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Bluetooth Strong For Hands-Free

Bluetooth technology, although a newcomer to the hands-free headset category, has begun to make inroads, as a handful of manufacturers are making product debuts. The wireless technology, a new short wave radio frequency developed and supported by leaders in wireless communications, provides clear connections for cellphone users.

“With Bluetooth technology, mobile phone users will be operating in a truly wireless world,” said Marisol Sta. Ana, product manager for wireless telecom products at Markham, Ontario-based Gentec International.

“While there are currently only a handful of Bluetooth enabled phones, we expect that over the next three to four years, more and more phone manufacturers will be jumping on the bandwagon. By 2006, three quarters of the mobile phones launched in the North American marketplace will be Bluetooth enabled.”

To this end, Gentec will be making available in the first quarter of 2003 its Bluetooth Wireless Hands-Free Earpiece, model HFK700. With a suggested retail of $129, features include Bluetooth Specification v1.1 compliancy and compatibility with Bluetooth enabled mobile phones and other Bluetooth enabled devices supporting the v1.1 earpiece profile.

Other features are PIN code security, one-touch on/off/answer operation, integrated volume control button, LED indicator, low radiation (1 mW output power), built-in rechargeable battery and comfortable and secure ear hook.

“Bluetooth has definitely arrived in the mobile headset market,” said Jennifer Cauble, VP/marketing, at San Diego-based hands-free communication products company Jabra.

“There has been an enormous amount of interest in Bluetooth wireless headsets. This is not only because of the hands-free capabilities they offer mobile phone users, but also because of the role they can fulfill with smart phones, PDAs and pocket PCs. Users can hold conversations, while viewing data on the same device simultaneously.”

Jabra expects the Bluetooth category to grow as more consumers become more aware of the benefits of conversing hands and cord free, and as they adopt the latest hybrid devices.

Jabra, which recently launched its new FreeSpeak Bluetooth wireless headset, currently is shipping the unit. FreeSpeak works with the latest Bluetooth phones and with many other mobile phones through a Bluetooth adapter.

Weighing in at less than one ounce, FreeSpeak is made of a soft, sound-absorbing material that reduces distortions, resulting in crisp sound quality. The ear piece and microphone boom conform behind the ear so each user is guaranteed a comfortable, secure fit.

FreeSpeak, fully compliant with v1.1 of the Bluetooth specification, has a range of up to 30 feet to a phone and utilizes a lithium polymer battery. It offers LED and audible status indicators, and includes an answer/end button that supports voice activation, so users can make and take calls without touching the headset.

Suggested retail is $99 for the FreeSpeak headset and charger/holder and $179 for the headset and Bluetooth charger/holder/adapter.

TecnoZone, a provider of cellular phone accessories, is introducing its new tecno blu family of four different universal Bluetooth products, including Indigo. Tecno blu Indigo includes a Universal Bluetooth Headset, Universal Bluetooth Cell Phone Adapter and AC charger.

Indigo, which provides state of the art Bluetooth technology hands-free wireless operation, supports carrier or cellular phone-based voice activation features and operates up to 30 feet from a cellular phone with crystal clear communication. The Indigo converts any cellphone with a 2.5mm jack to a Bluetooth enabled cellular phone with its Universal Cell Phone Adapter.

A cellular phone user can “pair up” the Indigo Universal Cell Phone Adapter to other company’s Bluetooth headsets. And the Indigo headset will work with any Bluetooth enabled cellular phone.

Suggested retails for the four Bluetooth models from New York-based TecnoZone are $99 for the Aqua headset and charger and $199 for the Indigo headset, universal adapter and charger. Suggested retail runs $229 for the Sapphire headset, USB adapter, CD-ROM with drivers and charger and $149 for the Laguna USB adapter and CD-ROM with drivers.