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Do the people one sees walking around with a Bluetooth headset in their ear do this because they think they look important, or because they've no other way of carrying their headset between calls?

For those of us who prefer not to keep a headset in our ear all the time, here now are two elegant and functional solutions to the problem of how/where to store/carry one's headset.

 
 
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Nectar BlueClip Retractable Bluetooth Headset Holder

One of two innovative solutions for storing/carrying your Bluetooth headset
 

The Achilles Heel of most Bluetooth headsets is how to carry them (other than ostentatiously and uncomfortably stuck in your ear all the time).

New company Nectar Accessories has come up with two excellent solutions - the product pictured on the left and a necklace style product reviewed elsewhere.

Both work well, making it a style preference as to which you'd prefer.

 

 

A consistent complaint in my Bluetooth headset reviews is that the headset provides no way of carrying it when you're not talking on it with the unit in your ear.

The headsets - generally irregular in shape - don't always fit well in pockets.  They almost never have a loop on them where you could tie some sort of chain or lead to them.

At last - two different solutions have now been released onto the market.  One (reviewed on this page) uses a retractable cord, the other, reviewed on the second page, is a necklace type cord.

Both units are simple and easy to use, affordable, and provide an effective solution to the 'how do I carry my Bluetooth headset' conundrum that the headset manufacturers have generally chosen to ignore.

What you get

The Nectar Blueclip retractable Bluetooth headset holder comes packaged inside a small black colored cardboard pillow shaped box, described as a 'gift box' by the manufacturer.  Inside is a white linen pouch with a black ribbon drawstring tie holding it closed, and inside that is the headset holder and a folded sheet of clearly written and simple instructions.

The unit comes complete with a one year warranty.

Currently there are a range of different retractable headsets offered by Nectar Accessories, with prices ranging from $14.99 to $19.99, plus a 'fancy' model with a sterling silver pendant for $64.99; in addition to which are the range of necklace style products as well.  All the products are currently for sale on their own website, and will probably start to appear elsewhere as the company rolls out further distribution.

All the rectractable headset holders comprise the same basic components, the only difference being the finish and presentation of the unit.

The Nectar Blueclip Retractable Bluetooth Headset Holder  - What it is and does

The main unit is cylindrical in shape, about 1.25" in diameter and 0.5" thick.  It has a very sturdy metal clip on the back side of it.  The clip allows you to reasonably securely affix the unit to various parts of your clothing (belt and shirt pocket being the two obvious choices).

Coming out the bottom of the unit is a pull string, which when fully extended is almost 30" long.  At its end is a small little plastic piece through which the pull string loops.  You can release the lock on this piece and slide the cord to make the loop longer or shorter, with the idea being that the loop will go around the earpiece (or any other part) of your headset, and, once tightened, will securely connect the pull string to the headset.

Once you've connected the pull string's loop to the headset, you simply find somewhere on your clothing to clip the cylinder and that is it.

The complete unit weighs a barely perceptible 0.5 oz (I imagine there are slightly different weights for the different finish options, my test unit had the laser etched gunmetal gray aluminum finish).

Normally you would of course carry the headset with the pull string fully retracted into the cylinder, so the headset sits close to the cylinder bottom.  Then, when you wish to receive or place a call, you pull the cord out of the cylinder until the headset and string has enough slack, then put the headset into your ear, and make your call.

As you pull the string out, there's an internal auto-lock mechanism that engages every two or three inches.  When you stop pulling the string out, the string rewinds back to the last lock point and then stays extended at that length, so the string isn't trying to pull the headset out of your ear.

When you're ready to return the headset back to the cylinder base, you pull the string slightly further out, past the lock point (which releases the lock), then smoothly allow the string to rewind back into the cylinder.  The string is under the tension of an internal spring.

I'm not sure if this is a clear description of how the unit works.  Suffice it to say, it is fully intuitive and very simple to use, indeed it is so simple that it is almost anti-climactic in nature.

But perhaps the measure of the unit's greatness is in its apparent simplicity.  There are actually some clever technologies 'underneath the hood' and several patents pending.

Using the Nectar BlueClip Retractable Bluetooth Headset Holder

There are two things to finesse when using the unit.

The first issue is where and how to affix the cylinder to your clothing.  Nectar Accessories suggest six possible locations, depending on the clothes you're wearing and your personal preference.  From top to bottom, these would be :

  • On your collar

  • On a shirt pocket as shown in the image immediately above (clip it hard up against a side to prevent the pocket from drooping and falling open)

  • On the join where the two sides of the shirt button together

  • On your belt

  • On a belt loop of your trousers

  • On a trouser pocket

I've tried it in most of these places.  I don't like using it on my trouser pocket - it feels too vulnerable there - more likely to catch on things and be pulled off, and more 'in the way' if reaching into my pocket.

