Toolkit essentials for film professionals. This is the good stuff; the gear that makes the day possible and the work a bit easier.
By Norman C. Berns
Call me old-fashioned. I’ve never been a fan of those stick-it-in-your-ear Bluetooth phone thingies. You know what I mean. Those wireless things that make you seem like a delusional Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, deep in conversation with an unseen collective.
Worse, Bluetooth sound quality — both in and out — has had the horrible habit of wafting between bad and worse. So I’ve stuck with my old wired earplug to talk hands-free. Ugly, yes, but the connection was never lost and I felt less like Seven of Nine with an ear implant.
FONEGEAR MINI BLU 976
That’s why I was reluctant to try foneGEAR’s tiny headset, the Mini Blu. Fortunately, resistance was futile. One quick charge and I take back all the bad things I’ve ever said about Bluetooth. This little ear bug had me from BEEP.
The Mini Blu model 976 is less than two inches long, remarkably thin and about three-quarters of an inch wide, weighing in at 9 grams (less than a third of an ounce). Mini indeed! Best of all, it sells for pocket change at about $50.
It makes my old model feel like a pickup truck sitting on my head. No wonder I hated it.
The Mini Blu is pretty in a minimalist way. The top quarter of its smooth face is the power switch, answers the phone and cues voice-activated calling. A pair of too-tiny buttons on the outer edge raise or lower the volume, while a thin loop holds the whole thing tight to either ear. Actually, right in your ear with the optional (and provided) ear bud. Perfect for noisy rooms.
It’s made with Bluetooth-2 specs, so the odds are good it’ll work with most phones. Supposedly, you can keep on talking 30-feet from your phone, but that must be in an alternate universe; I had no luck moving from one room into the next even within sight of my phone. You can, however, chat away for up to four hours or keep the unit on standby for a whopping 75 hours.
On the opposite end of tiny comes the Motorokr S9 from Motorola, looking like Geordi La Forge’s bionic eyepatch worn backwards. It can’t see (as far as I know) but this lollapalooza can hear just fine. It loops into and over ears and is waterproof enough to be worn during workouts and jogging. Presumably, not for talking on the phone, but for listening to music.
This headset comes with a dual identity. It’s a mild-mannered cell-phone headset and mind-blowing stereo headphones.
The Bluetooth hooked up effortlessly with my test phone, a BlackBerry Pearl 8100, and held on through a generous 30-foot stroll away from the base. Sound quality was surprisingly sharp and clear, though it came through only one of the two ear buds. Touch sensitive audio controls provided auditory feedback in lieu of tactile response. Very cool. I’m big on beep-beep.
But as they say: “Wait! There’s more!” As I said, it’s two headsets in one. Hook the S9 to your music player and it’s suddenly all stereo, politely putting music on hold when a call comes in. Batteries pack six hours of life per charge, which you may well need before the day is done.
My favorite use, however, was as a VOIP headset. I used a Motorola D200 USB Bluetooth transmitter to give the headset access to my computer. And hands down, it’s the absolute best, easiest headset I’ve ever used. Skype found it instantly. Audio was in stereo and sound quality was fine.
There are buttons galore, for answering calls or playing music and picking tracks. The whole unit weighs in at about an ounce and is almost guaranteed to gather more than a few envious stares.
These two units are way too cool to get lost on the bottom of a toolkit. Each has a distinct purpose and it’s not inconceivable to squeeze them both into your life, especially if that life includes phones, music and workouts.
Mini Blue Bluetooth Wireless Headset 976
List Price $49.95
Motorola Motorokr S9 Headset
$85-$110 at online outlets
Written by Norman Berns