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Actiontec Wireless Bluetooth Headset

Posted Oct. 2004 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

Actiontec, headquartered in the Silicon Valley, has been making networking products since 1993. While they are known for their DSL Gateways and modems, the Bluetooth products are new in their lineup. The Actiontec Wireless Bluetooth Headset sports a slick design and very light and comfortable to wear. The headset is easy to operate and can work with your mobile phone as well as your PC.

The Actiontec Wireless Bluetooth Headset is relatively small compared to other Bluetooth headsets we've reviewed. It has two multi-function buttons on the right side. The larger button handles power on/off, pairing, voice dialing, volume up in a call; and the smaller button functions to end calls and lower call volume. There are two LED in the front of the headset, one blue and one red, indicating power status, pairing and charging status. The design of the Actiontec Bluetooth headset is simple but very functional. It will suit those who don't want a lot of controls on their headset.

The Actiontec headset is one of the most comfortable wireless headsets we've tested. The ear hook is detachable and is easily placed for use on either ear. The headset has an ear bud that's mounted on a short plastic base, allowing a firm position in your ear. This design proves to be very effect at blocking outside noise. The boom extends towards your mouth about 3". There is a very small charging port on the top of the headset and can be connected to the A/C adapter only through the extension cord that comes in the package. The headset is very lightweight (less than .35 oz.) and comes with a neck strap.

Pairing the Actiontec headset proves to be very easy. Hold the large button until you see the red and blue LED lights flashing alternately, indicating it's ready to pair. Search for the headset via Bluetooth on your phone, and use "1234" as the default pass code to pair the phone with the headset. We tested the headset with the iPAQ 6315, XDA II, Sony Ericsson P800 and T610. The Actiontec only supports the Headset profile, so those who use Symbian 60 series phones like the Nokia 3650 will not be able to use this headset.

The voice quality varied dramatically depending upon which device we used in the test. Here are the detailed results of our tests:

HP iPAQ 6315:
The Actiontec had the best voice quality performance on the HP iPAQ 6315 Pocket PC Phone. The noise canceling worked magic in noisy environments to reduce most of the background noise. We managed to put 15 feet between the phone and the headset without any voice quality degradation. The outgoing volume is quite high using the headset on this phone.

XDA II:
The XDA II however did not manage 15 feet before it started to generate static and echoing. However, it's important to note that very few headsets have good range with this phone. So the Actiontec performs better than some other headsets we've seen. The voice quality isn't superb like on the iPAQ 6315, but it's very decent and should fair well in most environments.

Sony Ericsson P800:
The Actiontec headset did worse with the P800 compared to the Pocket PC Phone Edition devices. Voice quality is acceptable, but it does have noticeable background white noise and some echoing. The outgoing volume is low; however the receiving voice quality is decent with volume that's good enough for most environments. The voice quality on both receiving and outgoing ends suffered when we increased the distance between the phone and the headset. The most range we could get out of was 5 feet before the noise started to get louder and voice volume lower.

Sony Ericsson T610:
The Actiontec Bluetooth headset had the worst voice quality on the Sony Ericsson T610 and had no noise canceling effect even in a relatively quiet environment. The outgoing voice volume is very low there was some random static and echoing.

The landline test went well. The voice is pretty clear on both receiving and outgoing ends. The noise canceling level paled in comparison to the best results on the iPAQ 6315, but bettered all other cell phones in that department.

The Actiontec Bluetooth headset supports voice dialing. Press the large button quickly and speak after the beep to dial in hands-free style. The voice transferring between the phone and headset seems quite intelligent. The headset also works with any Bluetooth enabled PDA or PC. You can listen to system sounds or MP3s on Bluetooth enabled PDAs that support headsets, and use voice command to talk to your PDA via the headset. If you install the driver that comes on the mini-CD with the headset, you can use the headset with your desktop computer as well.

The battery life on the Actiontec headset is pretty good; however it still can't beat Logitech's long battery life. The Lithium-ion battery takes a couple of hours to recharge and talk time is about 3 hours with 3-4 days standby time. The headset comes with a wall A/C adapter with an extension cord that will fit into the small charging port on the headset. Make sure that you don't loose this short extension cord as the Actiontec headset only takes the connector from this extension cord.

Conclusion

Pro: An easy-to-use headset that's comfortable to wear. Solid Bluetooth software makes pairing painless. Offers versatility in working with phones, Bluetooth enabled PDAs, desktop/laptop PCs. Good voice quality when working with high end Pocket PC phones. Not the best, but good battery life. It's easy to carry around with the neck strap.

Con: It would be great if the package had included an in-vehicle charger for those who talk longer than 3 hours on the road. Only supports Headset profile so it won't work with Symbian Series 60 phones like the Nokia 3650. Voice quality isn't as good on the Sony Ericsson phones we tested. No mute function.

The package includes the Bluetooth headset, an AC adapter, an installation mini-CD which includes User Manual, extra earpads, a neck strap, a small accessory bag and a printed Quick Start Guide.

Price: $69.95
Web site: www.actiontec.com

 

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