I carried it on my shirt pocket for a long time, and was slightly aware of its presence, but not to any unusual or annoying extent, and it seemed well protected there.

As part of testing all the different recommended positions, I also put it on my collar, and to my surprise, that ended up as my favorite position.  Yes, it is slightly more obvious to other people, which may be a slight disadvantage, but from my perspective, it was completely 'invisible' and caused no problems at all.  Its light weight didn't cause any perceptible 'pull' on my collar, and it was an easy convenient location to reach the headset and pull it over to my ear.

I put it on my right collar so as not to have the unit get in the way of a car seat belt (assuming me to be the driver, of course).  I never tested this with a tie on, and suspect that with a tie and jacket, it might fit less well.  However, that's not a big deal - unclip the unit and clip it somewhere else whenever your clothing requires it.

Test the various methods and locations and decide on your own preferred location.

The other thing that might need finessing is mounting the headset in your ear, due to the extra obstruction of the small plastic piece (it measures about 0.8" x 0.3" x 0.2") which locks the string loop around the headset and how it fits between the headset and your ear.

I tried with a couple of different headsets and found this not to be a major issue, so probably you'll have no problems either.

Another point that should be stated in the interest of completeness - clearly your headset has to be designed so there is somewhere that the loop can be placed around and drawn tight and secure so as to hold the headset.

That has not been a problem with any of the many different Bluetooth headsets I have in my test drawer, but if you are considering getting one of these units for a headset you already own, do look at the headset and make sure you can see somewhere that you can securely loop the string around.

One slight design drawback is that the spring clip on the back of the unit doesn't swivel around or rotate.  It is permanently fixed in position so it points down to the opening where the string comes out.  Most of the time, this is fine, but if you are mounting the unit on an angle, the slight extra turning moment provided by not having the headset hanging directly out the bottom may marginally increase the likelihood of the unit coming loose and falling off, and may look slightly less 'neat'.

If you're worried about the main unit falling off your clothing, you might want to hold it with one hand when you're pulling the cord out with your other hand, and perhaps train yourself that each time you return the headset back to the unit, you check the unit is securely affixed to your clothing.

The unit never fell off in twelve days of non-stop wearing/using.

I noticed one thing when using the unit to hold a headset with an external ear loop (the Cardo S-800).  The friction fit/placement of the ear loop was moved about while carrying the headset on the clip; on the other hand, this had also been somewhat of a factor if the headset was just shoved into a pocket.

Some More Good Things about the Unit

There are some other good reasons to get one of these units, over and above the obvious convenience of having some way to carry your headset (other than in your ear).

For example, with the headset permanently affixed to the unit via its cord, it becomes impossible to put the unit down somewhere and then forget to pick it up again (such as a restaurant table, perhaps).

Another related benefit is that you're not going to have to worry about dropping your headset - this can be a nuisance, particularly when driving a car.  If you do drop the headset, or if it should fall out of your ear, instead of having it slip down, out of reach, somewhere under the seat, you can simply retrieve it by pulling up on the cord, never needing to take your eyes off the road.

We've heard stories of people who have left headsets in an item of clothing that then went through the wash.  This too becomes much less likely when it is affixed via one of these units to the outside of your clothing, rather than obscured out of sight inside a pocket.

The other story we've heard is of people who have been carrying their headset (or even phone) in their shirt pocket, and who have leaned forward and down, with the result being that the headset falls out of the pocket.  Murphy's Law of course dictates that any time this happens, what is directly underneath you is not nice clean soft carpet, but rather a drain or toilet or something else harmful or repugnant.  It goes without saying that this is not something to worry about with this retractable clip mount.

Summary

I've found the problem of how to carry a Bluetooth headset so severe that I'd in large part given up on carrying a Bluetooth headset with me, preferring instead to have a regular corded headset in a pocket.

The Nectar Blueclip Retractable Bluetooth Headset Holder has opened up a new world of convenient carry options for headsets, and I again go everywhere with my BT headset (which is what I've always preferred to be able to do).

Usually priced at between $15 and $20, and conveniently available through their own website, this is a very affordable unit that simply and effectively solves a real world problem nearly all Bluetooth headsets suffer from.

Whether you choose this retractable cord type unit, or their alternate range of necklace style units, (and there's really no clear winner between the two design concepts), you'll get an excellent product that solves an important problem.  Recommended.

Read more in the second part of this article in which we review the necklace style Blueclip Bluetooth headset holder.

 

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Originally published 10 April 2009, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 

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