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Philips VOX 340 Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Holiday Buyer's Guide 2006, Part 5: The Mobile Stuff
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We've seen some pretty interesting Bluetooth headsets. Most let you connect directly and wirelessly to your mobile phone. Philips VOX 340 does that easily. But the VOX 340 goes one step further. In addition to supporting direct wireless connections PDAs with A/V profiles, it comes with a Bluetooth-based stereo adapter you can plug into any audio device from a portable music player to the headphone jack on your computer or TV and listen wirelessly to music, talk or whatever. And, drum roll, if you're an aural multitasker, you can simultaneously use your phone and listen to audio.

In the photo Sarah is wearing the VOX 340's headphones. The Bluetooth part of the headphones is the little pendant-like device she's holding. You can let the pendant hang from the headphone wires or, better, put it in a shirt or pants pocket. If you need to connect to a Bluetooth enabled phone or a PDA with an A/V profile (support for transmitting sound and video directly using Bluetooth), the headphones and the Bluetooth pendant are all you need. The pendant has volume control buttons on one side and A/V track forward and backward buttons on the other. To use the latter two buttons your Bluetooth enabled PDA must support the Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) in addition to having an A/V profile.

If you want to connect to a device that lacks Bluetooth support or supports Bluetooth but has no A/V profile, then you need the VOX 340's Bluetooth audio adapter. The adapter, pictured below, comes with the headset and its Bluetooth adapter. So, you won't have to lay out any additional cash for it.

You plug the one-eighth inch plug into a matching jack on your audio device. Philips includes a one-eight inch femalemale extender cable for use where you can't position the adapter's plug so it fits into the jack on an audio device. Once the adapter is plugged into the audio device, all you need do is link the adapter to the headphones in a standard Bluetooth pairing process and you're off.

The two buttons with a 1 and 0 on them are used as follows. To turn the adapter on press the button with the 1; to turn it off press the 0 button. To pair the adapter with another Bluetooth device, press both buttons. The headphone pendant has the same buttons with the same functions.

An AC charger is included to recharge the batteries in the pendant and the adapter. The charger features a Y cable so you can charge both batteries at the same time. There's also a nicely made black carrying pouch and a very good set of instructions.

The street price for the Philips VOX 340 Stereo Headset Combo is about $140, but it's definitely worth it. Check out www.consumer.philips.com for help finding a retailer.

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