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Nextlink Bluespoon AX Bluetooth Headset

Posted Feb. 6, 2005 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

The designers at Nextlink believe that good things come in small packages. Their last generation Bluespoon Chameleon headset was the smallest one we’ve seen, yet they managed to make even smaller and lighter Bluespoon headset. The Bluespoon AX, the 3 rd generation wireless headset offered by Nextlink, has the latest Bluetooth wireless headset technology and sells for an affordable price.

Looking like a shrunk down version of the Chameleon, the Bluespoon AX comes in at only 1.5 inches in length and 0.35 oz. (10 grams) in weight. It is indeed the smallest Bluetooth headset. The AX also adds a separate multi-function button on the front face of the headset in addition to the two side buttons found on the Chameleon, simplifying operation. The multi-function button is clear so that it can act as an LED. The buttons on the sides turn the volume up and down while the center multi-function button initiates or end calls and performs other functions.

There is a Mini USB port on the top of the headset for charging and for carrying with the included Mini USB neck strap. The speaker is mounted on the back of the headset. You can use one of the soft ear pieces that will channel the sound into your ear tunnel and secure the headset in your ear with its soft rubberized spring. The ear piece is a big improvement from the Chameleon model because it’s shaped to fit into your ear and the spring is much softer and easy to get into position. The Bluespoon AX package includes two ear pieces of different sizes and lengths. Try both to see which one fits your ear better, and trim the “tail” if it’s too long. It can also easily rotate for either ear. The headset is very light so you will have no trouble wearing it for the entire day and it’s very small and unobtrusive. Nextlink offers the Bluespoon AX in “Silk Black” color.

Pairing the Bluespoon AX with a device is quick and easy. The Bluespoon supports both Headset and Hands-Free profiles. We tested the headset with the iPAQ 6315, the Audiovox SMT5600, the Nokia 3650 palmOne Treo 650 and the Dell X50v Pocket PC. Pairing with all phones and PDAs worked smoothly. You can put the headset in pairing mode by holding down the multi-function button until it’s flashing blue and red rapidly, use “0000” as the pass code and establish the connection between the headset and your device. The Bluespoon AX also supports Audio Gateway and Bluetooth adapter for desktop which is handy if you like to use a headset for VoIP. The Bluespoon can be paired with up to 8 devices. The sound hand-off between the phone and the headset is quite fast and smooth, even with the Treo 650 which is generally slow to hand off calls to a Bluetooth headset.

The voice quality is decent, though not full-bodied. Given the headset's incredibly small size, there isn't room for a speaker than can deliver a lot of deep midrange and bass, after all. The volume isn’t terribly loud for either the incoming or outgoing voice. It’s a good choice for the office but not for noisy cars or loud outdoor public places. It is loud enough for walks down suburban streets and the average supermarket. If you need to adjust the volume of the incoming voice, use the buttons on the side of the headset. Be careful however; don’t hold the headset with your hand when in use as it reduces the sound volume because your hand obstructs the Bluetooth wireless signal. When testing on a Pocket PC, system sounds, MP3 and movie sound played through the headset with decent clarity. The system sound volume is quieter than the MP3 and movie tracks, which is probably a good thing.

You can mute your voice during a call by holding either volume button for 4 seconds and another 4 seconds to un-mute. The Bluespoon AX has a high efficiency 2.4 GHz antenna that supposed to give you a longer range. We get over 25 feet range consistently with all the phones tested except the Treo 650 which is known for its mediocre range with headsets (the Treo managed 10 feet). Longer distances and having walls between your headset and the phone cause break ups and cracking sounds.

The Bluespoon AX supports some common phone features such as voice dialing, call waiting and call rejection if your cell phone has these features. In general Hands-Free profile will give you more features via the headset such as putting a call on hold, re-dial the last number and more. The Bluespoon AX has performed voice dialing, call waiting and call rejection smoothly on the Nokia 3650 which has the Hands-Free profile. Note that not all phones support voice dialing via headset, for example the Motorola MPx220 doesn’t come with this support.

The Bluespoon AX comes with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery in a coin cell shape. The battery is user replaceable. It lives in a small tray under the Mini USB charging port. You can pull the tray out to change the battery. Nextlink recommend that you use the original Bluespoon AX batteries or you will avoid their warranty. The headset comes with a USB charging cable which can turn your computer (PC or Mac) into a charging station for the headset. Make sure that you fully charge the battery for the first time. The multi-function button (acts like an LED) will turn red when the headset is charging and turn off the red light when the headset is fully charged. The claim talk time is 6 hours and our tests show that it’s just slightly shorter than that . The standby time is 300 hours and the headset will go to sleep after extended period of non-activity.


Bluespoon AX




Cardo Scala 500, AX and the Motorola HS820. Yes, the AX is much smaller than other "small" headsets as you can see above. Our first AX was a clear prototype, as you can see!



Pro: If miniaturization is your style, it doesn’t get any better than this! It’s light and comfortable to wear. The headset supports dual profile and works with variety of devices. The voice quality isn’t too bad but not the best we’ve used. The range is pretty good on all devices and it supports some popular phone features. It comes with a rechargeable battery that’s user replaceable which is a nice touch if you plan to keep this headset for a long time. USB charging is convenient for computer users but not convenient if you’re on the road without a laptop and its USB port. In that case, purchase Nextlink's optional car charger or wall charger. Good battery life and good price!

Con: Incoming voice volume might turn away those who use their phones in noisy environments, but it works well if you're not on a Manhatten street corner or in a family style restaurant filled with boisterous children and clanging cuttlery. There is a little bit of white noise that’s noticeable on the incoming end. Can’t charge the headset in the car or when away from a computer’s USB port unless you purchase the accessory wall or car chargers.

The package includes the Bluespoon AX headset, a USB charging cable for charging the headset via your computer, 2 ear pieces, a rechargeable coin cell battery that’s user replaceable, a Mini USB neck strap and a user manual.

Price: $74

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