iSkin Cerulean F1 Wireless Stereo Earphones
Bluetooth headsets are not hard to come by--it's the stereo part that takes some doing. Even then, you can find a decent array of stereo Bluetooth headphones, which come in handy if you want to do away with the cord between you and your MP3 player. But wireless earbuds are still relatively rare, so it's nice to see companies like iSkin trying to fill the void. The company's Cerulean F1 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones double up the standard cell phone headset to offer stereo sound. Pair these ($129) with the Cerulean TX + RX, and you can enjoy your iPod sans wires.
Unfortunately, the Cerulean F1s aren't terribly comfortable for me (note the bent ear in the pic below), though they're quite light, so many users will probably find them perfectly suitable for their ears. Also, I don't find them particularly attractive, but if you're used to wearing a Bluetooth (BT) cell headset, you probably won't mind the look as much. As with all BT headsets, the F1 offers a variety of controls on the right earpiece, including a multifunction button that serves to place the device in pairing mode, answer/terminate calls, and play/pause music. The top of the earpiece features a track-shuttle rocker, while volume controls reside on the bottom edge next to a tiny USB port (used for charging). There's also an on/off switch on one side and a tiny pinhole mic on the other. The earhooks, which secure each piece to your ear, are attached to the base of each earbud and are fully adjustable--there's also a second (thinner) set with metal accents should you prefer to swap them out. The two earbuds are attached by a single cord, which is meant to be worn behind the neck.
The Cerulean F1 is compatible with a variety of Bluetooth devices, including all those operating on A2DP, which allows for stereo signal transmission. What this basically means is that you can enjoy music as well as receive calls. We paired the F1 easily with a BlackBerry and the Insignia Bluetooth MP3 player, and the track-shuttle keys worked a treat with the MP3 player. If a call comes in while you're listening to music, the headset automatically mutes playback and sounds the incoming call tone. It's worth noting that the F1 won't work with the iPod out-of-the-box--you'll need a separate Bluetooth transmitter for that. Naturally, it's iSkin's hope that you'll pick up the Cerulean TX + RX, but there are cheaper options also.
The Cerulean F1 is rated for 33 feet of wireless range, and I found that number to be accurate in testing. Also discovered in testing: the F1 is practically useless as a cell headset. Call quality was atrocious, with both the caller and I complaining of far-off sounding voices, interference, and dropouts. The unit performed better with the Insignia player. I still detected some light static, and the headphones provided very little discernible bass response. But music was listenable and not muffled at all, with good midrange representation. Certain rock tracks sounded overly digitized and hollow, but most other genres were passable. The F1 is far from audiophile standards, but if you're desperate for a wireless experience and want a small pair of headphones that won't set you back $300 (read: Etymotic Ety8), these could do the trick.