So, over the last few years I’ve owned a couple of these things, my first being a hand-me-down from a higher up at my previous employer and more recently I’ve been ignoring a cheaper model from the local Target. Both were similar in appearance: a slightly elongated badge shape with an ear hook on a hinge, a single button in the middle of the outer face with smaller buttons on the top and bottom for volume control.
There are plenty of bits of apparel and accessories that can be worn that make a person look like a giant, walking douche: gravity defying pants that hang down to just above the knee; ratty, 80’s Hypercolor t-shirts that have been run through the dryer so many times they look like bleached and faded tie-dyes; gigantic, bug-eye, bimbo sunglasses; and a permanently attached Bluetooth earpiece. Putting that earpiece on a hinge that contains a spring which has less strength than a polite baby fart so that it swings out from your head every time you even slightly move so that it’s like the minuscule, withered arm of a tiny, effeminate, conjoined twin who watched the Birdcage one too many times graduates it from making you look like a douche bag to giving you the appearance of bipedal enema bulb.
But don’t let the appearance of a small, occasionally glowing and stereotypically flamboyant plastic nub sticking to your head deter you from purchasing one of these nightmares. As I was wont to do, you could keep it tucked away in the pocket of your pants or coat or in the beverage tray of your car, thereby minimizing it’s inherent JAF, or Jack-Ass Factor, considerably. Unfortunately, after many long hours of product development and usability testing, which were promptly ignored, the designers decided to add the previously mentioned single, silver button to the middle of the device and put it on the same kind of trigger mechanism that was in ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan’s gun, namely a pubic hair attached with pigeon spit. After owning one of these for approximately three and a half seconds, I realize why people wear them constantly over their ears: it is not to look like a cross between a Borg and a more douchey version of Ashton Kutcher but because if you put this thing anywhere in which the center button can come into close proximity with another surface, i.e. anywhere but your ear, the button will depress. This wouldn’t be a problem if the button’s function was merely to answer calls. Instead, the designers have worked with the magically imprisoned spawn of hell who write cell phone software to create a method of operation so bowel-looseningly bad that it has to have been created to satisfy some kind of sick, sadistic fetish. No, instead of adding another button to make calls or to power the thing on or off, they attempted to use a single button for every possible operation, and then make this button easier to depress than an emo kid on prom night. On top of that, the function of this button seems to be based on whether you made or received your last call, what phase the moon is in and whether the average of the digits of the current time multiplied by pi and divided by the date is a prime number or not. What happens, generally, when you take the damn thing out of your ear and place it on any surface or in a pocket is that, at seeming random intervals between .2 milliseconds and up to nearly half a minute, it will call either the last person you called, the last person who called you or the first person on your contact list. This hasn’t changed in the five or so years since the first time I used one of these. I assume that I cannot be the only person who runs into this problem almost continually after turning one of these things on so I assume that this is a feature intended to either spark socialization or at least cause immense amounts of frustration, arguments and eventually divorce and suicide.
Putting aside the fact that you now look about as appealing as a cover model from an early 80’s PC World magazine and are friendless after having unknowingly dialed people from your contact list constantly mere moments after you hung up with them so that they are greeting with the sound of you bitching to yourself loudly about their body odor over the techno remix of the theme from My Little Pony that’s on that mix CD you always jam in the car on the way home, there’s also the fact that, at least with the newer Motorola model that I have, the speaker is tinny and very, very quiet and has a microphone that has trouble picking up your voice over the gentle hum of your engine or, say, the gentle patter of drizzle on your windscreen.
To recap that last little paragraph: they look like crap, they drunk dial your friends and family without the benefit of actually drinking and on top of that they don’t actually do the single function they are created to at all well. You can’t hear the people talking to you and, unless you are in a quiet room with the doors and windows shut, and the other inmates have been sedated, they can’t hear you very well either. The whole point of this device, at least to some of us, is to be able to make a hands free call while driving. If the gentle noise of my car, which is not an old beater mind you but a relatively quiet and well maintained vehicle, is too loud for the microphone then why market it as a hand free device for driving? This explains the added behavior that you see from the jerks that wear these in public instead of only applying them shamefully while driving: whenever you see someone walking around with one of these on in public, they are jamming it into their ear with one hand, gesticulating wildy with the other and shouting loudly for the person to repeat themselves. The few instances in which I have seen a person having a normal conversation in polite tones while on a Bluetooth earpiece usually makes me believe that the person in question is, in fact, a delusional psychopath who normally talks to themselves and has been prescribed a Bluetooth headset to allow them to blend easier into an unforgiving and bigoted society.
There may be other brands out there that look better, that don’t swing from your ear like a grey plastic flap of lameness, that actually pick up sound properly and are louder than church flea mimes but after dropping $40 on this most recent chunk of crap, I’ve not found a reason to actually test that theory. Anything is better than, after bumping one of these with a bare ass on a Friday night, a Monday morning spent explaining to your boss, who’s name is rather high up in the alphabet, why you called them at 3 in the morning to grunt over the Dead Kennedys for forty minutes.
Okay, make it Yanni, and four minutes.