NextLink Bluespoon AX Bluetooth headset review

Introduction

NextLink, a Denmark based company, known for manufacturing/selling quality Bluetooth® merchandise, has yet again, produced another excellent product. The Danish company's pride and joy, the Bluespoon™ AX, is their newest, lightest, and smallest head set in the world. As for this moment, this statement is true until the coming months. In which case this or another company designs another compact head set into an even tinier design. But for the sake of this review, lets just assume that for right now, it this is the smallest head set in the world.

Most people who reviewed bluetooth® head sets such as this one, tested it mostly on their bluetooth® enabled cell phone or PDA. I on the other hand, took a different approach. Upon testing this unit, I used this device mostly on my computer (for listening MP3s, DVDs, TV shows, radio, etc.). Because of this, I can roam around my house without being tied to my keyboard and mouse. As a result, this review will be slightly different than of others whom also reviewed this item. Hopefully, to whomever is reading this review, will find the following assessment useful.

Sale packet contents:

  • Bluespoon™ AX headset (Clear edition)
  • User's guide and documentation (in Verbatim CD)
  • USB-mini USB charging cable
  • Neck carrying strap
  • 1 Lithium ION (Li-ION) rechargeable coin cell battery
  • 2 ergonomic soft-tip ear buds (1 large, 1 small)

Factory Specifications:

  • Type: Wireless analogue headset using Bluetooth® technology.
  • Frequency: 2.4 GHz
  • Audio profiles: Bluetooth® Headset and Hands free.
  • Compatibility:  Bluetooth® enabled devices, e.g. mobile phones, PDA's and computers.
  • L/W/D:42 x 25 x 27mm. 
  • Talk time: 4 to 6 hours.
  • Standby time: More than 300 to 1200 hours
  • Memory: CSR Bluecore 02(Flash and ROM)

 

Sale Package


Size and Weight:
As you can see from the above pictures, Nextlink managed to compact their current headset very well on to a single 30mm x 20mm circuit board. Also, the speaker is more than twice the size of the circuit board. The unit itself (without the ear bud), weighs around 10 grams.
Which means, this is one of the tiniest and lightest Bluetooth® headsets in the world!

Accessories:
The included accessories are a joke. An item such as this fragile one should not be held from a nylon strap, nor from a soft velvet pouch. Instead, it should be housed in some sort of a hard shell or casing. Using the pouch is just asking for a smashed head set! There's not even a button on the pouch to prevent items from spilling out. Apparently, it looks as if the marketing department got this head set to the market before engineers could find tune the extras.

Accessory package

Color variations:

The company states that in future versions, there would be a variation of colors. Currently the only color available is black. The clear model in this review, is currently unavailable to consumers and is not expected to be sold any time soon. Sorry :(

AX color variations

Appearance:

Although, the Bluespoon™ AX is small and light weight, there are some notable design imperfections:

  • The "soft" ear piece is not very comfortable. After a couple of hours of use, your ear, will be a bit sore.
  • The constant blue blinking LED light, attracts unwanted attention, and lowers battery life.
  • Microphone is not sensitive enough for proper day to day use.
  • Head set is contained in a weak plastic housing, which feels very flimsy.

 



Pairing

For this review, I used my Nokia 3650. Pairing the head set with my phone was very easy. On my phone, I went to Connection -> Bluetooth -> Paired devices.

To turn on the Bluespoon™ AX, the user must press and hold the button on the center of the headset until the blue LED blinks 4 times (a low to high tone is heard). Once turned on, the phone/PDA/computer/etc. can be paired with this head set. The entire pairing process took only 3~5 seconds. The passcode for this device is 0000 (4 zeros).

Operation

When connected to the head set, the user would remained connected unless 3 factors were met. Either the battery life had to be almost depleted, the distance between the head set and the paired device were too far apart, the head set was turned off manually (a red LED light blinks 4 times and a high to low tone is heard), or you have Nokia 6600 which does not support special power mode which is called "sniff mode". So, after about 30 seconds of inactivity, the headsets would disconnect from the 6600. When you want to make a call or pick-up an incoming call, all that needs to be done is to press the button on the headset and you are back in business. Still I would prefer to have constant connection between the headset and the phone.  



Charging

There are numerous design flaws on the Bluespoon™ AX. One such flaw is the method of charging the headset. The only way to charge this unit is through the USB charging cable provided. Unless of course, you go to their website and order a wall charger.  NextLink's previous headsets used some sort of A/C wall charger.

Charging time for a completely drained battery is 50 minutes. When the battery is plugged in the USB charger, a  red LED light is lit. When fully charged, the LED light turns off. Users must have a computer with a USB port available or a USB wall charger to charge the battery. NextLink should of also included an A/C adapter along with the USB cable for maximum portability.

Battery life

Testing the battery life, I've paired the head set to my Nokia 3650 phone and to my computer (each paired separately). My computer Bluetooth® device is a Linksys Bluetooth USB Adapter (Class 1) : model # USBBT100.

Pairing to each device, phone and computer, the battery lasted about 3 ~ 3 1/2 hours!!! Hardly the 6 hours that the company advertises. On my phone, I spoke for 3 1/2 hours until the Bluespoon™ AX's battery ran out. On my computer, I watched 2 DVDs until the head set powered off (3 1/2 hours).

On standby mode, the battery lasted about 46 hours! You might be asking, how did I know it was exactly 46 hours? Well, during this testing procedure, I did not sleep and I had a constant eye on this headset (I checked every hour, on the hour to see if there were any battery power left).



Speaker

Although the headset contains 1 small mono speaker, its surprisingly both very loud and discreet. The ear bud isolates the speaker sound from surrounding area around the speaker into the 1mm diameter hole to the user's ear canal so that only the user can hear through the head set. The size of the surrounding earpiece is around 14mm and that the holes for the entering / exit sound areas are both 1mm in diameter. The AX lacks DSP (digital signal processing)

Microphone

The location of the microphone is on the tip of head set. Overall size of this unit (5mm in diameter), is half the size of the speaker (10mm), and is very lacking. I had to shout so that the headset could hear my voice. Also, there is a noticeable echo when I speak into the microphone. In this case, I prefer using a wired headset. Although, there are 2 holes for the microphone, 1 on top of the head set, 1 on the tip/bottom of the unit, this design does not improve the microphone's ability to receive any audible sound(s).

Reception

Unfortunately, there is a lot to desire about the reception of the AX headset. A lot of times if I put the phone in my pant's pocket, the connection starts to break up. Compared to let say Jabra BT200, the AX is a lot worse. If there is a clear line of sight it does better, but still can not be compared to the Jabra.



For a MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) of $74, this product is pretty good. It's light, easy to use, and has very good sound quality. The only major issue is the battery life and the signal reception. Other than that, this head set would be perfect for anyone using Bluetooth® enabled devices on a occasional basis, since if you have it in your ear for several hours, noticeble discomfort is experienced. So, the big question is, would I ever buy this product? Yes, but only when they've fixed the USB only charging and the signal reception.



Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • If needed, volume can be loud or soft and anywhere in between.
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Fast battery recharging time.
  • No drivers/software required.
  • Can be fitted on either ear (even when worn with glasses).
  • Easy to change the battery.
  • PC / MAC compatible.  

Cons

  • Looks light a giant hearing aide.
  • Weak plastic housing. LED needlessly flashes during usage.
  • A USB port required for charging head set.
  • The party on the other end can hear echo if the volume of the headset is set to max
  • Weak RF reception

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

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