flamin go ™ Review
By: John B. Griffith of barjohn.com
I just received ... Smartphone Reviews forum
Review: flamingo Bluetooth Headset
I just received the Flamingo headset from Impact Wireless to review. The unit I received was a demo pre-production unit. Production units are expected to start shipping in May. Since I did not have the original packaging and the unit did not include all of the things that will come with the production unit I will limit my review to the headset itself.
My initial impression is very good. The unit is small with a very high quality feel to it. In fact of all the headsets I have tried I would rate the build quality of this unit superior. The unit I received is black and a silver color unit will be available too. The unit is very light weight at 11 grams and is very easy to operate whether on the ear or off. The only draw back I have seen is that it is for the right ear only. Perhaps they will offer a left ear model in the future (I consider this a minor drawback but someone else may see this as a major negative. Pairing and operation are simple and easy as any good design should be. A silver button at the end where the mic is located is used to turn the unit on and off or put it into pairing mode. The unit supports rejecting a call, call muting, call transfer, voice dial and last number redial. The manufacturer specifies 8 hours talk time and 180 hours standby time for the unit. I have not verified this specification.
The headset uses a new way of wearing it that is similar (in some ways) to the Nextlink system, but I think better. They call it the ear click system and it uses rubber pads that come in 6 different sizes. These pads mount on the unit on little ears designed to hold the pads in place. The pads then fit into the ear. You will need to experiment to find the size that works best for you and it is a little tricky at first to get the hang of it. However, once you do you will find this to be the most comfortable headset you have tried. It REALLY DOES fit so comfortably that you can forget it's there. I have REALLY sensitive ears that can not tolerate much discomfort and I can truly say this headset is comfortable! The Bluespoon AX doesn't even come close to the comfort of this unit. The key is to find the size that slips in and locks in the ear without being too small or too large. With 6 sizes to chose from it should work for anyone. The speaker is such that you get excellent volume without blocking the hearing in the ear wearing the unit. This is another big plus because you don't walk around feeling like you are deaf in one ear.
The sound quality on the headset end is very good with absolute silence until the phone volume goes to max and this is more likely caused by my handset the Blackberry 7100t than the headset. When I test with another phone I will verify. People I spoke with were loud and clear and easy to hear without being at full volume. I haven't yet tested it in a noisy environment but I suspect that I will still be able to hear my caller very clearly. The party I called said that the sound was the best they had heard so far with my voice sounding clear and distinct. I was in my home office where the background computer noise (fans and hard disk are constantly there) and I was actually speaking softly because my wife was in the other room trying to take a nap and she has hearing like a hawk and anything wakes her up (she is not a happy camper when that happens!). My initial impression is very good but I haven't put it to the hard tests yet. I will be traveling next week so I will see how it does in airports and other noisy environments. I hope to add some initial sound clips tomorrow if time permits.
Tests & Methods
With all headsets my current testing methodology consists of testing it by first pairing it with my PC using a Bluetooth dongle. I record test sounds of me speaking at various ranges and at different background noise levels. Then I pair the unit to a cell phone. Currently the phone I am using is the Blackberry 7100t though I have also used the Blackberry 7250 and the Motorola V3. I intend to add one additional phone with Bluetooth to my testing inventory. Additional testing consists of calling my answering machine using the headset and paired phone and recording my conversation in both quiet and noisy environments. I use a TV set with the volume very high to create my noisy background. I prefer this over white noise as some reviewers use because it is far more challenging for the noise canceling algorithms than white noise that is evenly distributed across the spectrum. The spectrum used by phones for audio is very limited and white noise is likely to create the same sound pressure level at all of those frequencies. With the varying sound in a TV program which often includes dialog, background sounds such as laughter or other street noise the noise canceling has to really work well to extract your voice and not the other voices from the surrounding mix.
I finally test calling from my car to both real people and the answering machine. The ultimate test is when I call my wife from a noisy environment. She can not tolerate any distortion and will hang up on me if it is unbearable to her sensitive ears. In the future I will include sound clips from a variety of tests to help you hear what I or the recipient of my calls hears.
I will also present my subjective opinion on the quality of the build, its appearance, its comfort and ease of use.
