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Computerized Investing > February 11, 2012

Bose Bluetooth Headset Series 2

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

Over the last couple of years I have reviewed several Bluetooth headsets for making hands-free calls with your cell phone. Recently I have been using the Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2, which I had on loan from Bose. This second-generation headset sports a minimalist design that doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself when you are wearing it. However, I wasn’t impressed with its fit or its call quality.

Design

The Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2 is definitely one of the more unobtrusive headsets I have used. The device measures 0.74” x 1.8” x 1.26” (height x width x depth) and weighs 0.42 ounces. On the top are the up and down volume controls and the multi-function call button. One feature I really like with this headset is the dedicated sliding on/off button on the bottom. Many headsets require you to hold down a power button to turn them on and off, sometimes leaving you wondering if you have actually done so. With the on/off slider, you know for sure whether the Series 2 is on or off.

On the back of the headset you will find LED indicator lights for Bluetooth connection and battery life. The battery indicator light shows green, yellow or red depending on how much charge is left.

Out of the box, the Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2 comes with a carrying case, USB charging cable and wall adapter, and small, medium and large “StayHear” tips for your ears (more on these a little later).

The headset comes in either right- or left-ear models, meaning you cannot switch between ears the way you can with some other headsets on the market, such as the Plantronics Voyager PRO+.

Compatibility

The Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2 is compatible with Bluetooth devices using Bluetooth 2.1 (or earlier) specifications that support the Bluetooth hands-free and headset profiles.

Performance

Pairing the Series 2 with my Apple iPhone 4S was extremely easy. The first time you turn it on, the Series 2 automatically goes into pairing mode. From your Bluetooth-enabled device, choose the Bose BT2 to complete the pairing. To pair with a different device, press and hold the call button on the headset for five seconds to make the device discoverable. In all, you can pair the Series 2 with up to six phones. The Series 2 also supports Multipoint, which allows it to connect to two devices at the same time.

The Series 2 uses an in-ear design, which means it is only supported by the tip that goes into your ear. This is in contrast to other headsets that use a behind-the-ear design where the headset “clips” over or behind your ear, which, in my opinion, offers a much more secure fit. With the Series 2, even with three different ear tip sizes to choose from, I never got a sense of a truly secure fit. However, I was surprised to find that I didn’t have to constantly push the ear tip back into my ear canal to keep it from falling out. Furthermore, the fit was comfortable enough to wear the headset for extended periods of time.

The Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2 uses a proprietary dual microphone system that “rejects” background noise instead of cancelling it. I wasn’t overly impressed with the sound quality when making calls from my office; it wasn’t as good as the sound quality offered by other headsets I have reviewed that cost significantly less. Voices were thin and a bit tinny, but the people to whom I was speaking had no problems hearing me.

Bose claims that its Adaptive Audio Adjustment Technology reacts automatically to changing noise levels, adjusting the headset volume on both ends of the call. In loud environments, the volume increases and then decreases when things quiet down. Walking out of my office building and onto Michigan Avenue, the Series 2 did a good job of adjusting the volume to compensate for the noise of traffic. For the most part it was also able to cancel out the background noise, making conversations clear for both parties. Wind did present some problems for the Series 2, however, as has been my experience with most other Bluetooth headsets, no matter how good the microphone technology may be.

For its price, the Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2 is lacking features found in other headsets, including on-screen battery status, apps, or built-in voice commands.

Streaming Audio

The Series 2 supports A2DP, which lets you listen to turn-by-turn directions from your smart phone, as well as podcasts, music and other mobile media content. Although the Series 2 only offers mono sound, since it is limited to one ear, I was wowed by the sound quality. Listening to Pandora on my iPhone, it was easy to forget that I was only getting sound through one ear; the sound quality is that good.

Battery Life

Out of the box, it took less than two hours to fully charge the Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2. According to Bose, it should take about three hours to charge a fully drained battery. Bose claims that the battery, once fully charged, supports 4.5 hours of talk time and up to 100 hours of standby time. If one is to believe the battery statistics provided by headset makers, the Series 2 somewhat lags other popular headsets.

Overall

Overall I was generally pleased with the performance of the Bose Bluetooth headset Series 2. The audio quality of calls, while not as good as some other headsets I have used, is still more than good enough. The A2DP sound quality is amazing, but I doubt people are buying a single-ear headset to listen to their music or podcasts. Although the headset never fell out of my ear, I am not completely sold on the fit. I fully admit, however, that this is a matter of personal preference.

The biggest knock against the Series 2 is the price: at $149.95, it is one of the most expensive Bluetooth headsets you can buy. Since its audio quality didn’t floor me, and since it is lacking additional features, I think you are better off buying a lower-priced headset such as the Plantronics Voyager PRO+ or the Jabra EXTREME.

Pros:

  • Dedicated on/off switch
  • Available in right- and left-ear models
  • Light, streamlined design
  • Excellent A2DP audio quality

Cons:

  • Expensive relative to other Bluetooth headsets
  • Lacks voice commands and companion apps found in cheaper headsets
  • Fit not as secure as I have found with other headsets I have reviewed

Bose Bluetooth Headset Series 2

http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/headphones/mobile_solutions/bluetooth_headset/index.jsp

$149.95 (currently $149.95 from Amazon.com)

 

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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