Archive for the ‘Bluetooth’ Category

How to use the Call Button on your Bluetooth Headset to Answer Skype Calls – Part I

November 21, 2006

Three Solutions:

There are three software solutions I can find on the market that can enable Bluetooth headset users to answer Skype calls by pressing the action (call) button on the headset. They are Bluesoleil, Vitaero, and Speakables. The Bluesoleil Skype plugin software was mentioned in my Bluetake BT007SX / BT009SX review. The Vitaero will be covered in this article. And, I’ll work on the Speakables and publish my review later, including the comparison report of the three software solutions.

Vitaero Evaluation Report:

Equipments (my equipment):

  • PC (HP Compaq nx6310)
  • USB Bluetooth adapter (no brand name class 1 USB BT adapter)
  • Widcomm (or Toshiba) Bluetooth driver (version 4.0.1.70)
  • Bluetooth Headset (Plantronics Voyager 510)
  • Skype (version 2.5.0.151)

 

Pre-install Checkout:

  • What is the Bluetooth driver used on your computer?

Vitaero only works with the Widcomm and Toshiba Bluetooth driver. On the official website, it states that “Vitaero will not work with the Microsoft Bluetooth drivers because they don’t support audio connections to headsets.” There are two ways to check. If you are using the Microsoft Bluetooth driver, please contact the Bluetooth USB adapter vendor to obtain the Widcomm driver.

1. What’s the color of the Bluetooth icon on the toolbar?

: This is a Microsoft Bluetooth driver

: This is a Widdcom Bluetooth driver

2. Go to: Control Panel > Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices > Sounds and Audio Devices. Click on the hardware tab and find the “Bluetooth Audio” in the Devices window (you might need to scroll up and down to find the device). Left click on the “Bluetooth Audio” to make it highlighted. You can see which manufacturer’s device driver is linked to the “Bluetooth Audio”.

  • Does your Bluetooth headset compatible with the Vitareo?

Check out the compatibility list at here. Most Bluetooth headsets from major brands such as Plantronics, Motorola, Logitech, and Sonny Ericsson are supported by Vitareo. (The one I’m using is Plantronics Voyager 510.)

My Installation Sequence:

1. I had the Skype, Bluetooth USB adapter, and Widcomm Bluetooth driver already installed on my computer. In order to reduce the chance of having conflict, I unpaired and turned off the power of my Plantronics Voyager 510 completely, before installing Vitaero.

2. I went to the Vitaero homepage to download the software. (Press the button at the right hand side.)

3. I ran the installer program downloaded above, and went through the installation wizard. The Vitaero was then set up on my computer.

4. The following configuration window pop up at the first time I executed the Vitaero from the “Start Menu”.

5. I set all the audio devices as “Windows default device”.

6. I press the “Connect” button at the Headset section on the Vitaero configuration window, followed the steps in the pairing wizard, turned on my Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth headset to put it into the pairing mode, and made the connection.

7. 5 seconds after I finished the pairing wizard, the Vitaero icon on the toolbar turned yellow, like this: . I could start to use the Vitaero.

Main Functions / Features:

  • Pick up (or hang-up) Skype incoming calls through the call (action) button on the Bluetooth headset.
  • Dial the contact listed in the Contacts > Quick Dial section in the configuration window, by pressing the call (action) button. No need to initiate the call through computer.
  • Auto-dial the contact listed in the Contacts > Auto Dial section, when the person is available.
  • Set the user status shown online when the Bluetooth headset is presented, not presented, or in used. See the “Status” section in the configuration window.
  • If the “Enable audio channel management” box in the “Heasdset” section is checked, Vitaero can automatically put the headset in stand-by mode, when it is not in used.

