VXI BlueParrot B100 wireless Bluetooth headset
Though many Bluetooth headsets resemble futuristic communicators from Star Trek, they can come in any number of form factors. For instance, VXI's BlueParrott B100 wireless Bluetooth headset, which is designed to add wireless functionality to any landline or Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, more resembles something worn by a telemarketer. Though it comes with a stylish charging base, the B100 has a traditional over-the-head design that may not appeal to everyone. It's also somewhat pricey at $199, but its versatile and reliable functionality easily transitions from a home or an office to a mobile.
Though the overall form factor is big and cumbersome, the B100 is comfortable to wear. It has a flexible boom microphone and a single, nonprotruding earpiece that can be worn on either ear, while an adjustable headband keeps the headset secure. The design is fine for use inside, but it's not very portable, and you'll look pretty conspicuous walking down the street. The controls on the B100 are simple and few. There are three buttons overall: a volume decrease, a volume increase, and a multifunction button. The multifunction button, as with other Bluetooth headsets, turns the B100 on and off, sets it up for pairing, and answers and ends calls. The volume-increase button also can be used to mute the microphone on the headset. The B100 supports three-way calling as well, so if you have this service, you'll hit the multifunction button to set up a call. Because the BlueParrott is relatively big, the three buttons are well spaced and easy to use by feel.
Setting up the B100 to work with a landline was supereasy. We plugged the B100 into a wall jack, then plugged our telephone into the base. The B100 headset is automatically paired with the base, so we didn't have to go through the pairing process that is necessary with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. VXI claims that the BlueParrott B100 can work as far as 75 feet away from the base, and that agreed with our testing. Additionally, security-minded users will appreciate that the B100 sports 128-bit encryption, ensuring that nosey neighbors won't be able to listen in on your conversations. Of course, the B100 can also be used with a Bluetooth-enabled mobile. We tested the B100 with the Siemens SX66 smart phone, and pairing was a cinch. Sound quality in both situations--with a landline as well as with a mobile--was good with the B100. However, while callers reported that they could hear us loud and clear, we would've liked the volume to be a bit higher.
All in all, the B100 performed about as well as we expected. The B100 has a rated talk-time battery life of six hours and a promised standby time of up to 4.16 days. In our tests, we matched the rated time on a single charge.