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April 20, 2017

The best Bluetooth headsets you can buy

by John_A

dt-best-of-150_blueheadsetsGone are the days when Bluetooth headsets were only for the business elite (or maybe business dorks). They aren’t just there for taking calls — they can also be used as a portal to your digital assistant and provide you with vital information when you need it, without the need to pull out your phone.

There are a ton of things to consider when buying a Bluetooth headset, however, such as battery life and audio quality. If you need your headset available to you all day, for instance, battery life might be the first thing to consider. You’ll also want to keep design and various features in mind. If you’re looking for wireless earbuds for music streaming, check out our list here.

So which Bluetooth headset should you get? With all the options out there, it can be a little difficult to decide. Below are some of our current favorites.

Our pick

Sennheiser Presence-UC

Sennheiser-Presence-UC-Thumb

Why should you buy this: With an excellent battery life, great design, and top audio quality, this is the Bluetooth headset to beat.

The best

Sennheiser Presence-UC

The Sennheiser Presence-UC has a top-tier battery life, great audio quality, and a beautiful design.

$136.69 from Amazon

$110.22 from Jet.com

Who’s it for: Those willing to spend a little extra for the best.

How much will it cost: $137

Why we picked the Sennheiser Presence-UC:

When buying an audio product, you might want to consider an established name in the audio world — like Sennheiser. Sennheiser has long been a dominant force in both consumer and pro audio, and for good reason. The Presence is a pretty sleek device, one that is certainly a lot fancier than many of the other options on our list.

The design is a combination of black and silver with a MicroUSB port for charging, and an LED light on the back. It features an ear hook like most Bluetooth headsets, but unlike others, that ear hook can be removed and attached as needed. The device utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 and implements Sennheiser’s “SpeakFocus” tech, which is designed to enhance voice clarity in all scenarios.

It also uses the company’s WindSafe tech, so it eliminates — you guessed it — wind noise. Plus, Sennheiser claims it will last between 8 and 10 hours on a single charge.

The best for the fashion-conscious

Jawbone Era

jawbone-era

Why should you buy this: The Jawbone Era is probably the best-looking device on this list.

The best for the fashion-conscious

Jawbone Era

The Jawbone Era may not have the best battery life, but it’s still very functional – and looks great.

$36.95 from Amazon

Who’s it for: Those who care about how they look.

How much will it cost: $37

Why we picked the Jawbone Era:

The Jawbone Era may be a few years old, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great device. The original Jawbone Era was released back in 2011, but the company re-released and redesigned the device in 2014. The Era is perhaps most notable because of its design — it’s arguably the most stylish Bluetooth headset on the list, thanks to its sleek arm and discreet earpiece. Basically, this headset won’t draw immediate judgment as you walk down the street. It’s also available in four colors (silver, red, bronze, and black) and comes with ear tips that fall within three size categories (small, medium, and large).

The Era features Jawbone’s “Noise Assassination” technology, which is targeted at cutting out as much background noise as possible when you’re on a call. There’s one button on the device, so it may take a few days to learn all the shortcuts. Jawbone claims that the device will last up to 4 hours on a single charge, but thankfully, there is an optional battery case available. Still, if you’re after something to last you through the day, the Era may not be for you. As far as connectivity goes, the Era features Bluetooth 4.0.

Read more here

The best for the price

Plantronics Voyager 5200

Plantronics Voyager 5200 Thumb

Why should you buy this: With an arm for superior audio and a 7 hour battery life, this is an excellent headset for its price.

The best for the price

Plantronics Voyager 5200

The Plantronics Voyager 5200 has a long battery life and a top-tier audio quality for a low price.

$100.00 from Amazon

$129.99 from TechRabbit

Who’s it for: Those who want quality at a low price

How much will it cost: $100

Why we picked the Plantronics Voyager 5200:

Arguably a little less stylish than the Jawbone Era, the Plantronics Voyager 5200 looks a lot more like what you might expect a Bluetooth headset to look like. While it won’t win any awards when it comes to design, it still has a lot going for it. The Voyager 5200 hooks around the ear, so you won’t need to worry too much about it falling off, which is great for those that fast-paced lives. The design is completed by the small microphone arm, which is noticeable, but not overly large.

