There are two distinct takes on the way to design a Bluetooth headset. One camp says try and make the headset as unobtrusive as possible, elongate its mic boom to reach closer to your mouth and fit it into your ear for better reproduction in noisy environments. The other camp says strap a box to your ear â€“ which is the way Belkin has chosen to go.
OK, it's not quite a box strapped to your ear, there's some attempt at rounding off the corners into a lozenge-shape, but it's still pretty basic. The device comes with two rubberised ear clips for different sizes of ear and the unit can be worn on left or right ears, though on the left the Belkin logo is upside down.
There are three control buttons situated in the middle of the lozenge, with the larger central one used to accept or instigate phone calls and the two smaller ones for increasing and decreasing headset volume. The central button is also used to complete a call, mute and un-mute the microphone and to set up pairing, all determined by the length of time you hold it down. Pairing is the Bluetooth way of ensuring a device only communicates with the other devices you want it to.
There's a miniature microphone set into one end of the lozenge and a dual-colour LED set into the other to indicate its various working modes. A miniature jack plug connects directly into the microphone end of the headset to recharge the device from the supplied three-pin, black-block power supply.
The sound quality from the Belkin is good, with clear reproduction of incoming audio and fair speech pickup. As with most of the boom-less headsets, though, the noise reduction circuitry has to work harder to differentiate your voice in noisy environments.
Despite what it says in the headsetâ€™s manual â€˜â€¦a convenient personal device providing 2-way wireless audio connectivity to other Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and PCsâ€™, we couldnâ€™t make a connection between it and our Bluetooth-equipped PC. Although the PC could see the Belkin device, it wouldnâ€™t pair with it.
On contacting Belkin, the company confirmed the headset was only capable of pairing with a mobile phone and didnâ€™t support the necessary protocol to be used with a PC. This was rather disappointing and we feel there should be explicit labelling on the packaging to show this limitation.
Reasonable sound quality and a compact design still canâ€™t make up for the lack of PC support.