Bluetooth has been around for about 10 years, but it's only been in the last few years that Bluetooth technology has appeared on more and more cell phones. When cell phones first sported this feature, it was typically found only on high-end and smart phones that could use Bluetooth to send files, seek out other cell phones with Bluetooth activated, and of course with a headset. Today, just about all new cell phone models have Bluetooth, and at the very least, they can be paired with a headset for hands-free calling, though some can do more. For example, some can even be used with stereo Bluetooth headphones or, if they support Stereo Bluetooth (known in technical circles as A2DP), stream music stored on your cell phone through a portable Bluetooth-enabled speaker system.
What is Bluetooth anyway?
In short, Bluetooth is a wireless technology in which one Bluetooth device can pair (or connect) with another Bluetooth device up to 30 feet away. In order for the technology to work, both Bluetooth devices ? say, a cell phone and a headset ? must have the feature activated, be visible (meaning other Bluetooth devices that are also on and within the 30-foot range can find it), and support the same protocol. When it comes to basic Bluetooth headsets, cell phones and headsets pretty much work together. Even if you have an earlier-version headset and a newer cell phone, chances are the phone will be backward compatible with the headset, and making a connection shouldn't be an issue.
What kinds of Bluetooth headsets are available?
Like anything else regarding cell phones, there's a large variety. They come in all price ranges and have loads of different features. You can get a Bluetooth headset, such as the Jabra BT135, for as little as $25. This is a basic headset that's not too intrusive. Or you can get a headset, such as the Plantronics Voyager 520, that can connect to two different Bluetooth-enabled cell phones so that you can take calls from either phone without having to swap out the headset. Of course, a headset with that many features will run you closer to $70. Really, when it comes to Bluetooth headsets, choice is not the problem. Rather, it's knowing which model is right for you.
What should I look for in a Bluetooth headset?
As noted above, Bluetooth headsets have a lot of features, but how do you know which features you want? That's easy: check out the list below, identify the top 4 or 5 features based on your needs, and pick a headset that rates highly in all those areas.
How do I make a connection?
It's true not all Bluetooth headsets are created equal, and there's no universal way to get them to work. One thing is certain before pairing any cell phone with another Bluetooth device (i.e. a headset): Power off the Bluetooth headset, then power it on to get it into pairing mode. Also, don't throw away the manual; key instructions for making a connection can be hidden in those pages, especially with more feature-rich headsets. In the meantime, these 5 tips should help you get started:
1. Figure out if you have a Bluetooth cell phone. Although most cell phones these days support Bluetooth, you should first check to see if your cell phone works with Bluetooth. There's no need to mess with a manual; you can find this information in your cell phone. Depending on the cell phone you have, there may be a Bluetooth option in the main menu. If it's not there, check under Connectivity, Settings, or Tools to find an option to turn on Bluetooth.
2. Deciphering when Bluetooth is activated in your cell phone. In order to make a pairing, you?ll need to activate the Bluetooth feature on your cell phone. The good news is that when Bluetooth is activated, the Bluetooth logo (it's a B) will appear in the cell phone's display, typically next to the battery meter or the network strength logo.
3. The key is in discovery. Just because the logo appears in the corner of the display and Bluetooth is activated doesn't mean you can pair it. To keep your cell phone safe from other Bluetooth activity, it automatically defaults to nondiscoverable mode, which means it can't make a connection with another Bluetooth-enabled device. In the Bluetooth menu, often in Options, you can choose to make the cell phone discoverable. Typically, the cell phone will stay discoverable for just a few moments so that you can pair it with another device.
4. Make sure your Bluetooth headset is fully charged. Before pairing a Bluetooth-enabled headset with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, charge the headset, then turn it on. Once the headset is on, you?ll need to press and hold down the talk button until the blue light either flashes quickly or stays illuminated in order to pair it with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. (Note: This really varies among headsets, but when you see a regular flashing light, you probably won't be able to make a connection.)
5. Password clues. Making a connection is great, but sometimes a password is required to complete the deal. The password is almost always 0000 (four zeros), and in some cases, it can be 1234. Typically, though, it's four zeros.