Plantronics says the device should last up to seven hours on a single charge, though we suggest being a little conservative and estimating around five to six hours. That’s still not bad. Like the Era, the Voyager 5200 also has an optional charging case, which grants the device two extra charges.

The Voyager 5200 offers excellent audio quality, too, and while the noise cancellation may be a little too aggressive for some tastes, it helps mute background noise in spades. The device can even withstand a few raindrops if it needs to, given its IPX4 rating, meaning that splashes of water from any direction shouldn’t harm the device.

The best for the great outdoors

Jabra Steel

Jabra Steel

Why should you buy this: With a rugged dust, water, and shock resistant design, this is the toughest headset on the list.

The best for the great outdoors

Jabra Motion

The Jabra Steel is tough and dependable.

$102.90 from Amazon

Who’s it for: Those who work outdoors or in noisy or wet environments.

How much will it cost: $103

Why we picked the Jabra Motion:

The Jabra Steel has a very simple, straightforward, ruggedized design. It’s two and a half inches long with an optional ear hook to hold it in place. It scores an IP54 rating, which means it can handle rain and dusty environments, making it ideal for anyone working outdoors. There are extra-large buttons, so you can operate it, even with gloves on, and it supports voice commands for hands-free operation through your phone’s voice assistant.

You’ll find pairing via NFC is an easy option, and you can connect two devices simultaneously. It also boasts aggressive noise cancellation, which is great for loud environments. The audio quality is good, and you get a reasonable 6 hours of talk time when fully charged.

The best for home use

VXi BlueParrott B450-XT

vxi_b450-xt_hero

Why should you buy this: With on-ear buttons and a secure, overhead design, this headset will help you manage your business at home.

The best for home use

VXi BlueParrott B450-XT

With a long arm and on-ear buttons, the VXi BlueParrott B450-XT is great for home or office use.

$149.99 from Amazon

$149.99 from VXI

Who’s it for: Those that want a headset for home or office use only.

How much will it cost: $150

Why we picked the VXi BlueParrott B450-XT:

Sometimes you’re not looking for a headset to use on the go – sometimes, you really need something to use at home. That’s what the VXi BlueParrott B450-XT is here for. While a little bulky, the device features call control buttons right on its ear, along with noise cancelling capabilities and an over-head design, keeping the headset securely on your head.

Along with that, the headset has a rather long microphone arm offering great audio quality — allowing the person on the other end of the line tohear you loud and clear. The headset can also be programmed with the Android or iOS apps, and has NFC for easy pairing.

Is now a good time to buy?

Now is as good of a time as any to buy a Bluetooth headset. While it seems like most companies have slowed down a little in releasing headsets, if you’re in the market for one, there’s no reason not to buy one right now.

On top of that, there are plenty of options available, even for those who don’t want to spend much money because they don’t think they’ll use a Bluetooth headset all that often. When choosing a headset, you’ll want to consider a number of different metrics – and one that many people forget is design. Keep in mind, this is a device you’re going to wear on your head, so you want it to look decent on top of working well.

In reality, most people don’t need a Bluetooth headset, as wired or wireless earbuds should suffice. but then again you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t already decided that a Bluetooth headset was something you might need – either for your personal life or for your business.

How we choose the best Bluetooth headsets

Here at Digital Trends we pride ourselves on being experts in tech, and that includes Bluetooth headsets. Whether it be audio specifications, how Bluetooth works, or why current design trends are in, we know what we’re talking about. For this particular list, we put in the necessary time and research to go through hundreds of different headsets and determine which headsets are best for each category.

That’s not to say they’ll be the best forever – they’ll be overtaken eventually. But for now, we’re confident that these are indeed the best Bluetooth headsets around.

Article originally published 12-21-2016 by Christian de Looper and last updated 4-19-2017 by Simon Hill to add the Jabra Steel.




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