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Reviewed by: Ed Lau [01.28.03]
Manufactured by: Bluetake

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Impressions – BT400 Bluetooth Headset

 Now this is the product I’ve been the most eager to play with.  Basically, the BT400 is a handsfree headset for your phone without the wires.  The retail package looks great and use of the headset is well documented in the manuals and on Bluetake’s website.  Included in the package, other than the headset and manual is a travel charger.  A desktop charger/cradle would have been preferred but I guess that’s a little too much to ask.  Of all the Bluetooth headsets, I only know of one, the Bluespoon, which comes with a desktop charger.  Desktop chargers seem to be a thing of the past as lots of mobile phones and PDAs ship with travel chargers.

In order to take advantage of this cool gadget, however, you have to have a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone which is currently relatively rare here in North America.  I tested the BT400 with my Sony-Ericsson T39mc.  Other phones which feature Bluetooth connectivity are the Sony-Ericsson’s T68i and P800, Nokia’s 3650 and 6310i, and the upcoming v600 and A835 from Motorola.  There are a few more but they don’t work on the 1900MHz band which is the standard in North America.


 Again, setup is a breeze.  Once charged, you press and hold the one touch button on the headset until it beeps and the LED flashes to make it “discoverable”, meaning other Bluetooth devices, primarily your handset, can see it.  After entering the password and pairing the headset to the mobile phone, that’s it.  You can now talk to people on your headset without ever having to take your phone out of your pocket.


Again, what the heck is up with the green LED on a Bluetooth product?  Bluetake sent me the grey headset as opposed to the white or dark blue/green ones which is probably a good thing.  The white is slightly too girly and the dark blue/green…just doesn’t look very good.

However, when looking at something like this headset, you not only have to look at how the unit looks but how it looks on you.  The BT400 is rather conservative looking compared to some of the other headsets on the market from Jabra, Plantronics and Sony-Ericsson itself.  It’s probably doesn’t look as ridiculous as other headsets might on your head but because Bluetooth is still young, people will look at you like you’re from another planet…especially if the side without the headset is facing them so you look like you’re talking to yourself.

Comfort and Ergonomics

 It’s incredibly important for a product such as the BT400 to be comfortable, since you’ll probably wear it for extended periods of time.  I mean, the whole point of using one of these headsets is so that you don’t have to pull something out of your pocket so you’ll probably wear it all the time if you get a phone call every so often.

This is the good news though.  The BT400 is very comfortable to use and easy to wear at a mere 10 grams.  The rubber ear mount is similar to those of recent sport style Sony headphones in that they hang onto the back of your ear in order to maintain balance.  The ear mount can be removed and re-attached to accommodate either ear.

While I did not have any problems with comfortability when using the BT400 over the last month or so, I did think of a thing or two Bluetake could improve on for their next headset.

The ear mount is rather soft and while it hangs well on my pointy audio receptacles, it also occasionally allows the headset to slide into a position where the mic isn’t facing your mouth.  Also, the speaker is a plain, bare speaker.  A light cushioning could provide extra comfort while dealing with another issue with this headset…


…and that is that the headset’s speaker is much too quiet.  Even at maximum
volumes, I sometimes found myself straining to hear the person on the other side. 
Because the speaker is rather out in the open, there was no noise canceling of any

Bluetake also claims that the headset can communicate with the mobile phone at a
range up to 10 meters.  I tested this by placing the phone on my kitchen counter,
making a call and then walking further and further away from my T39mc, seeing
when the headset would drop the call.  I found that at around 4 meters, the call
would start to break up and then it would hang on for about another meter or so
before the call would drop.  There were a few incidents outside my house, however,
where I had to move the phone to my shirt pocket from my backpack or pants
pocket in order to establish a clear, no-static conversation.  This rarely happened
and 4 meters is more than enough for an accessory like this.  Unless your pants
happen to be 4 meters away from you, you’ll have no problems.  If they are, put on
your pants immediately before reading any further…especially if you’re at a public
internet station.

The headset only has one control button which works somewhat like a jog dial.  Push
it up, the volume increases.  Push it down, the volume decreases.  To answer the
phone, you push the dial inward and to hang up, you push it again.  Simple?  Very.

What I didn’t like, however is the button itself.  It is very stiff and the tactile
response leaves something to be desired.  It feels like a squeaky bike wheel that
needs oil. 

The position of the control device is probably a very subjective thing.  Personally, I
have mixed feelings about its positioning.  While it is not as much of a hassle to
reach, pushing it requires that you hold onto another part of the headset with your
other fingers or else you push the headset into another position.  A button where the
Bluetake logo is now would probably be better as your ear pushes back when you
push in that direction.

So What Does All This Mean?

 You can literally see the world change everyday.  While we’re still a ways
away from being able to do everything with one device or having a completely
wireless house, Bluetooth is taking us one…or maybe two…steps closer.

The Bluetake POKE 2 and the USB Dongles are great products and perhaps if I didn’t
use them for internet sharing, I would have been a bit more impressed.  They aren’t
designed for that but they do a relatively good job.  They’re no replacement for a Wi-
Fi network though.  If people are worried about people hacking into their Wi-Fi
network, then they’re going to flip out about people using their Bluetooth network
without permission.  Security on a Bluetooth network is at a minimum since I found
that I could connect to other devices without pairing but I did need to type in a
password to connect to the network.  It’s a closed node but if you set one up, don’t
be surprised if someone warchalks your front door.  It’s only less of a problem
because of Bluetooth’s limited range so people probably have to be very close to
your house in order to use it.

The BT400 is another story.  I wanted to love this product…I really did but I’ll have
to settle for being “just friends”.  While it is still a really cool gadget, its few flaws
keep it from truly achieving greatness.  The short range is definitely not a problem if
you keep your mobile phone on your person.  While the headset is very comfortable
and light, its inability to stay put bothered me and the speaker volume is simply not
loud enough.  It’s great for the office or in your car (if you don’t listen to loud music
like me…) but if you’re walking down a busy street, you’re going to have to poke
your finger into your other ear.

Every time I look at something like Bluetooth, I think of the Simpsons episode where
baby Lisa exclaims “Wave of the future!!!”.  However, as of right now, there just
simply isn’t enough to do with Bluetooth to justify making the purchase.  Syncing
your cell phone to your computer is great but it is more of a convenience than a
revolution as the dongles cost so much more than a sync cable.  Until the cost of
Bluetooth accessories go down to near the cost of actual hard wires, it’s not going to
change the world.

  • no wires!
  • dongles are zippy enough for everyday websurfing and e-mail
  • headset mic is receptive
  • ...and also comfortable and lightweight

  • it's still too early in Bluetooth's lifecycle for it to be a worthwhile purchase
  • internet sharing is a pain in the ass to set up
  • transfer rates still aren't up to par with 802.11b/Wi-Fi
  • headset speaker is too quiet