Important Notes:

  • In the last step of pairing the headset, Vitaero might ask for the permission to turn the “my audio gateway” in the Widcomm Bluetooth panel from auto to manual startup mode, to avoid any possible interference. I did allow the change and have not seen any unwanted side effects.
  • Be patient after the pairing process. The Vitaero icon on the toolbar won’t change color immediately. Wait at least 10 seconds before starting to repeat the connecting process.
  • If you have difficulties in making the Bluetooth headset pairing with the BT USB adapter through the Vitaero configuration window, you can try to un-pair the BT headset, power off the headset, and delete the headset profile in the Widcomm Bluetooth panel completely. The connection is easier to be made from a fresh start.
  • If you want to use the Bluetooth headset to listen to the music playing on the computer, don’t check the “Enable audio channel management” box in the “Heasdset” section. Leave the connection always on. The action of playing music won’t make the Vitaero to wake up the headset that is in the standby mode

Conclusions:

In my test, Vitaero does what it supposed to do: Pick up (or hang-up) Skype incoming calls through the call (action) button on the Bluetooth headset, well. I like the “Quick Dial” function. With the destination pre-selected, I can not only answer the Skype call, but also make a call without getting back to my computer. I had encountered some difficulties making the headset connected to the software. However, part of it was because I had no patience to wait through the processing time. (See item Notes 2.) Besides, the fresh start in notes 3 can help to improve the situation a lot.

Overall, Vitaero is a good product. If you are seeking for a solution to free you up from the computer when doing Skype and don’t want to pay for the Skype WiFi phone, go get a Plantronics Voyager 510 and Vitaero. It won’t disappoint you.

 

 

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Bluetake BT007SX / BT009SX Bluetooth USB Dongle Review

September 1, 2006

– A solid choice to make your computer Bluetooth enabled

Click to check the BT007SX product spec

Click to check the BT009SX product spec

Click to get the coupon code for these two dongles

Bluetake has brought two new Bluetooth USB dongles to the market: the BT007SX and BT009SX. BT007SX is a class 1 dongle with a transmission range of 100 meters / 330 feet, and BT009SX is a class 2 dongle with a transmission range of 10 meters / 33 feet. The major differences between the SX and the SI series (its predecessor) are:

1. SX series is designed using the EDR (enhanced data rate) standard. Instead of the 1Mbps data transfer rate stated in the SI series, the SX series can handle 3Mbps.

2. SX series is bundled with the software called BlueSoleil, which is a Bluetooth device control center that makes the controlling of connections between the Bluetooth USB dongle and other devices easy.

3. SX series provides better compatibility in Mac OS.

We received our samples of these two Bluetooth USB dongles and we would like to share our test results:

On Windows XP systems:

Installation in Windows XP systems can be easy, but you really need to follow the instructions.

The installation of the BT007SX and BT009SX Bluetooth usb dongles in Windows XP systems can be very easy. Just follow the sequence in the installation guide: install the BlueSoleil software first > reboot computer > plug in the dongle, and then you can see the BlueSoleil software recognizing the dongle.

If you are an engineer-minded person like us who always prefer to use the gadgets before reading the manual, you might get into trouble with these devices. We thought the BT007SX and BT009SX are USB devices and could plug-and-play without any trouble or setup. Sure enough, the dongles do work without BlueSoleil. However, unlike most other Bluetooth accessory vendors who have already moved to adopt the Widdcom Bluetooth driver, Bluetake still uses the default Bluetooth driver provided by Microsoft. As you may know, the Microsoft Bluetooth driver has limited features compared to the Widdcom driver. For example, the Microsoft driver does not support a Bluetooth audio headset. Besides, having the dongles plugged-in before installing the BlueSoleil will make it more difficult for the software to recognize the USB dongles.

Click to see our Bluetooth FAQ

But we can’t blame it on Bluetake. All the above issues were caused by the smart-ass syndrome. If you take the time read the quick installation guide first, you won’t experience those issues.

Pairing Ability

Pairing the BT007SX and BT009SX with other Bluetooth devices is a breeze. You simply need to first set the Bluetooth devices in pairing mode, and then set the BlueSoleil in discovery mode. After entering the security code for the devices for the first time, BlueSoleil will remember the code for that particular device.

