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REVIEW: Globalsat Bluetooth Stereo Headset and Audio Gateway Entertainment Pack
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 26.01.06 - 20:01:53 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 47383x
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Two weeks ago, I've received my latest Bluetooth gadget, the Globalsat Bluetooth Entertainment Pack. The Globalsat Bluetooth Entertainment Pack is a combination of Globelsat's BTA-830 audio gateway which can be connected to virtually any audio device with an audio out option and the BTH-820 Bluetooth headset and during the past days, I had some exciting chances to test it while I was snowboarding, on a business trip, in the hotel, in the office and even at home and I've connected it to virtually every gadget I'm carrying abroad (my Smartphones, my Portable Media Center, my Apple iPod, my Notebook and my Pocket PC) or I have at home (my Windows XP Media Center).

The Bluetooth Entertainment Pack consists a sender unit (the media gateway) that connects to any audio source, for instance your iPod and a Bluetooth sender/receiver (the main-unit) for your headset which also acts as a remote control. The main-unit is a real plug-and-go device which supports the standard Bluetooth A2DP profile for clear, near CD quality stereo sound and the Bluetooth AVRCP profile for remote control as well as the standard Bluetooth headset profile to use it as a headset for mobile phones.
The Audio Gateway transmits crystal clear digital sound to compatible Bluetooth audio headsets (using the same A2DP Bluetooth profile) within a range of up to 10 meters and is even more plug-and-go.

The sales box contains everything you need to start: a USB to dual-mini USB cable for charging (the Bluetooth main-unit and gateway simultaneously while carrying one cable and charger only), the 110 - 240 V USB charger which can be used world wide, the Bluetooth headset main-unit which also includes the microphone and which can be used as a headset for your mobile phone and also includes the remote control and 3.5 mm stereo jack, a stereo headset to be plugged into the main-unit and the Bluetooth audio gateway which also has a 3.5 mm stereo plug.

Basically the Globalsat Bluetooth Entertainment Pack supports three scenarios:

  • Connecting the headset to your mobile phone to use it as a Bluetooth headset
  • Connecting the headset to the audio gateway to get audio streamed wireless from virtually every device with audio output
  • Connecting the headset to a Bluetooth stereo enabled device to get the audio streamed without the need of the audio gateway

For sure you can combine some of these scenarios above like connecting it to a mobile phone as well as to the audio gateway in parallel.

Using the Headset with a Mobile Phone
In this case, the headset works as a standard Bluetooth headset you can use for phone calls but unlike ear-clipping mono headsets, you can use high-quality stereo headsets since the main-unit has a 3.5 mm jack. For sure you don't get phone calls transmitted stereo but mono only, however, you have the output on both earphones which is pretty handy in noisy environments.

The main-unit includes all the functions to receive/hang up a call as well as controlling the volume and for sure the microphone. On top, right beside the headset jack, you have the microphone:

On the left side you have the hang-up/reject button which also works as the power/pairing button. Also on the left is the mini USB jack (protected by a plastic flap) to recharge the main-unit:

On the front you find several control buttons, the most important for the phone functionalities are the accept call, volume up and down keys and the next/previous keys which can be used to redial the last number. If the mobile phone supports voice dialing, this can be initiated by pressing and holding the play button for two seconds:

And on the backside we have a clip and a mechanical hold button which disabled all other buttons:

Pairing the main-unit with a mobile phone, like a Windows Mobile Smartphone or Pocket PC Phone Edition, is easy doing and worked flawless in my tests. Also the included manual explained it very well. After the mobile phone paired with the main-unit, it appears as a headset:

I've used the headset for quite a lot phone calls during the past days and the results were more than sufficient. While I've heard my partner pretty good, also my partner heard me well (I've asked in nearly every call how my partner can hear me) but as Globalsat recommends, the main-unit should be in a range of 30 cm from your mouth. Here the clip helps a lot, so you can clip the unit to your shirt or collar.

Using the Headset with the Audio Gateway
Since this is a Bluetooth stereo entertainment pack, using it as a headset for mobile phones only wouldn't be enough nor it would makes sense at all but the fun comes if you listen your music wireless.
Here, Globalsat added the audio gateway to virtually enable every device to be used with the Bluetooth stereo headset.
Instead of plugging in a wired headset into the stereo jack of your device, you plug-in the audio gateway. This transforms the received audio data into the Bluetooth stereo signal which than is received with the main-unit wirelessly.
Therefore the audio gateway includes a standard 3.5 mm stereo plug and to make it mobile it also includes a rechargeable battery. For easier transportation, you can even roll-up the cable:

Bonding the main-unit with the audio gateway works flawless too. Both units needs be be brought into the pairing-mode and they will find each other instantly. No need to add any PIN codes (which would be hard anyway) and therefore, after the first pairing you can instantly start to listen your music wireless and I've tried a couple of devices including my Apple iPods, my Portable Media Center, my i-mate JasJar and my Notebook.

