Nextlink Bluespoon AX

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WHAT’S HOT

   The Bluespoon
AX extends Nextlink’s lead as the most advanced
bluetooth headset by not only being smaller and
lighter than the previous smallest Bluetooth headset
(Nextlink’s Bluespoon Digital), but also adding
excellent features such as ear-switching
capabilities, replaceable battery, significantly
increased range/reception, and mini-USB port for
recharging.  What’s that? You want more? Well,
the price is also going to be less than a 3rd of the
cost of the Bluespoon
Digital and even less than the budget-friendly Bluespoon
Cameleon.



The Bluespoon AX should eventually be available in
an array of different colors.

WHAT’S IN
THE BOX


   The
Bluespoon AX that I received came in a nice clear
plastic package.  It contains the Bluespoon
AX wireless headset, a Mini-USB cable, soft cloth baggy to carry the Bluespoon in, two
different size soft spring rubber earpieces, a
neck-strap with mini-USB attachment, and a CDROM containing the instruction
manual and promotional materials. 

PRODUCT FEATURES

    Like any Bluetooth
headset, the Bluespoon AX only requires a Bluetooth
device to create a bond with.  It’s PIN number
is the easy-to-remember 0000 and it supports both
the headset and handsfree profiles.   







The Bluespoon AX is smaller than the Bluespoon
Digital and Bluespoon Cameleon.  It doesn’t
require a bulky cradle for recharging either.



The mini-USB port on the back of the Bluespoon AX
is what you can use to charge the battery as well as
reset the device when changing the battery. 
It’s not the same mini-USB port that you find on
many other USB peripherals such as digital cameras
and printers however.  


   
You can take the battery out by pulling against a
small indent in the plastic drawer on the bottom of
the headset.  The drawer is not so easy to pull
open that it could fall apart accidentally, but it’s
not impossible to open when you need to. 
Oddly, when replacing the battery, the Bluespoon AX
Headset may not be able to power back on using the
power button.  You have to plug the Mini-USB
wire into the back while plugged into another power
source (such as your desktop computer) in order to
get the Bluespoon AX to turn back on.  So that
means even if you have an extra battery, you still
need a USB power source to boot up the Bluespoon AX
after replacing the battery. 


    It
takes a little while to figure out how to
comfortably mount the Bluespoon in your ear. You
have to put the tip of the tail into the upper part
of your ear and then push and twist the speaker end
into your ear canal. Once you figure it out, it’s
like you’ve just reached enlightenment. There are
two different sized soft springs included, and you
are also advised to shorten the soft-spring’s tail
by cutting it piece by piece until you have a
comfortable fit. Do this with caution however and
test it by placing the soft-spring on the headset
and into your ear each time. You don’t want to cut
off too much. Once you’ve gotten a perfect fit, the
Bluespoon AX is very comfortable. It doesn’t move
around at all and it becomes easy to forget that
you’re wearing it. Although prolonged use will
likely remind you when your ear gets tired. At that
time, you can easily switch it to the other ear for
further use.


   
After you’ve been using the Bluespoon AX for a
while, you may notice that your highest volume
setting can become lower and lower.  This is
due to ear-wax getting into the soft-spring’s
speaker hole and clogging up the sound.  Don’t
worry though, it is very easy to clean out.  Just take the soft spring off of the speaker, and
push the end of a paper clip through the hole to
clean it out. Another option is to run the
soft-spring under hot water, just be sure to dry it
before re-attaching to the headset.

     
The range on the Bluespoon AX is much better than the
earlier Bluespoons.  There still is a slight
problem with transmitting the Bluetooth signal
through solid objects. It works best when there is a
line of sight connection. However, it is still very
much improved. For example, with the older Bluespoon
Digital, the audio was very scratchy if I kept my
Pocket PC Phone in my left front pants pocket while
the headset was in my right ear.  The Bluespoon
AX works flawlessly in this scenario. 

HELP SUPPORT

    Since the Bluespoon AX
was just released, the Nextlink.to
website does not provide alot of information about
the Bluespoon AX. However, I am sure they will
update the site with new

videos
, FAQs, and other information when the
time comes.  Nextlink is very
communicative with their customers. The CEO has been
known to respond to support inquiries himself. The
Nextlink staff is also quite active and helpful on
certain mobile phone forums that discuss their
products. I think it’s excellent that Nextlink is so
involved with their customer communities.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

   
You need a Bluetooth enabled phone, PDA, or Computer
in order to use the Bluespoon AX (It’s got to get
it’s audio from somewhere).  You’ll also need
some kind of USB port to charge the Bluespoon AX’s
battery since it does not come with a normal AC
power adapter.  You can easily find an AC to
USB power adapter that plugs directly into a wall
outlet, as well as a car cigarette lighter to USB
power adapter.  I use the USB power adapters
that came with my Belkin Bluetooth GPS reciever and
they work perfectly as long as I use the mini-USB
cable that came with the Bluespoon AX.  The USB
charging interface is very flexible.  You’ll
also need a desktop computer with a CDROM in order
to read the manual and check out the other
information that’s included with the Bluespoon AX.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
While the Bluespoon AX has addressed and eliminated
almost every possible problem with their previous
Bluetooth headsets, there is always room for
improvement. Future versions will likely be even
smaller, with greater range and battery life.  Maybe someday Nextlink will integrate their jawbone
conduction technology with a Bluetooth headset. 

    These Bluespoons have gotten so small they could
become easy to lose. The included neck strap is
supposed to help solve that problem, but I’d rather
see a sleeker solution. For example, some method of
clipping it to your Pocket PC Phone when it’s not in
use would be excellent. 

PURCHASING

   

The retail version of the Bluespoon AX should be
available in mid-December.  You can pre-order
the black version from
Pilcon
for $87 USD. All of the limited edition
clear versions have been sold. It should also be
available from a number of other online retailers
mid-December.

PROS


  • Smallest/Lightest Bluetooth headset currently
    available

  • Replaceable battery

  • Comfortable and customizable soft-spring
    ear-mounting system
  • Easy to
    use buttons
  • Mini USB
    charging interface.

CONS

  • Mini-USB
    cable required to power on after replacing the
    battery
  • No digital
    signal processing and noise reduction

  • Potentially easy to lose

OVERALL
IMPRESSION

   Nextlink has always been the
leader in providing extremely small and lightweight
Bluetooth headsets.  With the Bluespoon AX,
they have surpassed all other Bluetooth headset
manufactures in terms of features, size, weight, and
functionality.  Nextlink already had the
smallest and lightest Bluetooth headset with their
Bluespoon Digital.  No one else was even close.  Now, the gap is even bigger. 

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002.Read more about Adam Lein!