No, not that kind.
Since last year, we Heathen have joined a cult. Not the Atkins one, or its reform cousin, South Beach — though in truth we experimented with SB for a while — but a wholly different, far more geeky cult: the First Church of the Cerulean Bicuspid.
Like most technology people, we’re heavy cellphone users. (My bills in 1997 alone would have purchased a nice used car, but fortunately they were (a) paid by the company and (b) reduced by an order of magnitude by the adoption of digital service.) Also unsurprising is our preference for the “earbud” hands-free device sold with every decent phone since about the time the average phone became impossible to hold on one’s shoulder. The only real problems with these things were (a) sound quality (they sucked) and (b) how tangled the damned cable got in your briefcase or pocket when you weren’t using it.
Late last year, though, we took the plunge and picked up our first Bluetooth headset, a Logitech. We carefully selected it using a matrix of features, functions, and value. Actually, that’s a damned lie: we bought it because it was the only one they had at Fry’s in an unopened box. It worked okay with the Sony/Ericsson phone we had then, and then worked much better with the Blackberry 7290 we tried before ultimately adopting a Treo 650, where it also worked quite well. Sound quality exceeded the cheapier wired models, and the tangled cord was a thing of the past! Score!
Except, well, the Logitech made us look like Garth Brooks without the hat. Its boom-mic style made for great voice quality, but also served as a critical flaw. See, most of these things are simple, with no moving parts aside from the ear loop. The boom mic, on the other hand, made the Logitech much larger (strike one) and easier to break (strike two) — which is precisely what happened during a trade show in Chicago in April. We reached into our bag for it, and found it in two pieces. Ooops. Lifespan: 6 months, or about $13 a month.
Next up was a Motorola HS820. Everyone had a Motorola, it seems, so we felt pretty good about the choice. It’s compact — it easily rides in a shirt pocket — has no moving parts, and kept us from looking like Garth. On the other hand, the sound quality wasn’t quite as good (mostly, it was too quiet), and it never seemed particularly happy working with the Treo. Periodically, it would fail to answer a call, and we’d have to cycle Bluetooth on and off on the Treo, or power cycle the headset, in order to make it play nice again. Then this started happening a lot, and the battery life started sucking, and last week we only narrowly escaped throwing it out the window of the car on I-45. Lifespan: 4 months, or about $20 a month.
This time, we’re going with the actual Palm-branded Treo headset. It’s roughly the same form factor as the Motorola, so we’re still safe from Brooks-ism. On the plus side, it also uses the same charger as the phone, which will be nice when travelling. On the down side, it’s still charging as we type this, so we won’t know how well it works for about an hour or so. We’re hoping for more than half a year of use, though. This is getting expensive.