Switching Connection Ability

Switching connections between the BT007SX / BT009SX among different Bluetooth devices is simple. BlueSoleil will show all the available devices on one screen so it is very easy to find the device you want to use, and right click on the device to call up the connection command. (See the sample picture.)

Connection Range – BT009SX (class 2)

The working range of the BT009SX is as advertised at 10 meters / 33 feet. We know the actual connection range is also determined by the Bluetooth device it pairs to, so we tested the dongles with several different class 2 Bluetooth headsets (Plantronics Voyager 510, Motorola H700, and Grandvue Bluemate 630). The statistics show that all the headsets can work beyond the 10-meter range.

Connection Range – BT007SX (class 1)

We then performed the same special tests that we developed for the class 1 Bluetooth USB dongles in the Bluetooth Myth article which compared the connection range of the BT007SX and other class 1 USB dongles, with the same class 2 Plantronics Voyager 510. The performance of the BT007SX is similar to other known name-brand dongles (such as IOGear, Billionton, etc.). These class 1 dongles can extend the class 2 headset connection range to around 20 meters, which is better than some no-name class 1 dongles we found at Wal-mart – which can only work up to approximately 15 meters.

The Trial version of the BlueSoleil Skype plug-in

The installation CD comes with a trial version of the BlueSoleil plug-in. With this plug-in installed, users can pick-up Skype calls by clicking the “call” button on the Bluetooth headset and don’t need to go back to the computer and click on the big, green pick-up button on the screen anymore – which can free users from their computers. Unfortunately the trial version has a 5M data transfer cap, so we are going to keep an eye on the development of the plug-in and update its progress here.

On a Mac:

A major selling point of the BT007SX and BT009SX is their wider compatibility on Mac systems. The specifications say that the dongles will work on Mac OX 10.2 systems and later. We put that to the test on our Mac testing machine – an iMac G3, 256 MB RAM, Mac OS 10.3.9, Bluetooth firmware 1.5 updated – and the system recognized the dongle when it was first plugged in. There is no driver or software installation required. Just follow the standard Bluetooth device pairing procedure in the Mac utilities and you can enjoy the cordless convenience the Bluetooth technology provides very easy.

Conclusion:

BT007SX and BT009SX are both solid choices for Bluetooth USB dongles if you want to make your computer Bluetooth enabled. The only little complaint we have is that they don’t use the Widdcom driver. However, after installing the BlueSoleil software, users won’t experience the shortcomings inherent in the Microsoft driver because BlueSoleil has already compensated them. Besides, we see a big potential for the BlueSoleil Skype plug-in to free users from their computer when making Skype calls. If you want to buy the dongle, we highly recommend that you consider the BT007SX class 1 dongle. With the price differences between the BT007SX and BT009SX being so small, why not get the class 1 dongle for its wider range?

Click to get the coupon code for these two dongles

Click to see how to use the Bluetooth headset call button to answer Skype calls

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Plantronics Voyager 510 – Fantastic Bluetooth Headset

August 23, 2006

Plantronics Voyager 510 is simply the best Bluetooth headset on the market for this price range.

Click here to go to Plantronics Voyager 510 product page.

Click to get the coupon code for this fantastic Bluetooth headset

Click to see how to use call buttons on the Plantronics Voyager 510 to answer Skype calls 

Pros: Comfortable on the ear, even after being used for a long time. Terrific built-in noise canceling microphone. Multipoint technology is very helpful.

Cons: Control buttons are tiny, but is something that can be learned to deal with.

Package List:

The Plantronics Voyager 510 retail box comes with the following items:

* Headset main body
* AC power adapter
* Bag of ear-buds
* Supporting documents

Physical Design:

Plantronics does a great job on the Voyager 510 physical outline. It provides an unmatched comfortable wearing experience.

* 0.7 Ounces, Super Light-Weight Design

The Plantronics voyager 510 is super light-weight at 0.7 ounces. It makes the headset suitable for long-time use. I can even wear it all day without creating any sore spots or any uncomfortable feelings on my ear.

