Nextlink Bluespoon 5G

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INTRODUCTION

    Nextlink has always been
an innovator when it comes to Bluetooth headsets.
Their Bluespoon headsets have always been the
smallest of their time. Even their original
Bluespoon headset is smaller than most current
headsets from other manufacturers. With the
Bluespoon 5G, Nextlink has once again outdone
themselves. The 5G trumps Nextlink’s previous
smallest headset (the
Bluespoon AX.) 

WHAT’S HOT

    The Bluespoon 5G is the lightest and
smallest Bluetooth headset ever. The technology used
here must be so far beyond anyone else. I don’t see
the competition catching up anytime soon.



The Bluespoon 5G looks a bit
larger if you have very small ears like Jackie
here. (all images link to higher resolution)

SETUP

     Before you can use the Bluespoon
5G, you’ll have to charge one of the batteries. It comes with 4 of them,
along with a 2 battery USB charger. The Bluespoon 5G only needs one
battery at a time, so you should have plenty of juice.

    
The process of pairing
the Bluespoon 5G with your phone will vary between
manufacturers. I used my imate JAM Pocket PC. After
you charge a couple batteries, you’ll have to
install one of them. The Bluespoon 5G is not like
other headsets which can recharge themselves while
being plugged into a wire or docking cradle. The 5G
requires the battery to be replaced and recharged
separately, which can become annoying, but at least
you don’t have to let it sit in a cradle and wait
for it to recharge. This way you can have continued
use of the Bluespoon 5G with only a minor
inconvenience of having to swap out batteries
occasionally.

     Once you’ve got a fresh
battery in there, the next step is to turn it on.
Hold down the button closer to the pointy end (also
known as the "volume up" button) for about 7
seconds. You should see a blue light blink in
between the buttons. That means it’s on. Continue to
hold down that button for a few more seconds until
the light alternates between red and blue. This
indicates that the Bluespoon is in pairing mode. Now
you can go to your Pocket PC Phone (or other
Bluetooth phone) and search for bluetooth devices
within range. When the Bluespoon 5G shows up in the
list, you can initiate a pairing with it. The PIN
number to enter when requested is "0000". 
After a successful pairing, your Bluespoon 5G will
be functional as a Handsfree or Headset device
depending on which Bluetooth profiles your phone
supports. In my case, with the
imate JAM, the
headset was bonded as a Handsfree device.

PRODUCT FEATURES

    The Bluespoon 5G only has two buttons on
the top. These are used to carry out all of it’s
functions. The 5G does not have any special features
like noise reduction or a Caller ID display, but who
needs that? It’s just going to sit in your ear and
handle audio communications.


There are only two buttons on the
Bluespoon 5G. The clear center area is where you’ll
see the LED indicators. You have to look at the
light window at an angle to see the LEDs as they
were designed to be much less obtrusive than those
in the Bluespoon AX. People on the street won’t
notice the blinking lights on this one.

    After you’ve bonded with a
mobile phone, when you start a call the audio will
be transferred to the headset. While you’re on a
call and connected via the Handsfree profile, the
lower button functions as the volume-up button,
while the upper button handles volume-down controls.
Holding down the upper (volume down) button for 2-3
seconds will end the call, however there is no
audible indication that the call has ended. So, if
you’re call already ended when the recipient hung
up, and you press the volume down button down for
2-3 seconds something else will happen… the
headset will initiate a redial function with your
phone and you’ll begin calling the last person you
called.


Here you can see a size comparison
between the two previous smallest bluetooth
headsets; Nextlink’s Bluespoon Digital and

Bluespoon AX
.


Here’s the Bluespoon 5G next to a
dime. It’s dimensions are 3 cm by 1.7 cm in case
you’re more of a number person.


The Bluespoon 5G’s batteries must
be replaced periodically. A video about how to
change batteries can be seen

here (WMV)
. The charger can recharge
two at a time and is very compact and portable. It
uses the same micro-USB interface that the

Bluespoon AX
uses.


    The Bluespoon 5G uses the same
ear mounting soft-springs as the Bluespoon AX. If
you’ve already customized a soft-spring to fit your
ear with the Bluespoon AX, you can just snap that
one on to the 5G. The soft springs were way too
large for Jackie’s ear though it would stay in with
no soft-spring at all. It could probably be mounted
just fine for most people with just a soft foam
cover around the speaker part. The 5G includes a high
quality microphone taking from Nextlink’s Invisio
headsets. This gives you much better voice quality
than the Bluespoon AX (not that that was bad.)


