Multitasking on the Cheap - the Best Budget Bluetooth Headsets

By Jane Magaro, Cheapism.com
Whether you're driving, working, cooking, or pushing a shopping cart, you can still make plans, organize kids, or catch up with friends using a wireless headset for your mobile phone. Bluetooth technology uses low-frequency radio waves to transmit data from your handset to the headset, letting you talk even when your hands are busy. This is especially useful if you spend a lot of time stuck in traffic in a state that outlaws cell phones on the road. A Bluetooth headset can help you reclaim that lost time. While high-end models cost around $150, you can find a comfortable headset with excellent sound quality for less than $50.

Below are Cheapism's top recommendations for affordable Bluetooth headsets:

  • At only 9 grams, the Motorola HX550 is comfortable enough to wear on road trips, users say, so you can keep it on all day. Reviewers rave about the clarity of the sound on both ends of the line. The headset boasts 9 hours of talk time and 16 days of standby time at a starting price of $39.
  • For users who prefer stereo sound, the LG Tone HBS-700 has two earbuds and a design that circles around the neck. If you're listening to music, it will vibrate to signal that a call is coming in. The LG Tone boasts a long battery life of 10 hours of talk time and 15 days on standby. It starts at $45.
  • The Jabra Wave wraps around the ear and has a long microphone so you don't have to talk loudly, and reviews praise the sound quality. This $42 headset can last for up to 6 hours of talk time and 8 days on standby.
  • With several design options, the Jawbone Icon is one of the most fashionable Bluetooth headsets available. It's also one of the most compact, weighing in at just 8 grams, and the most expensive on our list, starting at $50. The headset features a Voice Activity Sensor that automatically determines which sounds to transmit and which to block out.

Related: Best Budget Smartphones

Most Bluetooth headsets are monaural, with one earbud, rather than stereo, like traditional music earphones and the LG Tone recommended above. The headsets on our list come with various sizes of earbud covers to fit each individual user comfortably.

All four have noise cancellation or noise-reducing features that minimize background noise so you can hear the other caller clearly -- and so they can hear you without it being obvious you're using Bluetooth. While these noise-canceling features go by different names depending on the manufacturer, none seems to stand out over the others.

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Try to choose a Bluetooth headset that is as up-to-date as the Bluetooth software on your cell phone, so you can take full advantage of its features. Some headsets may offer additional features for certain mobile operating systems. The Motorola and LG headsets recommended above offer downloadable Android apps for listening to text messages.

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