Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth Earpiece review: Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth Earpiece

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Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth Earpiece

(Part #: 9411SMTLKBT) Released: Feb 13, 2009
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset has a slim design and comfortable fit. It also features voice prompts and noise canceling.

The Bad The Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset suffered from the occasional static and crackle, plus the voice-prompt quality could be improved.

The Bottom Line The Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset is a decent noise-canceling headset for the price, but we would've preferred better call quality.

7.3 Overall

Griffin has put out a slew of iPhone accessories in the past year, from cases like the Clarifi to in-car chargers and extended batteries. But it has never come out with a Bluetooth headset. That is, until January 2009, when it introduced the Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset. It has the slim, black appearance of Apple's own Bluetooth headset, plus numerous additional features like dual-microphone noise canceling and voice prompts. Of course, the Griffin SmartTalk doesn't only work with the iPhone; it'll work with any Bluetooth-enabled device. The Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset retails for $99.99 or you can get it in a bundle with the PowerJolt, Griffin's in-car charger.

Like we said, the SmartTalk looks like a slim, black stick, similar to the Apple Bluetooth headset , but it's really quite a bit bigger. Measuring 2.1 inches long by 0.7 inch wide by 0.4 inch thick, the SmartTalk has a very minimal and discreet design. On the front is a big multifunction button, while the volume buttons are on the right spine. All the buttons were easy to press, though the volume decrease button felt a bit too flush to the surface. The charger jack is on the top.

On the back of the headset is an in-ear style earpiece with a soft gel ear cushion that is meant to isolate incoming sound. Indeed, it fit quite comfortably in the ear, and it worked in blocking out external noise. There's also a flexible ear hook that can be adjusted to fit either ear. The ear hook isn't quite optional since you do need it for the headset to feel secure. We wished the ear hook were a bit more flexible, if only to easier accommodate eyeglasses. The SmartTalk comes with a smaller ear cushion if you have smaller ears.

One of the features of the SmartTalk is that it gives voice prompts. When we paired it with the Apple iPhone 3G for the first time, it said "Griffin SmartTalk paired successfully," and when the headset is connected, it said "SmartTalk connected." There are also other voice prompts like "Call accepted" and "Call rejected." The voice prompts are helpful for those who are new to Bluetooth headsets. However, we found the quality of the voice prompts somewhat disappointing--they sounded a bit muffled and hard to hear. We could make out what it said only after referring to the manual.

Call quality was fairly good but not great. It does a decent job in canceling out background noise, especially in crowded environments, but the sound quality is a bit thin. Callers said we sometimes sounded as if we were talking inside a tin can. We also encountered the occasional crackle and static. On our end, callers sounded loud and clear.

The Griffin SmartTalk Bluetooth headset has a battery life of 4 hours talk time and 4.6 days standby time. Other features of the SmartTalk include the typical answering, rejecting, and ending a call, a low-battery status indicator, support for call waiting and voice dialing where available, call mute, last-number redial, and the ability to transfer calls from the phone to the headset and vice versa.

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