Bluetooth Geekery

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ThinkGeek Handset
Completely without justification, I am the proud owner of one of these doohickies: an old-fashioned telephone receiver that works with my cellular phone using Bluetooth, the same wireless technology that afflicts the walking cellphone zombies you see everywhere these days. Want one?

Available exclusively from the guys over at ThinkGeek.com for $39.99, the “Bluetooth Retro Handset” is part joke, part backlash to the Borg-like assimilation of people by their cellphones, and seems to have struck a prime nerve with the aging Geek Culture who long for a little analog action in their daily lives.

I’m sure that nostalgia was a part of what prompted me to get one but my internal exhibitionist was the real lobbyist for this senseless purchase; I envisioned myself pulling it out and using it in public, to see what kind of reactions I might elicit. Even though I’ve had it almost a week now I just haven’t been able to work up the nerve for that first experiment. Could it be that there still lingers within me someone who longs to be normal?

The headset itself is lighter than I expected. I’m almost tempted to crack it apart and find a place to glue some fishing weights to give it an appropriate heft. The receiver has a sharp edge along the top of the “handle”, facing away from the side with the earpiece and mouthpiece. This sharp profile results in the receiver constantly slipping off of your shoulder, forcing you to keep a hand ready to steady the phone. The receiver’s sound is clear and the Bluetooth seems to sync with my older Sony Ericsson telephone with no problems.

If you’re thinking of buying one of these gizmos you need to know that the Bluetooth receiver recharges its internal (presumably non-replaceable) batteries using a special USB cable, which means that you’re going to need to have a computer around whenever you’re running low on juice. A blue light in the mouthpiece lights when you hook the device up to your USB port but the one that I purchased didn’t sit on charge very long until the blue light winked out. I’m unsure if this means that the USB port is dropping the device because it defies the USB specs or because it is fully charged. Just be aware that you’re sacrificing exhaustive instructions and manufacturer testing for a bit of geekish street cred.

The only other comment I can think of is that it requires a bit of extra planning and patience to carry around this receiver, should you plan on taking it on the road with you. Probably a winter toy, best kept in oversize coat pockets. A friend says that he’s seen other variations on this gizmo, so you may want to look around before buying this device.

Of course we’re all waiting for a C.O.N.T.R.O.L. shoe phone next, right?

[tags]cellphone, bluetooth, headset, old fashioned, retro, thinkgeek, review, recharge, USB[/tags]

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