I’m going to skip the ‘teaser’ approach and cut to the chase right away. Three really important features or capabilities you should consider when buying a wireless headset are:
Now here’s some detail on these three.
The first thing you should consider when buying a wireless headset is the transmission technology used by the wireless headset to communicate with the phone or with the headset ‘base unit’ that is connected to your phone. This choice will affect both the range and security issues.
There are a variety of wireless transmission technologies in use for wireless headsets. Bluetooth technology is used for most mobile phone headsets because almost all mobile phones sold today have built-in Bluetooth electronics. For office headsets, you should choose DECT or Bluetooth technology.
DECT stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications. It is a wireless technology that was introduced in Europe and has been adopted all over the world. In the US, DECT uses the 1.9 GHz frequency range (1920 MHz – 1930 MHz) that has been reserved exclusively for voice communications applications. So with DECT technology, you will not encounter any interference problems with those ubiquitous 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz devices (cordless phones, WIFI networks, baby monitors, alien death rays, etc.). DECT 6.0 is not a version of the technology; it is a marketing term for DECT devices manufactured for use in the US and Canada.
Bluetooth is also a worldwide wireless communications technology standard intended to replace the wires connecting electronic devices while maintaining high levels of security. Key features of Bluetooth technology include low power and low cost. The Bluetooth specification defines a robust uniform structure for a wide range of devices to connect and communicate with each other. Bluetooth has been in wide use for a long time now, so the technology is stable and dependable.
When deciding on a wireless headset, the range of the headset is very important. If it doesn’t get to where you need to go, you might as well not have it. Given the transmission technologies recommended above, DECT is going to have a superior range. Most GN Netcom Jabra wireless office headsets use DECT technology and have a range of 300 feet or more. This includes the Jabra GN9125 series as well as the Jabra GN9350e and GN9330e. I had a customer call me using her Jabra headset, leave her office, walk down the street to a sandwich shop on the corner, buy lunch, and then return to her office… all while we continued our conversation. This was in the early days of wireless headsets and everybody around her was amazed. And, I actually made a few sales to amazed innocent bystanders as a result of this roving conversation. The newer Jabra Pro 9470 and 9460 Headsets have the best range available today, communicating effectively for about 450 feet (150 meters).
Bluetooth comes in three flavours, Class 1, Class 2, and (surprise!) Class 3. Bluetooth Class 1 devices have a maximum range of about 100 meters with current technology. Bluetooth Class 2 devices have a range of 10 meters. That’s about 33 feet. Most mobile or cell phone Bluetooth headsets are Class 2 Bluetooth devices and therefore have a range of about 10 meters. Some newer mobile phones are now using Bluetooth Class 1 and therefore have their range extended to about 25 meters when communicating with another Class 1 device. Bluetooth Class 3 has a range of about 1 meter or 3 feet and is not used for wireless headsets. Jabra’s newest mobile headset, the Jabra Go 6470 uses Class 1 technology so you’ll get extended range.
Another critically important feature is noise reduction. For the convenience and comfort of your listeners, you will want to reduce the background noise from your surroundings. You don’t want to turn the act of having a phone conversation with you into an annoying challenge or a hearing test. There are basically three technologies in play here. One is noise filtering; another is noise cancelling, and the third is yelling very loudly. From my personal non-scientific sampling, it appears that the last is the most used. Noise filtering is part of the electronic circuitry and it can be pretty good. But, noise cancelling is the superior technology and it is much better at reducing background noise. Noise cancelling works by sampling the actual background and then electronically cancelling that background out. You can usually tell a real noise cancelling microphone by the small hole in the microphone boom near the microphone and usually on the other side from it. This hole is used to ‘retrieve’ the background environment. The Jabra GN9350e, GN9330e, and the Jabra GN9125 Flex boom headsets are all noise cancelling. With the introduction of the new Jabra Pro 9470 and Jabra Go 6470 headsets, Jabra has taken noise reduction technology to a new level with their “Noise Blackout” technology which actually uses two microphones. One of these two microphones picks up the background and that background signal is then used electronically for an amazingly effective noise cancelling.
Noise filtering is perfectly fine if you are in a typical, relatively quiet, office environment and especially if you have a private office. Noise filtering technology is a bit less expensive and you can save $10 to $30 by going with a noise filtering headset like the Jabra GN9125 Sound tube. But once you are dealing with a consistently noisy background environment, and that includes the person with the annoying laugh sitting near you, you would be best advised to go with a wireless headset that uses state-of-the-art noise cancelling microphone technology.