April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Headset Headache or Heaven?

As I have written a few times, the columns I am honored to write for The Jewish Link are generally about the technology I face in my day job and/or as a consumer. While I could write about “best in class” earbuds or headsets, that’s not the price range I work with as a consumer.

I’m sure there are headsets or buds in the $300-plus price range that may be superior to what I found. I try to stick to items that are easily ordered on Amazon and rarely over $100. Another possible disadvantage is that I am a droid user, as are most information technology engineers. So let me say I’m sure the Apple earbuds are awesome. My youngest daughter has a pair and is a pixel user. Though I’ve caved due to her superior grades getting accepted to three colleges and a great seminary (woo hoo, go Ziggy!), I will be purchasing a new Apple smartphone for my daughter … but that’s just not for me. Moving right along…

No one is perfect, and I top a lot of annoying lists of client complaints. My good friend and attorney Michael Reich yells at me, “Stop being cheap, get a real headset!” He is sick of me telling him to “hold on,” as I do the Bluetooth switch hora dance.

I had pretty much given up and just used my Bluetooth in my vehicles. My team thinks that I am somehow BlueTooth-cursed. Truly. That’s what they think.

(Long Sidenote: In one of my cars, Android Auto came installed but I despise wires in general. There was an Indiegogo product from AAWireless. The USB plug for the device plugs in via an adapter to the actual utility port [formerly known as the cigarette lighter], which frees up a USB port. The device can be placed inside a pocket or wherever. The AAwireless connects to my Bluetooth on my smartphone and launches Android Auto. No wires, which is awesome. Many cars are Bluetooth wire-free for Android Auto. Since I am wire-free, my phone isn’t charging as I am not plugged in to use Android Auto then dually charging my smartphone.)

On Amazon, I got a custom CarQiWireless Charger for Accessories Center Console Wireless Charging Pad Mat. So I just place my phone on the mat with no wires charged and Android Auto wire-free. It seems clunky. I assure you this is a must-have setup.

My Mitsubishi was purchased at the height of COVID and was my only large car at the time. To my chagrin, no Android Auto. We went to Best Buy and got a BOSS radio with the free install. Now all my cars have Android Auto. By the way, the wait could be months, but Best Buy installs for cars are absolutely superior.

Back to my headsets earbud search. As I do with a lot of my recommendations for our clients I ordered and tried at least 20 earbuds or headsets.

Some items to note: It’s common for folks to have multiple Bluetooth headsets. I learned that from Tsvi Feygin, one of our senior engineers and go-to for everything tech. For example, for exercise, I would go with the Beats with the lanyard; it has an app to pair. The hard part is making sure the receiver is not blocked. The sound is amazing for music, not as great for calls. Don’t let 750,000 Amazon reviews fool you. Right out of the box I couldn’t pair or be heard of the Zoho brand.

Skullcandy is a great option for the price, but not for those glued to calls like myself.

Some more of what I learned:

Earbuds are meant to be kept in your ear, all day.

The design and technology in some of them are not what I expected. The sound is converted by the buds so your ears can hear them well.

Some are designed to allow listening to people around you, but keep the buds in your ears.

Noise-canceling can be turned on or off, if you just want to use the earbuds like ear plugs.

I ended up going with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live True Wireless Earbuds Version Active Noise Canceling Wireless (charging case included) in Mystic Bronze.

What makes this my choice?

The app manages the Bluetooth pairing: When you put the earbuds in, the Bluetooth connects automatically to the Bluetooth on your smartphone, and removing them from your ears does the same. I mention this because I was having issues with my earbuds swapping to my car’s Bluetooth and back.

When they are in your ears you will see the charging status on the Samsung phone. You can disable the noise canceling. Ambient noise can be played to avoid feeling stuffiness with something in your ears.

Here was the amazing clincher for me: I have left hundreds of pairs of sunglasses, pens and other important items at clients’ premises. I also take the earbuds in and out of my ears. But I was worried about leaving them wherever. The Samsung earbuds have a “find me” feature where the earbuds will chime so you can find them as well as GPS location. You can also send a notification to yourself and someone you know, in case you left the earbuds somewhere and it’s not your home and you left. You and your co-notifier will get an alert.

Final summary: Every person has their preference, and earbuds or a headset are turning into a must-have for everyone on the go. Some people just can’t get used to earbuds in their ears and prefer a wraparound or lanyard. Some swear by the earbuds and can’t imagine a wraparound.

Be prepared to spend a little, for folks like me, who need to utilize every minute I can to be on calls.

Try a few brands. Keep one or two of them to serve your purposes.


Shneur Garb is the founder of The Garb I.T. Consulting group and RayaConnect, an age tech service for the elderly and disabled community.

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