Since my first Bluetooth headset, the Ericsson HBH-10, the novelty of wearing a lump of plastic on an ear has completely disappeared, look at any taxi rank.
Style however has always been a problematic issue, again look at any taxi rank and see the evidence! Things are changing though.
Serious efforts have recently been made in design which is where Bluetrek’s new Metal earpiece comes from.
The retail packaging tries to make the point, being in a brushed aluminium effect box giving the effect of a quality product within.
The base of the box contains all the accessories including a belt clip, rubber holder/USB charger, USB extension plug, and several ear hooks and in ear speaker covers.
All have been well designed and match the overall effect of the headset.
The headset itself is extraordinarily slim, looking like a small stick of chewing gum in size (4mm thick), and extremely light at 5.5gms. Its very size may be an issue as it could be easily mislaid.
Being manufactured from black coated aluminium (also available in its natural brushed aluminium) does give it a crisp feel that most plastic headsets lack. On style points, a good 8 out of 10.
As a comparison compare the Metal & Bluetrek’s Bizz against some earlier headsets.
Charging is simply via a USB port which saves having yet another power adapter.
Two minor quibbles are that to get the Metal so slim it needs to be firmly clicked into the rubber USB adapter to plug it into a USB slot, which is another thing to loose.
Charging takes about 45 minutes in my experience, and is indicated by a small red LED on the Metal’s back, going out when fully charged.
This gets to the second quibble, it really has to be clicked into the holder otherwise the Metal’s contacts don’t connect to the adapter.
For general carrying around, the belt clip does a good job though feeling a little flimsy in plastic. A good or bad decision is the Metal must be in the rubber adapter to properly seat in the belt clip.
Getting the right combination of ear loop and speaker cover shapes is a hit and miss affair, though once the correct combination is found the Metal feels comfortable to wear.
In use it is a pretty standard Bluetooth headset. Holding the central button on the back edge for a few seconds switches the power on, for seven seconds or more (from off) switches it to pairing mode, or if already on will switch it off.
Volume controls is from two tiny (too small but it is slim) buttons either side of the on/off button. One important point is that before pairing the Metal, ensure it is fully charged otherwise pairing will be erratic.
Putting on the Metal with the loop in place (it can be used without) requires a little dexterity though I am certain this would become easier with familiarity.
Conversational quality is fine both ways, as is the Metal’s general ease of use. I had no problems with either the iPhone 3G or a Nokia E71. Nokia voice commands worked as expected and mostly dialled the correct numbers.
The Metal is an ideal stylish partner to an iPhone 3G or other high end handset, though being quite this small, and with the rubber plug, may mean that you’ll have to buy a few spares over a year.
Price is around £30 at mobilefun.co.uk.