'm a geek and a FOSS advocate. I want my copy/paste. I want free software titles by the thousands. I don't want to be locked in. And I don't want to generalize, I'm sure the iPhone is also cool in some ways for geeks, but I can't shake off the feeling that there is something really superficial to wanting to have an iPhone. For most, it's probably the look of the hardware and the look of the software and the way it behaves. /endrant

Reply Score: 3

funny...
by hobgoblin on Wed 1st Oct 2008 20:48 UTC
hobgoblin
Member since:
2005-07-06

what some diamond patterning and a relationship with the fruit can do for the popular image...

Reply Score: 2

RE: funny... - Jawbone was popular before the iPhone
by jabbotts on Thu 2nd Oct 2008 15:08 UTC in reply to "funny..."
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Don't let the mention of pairing with an iPhone fool you. The Jawbone was popular long before the iPhone teasers where leaked. It tends to be the better audio quality over the look that does it also.

Even now with the iPhone on the market; I can remove the battery from my PDA and phone yet the Jawbone is still the headset I would be purchasing.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by komrade
by komrade on Wed 1st Oct 2008 21:01 UTC
komrade
Member since:
2008-02-28

you know, I just had an epiphany about the wired headphones. Apple really tied the ipod to the white wire headphones. I wonder if the decision not to go to a wireless BT headset was partially driven by a desire for an obvious brand identifier that was already widely known.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by komrade
by hobgoblin on Thu 2nd Oct 2008 16:00 UTC in reply to "Comment by komrade"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

would not be impossible. if there is something apple is, its brand conscious.

Reply Score: 2

Blue Ant headsets work well for me
by bousozoku on Thu 2nd Oct 2008 05:13 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

I admit it. I finally got into the nonsense of a headset.

Six months ago, I tried a Plantronics headset that listed for US$130 on their website, though I got it for US$60. It wouldn't charge correctly and didn't answer calls or hang up correctly but the ear piece was comfortable. "I have a return, please."

I'd been reading about Blue Ant and their dual microphone/noise rejection technology and spent the extra money (US$100) and it has been nothing short of amazing. Sprint has a whole menu of things I can do, but the LG synthetic voice really doesn't help much, although the phone usually recognises the name quickly but that's the phone and not the headset.

I'm impressed except for one thing--the car tire that sits in my ear. It's perfectly circular and doesn't try to bend at all but I wanted good sound and it has it.

After last Christmas, I also bought some Bluetooth accessories for my iPod. Motorola isn't known for its high quality sound, but the things work well enough for the conditions.

Reply Score: 2

Cable
by MattPie on Thu 2nd Oct 2008 17:09 UTC
MattPie
Member since:
2006-04-18

The best wireless device on the planet (and this is true of all wireless, not just bluetooth) doesn't match up to a $5 cable.

Reply Score: 3

A2DP
by rajj on Thu 2nd Oct 2008 22:30 UTC
rajj
Member since:
2005-07-06

The quality of the audio is only going to be good as the quality of the codec implementation in the headset. Because of the way A2DP works, the headset is effectively the real "media player". Also, if the headset doesn't support the encoding of the files you're playing or your player isn't written to support A2DP directly, the audio has be decompressed, re-encoded into something that is supported, and the decompressed again. How's that for brain damage?

The only way this would make sense to me is if it were streaming raw PCM, but bluetooth doesn't have the bandwidth for that. The way it is now, not only does the headset have to have logic to support the bt protocol stack, but it has to implement a bunch of audio codecs. So they're not really just headphones but a portal media player that sits on your head and uses your iPOD --or whatever-- for storage.

Reply Score: 2