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IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit review: IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit

IOGear's multipurpose Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit will work with your MP3 player, cell phone, and just about any other electronic device with a headphone jack.

Eliot Van Buskirk
Evolver.fm Editor Eliot Van Buskirk has covered and occasionally anticipated music and technology intersections for 15 years for CNET, Wired.com, McGraw-Hill, and The Echo Nest. He is not currently an employee of CNET.
Eliot Van Buskirk
3 min read
IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit
Aside from battery life, one of the biggest problems with portable audio today is those dastardly headphone cords. They tangle in bags, snag on obstacles, and make a general nuisance of themselves, as anyone who's ever jiggled a headphone jack to get stereo sound surely knows. The IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit solves this problem for $180, allowing users to listen to their portable MP3 players sans wires. Better yet, it doubles as a cell phone headset and also works with laptops, cars, handhelds, and anything else that follows the Bluetooth audio standard.

IOGear's Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit features two main components: the headphones themselves, which wrap around the back of the head and fold up for storage, and a Bluetooth transmitter that fits into any standard 1/8-inch stereo headphone jack. The headphones rest comfortably on the ears and flex to accommodate heads of various sizes. Blue lights on both components indicate when the Bluetooth connection is up.


IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit

The Good

The IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit offers a good-sounding option for cord-hating MP3 listeners and cell phone chatters.

The Bad

The IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit is expensive, features an imperfect design, and has poor battery life.

The Bottom Line

If you must have a cord-free option that allows you to listen to your MP3 player <i>and</i> talk on your cell phone, consider the IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit. However, you might want to wait for the next-gen design.

Four buttons on the right earphone control playback--fast-forward, rewind, and volume--when the headphones are connected via Bluetooth to a laptop, a PDA, a car, or anything else that is natively compatible with Bluetooth audio; supported profiles include A2DP, AVRCP, and Headset. Unfortunately, this does not include any current MP3 players, so you'll still have to control playback on the device itself, unlike with the Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod, which can control the second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPods.

Since most people driving cars don't need to listen to music on headphones, IOGear's Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit makes the most sense for two things: listening to portable audio on an MP3 player and taking calls on a cell phone.

You can leave your cell phone in your pocket and field incoming calls using the same headphones with which you were listening to your MP3 player just moments earlier, with no wires connecting any of the three devices involved. When a ringing sound interrupts your music, just click the Center button, and you'll hear the caller's voice come through both headphones. A detachable mic on a bendy wire picks up your voice.

We tested this feature extensively and found that it was incredibly easy to pair IOGear's Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headphone Kit with our test cell phone, a black Motorola Razr. Once we did this, the headphones performed admirably. We were able to switch effortlessly between cell phone conversations and the music coming from our MP3 player. The only problem is that the included mic has to be connected to the headphones in order for you to talk on the phone. That means you'll need to leave it attached all the time (bent away from your face) or grab it from your pocket and connect it every time you want to answer a call. A better implementation would be a telescoping mic, as found on the Plantronics Pulsar 590A.

Sound quality on the IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Headphone Kit is good, with surprisingly deep bass and no hiss whatsoever, but the rated battery life of 6.5 hours is pretty lame. Recharging headphones is not an instinctive activity. Another issue we had was that the Bluetooth transmitter sometimes disconnected slightly from our MP3 player's headphone jack when we jostled our bag around, cutting out one channel of audio. Since this device is designed for use on the go, this is worrisome.

All in all, we were impressed by the way these headphones do away with the hated headphone wire and work so seamlessly with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. If you talk on the phone a great deal, love listening to music on the go, have enough disposable income to justify spending $180 on a headset, and don't mind securing the transmitter to your MP3 player to avoid music dropouts, the IOGear Wireless Bluetooth Headphone Kit is a good purchase. For the vast majority of users, though, it's more of a taste of exciting developments to come, as portable Bluetooth headphones improve, MP3 players evolve to support them more seamlessly, and the price drops.