Go Hands Free or Die
I feel like I grew up in a generation that’s had a love/hate relationship with earphones. We loved them when the Walkman came out in the 80’s, but then we hated them when CD players hit the market. Who could workout and listen to their CD player without it skipping? Seriously…
The craze started back up when sanctimony was in vogue in the 90’s, where, if you worked in any call center, headsets for your landline were a status symbol. Now, sales of earphones and headsets are blazing past any other mobile item - we’ve got ear buds, Bluetooth, Jabra and earplugs smart enough to switch from music to a phone call with the touch of a button.
When I popped open the box, the plug-in headset that was with my new cellphone was the last thing that I looked at. It was an accessory that I never knew I’d miss.
But now it’s gone. I lost it and I don’t know how.
I have a whole complex, paranoid theory about it, but let’s move on. It was free with the phone, so it’s hard for me to complain. (Which, by the way, is another thing I like about getting a new cell phone, they include free headsets with ‘em these days. Bravo guys, Bravo).
I’ll admit that I don’t tend to talk on the phone much. I’m a guy. What I have to say over the phone is done at work or when my girlfriend is on the other line. It’s as simple as that. You want to talk to me? E-mail, man. Call if you anticipate talking to me for five minute or less. In the entire time that I’ve owned a cellphone, I have never once gone over my minutes. It mystifies me when people do.
However, there are times when a long conversation is necessary (see girlfriend, above). For these occasions, it is vastly more comfortable for me to wear the headset. I was against the idea at first, but holding a phone up to my ear for an extended period taught me otherwise.
This is where my missing headset comes back into the story. It turns out that losing an item that I had never thought I liked, then slowly grew attached to, has set me adrift in this vast and unforgiving world.
Like every good American, I decided to fill it with yet another possession. You can take that to be an indictment of capitalism or a demonstration of my weak will. Either interpretation doesn’t take away from the fundamental truth that I kinda like to buy stuff - especially when I can write about it later.
Seeking resolution, I went to Verizon Wireless last weekend and, as it turns out, the experience was pretty painless. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I got good service in an electronics store. The young girl who helped me knew a lot about the products there, and if I had my doubts about overpaying for cell phone accessories, she was nice enough to explain everything I got for my dollar in great detail. What's more, I actually ended up paying $20 less than the tagged price on the Bluetooth earpiece. That, my friends, is service.
My choice was the Mobile Traveller SE headset made by Logitech, since many of the other ones were too alien-looking. It features the Logitech Windstop technology (essentially a microphone filter that eliminates noise), 7 hours talk time/300 hours standby time, comfort earpiece and one touch call & answer button. It also has a volume control that, once synced with your cellphone adjusts the volume of the earpiece and the phone concurrently. It’s comfortable, affordable (around $60) and once I got it home I couldn’t wait to try it out.
After the requisite four hours for the first charge, I made my calls. It was an experience I might never forget. My last headset was tethered to my Treo by its connecting wire, but my new Bluetooth is completely free standing: I can put my phone in my back-pocket and forget that it exists. I don’t have to swat at a wire when driving my car, and I can put the phone down on the passenger seat and still talk like it’s up to my ear. What a country.
In truth, I’ve always had mixed emotions about buying a Bluetooth headset. I never wanted to be one of those “ghost talkers” you see in the street, blabbing away into thin air. They’re just pretentious, and though I love my cellphone, I feel like I’m too much of a regular guy to be classified as pretentious.
Instead, I discovered (or, more accurately, I justified to myself) that there are plenty of important and practical uses for a hands free device. A colleague of mine was recently pulled over twice in Connecticut because she was blabbing away on her hand held, unaware that the law in the state required her to have a headset. Note: if you plan on traveling through Connecticut, or New York, New Jersey, DC and now California, you’d best get yourself one of these.
So there you go. Its safety and convenience that we all should be mindful of. Don’t judge me for my purchase or my supposed self-importance now that I have this headset. Bluetooth is the way of the future. If you’re not with us, you’re against us (or you’re just waiting until the price comes down, which I can’t blame you for).
American Inventor Spot