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(Columbia) March 28, 2005 - Consumer Reports called a dozen panelists to evaluate the comfort and convenience of cell phone headsets. The tests covered eight headsets costing between $20 and $35.
Some clip on the ear lobe. Others hook over the ear. A third type goes in your ear. Panelist Michael DiLauro found drawbacks with all of them, "After a while they hurt my ear. I noticed that I didn't like anything that had a clip behind my ear and would be on my ear for a long period of time." Kendra Johnson was also a tester, "The clip-on the main problem with that is if you wear earrings." Anne Galletta also found problems, "The ones that just sit in your ear, I found that they just pop out as I'm driving."
Erin Gudeux says one with a wind-up cord posed a potential danger, "It swings like a pendulum. I hit a pothole and it immediately went back in, shot right out of my ear and I almost ran off the road. And that happened twice."
To test for audio quality, Consumer Reports' Chris Bucsko fitted the headsets on this special mannequin. It's programmed to speak a string of syllables that cover the range of sounds in the English language. He again measured the quality of the audio coming through the headset.
Some proved better than others, "A headset with an adjustable mike that you can position close to the mouth does a much better job of canceling background noise than a headset with a mike that's fixed and far away from the mouth. This is the microphone."
If you don't have a lot of background noise, all the headsets delivered decent audio.
The one most panelists found very comfortable was the $20 Jabra EarWave Boom. It hooks over the ear and the panelists said it felt quite secure.
If you have one of the cutting-edge phones with Bluetooth technology, you can use a wireless headset. These are much more expensive at $100 or more. Testers preferred the Jabra Freespeak, which costs $100.