Headsets

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Bluetooth’s Strangled Promise

When Bluetooth was first introduced, it promised a world of wireless freedom. We, the computing public, were told  that Bluetooth would be in everything and replace USB and other connections for low-speed data transfers and other light bandwidth demands. RS 232 connections would fade—replaced by fast, flexible BT connections. Home users would benefit from wireless printing, fast connections and more freedom.

But the computing and  mobile phone public has been slow to adopt the technology thanks to the high prices compared to wired equivalents and the added complexity of pairing and connecting devices. Many people have mobile phones but only a small fraction is technically competent enough to pair and use bluetooth. Thus, high prices are as much a reflection of the niche demand as they are device manufacturers pricing devices based on perceived value of the technology. The devices themselves cost little to manufacture, but a lot to develop the software and hardware. This price premium for an “unproven killer technology” has resulted in strangling adoption rates. Who wants to pay $200 for a stereo headset or $99 for a mono-earpiece that delivers unknown benefits when a wired headsets costs only $20? Luckily, the standard has marched on to version 4.0, which offers higher throughput and lower power consumption. Finally, Bluetooth 2.0 A2DP & HFP device prices are coming down to a level that is more in line with the basic functionality of what they do.

Pairing has also been made simpler, in hopes that people will actually use that little “B” instead of bluetooth circuits — which are usually on by default — eating up battery life, and exposing a person to snooping and bluejacking.

I myself, knew the benefits or going wireless decades ago when I got an Amateur Radio License, long before mobile phones went digital. I was just waiting for the prices to come down to a point where I could justify ridding myself of wires. That point finally arrived about 2 years ago, when I found a bluetooth earpiece for less than $70.

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