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Bluetrek Tattoo Bluetooth Headset

Mon Jun 9, 2008 - 9:56 AM EDT - By Mike Guccione

Overview

Personalization is all the rage these days. People do anything to be unique and set their stuff apart from everyone else's - etching on mp3 players, skins for your phones - even the old-fashioned tattoo (of course, we're talking about different "stuff" here.) If you've decided that wearing that boring old black bluetooth headset just isn't for you, the Bluetrek Tattoo headset may be just the technological diversion that you're looking for.



What's Included

Bluetrek definitely sets you up with no shortage of accessories for the Tattoo headset. Aside from the normal home charger, the included car charger is a hybrid set up that includes the cigarette-style plug for your vehicle that makes use of the USB charger cord that they throw in as well. This is a very nice feature. The USB cord is a short, bendable item that plugs into the headset on one end and into the car charger on the other. I don't know about you, but I have enough cords dangling around in my car and this came as a welcome departure. The headset never gets lost on the end of a long cord like other car chargers I've used, and the USB cord can also be used to charge the headset from a USB port on your computer

Of course, the Tattoo would not live up to its name without the adhesive skins that are included. These skins allow you to truly make this headset your own, however, with the slightly premium price for the headset, I expected more skins to be included. With the growing popularity of personalized headsets, competing products often include upwards of 50 different changeable faces. That being said, the included skins are definitely unique and will, if nothing else, work as a conversation piece. Also included in the package are four different ear buds (Bluetrek calls them ErgoBuds, and be careful, there’s a patent pending on that term) in various sizes and two different ear hooks. This was a nice touch because ears vary greatly in size (my great-grandfather, if I could picture him wearing one of these, had huge ears and would certainly require the larger of the ear hooks.) A word to the wise on the interchangeable ear buds, be careful when changing them as it does not take much to rip them. I quickly found out the hard way - and then there were three.


Setup/Operation

If you've ever used a Bluetooth headset in the past, you know that almost everything is controlled by one or two function buttons. This is the case with the Bluetrek Tattoo, save for the volume keys. Being a male, I opted not to read the included quick setup guide and was greeted by a litany of beeps and double beeps to which I had no idea what the headset was saying to me. It seems each headset speaks a different dialectic of Beep, and this was no different. The setup guide will get you through the pairing with the phone and the basics of simple beep-speak, but to my surprise, there is no manual included. To view the advanced features of the headset, you must view the manual online. It's helpful to know that when you are trying to turn up the volume that you can also accidentally be muting the headset. Oops.

Pairing the headset with my phone went surprisingly smoothly. And not only did it go smoothly, the Centro that it was paired to never lost the connection once. I'm not entirely sure where the credit goes here, but if you are using this with a Centro, you will not be disappointed with the connection. Each time I made a call out, the call was quickly transferred to the headset in under a second. Answering calls was equally effective, so much so that if I would transfer the call back to my phone to talk, the Centro and Tattoo would often pair again (to which the other party could not hear me, etc.) Ending a call would sometimes be hit or miss, though. Most times a simple press of the function button would end the call and all was right with the Bluetooth world. However, there would be stretches where I would have to manually end calls on the phone. After hours of research (ok, not really), I chalked this up to one of the great techno-mysteries. The sound quality? That was sometimes another story.


Performance/Sound Quality

With all of the pretty uniqueness in the world that the Tattoo headset can provide you with, the bottom line is usually judged by three things: sound clarity, range and battery life. Take even one of those out of the mix and you’re left with a pretty (albeit light) paper weight.

To start with the positives, the Tattoo headset is light. So much so, it almost feels a bit on the cheap side. I didn't throw it up against the wall or drop it out of the window on the highway, however, I wouldn't want to accidentally step on it either. But being as light as it is means it will not weigh down your ear during wear. I didn't find the ErgoBuds all that comfortable for long periods, but perhaps I just have a weird shaped ear canal. Your mileage may vary here. But given the battery life, you certainly could wear it for a while. Under moderate use, I was able to get 5 days of mixed talking and standby time. However, with the unique USB cord and car charger, there is really no reason to not have it charged. Car charging other headsets has proved to be cumbersome at best, and this is where someone at Bluetrek was really thinking.

Sound clarity was a bit of a challenge for the headset. While most of the time the volume of the call was exceptional, almost too loud at times, callers occasionally asked me to repeat myself. When asked how I sounded, callers would tell me that they could definitely tell I was on a headset. On several calls I had to remove the headset altogether. If using this in a car (as I'm sure you will,) it's best to roll the windows up, as the excess noise goes straight into the microphone. Indoor conversations with less background noise faired much better.

Range was on par with most headsets that I've used in the past. All manufacturers claim the "up to 30 feet" range, though few actually live up to that claim. The Bluetrek Tattoo did admirably and allowed me to get 20 feet from the phone, though much beyond that renders the headset unusable. Holding the phone anywhere on your person (pockets, etc) did provide some interference at times, though if you keep the phone in a pocket on the same side as you were wearing the ear piece it becomes much less noticeable.


Conclusion

The Bluetrek Tattoo bluetooth headset offers some unique options to try to set it apart from the growing number of headsets on the market. The adhesive skins create a unique, personalized look and the included chargers allow for multiple options for topping the battery off. This lightweight headset has a commendable battery life and good range. However, its main downfall is its outgoing sound quality and static interference that can be a nuisance until you find that spot that is "just right." It'd be nice to see a couple of extra skins thrown in as well.





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Criteria 

Rating

Design 4
Usability 4
Sound Quality 3
Cost/Benefit 3
Overall
(not an average)
Pros
  • Adhesive skins allow for personalization
  • Calls quickly sent to headset
  • Good talk and standby battery times
  • Cons
  • Outgoing sound quality could be better
  • Static interference at times
  • No user manual included


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