The Bluespoon 5G nicely
compliments the size of the

imate JAM
Pocket PC Phone. I did have one problem
where callers would hear a lot of noise on my end
even if I was in an empty room. It turned out that
it was an issue with my

imate JAM
, and recreating the bond with the 5G
fixed this problem.

 


HELP SUPPORT

    As the Bluespoon 5G has
not been released yet, you will not find much
information about the product on the
Nextlink.to
website
. The included manual takes care of all the
instructions with very helpful illustrations,
however. There are very few things that you may need
help with other than replacing the battery and
mounting the headset in your ear. Both of these are
covered in detail in the manual. You will also find
a

instructional video (WMV)
on how to change the 5G’s
battery on the

Nextlink website
.  If you have any other
questions, Nextlink is very communicative with their
customers and will usually respond to your inquiries
very promptly. The Nextlink staff is also quite
active and helpful on a number of mobile phone
forums that discuss their products. Nextlink earns a
lot of points for their customer support.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

   
You need a
Bluetooth enabled phone, PDA, or Computer with the Headset or Handsfree
profiles in order to use the Bluespoon 5G.  You’ll also need some kind
of USB port to charge the Bluespoon 5G’s batteries since it does not
come with a normal AC power adapter. 

BUGS AND WISHES

   
Since the Bluespoon 5G is so small, it’s very
difficult to find a battery that can power the
device for extended periods of time without
significantly increasing the size. Nextlink chose to
make the size a priority so instead of getting one
large high-power battery, you get 4 very small
rechargeable batteries. You’ll probably have to
replace the battery everyday, but this isn’t such a
problem as it’s easy to always keep another fresh
battery in your pocket. For the production version,
Nextlink is working on providing newer batteries
that provide more talk time and longer life.

    
The other problem is that the headset only has two
buttons, which means some functions have to be
assigned to a "hold button down for a few seconds"
interface. What’s worse is that the "end call" and
"redial" functions are assigned to the same command
and are dependant upon whether you’re in a call or
not… and it’s not easy to tell if a call ended
since there is no audible indicator.

    
I also don’t like the size of the USB cable that’s
included with the 5G for attaching the charger. This
is the bulkiest and most cumbersome part of the
package. I would much rather see a small retractable
USB cable included for the charger.

    
Lastly, where do you put it? The 5G does come with a
nice soft cloth baggie to keep the headset in, but
that’s not a whole lot of protection. I seriously
wish that Nextlink could team up with a Windows
Mobile Phone manufacturer to develop a phone that
had a clip-on Bluespoon headset similar to the 5G.
This would open up so many great usability
enhancements such as charging both devices at the
same time, not losing the headset, etc.

PURCHASING

   
While the Bluespoon 5G is not available to the public
just yet, Nextlink plans on selling the product in
small quantities at $399 through their website and
other retailers including

Pilcon
. You may also be able to find some
prototypes on eBay. One has already sold there for
over $1900 USD! If you’re really looking to
spend some money, you can
contact Nextlink, have
them send you a 5G cover, embed a couple diamonds at
your local jeweler,
send it back to Nextlink and they’ll build one with
your custom cover. If you have to ask how much that
will cost, you probably can’t afford it.


PROS

  • Smallest
    Bluetooth headset
  • Lightest Bluetooth headset
  • Bragging
    rights
  • Comes with
    4 batteries
  • Diamond
    mounting option

CONS

  • Frequent
    battery swapping
  • Expensive
  • Must keep away from children
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    If you have a tendency to swallow small
non-edible objects, I’m going to have to recommend
that you do not purchase the Bluespoon 5G. The same
is true if you’re highly prone to losing things.
This is not for the budget conscious users either.
For those folks, check out the

Bluespoon AX

instead. The Bluespoon 5G is astonishingly small and powerful.
It’s even smaller than most wired handsfree
headsets. If you like to spend money and you can’t
get the future to come fast enough, this is the
headset for you. Take caution if you’re captured
behind enemy lines while wearing this headset…
make sure it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

 

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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!