Thursday, May 3, 2007

VXI RoadWarrior Bluetooth headset
is not just for truckers

In recent years, head-mounted microphones have become very popular for singers who want to move around on stage. And if you look at anyone from Madonna to Garth Brooks, or at sportscasters or astronauts or pilots, you'll see that their microphones are on booms that get the mic right in front of their mouths -- not near their ears or on their cheeks.

Wireless Bluetooth headsets are very popular for cellphones, but lots of them are bought as cool fashion accessories, not to enhance communications. Many of the sexier models are tiny -- not much bigger than an earring. Their microphones go closer to your ear than to your mouth, and they can transmit more noise than words if you're not in a quiet location.

It's a basic fact of life that when the microphone is close to your mouth, it transmits more voice and less background noise; and that's important whether you're singing before 150,000 fans in a stadium, or chatting on your cellphone.

It's also a basic fact of life that most trucks are noisy. That's why the wizards at headset maker VXI, who make BlueParrott (spelled with two T's) brand headsets, devised their B150 "RoadWarrior" headset.

It won't win first prize in any beauty contests, but it's definitely the champ in the cab of an 18-wheeler (and in many other spots).

Its microphone incorporates a high-rejection noise canceling design, combined with a long microphone boom and wind screen ("blast filter"). This minimizes the transmission of background noise, so your voice is loud and clear. For our test, Cynical Cousin Dave paired the headset to my Samsung Sync cellphone, and went for a walk.

We kept talking as he kept walking, and he stopped in the middle of the street (appropriately in front of a truck stop). His voice was strong and noise-free. I never had to ask him to repeat a word. I never heard the sounds of cars and trucks whizzing past him. I never heard the wind (and it was a windy day). Dave's voice sounded as good as if he was sitting at his desk in a quiet office! Some people may have wondered why he was having a leisurely chat while standing on the white line in the middle of a busy street, but fortunately, no one ran over him. Or arrested him for jaywalking.

On the receiving end, the B150's speaker element has high output to overcome road, wind and engine noise, and its big enough to cover your ear. Normally I recommend binaural headsets for use in noisy environments; but if you're driving, or going for a walk, it's important to have one ear free to hear honks, sirens and people yelling at you.

The B150 RoadWarrior quickly became a favorite among truck drivers who appreciate its talk power and durable construction; and its popularity now extends to people who use it in many indoor and outdoor environments.

It's great for sports cars, ragtops, jeeps, tractors, forklifts, lawn mowers, construction equipment, or any small car with a high-revving engine. It makes sense for use on boats, at oil wells or in mines or steel mills. It's a good solution for use in a factory, or in an office filled with loudmouths. It's even a good choice if you want to talk while walking your dog or working in your garden or basement workshop...or doing the laundry.

The BlueParrot B150 works with any Bluetooth enabled device including cellphones and computers (but not with Cynical Cousin Dave's stupid Palm Treo 700P). Range is about 33 feet. On-ear controls include mute, on/off, and volume adjustment. You get chargers for both 110 volt indoor power and 12 volt vehicle power -- which you normally don't get with other Bluetooth headsets, or even with cellphones. Charge time is about 4 hours, talk time 6 hours, and standby time 100 hours. It has a TWO-YEAR manufacturer's warranty, twice as long as you usually get with a Bluetooth headset.



Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I need. I drive an old MG that's much too noisy for regular headsets.

Anonymous said...

I definitely want one of these too! But are you serious that it doesn't work with a Treo 700P? If not, WHY not? All other Bluetooth devices seem to work fine with the Treos, including my Prius!

Michael N. Marcus said...

According to CCD (Cynical Cousin Dave) there are major problems with the new Treo and Bluetooth headsets. We couldn't get good voice quality with a Plantronics Pulsar 590A, and a Jabra that it does sound OK with, works only at very close range.

CCD's previous Treo did not have these issues.

CCD said that Palm's response was to urge people to use Palm headsets.

Apparently CCD isn't the only one having problems using Bluetooth headset with the 700P.

Google _700P Bluetooth trouble_ or _700P Bluetooth problems_ to see what's going on.