After having tested several Bluetooth headsets I was a little concerned about what I would find with the Flamingo. Chris at Impact Wireless raved about it but the cautionary side of me had to discount some of that to a salesman's zeal. The really big test came when I took it on my recent trip to Notre Dame as I had a chance to test it in airports, on airplanes and in a work environment. The only test I didn't get to perform was to try it with other cell phones. With only a week to perform evaluations and having to travel that week I didn't have time to get another phone to test with.
I am going to address some of the areas I have specified though not necessarily in the order I have listed. First, comfort. For me, this headset beats every other headset I have tried for comfort. This is because of the EarClick™ system and having 6 sizes to choose from. As it turns out my ear canal is on the small size confirmed by my using the next to the smallest size adaptor. You need to do two things: 1) try various sizes and 2) learn how to put the unit on. The first is easy, the second takes some practice and playing around. Once you get the knack of it, it is pretty easy. Having an air channel so that you can still hear in the ear wearing the unit is great so you don't have that deaf in one ear feeling. Could I honestly wear it all day without noticing it? Probably not. It is great for someone like me that needs reading glasses as it does not interfere with your glass frames going over your ear as do other ear loop systems.
It is very light weight and this really helps on the comfort front. Any more weight and the EarClick might not be as comfortable to wear. While the unit looks a little funny in pictures, no one commented to me about it while I was wearing it and I was on a campus and in a classroom with 27 other managers. The build quality seems superb and is the best I have seen. The flat black looks and feels solid and almost feels like it is carved out rather than glued together (I'm not usre how it is held together).
The unit is really easy to use with buttons placed where they are intuitive. Up and down volume is controlled by a rocker switch on the top of the unit. Answer, on-off and pairing are controlled by a small switch at the tip. Other functions are controlled by the rocker switch used for volume. Simple, straight forward and elegant. The unit is charged from a base and it uses a magnet to hold the headset in place on the charger.
Battery life may be an issue. The first day I did not notice a battery recharge required; however, by the second day it needed one. On the second day and the days after I needed to charge the unit every night. Because this is a prototype, I hesitate to say that all units will demonstrate this battery life issue. Further, I don't know how it was treated before i got the review unit. I have a feeling that with the 7100t the unit may need to be recharged at the end of a day. On the other hand it could be specific to this unit and therefore it would not be fair to down grade it for having less than the advertised performance. No other tester has indicated this problem so it may be my problem and no one else's.
Sound quality. In my connection directly to the PC via a Bluetooth dongle you get the best picture of what the other party hears assuming a good handset with a good signal. All other audio clips are transferred to my PC using the headset to record the voice message recorded on the answering machine. Hence the quality of the recording can vary. The best indication of its real quality is that not once when I called my wife while on the road did she complain about the sound quality or have difficulty hearing me. In the past she has complained loudly and often hung up on me in frustration. I never told her when I was using the headset and she never caught on. This is not only high praise, it is as high as it gets. When I called an employee and I was walking outside, the conversation went well until it got windy. Then he complained about not being able to hear or follow my conversation. By cupping the unit and my ear with my hand, it became usable and he could follow my conversation. Wind is clearly a problem with this and many other headsets. Perhaps a wind sock will diminish the problem. Volume on my end was always excellent and even in a noisy environment I never had to engage max volume. At very high volume you may get some echo on the other end but I did not confirm this.
While the unit can be used without being in a line-of-sight from the headset to the unit on your body, it clearly works better when there is a clear line of sight. I tested it to over 30 feet and it stayed pretty close to specification on distance requirement. I would recommend maintaining a clear line of sight between the unit and the handheld. I did not test voice dial, call hold or redial last features.
The bottom line is that I think this unit is good enough to warrant purchasing one. This headset still ranks in my top three picks. When size and convenience is the primary factor it wins hands down. Noise cancellation is not bad but no where close to that on the M3000. Wind noise is a major weakness. Cellpoint is supposed to be providing a wind sock but it is not available as I write this 7-9-05.
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Re: flamingo Bluetooth Headset Review
Thanks for the review. I have a 7105t and was looking for a headset whenever I decide to add minutes to my plan. I have Data only right now. I hope to find something better than the Plantronics M2500 BT that had numerous problems with my 7100t. It would not stay paired via BT and would drop calls.
Re: flamingo Bluetooth Headset Review
i have never seen that headset but will check it out in the near future. do you have a link to there site
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