Adopting new technology often requires compromise. In the case of Bluetooth headsets, we traded boring ol’ sound quality for ease of movement, freedom from cords, and a tech fantasy dating back to Lt. Uhura with a silver chess piece in her ear. In the early Bluetooth years, many made the trade and went about their lives with poor audio assuming – at some point – quality would catch up to convenience.
Fast-forward ten years, though, and the picture hasn’t changed as much as we might have hoped. While there are many more – and far better – Bluetooth headsets available today, half of the original tradeoff remains: while what the user hears has improved, sound quality on the other end of the “line” still leaves much to be desired.
For this reason, many steer clear of Bluetooth headsets, not wanting to subject family, friends, or business associates to audio dropouts or the “tin can” effect. I, too, have tried a number of wireless headsets, only to set them aside and return to the phone-between-ear-and-shoulder paradigm.
So, a few weeks ago, I decided to see if the tradeoff could be eliminated once and for all, or at least significantly mitigated. I would gather several Bluetooth headsets of a specific type – those with boom microphones that extend near the mouth for the best outgoing audio – and see if there is, at last, a Bluetooth headset that can offer bi-directional satisfaction. What I discovered was somewhat disappointing, but incredibly useful. Put another way, there are at least a couple of Bluetooth headsets available that offer phone-like sound quality, going or coming.
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