The Bluetrek ST1 is the latest gadget I’ve been playing around with and although I’ve never really been a fan of Bluetooth headsets because of how silly they make you look (go on, you have to admit you’ve seen people walk about with them on and it gives you the same reaction as though someone is wearing two different shoes), there’s a few reasons why I think this one may have turned me on to one.
Unlike Bluetooth headsets that exist on the market today consisting mostly of a single piece that hooks around your ear, looking like something out of ’24’, the ST1 has a wrap around design that work like headphones and are in fact similar in design to some of the headphones that exist on the market today.
Built with a flexible design using a combination of plastics and rubber, this durable device is lightweight and comfortable to wear and unobtrusive to travel around with, and they claim it works even if you wear glasses. Being a contact lens and glasses wearer I can confirm it does what it says on the tin having tried it whilst wearing my glasses, these are just like wearing the wrap around headphones.
The unit I’ve been testing was in white but a black version is also available depending on your preference of style.
On both sides of the headset there are two white circular buttons that light up blue when pushed and also change colour according to the status of the battery. One of these buttons is the power and the other is the dial/hang up button. Less discrete to the side are the volume buttons and the usual mp3 playback controls.
Boasting a massive 19 hours of talk time on the Lithium Polymer battery, this impressive stamina will last even the most keen talkers or how about 9 hours of music streaming and it does all of this in a package weighing no more than 45 grams and has a potential range of 10 metres.
In practice it didn’t really work for that kind of distance and I wouldn’t expect it to unless I lived on the moon, however the ST1 did measure up to other Bluetooth devices giving me a connection indoors at a distance of up to approximately 2.5 metres away, which to be fair is still pretty impressive. Beyond 2 metres, the connection stays alive but the quality of the audio starts to deteriorate rapidly as you move further away until it loses its connection completely. Distance of wireless technologies is so intermittent that there really are a million variables that affect it. I’m happy so long as this device works in the same room that it’s connecting to and the ST1 definitely does that.
With an output of stereo sound quality using A2DP technology, music in stereo can be transmitted via the Bluetooth connection from a music device such as a compatible mp3 player or music enabled mobile phone, allowing you to use the ST1 as a set of wireless headphones. Handsets like my Sony Ericsson K800i (about 12 months old now) supports transfer of stereo music to the ST1 and the quality is remarkably good with a clear and interference free stream of audio allowing me to walk and move about without wires.
Everything you need to get going comes inside so no extra bits or optional accessories to buy with this one. Everything from a carrying case to a travel charger is included as well as the earphone speaker foam.
The manual states that the battery has a lifetime of about 500 charging cycles and recommends charging it up only when the battery is low. Not all that great if you want to top it up over night, ready for the next day. Charge time takes about 1.5 hours from flat and has a USB connector as a connection point so can be connected to a computer for trickle charge or by using the supplied mains adapter.
Wearing the ST1 as a Bluetooth handsfree kit or as a set of wireless headphones will make you look a lot less silly than your typical Bluetooth headset does so if you must walk around with one of these attached to you like someone from the Borg ship from Star Trek then this ‘designed’ headset may be an ideal alternative or perhaps the solution you’ve been searching for. Featuring a sporty trendy look that imitates wrap around headphones, the ST1 as a handsfree kit is excellent with very easy to set up plug and play capabilities that instantly picks up your phone (after being paired up with it – which can be easy depending on your phone).
From the perspective of a music listening device, the ST1 isn’t perfect and although it offers stereo sound, it lacks the quality to fulfill my needs and for me, whilst the trade off for having no wires to untangle (something I dream of in my perfect world) is a godsend, the compromise in sound quality for listening to my favourite tracks is a step too far making it only ideal for listening to on the odd occasion or when you have these on anyway.
There are more and more portable devices that come with Bluetooth technology built in and this is great for increased compatibility and improved abilities for devices to talk to each other. Out of curiosity I wanted to see if the the ST1 would pair up with my MacBook Pro and stream iTunes through it and within seconds I had it all set up and working. With a strong backing for the A2DP standard from Samsung in both their mp3 and mobile phone lines it’s worth investigating some of their products if you’re interested in a tangle-free world.