Products & Reviews
Nextlink.to Bluespoon AX headset
Thu Jun 23, 2005 - 10:08 AM EDT - By
Table of Contents
> Overview Conclusion
Overview Nextlink's Bluespoon AX touts its Scandinavian design roots and boasts that it is a 3rd generation Bluetooth headset. The implication here is that the sound quality should have the kinks worked out and the design should be very functional and stylish. This is an instance where hype almost meets reality...
Design The earpiece is barely 1.5" long and 1" wide. The most noticeable piece is a small rubber tube that appears to be the microphone but absolutely is not. It curls into the outer part of the ear not as a speaker either, but as a retaining mechanism to keep the earpiece in place. Ear loop begone.
The rest of the unit is all business. There is a small directional mic, an earpiece that sits in the ear itself, and three buttons—two for volume and the multifunction button on the face of the unit.
The unit does NOT ship with an AC adapter. Nor does it need one. A small cable plugs into the USB port on your computer and charges the headset. Think of it. No bulky AC adapter, no scrambling for another spot on that power strip, no worries about intercontinental voltage. If you're like me, your headset sits near your computer all day anyway. Simply plug it in and you're good. Of course an inexpensive AC (or car) adapter is available separately should you so choose for only ten bucks.
The device uses a rechargeable watch style Li-ion battery which is user replaceable. It is rated for 6 hours of talk time. The manual warns that a second battery should only be obtained through Nextlink.
The unit ships with two earpieces -- one for smaller ears, another for larger and is easily configurable for the left or right ear. The manual instructs how to trim the spring part down if necessary to achieve the best fit. The unit also ships with a lanyard that securely and conveniently clips into the same mini USB port as the charging cable on the headset.
This is a cool looking headset from its tiny form factor to simple black plastic. It is extremely light which combined with the other factors gives it a little bit of a toy like feel and I might worry about durability in the long run. Unfortunately, the earpiece does not ship with any sort of carry case. The main question is, of course, how well does it work.
Function The unit pairs easily enough with the Treo. Hold the multifunction button down for about ten seconds until the LED flashes blue and red, then start the Bluetooth wizard on the Treo. Four zeros later for the pass code and you're in.
The Nextlink Bluespoon AX supports both the Headset and Hands-Free profiles. For those of you keeping score, the Hands-Free profile has a few more features such as transferring a call from the handset to the earpiece mid call. You can achieve the usual actions with the multi function button including answering, hanging up, and using the button for call reject.
Call Quality The good news is that the third generation seems to have improved upon call quality -- but is of course far from perfect.
Talking to my niece, my new chief tester, she said that this sounded much better than my previous earpiece. Since I was going through the relative test, my father concurred. I found that on my end, the sound was a bit scratchy at times, but had reasonable tonal quality. One suggestion from the Nextlink website FAQ is that if your sound is not up to par to re-pair the devices. In addition, the mic is not a boom mic so it may pick up a bit more background noise than other types of earpieces.
One consistent problem is of course that the Treo is very unforgiving with Bluetooth range. The Treo and earpiece need to be positioned as near to each other as possible with direct line of sight. As far as I can tell, though, this headset only supports Bluetooth 1.1 for those who might consider it for other phones.
I also noticed that this headset took a couple more seconds than others to transfer an outgoing call from the Treo to headset. It didn't seem to affect anything significantly, but the lag was irksome.
Another minor annoyance was the mediocre manual. First of all it's overly bulky because it contains instructions in twelve languages. Secondly, it is poorly laid out though it does seem that all of the information necessary is there. All in all though, these quibbles are minor.
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