Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stereo Music with your Netbook - Bluetooth Headset Review

What are the use cases for Bluetooth in laptops/netbooks?
The most common is probably to link and synchronize the cellular phone, on the other hand the Bluetooth link is very slow if compared to (wired!) USB2.0.
The most sensful application I found so far for Bluetooth on netbook is to connect a Bluetooth headset for VoIP calls (e.g. Skype) and listen to music and internet radio/video. I personally think that Bluetooth isn't a must in the standard netbook feature set, if you want you can buy a decent adapter for $10-20 (USD).
I wouldn't restrict the netbook choice to Bluetooth only devices. In any case my Dell Mini 10v got an integrated Bluetooth interface.
See also Netbook and Bluetooth: integrated vs dongle

Last week I finally got a stereo Bluetooth headset to be used with my Dell Mini 10v (Inspiron 1011). Actually I bought a rather cheap one (Aiptek BW-M02, about $30) since I wanted to limit the damage, actually I wasn't really clear on the real advantage of a stereo Bluetooth headset.
The Aiptek BW-M02 is relatively light, the loudness, fit and link quality are ok, A2DP is of course supported. Very good: a 3,5mm to Bluetooth adapter is also provided, it means that you can connect the Bluetooth headset to any PC/laptop/netbook with a sound out interface and most of the sound systems in the market, you just need a standard 3,5mm sound out jack. Furthermore a mic is integrated, it means that you can use the headset for VoIP calls (with your netbook/laptop) and normal cellular phone calls. The pairing process was easy, however I lost a few mimutes to understand how to enable it on my Mini 10v (just enable the sound sink). There are dedicated volume buttons as well as a pairing and a mechanical on/off button.
Now to the negative side: sound quality is not that good, far below any $15 corded headset you can buy, furthermore you hear some background noise especially with low volume/silence. On the other hand I was clear on the fact that such a cheap stereo Bluetooth headset can't provide a very good sound quality: most of the stereo Bluetooth headsets cost more at least $50-70 (USD).

UPDATE: I got major problems with the Aiptek headset and I will return it!

All in all I'm very happy with the Aiptek BW-MA02, no wires any more, I can use it for both my netbook and my cellular phone to listen to music and place calls when I'm out. For home/office I prefer corded headsets or Bluetooth headsets with better audio quality such as the Sony DRBT50 Bluetooth Stereo Headset

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