I've been a happily corded headset user for years. Sure, I knew there were dozens of Bluetooth headsets that worked with my Treo 650, but I really didn't want to look like I walked off a Star Trek set. Then I saw the announcement for Jabra's BT160 Bluetooth headset, which touted its 33 interchangeable faceplates. A design for every mood or style, and you can create your own designs online. A customizable headset? What a concept! So I decided to take the Bluetooth plunge.
The Blinking Envelope & Its Contents
I'm not sure how this was done, but it was already on and blinking when I received it. I'm sure UPS was thrilled to handle a package that was glowing intermittently�like a lighthouse.
When I popped open the blister pack (which opened easily) to extract the headset, I was confronted with the equivalent of "Danger! Danger Will Robinson!" on a piece of folded cardboard that makes up the "Read me first" part of the packaging.
It tells you to fully charge it for up to two hours before switching it on and trying to pair it. So I had to cool my jets for a while, even though I was pretty convinced, based on the blinking light, that we were charged.
That gave me time to check out the faceplates. They come in a Ziploc-style baggie that's roughly 3.5 inches wide and 6 inches tall. There are four sheets with 8 faceplates per sheet. They looked to me a lot like Colorform until I touched them.
These things are about the thickness of a mailing label sticker�but NOT sticky. One of my first challenges was just trying to extract my chosen faceplate (named "Mosaic") off the page without tearing it and making it look like some of the cereal box tops I've destroyed. Dontcha just hate it when that happens?
The faceplates' laminated surface serves a dual purpose. It makes them all shiny-looking and it keeps them from scrunching or tearing. After some careful maneuvering, I managed to free one. Then I continued to wait.
When the requisite, agonizing two hours were up, I removed the BT160 from the charger and played around with it. Press and hold the answer/end button turns it on. Since I already thought it was on, I pressed and held it several times just to make sure I had the hang of it. That button felt kind of cheap, but I since I never used one of these before, I had nothing to compare it to. It definitely didn't feel as solid as the buttons on my Treo 650 and other cell phones I've used. Oh well.
It Paired Up Quickly
The nicest thing I liked was how quickly I got it "talking" to my Treo. All I had to do was go to the Treo menu and tap on the Bluetooth symbol. I selected "On" and made sure my device name appeared and in "discoverable" mode. Then I selected "setup devices" which opens a second page.
I tapped "Hands-free setup" and then followed the instructions to get the BT160 talking to the 650. It was really simple and I was off and running in no time.
So I set it on my ear (it hangs gently on top of my ear with the hearing piece resting gently in my ear canal). It's very similar to the Jabra BT350 [ Review | Buy ].
I used my landline to call my Treo 650. It rang once on my handset and when I pressed the answer button on the BT160, it picked up within seconds. No problem.
For dialing out, I had to dial from my Treo and then the headset was automatically "in play." To test it, I decided to dial my managing editor.
He said he could hear me fine. I felt I couldn't hear him well so I pumped up the volume and it seemed okay. Maybe I just needed to get used to it.
For the big test, I left my Treo in the office and kept talking as I walked towards my kitchen. I got maybe about 10�12 feet away before the signal broke up and faded. The Jabra folks claim 10 meters or about 33 feet. Hmm...
I was so excited about my first Bluetooth experience, I forgot the most important thing: How did it look on my little ear?
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Read Merciful by Casey Adolfsson