Anyway, in this combination the Bluetooth AVRCP profile isn't supported at all and can't be supported. The AVRCP profile allows your to remote control the media player of the device you are connected to. However, since you are not physically connected with the iPod or PMC but with media gateway, you might be able to remote control the gateway only but not the device. But remote controlling the media gateway wouldn't makes any sense because it can not transmit the command back to the device since it is connected to the audio out port only.
Nevertheless, for sure you can control the volume as well as you can be connected to the media gateway in parallel to a mobile phone and the mobile phone always has the higher priority. This means if you receive a call, the headset main-unit gets the signal from the mobile phone and allows you to take or reject the call. In the meantime the audio playback is muted but not stopped (which needs again the AVRCP profile). As soon as the call is finished, the headset switches back to the media gateway and the playback continues.

Using the Headset with a Bluetooth Stereo enabled Device
This combination doesn't requires the media gateway at all but the headset main-unit directly connects with a Bluetooth enabled device which has to support at least the Bluetooth Stereo profile (A2DP) and in best case also supports the AVRCP profile for remote controlling the devices media player.

In this case, you have to pair the main-unit with the device (like Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PCs or Smartphones which requires Microsoft's AKU 2 to enable A2DP and AVRCP). Unfortunately Microsoft is still not supporting A2DP or AVRCP in Windows XP nor it supports the very basic headset profile. Therefore you need a Bluetooth dongle which isn't using Microsoft's Bluetooth stack to get this supported!

However, if either your PC (through a 3rd party Bluetooth stack), your PDA or mobile phone supports at least the A2DP profile, it will appear as a stereo headset in the device list:

As in the previous scenario, for sure you can also use it in this scenario parallel, means as Bluetooth stereo headset and headset for your mobile phone. Meaning you can listen your music but as soon as a call comes in, the music isn't muted only but playback is paused and the headset switches to the mobile phone (which might be even the same device, like a Pocket PC Phone Edition). However, pausing playback also requires the AVRCP profile (which most A2DP-enabled devices supports anyway since this combination makes most sense). So if AVRCP is supported on your device, you can also jump to the next/previous song in your playlist as well as pausing/resuming the playback - remote - from the headset main-unit, without taking the device out of the pocket or touching it.

Well done is the media gateway compatibility since it also supports Bluetooth stereo headsets from other manufactures; for instance Motorola's HT820 Bluetooth headset which you can pair with the media gateway as easy as you can pair the Globalsat BTH-820 Bluetooth stereo headset with the gateway.

This is good to know since you might want to use the gateway with a different headset you might have already. As long as everything is implemented as the Bluetooth standard suggests, you shouldn't face a problem.

Final Conclusion

I've heavily used the Bluetooth Entertainment Pack during the past weeks. Both, the Bluetooth headset and the media gateway were with me snowboarding and I had the media gateway connected with iPod. This combination worked perfect and I hadn't had a single problem. Unfortunately in this combination I wasn't able to remote control the iPod but had to take it out of my pocket, for instance to jump to a different song.
Anyway, I also used the media gateway/headset combination in the hotel room with both, my iPod and my PMC to listen music. And as good as a PMC is, it doesn't has a too powerful loudspeaker, so I enjoyed listening music even more through the headset, not to mention that I was able to listen it louder than I could with the loudspeaker.
Last but not least, I was listening my music in the office (streamed through Orb via UMTS from my Media Center at home, therefore I had access to my complete music collection) and also this worked great, not to mention that my room-maid thanked me for this.
The nice side effect all the time was, that if I received a call I haven't missed it, which could happen if you listen music through a wired headset which isn't connected to your mobile phone in parallel.
Talking about phone calls: as mention before, I've used it for a couple of phone calls and also here the headset did what I expected, simply doing a good job. I heard everything clear and also my partner heard me well. Even better, I also used the headset for conference calls which is always hard to follow. However, since you hear the call on both ears, it's way easier to follow conference calls.

Last but not least the headset/media gateway combo made my girlfriend happy two days ago when I came to here in the evening and I wanted to watch football in the TV. However, she had to finalize some work and therefore asked me to use a headset. Normally you don't have a headset beside your TV (anymore) and the iPod headset cable (or any other)  isn't long enough. But again, I simply used my headset/media gateway combo and it instantly streamed the TV sound to the headset. She was happy, I was happy and it was a perfect proof for me how much sense such a Bluetooth headset with media gateway makes, especially if the media gateway is portable not to say mobile.

Talking about mobility: both - the headset main-unit and the media gateway includes rechargeable batteries and Globalsat promises a play time of around 5 hours I can confirm here. Sure, longer would be better but 5 hours is nearly enough. If you use the headset as a Bluetooth headset for your mobile phone, the talk time is even longer.
Recharging takes around 2 to 3 hours but thanks to the Y-cable which has two mini USB connectors you can either charge from your Notebook or with the included power adapter. And even better, you cn also use this cable to charge your (mini USB enabled) Pocket PC or Smartphone while you charge either the media gateway or the headset. Pretty handy and it reduces the chargers and cables in a travelers bag!

All together I can say, that the whole package is a great accessory for music lovers and mobile phone users and worth the money!

The Globalsat Bluetooth Entertainment Pack is available - in the US - for around US$ 119 or less. I haven't found a European reseller yet but will ask Globalsat for some locations in Europe I will update later.

Cheers ~ Arne

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