For the past month we have been reviewing the Skype Freetalk Wireless Headset. This wireless headset is designed to be used with Skype or other VOIP services, including GMail Chat, and they pull double duty as a pair of wireless headphones for listening to music.
The Skype Freetalk Wireless Headset (ISS TALK-5192) retails for $80 direct from Skype and works with Windows and Mac OSX. The wireless headset uses AvneraAudio to handle the wireless transmission so you will need to use the included USB dongle to get connected, but that pays off with instant pairing and great audio quality for calls and listening to music. The headset is SuperWide band compatible for enhanced clarity when chatting on Skype.
We’ve put the portable wireless headphones to the test taking them from home to office to coffee shop to see how well they handle travel and numerous settings. The portability was one of the things we liked most about the Freetalk Wireless headset, and it’s obvious that portability was in mind for this package. The headphones fold down into a carrying case about the size of a CD binder that holds the headset, USB receiver and charging cable.
Use as a Wireless Skype Headset:
As a wireless Skype headset the Freetalk Wireless is great. The audio quality on both ends is top notch and after multiple calls no one on the other end could tell I wasn’t calling from a landline. On the callers end the person you are talking to comes through crystal clear, almost as if the person you are talking to was really in the room with you. Comparing the quality of calls on the Freetalk Wireless to the corded Skype Everyman headset we reviewed last year and to other set we have used is hard to do because the audio is so clear. Don’t even bother comparing it to the built-in microphone and speakers on your notebook, this headset will blow it away.
Another thing that we really liked about this headset was the freedom to walk around. Day to day I used this wireless headset with the Ergotron Workfit C stand up desk that we have in for review and the ability to wander all over the office while on a call, or while jamming to the history of rap, was great.
When it comes to battery life while chatting the headset is rated for up to 5.5 hours, which matches up well with our use for chatting. Unfortunately that number drops pretty significantly when you switch over to cranking out music, but you can use the headset while you charge which is nice.
Use as Wireless headphones for your Laptop:
Unfortunately, it’s when you start to use the Freetalk Wireless Headset to listen to music that the perfection begins to crack and show that the headset was first designed for chatting and calling, but they still perform OK in most settings.
As far as audio quality these headphones won’t likely touch that of a set of Beats headphones, but they do offer an enjoyable musical experience handling a range of musical styles and frequencies well including the low end. When it comes to range the headphones are also great easily reaching the rated 15 meters, even with a cinder block wall in the way.
The microphone, that delivers such great audio when calling, is what ruins it for music. You see, or rather hear, the microphone on the headset is always on to the headphones. This means that while you can mute your calls or mute the microphone in Skype or on your system, you can never turn off the pass thru sound. This is great for chatting as it keeps you from yelling when on a call, but when you are trying to listen to music you’ll hear the air conditioner kick on, a phone ringing, interrupting coworkers, your spouse’s TV show and yes all those shrieking teenagers at the front of the coffee shop.
The best way to counter this was to put the mic to the back, pointing down towards your shoulder, but it would inevitably still pickup some external noise.
To counter this you will likely crank up the volume, which leads to a shorter battery life when listening to music. In tests we found that the headphones lasted around between an hour and 2.5 hours while listening to music, depending on the volume we were listening at.
Build and Comfort:
As far as the build and durability goes the headphones appear to be pretty sturdy. They are designed to collapse and even with many joints and pivots they didn’t feel like they would break when we stressed tested them. It also helps that the portable carrying case provides some protection in your bag.
For comfort they are certainly more comfortable than wired version we had looked at, complete with a padded band at the top and cushioned earpieces, but after an hour of use they did start to feel a bit tight.
The Skype Freetalk Wireless Headset is a great headset for chatting on Skype, that can pull duty as a wireless headset for listening to music in certain settings. If there was a way to turn off the microphone when listening to music the Freetalk wireless would be the perfect addition to your office and backpack.
- Great audio quality
- Long Range
- Good Battery life for chatting
- Can use while charging
- No way to mute microphone to earpieces
- Low battery life when listening to music