Dec. 1, 2011 -- As Bluetooth headsets have become commonplace in the last decade, they have also evolved into something more than just a way to a make a call while driving. Now there are headsets that let you get the weather report, listen to music, and remind you to pick up the kids, all while keeping both hands on the wheel. This winter two new headsets have arrived to help every overburdened multi-tasker survive the busy holiday season.
Plantronics Voyager Pro HD $99
I spend a lot of time in my car commuting to and from work, so I've learned to make good use of my time. Mostly I return phone calls, check in on my mom and my son, and get a headstart listening to my voicemail. The one thing that makes this all possible is a Bluetooth headset that not only listens to me, but talks to me. The Plantronics Voyager Pro HD is smart enough to know when I'm driving and want to use the headset. By simply placing it on my ear, it sends my call from the handset to the headset. It also feels like I'm actually talking to someone, because the long boom mic actually comes close to my mouth, instead of leaving me talking into noisy, traffic-filled air.
The Voyager Pro comes with a year of Vocalyst service, Plantronics' voice and text service that lets you listen to your email, check the weather or, if you really must, update your Facebook status just by talking into the headset. After the first year, you'll have to pay $24.99 per year to keep the service. If you like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts in the car as well as music, the headset supports A2DP so you can listen to any streaming audio you have on your phone. When a call comes in, the audio is paused. Same thing happens when you remove the headset from your ear. It knows you've stopped listening, and it pauses.
Voice alerts announce your talk time, volume, and other functions. I especially like that I can ask it how close I am to low battery, so I know when I need to bring it in and charge it back up. The Plantronics headset looks bigger and bulkier than most others I've used but it fits comfortably over my ear, and listens to everything I need.
Sound ID Six $129
If you're in the market for a smaller headset without the boom mic, the Sound ID Six might be a good fit. It fits snugly in your ear, rather than over it, and comes with different size tips to choose from. The headset works in conjunction with a free app, EarPrint 3.0 for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. The app lets you access features such as the voice command menu, and control settings to personalize your listening preferences without having to use the headset. Voice announcements let you know who's calling. The VoiceMenu can be used to verbally access voicemail, search Bing, get 411 information, and even dial phone numbers.
For those of us who sometimes lose our headsets deep in the crevices of the car, there's a 'find my headset' button which sends a loud pitch to the headset, letting you retrieve the wayward device, even in the dark.