Posted by virantha on Wed 03 July 2013

Bluetooth headset with dedicated mute button

I typically spend several hours a day on conference calls, and I really miss my old blackberry that used to have a dedicated mute button. The iPhone touch button on the phone screen is just not quick enough to quickly jump in and out of a meeting in a noisy environment.

Which brings me to my next point; why is it so difficult to find a decent bluetooth headset these days that make it easy to mute the mic when on a call? I really liked my Plantronics Discovery 975 Bluetooth Headset for its comfort and unobtrusive style, but it was a pain to mute a call; I'm not sure what kind of usability study was done when they decided a "long" press on the single volume button was the mute/unmute control.

Plantronics Discovery 975

So here's my recent research on a replacement headset with a usable mute feature:

Headset Comparison
Headset Price Mute Features User complaints
$80 Y Sensor to answer call when placed on head Users complain noise-cancelling distorts voice, non-standard charging cable
$118 Y Bluetooth 4.0, HD Voice support, motion sensor Expensive
$100 Y Motion sensor - Turns off when out of ear, pick it up and answers call Touch controls for volume not very sensitive; not very convenient to place on ear
$90 Y Micro-usb charger Call quality, noise cancelling average
~$50 Y Cheaper Older headset; Bluetooth 2.0, no ADP; Sound quality low
$150 N* Loud volume; good noise-cancelling Left or right versions; low battery life
$70 N* Unobtrusive Older
$40 N* Most affordable option Newer model, but sound quality low

* Hold vol+/- simultaneously to mute

I decided to try out the Voyager Legend, and see if the call quality is good enough; I'll keep this updated with my experiences.


Update: 7/16/13 *Well, I got my Plantronics Voyager Legend today along with a dash of reality on what companies fob on us these days as "products".  While the fit and feel of the headset was good, the sound quality when paired with my iPhone 5 was quite simply atrocious.  It's hard to describe, but my voice just sounds chopped up and distorted on the other end.  What's strange is that the music streaming sounds fine, but the voice transmission is just awful, non-understandable, and robotic sounding.  And this in a perfectly quiet environment with a full charge and my phone in line of sight less than a foot away; firmware was also up-to-date according to Plantronics' myheadset updated. * I'm packing this up and sending it back right away**.  Sorry, Plantronics, I was expecting better from you after the Discovery 925/975 series; if you can't get the basic audio quality up to par on voice on a headset, then why bother?

I already ordered the Jabra Supreme to replace it.

Jabra Supreme update

Well, after about a week of using it, I'm happy with the Jabra Supreme. The sound quality on calls is good, the mute button works, and it's very comfortable on the ear. The earbud, surprisingly, is unlike most others that sit inside your ear close to your ear-canal; instead, the Jabra Supreme rests against the outside of your ear. It's also nice to just fold in the boom mic and have the headset turn off.

Jabra Motion Update (Dec 2014)

I've also been using this now for the past year or so, after finding it on sale. I'd say that quality wise it's very similar to the Supreme, but the fit is a little better. I also think that battery standby is much better; the supreme would always be out of battery after being turned off for a week or two, with the Motion never having this issue. It is a litle bit more annoying to put on, and I don't think I would recommend it for smaller ears because the portion that fits between your ear and head is rather thick. I do find it more stable on my ear once I get it on, however.

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