By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Plantronics' Discovery 925 is a Bluetooth earpiece, not a headset. That's the first thing the company wants you to know about the product.
"Headset has a commercial sound to it," Greg Miller, senior product manager at Plantronics, said in a recent telephone interview with TWICE before the product was debuted last week at CTIA Wireless. Miller said that when the 925 was displayed to its targeted audience, it consistently was compared to a "nice piece of jewelry or a timepiece."
CTIA Wireless was held here last week.
The Discovery 925, with a hollowed-out VFrame design, is engineered to come down the user's jawbone rather than be used over the ear like other Bluetooth headsets. Eyeglass-wearing users will find it doesn't interfere with their frames, according to the company. An antenna is integrated into the boom, and, according to Miller, the company's AudioIQ noise-control technology cleans up noise on both the transmitting and receiving sides.
It has a listed range of 33 feet with five hours of talktime and seven days standby. Other features include Multipoint technology, reportedly enabling one headset to have an active connection with two Bluetooth phones. Controls on the 925 can adjust the volume, answer and end calls, and permit voice-activated dialing and last-number redial. Power is drawn from a lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
The 925 will be rolled out in a choice of three colors — black, cerise (magenta) and gold — with other colors to follow. "The market will determine what the follow-on colors will be," Miller said. "We want to stay in line with the fashion industry, and that changes pretty quickly. What's hot today may not be hot in the fall. We certainly will have different colors in the fall, and the following spring will be another palette."
Each headset will be sold with a matching charging case, enabling users to charge their device while on the go.
The Discovery 925 carries a $149 suggested retail and is scheduled to be available this month. Miller said the distribution will be staggered at first, with availability first at CE stores, and department stores following thereafter.
Also launching at CTIA last week was the Jabra-branded BT4010 Bluetooth headset from GN.
The BT4010 comes with what the company is calling as "smart display," positioned in the center of the device. The display enables users to check the battery levels as well as the connection and call status.
Weighing about 0.35 ounces, the BT4010 is billed as having six hours of talktime and 150 hours of standby time. e-SCO technology is included for "crystal-clear sound," said the company in a release, as well improved voice transfer from headset to phone.
The headset can be worn with or without an earhook and comes with a selection of two hooks. A micro USB charger is also included.
It is scheduled for spring availability for a $59.99 suggested retail.
The H690, debuted from Motorola, comes with dual-microphone noise-reduction and echo-cancellation technology, as well as voice dialing and the company's EasyPair technology. EasyPair technology enables the device to pair with more 200 compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices "from over 15 brands," according to the company in a release.
A talktime of 5.5 hours is listed, with standby time up to eight days and a wireless range of 30 feet. Other features include several ear cushions; an LED that indicates battery status with red, yellow and green lights; and on/off, call and volume buttons.
The H690 is set to be available in the second quarter. Pricing was not given at press time.
Samsung showed four headsets at the show, including what it's hailing as one of the slimmest Bluetooth headsets on the market.
The canal-type WEP350 reportedly weighs in 7.1 grams (0.25 ounces). It's offered in black, red or silver finish with chrome trim; two types of ergonomic ear rubber pieces are provided. It comes with a carrying case that doubles as a charger. Currently available, the WEP350 has a $59.99 suggested retail.
The WEP700 has advanced noise cancellation with a dual microphone construction and voice-separation technology, said the company. Features include auto volume control, changeable ear rubber pieces and a detachable ear hook. It is scheduled for May availability; pricing was not given at press time.
The WEP430 is engineered to fit over an ear canal for users who don't want an ear hook- or ear bud-style headset. It is currently available for $69.99.
Finally from Samsung, the SBH700 features a foldable, behind-the-neck design. It has noise-reduction technology and dual boom microphones, said Samsung, and is scheduled for May availability. Pricing was not given.
Sound ID introduced the HD300 at the show. The Bluetooth headset features the company's NoiseNavigation technology, which is designed to automatically reduce wind and background noise using DSP algorithms. Using dual microphones, the headset technology "optimizes speech intelligibility" on both sides of the conversation, said the company.
Other features include automatic volume control and PersonalSound technology, which enables users to choose from three listening modes.
Weighing 0.28 ounces, the HD300 lists six hours of talktime and 200 hours of standby time. It is scheduled for third-quarter availability for a suggested retail of $119. It will come with a universal AC charger, three sizes of RealComfort ear loops and an ear hook for an over-the-ear wearing option.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.