* Flexible Ear Clip

The rubber material of the ear clip is soft and smooth on the surface. It won’t create that metallic, sharp, and cold touch on the ear. The ear clip is also designed to be flexible so that it can fit perfectly on different sizes of ears. I have tried to use while walking, mild running, and head knocking about like crazy when listening to Bon Jovi. It always stays on my ear.

* Includes Different Size Ear-buds to Snap into the Headset

The Ear-bud adds more security for holding the headset on the ear. Plantronics is considerate to include three different-sized ear-buds in the box: large, medium, and small for different people.

Pairing Ability:

Pairing Plantronics Voyager 510 is a breeze. Just hold the call control and the volume up button simultaneously; the headset will go into the pairing mode. I have successfully paired Plantronics Voyager 510 with many devices, such as my cell phone (Nokia 6260), my PDA (Dell Axim x510), and my Bluetooth USB dongle for my laptop. They can all be paired on the first try.

Control Interface:

There are four control buttons on the headset: call control, power/mute, volume up, and volume down. Having a call control button sitting on the microphone leg and away from the other three buttons is a plus. I never need to worry about pushing the wrong button when I answer a call. The other three buttons are small in size which makes it kind of difficult to operate them when the headset is on the ear. But, it is something I can learn to deal with. Besides, I usually pair the headset when it is off my ear, anyway. After pairing and putting it on the ear, I seldom need to push these buttons again.

Plantronics Voyager 510 uses the LED on the microphone leg to indicate the operation status. The red / blue LED is crisp and clear and can be easily seen in sunlight.

Voice Quality:

What makes the Plantronics Voyager 510 stand out is its excellent voice quality. It offers two features which are seldomly seen on a Bluetooth headset within this price range.

* Noise Canceling Microphone:

The Plantronics Voyager 510 features a noise canceling microphone. In my 2-months of experience using this with a cell phone or online chatting, it can effectively block the background noise around me. I have called people with this headset near my very loud desktop computer (with fan noise), in my car (with engine noise), on the street (with car passing noise), and in my office (with air conditioning noise). When I checked with the person I was talking to, they always said that they could barely hear what was going on in the background.

* Wind-Smart Technology:

Plantronics also features Wind-Smart technology for outdoor use. It can reduce the noise created by the blowing wind to some degree. However, my experience has been that the headset will still pick up some wind noise. Besides, the listener on the other end can still tell that the caller is outside.

Multipoint Technology:

The Voyager 510 features the Plantronics exclusive multipoint technology which can let me pair the headset to my PC and my cell phone at the same time without having to go through the pairing process each time I want to use it with a new device. By doing so, I can listen to the music on my PC through the headset, and pick up an incoming cell phone call by pushing the call control button twice.

To do this properly, there is a procedure that users need to follow when using multipoint technology. The headset needs to be paired up with the cell phone first before the PC.

Talk time and Stand-by Time:

Plantronics Voyager 510 offers 6 hours of talk time and 4 days of stand-by time. It meets the current industry standards.

Using Voyager 510 with Skype:

I have tried to use several different Bluetooth headsets with my PC and PDA to make Skype calls. By far, the Plantronics Voyager 510 offers the most satisfactory experience of the bunch. Three major reasons for this are:

* The terrific noise canceling microphone offers a much better communication quality.
* The multipoint technology will allow me to switch from a Skype call to cell phone calls quickly and easily.
* Plantronics Voyager 510 is so comfortable on the ear that I can use it to make long Skype calls.

Conclusion:

The Plantronics Voyager 510 offers comfortable and excellent voice quality. The built-in multipoint technology makes it possible to switch between PC and cell phone easily. It also provides a decent talk time (6 Hrs) and stand-by time (4 days). With the $60- (MSRP: $99) price-range on the market, it is a prefect choice for adding hands-free features into your daily communications.

Want to buy one? Check out Amperordirect product page.

Click to get the coupon code for this fantastic Bluetooth headset

Click to see how to use call buttons on the Plantronics Voyager 510 to answer Skype calls

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