By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
It's hardly news that cellphones are not just for phone conversations anymore — and with music, video and gaming speeding their way into new multipurpose mobile phones, headset manufacturers are already meeting the trend with specialized headsets designed for both communication and entertainment.
“Just as there has been a dramatic shift toward Bluetooth in the U.S. market, the next big thing is music phones or MP3 phones,” said Jef Holove, product marketing director for Logitech. “Only a minority of phones will have music capability in the beginning, but I expect it to be big business by the back end of 2006.”
To address the new trend, Fremont, Calif.-headquartered Logitech is unveiling new wireless stereo headsets at International CES this week. Called the HS 200 and HS 210, the headsets are designed specifically for the next-generation music phones that feature Bluetooth wireless technology with the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), an emerging standard for high-quality wireless stereo sound. Both headsets offer behind-the-head design, and feature integrated controls that allow users to answer calls, control their music or switch between modes, all from the headset.
The HS 210 mobile stereo headset has square-shaped earpieces with a microphone integrated within the right earpiece, while the HS 200 has round earpieces and microphone miniboom that extends slightly from the right earpiece. Both include Logitech WindStop technology and come in steel gray with chrome accents, at a suggested retail of $129.99.
Jasco is going a step further with its introduction of the GE Ultimate wireless Bluetooth kit, incorporating a headphone as well as a transmitter that works with all audio sources, including all iterations of the iPod, other MP3 players, DVD players, computers and any other audio source. It also includes a receiver that turns any portable audio device into a remote for consumers' home audio.
“The wireless transmission allows users to hold their iPod in their hand on the couch and select songs from their library or playlist up to 30 feet away,” said Kent Shiplet, marketing and sales executive VP. “Plus, the headphone plays high-quality stereo music and is also compatible with most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. When users receive an incoming call while listening to music, they hear an audible tone, and can simply press one button to simultaneously mute their music and answer their call. When finished, they press the button again to end the call and resume listening to their tunes.”
Another company that's offering dual functionality with a new headset is Shure,which has unveiled the I Series integrated sound- isolating earphones and mobile headset, a family of headset and earphone hybrids designed to eliminate the need to carry two accessories for a portable audio player and cellphone.
“The I Series gives consumers the ability to connect with either their current MP3 player or their cellphone, and alternate between the two by flipping the source selector switch,” said Mark Karnes, personal audio general manager for the Niles, Ill.-based company. “Most important, we've designed the products to meet the high-definition audio demands of MP3 customers so they can have a complete sound-isolating experience in both their communications and their music listening,” Karnes said.
Shure's I Series, which will begin shipping this month, is offered in three different models: the i2c, i3c and i4c, ranging in suggested retail from $119 to $319. The family of earphones will be available in two versions, giving consumers the choice of dual connector for attachment to an MP3 player and cellphone, or single connector for use with the PalmOne Treo. All incorporate Sound Isolation technology, high-quality VoicePort inline microphone, multifunction control switch and personal “Fit Kit” for both maximum sound isolation and secure, comfortable fit.
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