Bluetooth headset

7 Aug 2003

Product: Plantronics M3000

Price: €156

We seem to have spent an awful lot of time in recent weeks talking about Bluetooth and the trend is set to continue with this week’s review. Part of the reason for this is that Bluetooth products are coming thick and fast onto the market at the moment. After a very shaky start for the standard, when some analysts were inclined to write it off, this is good news for the technology’s advocates.

Bluetooth, it seems, is here to stay and is now well on the way to becoming a de facto wireless standard.

For those of you who haven’t encountered it yet, Bluetooth is a technology which, by means of short wave radio, allows devices to communicate together wirelessly. It’s not to be confused with Wi-Fi (or 802.11 to be technical). Bluetooth is not a competing standard, but rather has a different function and the two technologies tend to complement each other nicely. While Wi-Fi is used for networking, Bluetooth is more of a cable replacement technology combined with the ability for some ad hoc networking.

One of the first types of devices we saw Bluetooth arrive in was the mobile headset and that segment of the market is still going strong today. Many of the mobile manufacturers now supply headsets and plenty of third party providers are entering the market also. For the consumer, it means a good deal of choice when selecting a model. Sadly, the same can’t be said for mobile phones, as the range of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones is still somewhat limited.

Plantronics is one such third party manufacturer of Bluetooth devices, which brings us to the product under review, the M3000 headset. Back at the beginning of the year, we reviewed the company’s first offering in this arena, the M1000 and gave it a fairly good write-up, so we were interested to see if Plantronics had anything new to offer. The M3000 has a more adventurous design and we were pleased to see that its recommended retail price is actually lower than that of its predecessor at the time of launch.

Unlike the earlier model, the M3000 has a more compact design. It’s bullet shaped rather than the previous boom model. Although this means that the headset’s microphone is further away from the user’s mouth, we found no appreciable difference in performance. A nice touch is the fact that it comes with two detachable earpieces, one large and one small, thus catering for the big and small-eared amongst us. Simply reversing the earpiece will allow it to be used on the left rather than the right ear.

Before using the headset you’ll have to pair it with your mobile phone. This is a fairly straightforward process. Simply holding two of the headset’s buttons for a few seconds will activate the pairing process. Next, you search for the headset using your phone. Once the headset is discovered you enter its pass code on the phone and it’s ready for use.

We tested the headset in conjunction with the Nokia 3650 and found it pretty easy to use. Once paired, the headset is automatically detected by the phone when in its vicinity. If the phone rings, simply pressing the main button on the headset will answer the call. Pressing it again will end the call.

Making calls is even more straightforward. Once the phone has detected the headset, you just have to dial a number and the call is transferred immediately to the headset. Once again, ending the call just involves pressing the headset button.

If your phone supports voice dialling, this can also be used in conjunction with the headset. If voice tags are saved on the phone, pressing the headset’s main button and saying the name will activate the call. Other features include volume buttons on the headset and the ability to transfer calls between the headset and the phone mid-call.

We’ve looked at a good few Bluetooth headsets in recent times and this one comes in near the top of the pile. It’s small and neat, looks good and works well. One to consider should you be lucky enough to have a Bluetooth phone.

By Dick O’Brien