Bluetooth headset Battle Royale

A few weeks ago I praised the Plantronics Voyager Pro high-end Bluetooth headset for its noise-reduction features and extremely comfortable fit (you really can wear it all day). Two other headset vendors wanted my opinion to see how they compare with the Voyager Pro, so let's check out these other contestants:

The scoop: Q1 Voice Controlled Bluetooth Headset, by BlueAnt, about $130 (available exclusively with Sprint through early June, then online nationwide).

What it is: The Q1 is the successor to BlueAnt's V1, one of my favorite Bluetooth headsets from last year. The V1 had awesome voice control features, which have been transferred to the Q1 along with additional noise-reduction features through the use of  voice-isolation technology. Other features include multipoint (the ability to connect two phones and answer the one that rings), the ability to pair as many as eight devices, and about four hours of talk time and 100 hours in standby mode.

Why it's cool: Hands down, the voice control technology makes the Q1 a winner. Using your voice, you can answer incoming calls, make outgoing phone calls (through speed dial setup), check the battery life on the headset, and make sure that you are connected. The voice prompts also make this the easiest headset to configure and pair with your phone, as the voice inside the headset walks you through the process. Another cool command is the "Am I connected?" prompt, which will pair your headset with your phone automatically (after the initial pairing). This is fantastic, as one of my main gripes with Bluetooth headsets is knowing whether I'm connected after a few days of non-use.

Some caveats: The speed dial function only works with some phones (and not the iPhone), so making calls via voice command can be trickier than I'd like it to be. The voice-isolation feature requires a button press and is not automatic, and the technology was good but not great in my tests.

Grade: 5 stars (out of five).

The scoop: Jawbone Prime Earcandy Edition, by Aliph, about $130.

What it is: Just like the Q1 and Voyager Pro, this high-end Bluetooth headset features noise-cancellation technology (Aliph calls it NoiseAssassin) to reduce the sound around you so callers can hear you more clearly. The Earcandy Edition of the Jawbone Prime adds four color options, including lime green, scarlet red, yellow and purple, making this a more fashionable choice than the other two.

Why it's cool: The NoiseAssassin works outstandingly well; the receiving party thought this was the best out of the three devices I tested. The volume control was much better on the Jawbone than on the Q1. Pairing was easy but not as easy as the voice-command version. The small size of the Jawbone also makes it appealing for users who don't want to look as Borg-like with their headset (especially when you compare it with the large boom microphone on the Voyager Pro.

Some caveats: The headset boasts voice dialing features, but it appears to be phone specific (it wouldn't work with my iPhone). It's definitely not the same as the Q1's voice commands.

Grade: 5 stars.

Bottom line: With three 5-star reviews, which do you choose? For comfort and noise reduction on the caller's side, the Voyager Pro is tops. For style and noise cancellation on the receiver's end, go with the Jawbone. For voice command and ease of use, go with the BlueAnt Q1. However, all three offer outstanding options and you won't be disappointed in any of them.

This story, "Bluetooth headset Battle Royale" was originally published by Network World.

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