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iTech SolarVoice 908
Solar rechargeable Bluetooth headset
By Joshua Virata

Bluetooth headsets have become more and more popular throughout the years and now more and more cell phones have been able to take advantage of this technology. In this review I'll be looking at a brand new Bluetooth headset from iTech, the SolarVoice 908, one of the first solar charging headsets on the market.

There seems to be an ever-increasing trend for companies, especially consumer electronics companies, to be as green as possible. From changing manufacturing processes to producing products that are made of recyclable and sustainable materials, companies have been "going green." People in their homes and cars have also been going green, from CFLs to hybrid vehicles, the world is on the trend of becoming green. So why not have a Bluetooth headset that can charge by just leaving it in the sun?

The SolarVoice 908 is one of the first Bluetooth headsets to be equipped with a photovoltaic charging panel that covers its front side. Although there is also a port on the side of the headset for a wall charger, this headset can be charged with just the sun. Many of us drive cars to school, work, or just out for the day and we park those cars out in the sun, but many of us also use Bluetooth headsets and I'm sure that we've all encountered the problem of a dead headset and an important call. The solar charging of the SolarVoice is great for those of us who drive around and constantly use Bluetooth headsets to make calls.

This headset is pretty small and light and very easy to use. The plastic ear loop adjusts to any ear size to help support the headset while it's in your ear, but it is the size of the ear piece that helps keep the headset in your ear. There are four different sized ear pieces that help keep out ambient noise but also allow for a snug and secure fit inside your ear. One thing that I did notice though is that the headset does seem to float pretty far away from your face while it's being worn. Personally I'm not used to this but this is all on preference of the user.

Some features the SolarVoice includes are A2DP Bluetooth profile for streaming of multimedia audio, as well as multipoint connection technology. The A2DP Bluetooth profile is great because it allows users to stream multimedia audio, but the fact that this headset isn't stereo somewhat defeats the purpose to have it. Multipoint connection technology is a great feature for some people who carry two cell phones with personal and business lines. Multipoint allows the headset to be paired and connected to two different phones at one time and allow for switching between the two phones with ease.

Using the SolarVoice is simple and easy. There are a total of three buttons on the headset, a multi-function button, and a volume rocker. Pairing was easy, and just like many other headsets I've tested in the past. The included user guide is easy to read and covers a lot of information about the headset. Something I found interesting is the different button combinations that can be used with the three buttons to redial, voice dial, reject, transfer, and a few more. Of course all of these features are dependent on your cell phone's capability to handle all these different commands.

Call quality was great, I was able to hear my caller and they were able to hear me even in a car with the windows down, which is how I like to drive so a headset that can make me heard in those situations is great for me. The solar charging is another plus because I park my car in the sun most days, and when I'm not using my headset I usually just leave it in the car. With the SolarVoice I can turn it off, leave it on the dashboard and it will charge while I'm gone. Over the course of a week's trials with the headset I never once had to take it out of my car to charge.

Included with the Solar Voice are four different sized ear pieces, one ear loop, user guide, a wall charger brick and USB charging cable, but also included is a desktop or dashboard mountable cradle with a double stick tape bottom. The inclusion of a cradle is great because that means there's always a place for the headset to go "home" so to speak, instead of just putting it in a cup holder or by the shifter to potentially get lost. Though the inclusion of one plastic ear loop is a bit disappointing because of its heavy use there is the chance it may break.

Talk time is rated at 5 hours on a full charge, which is rated to take approximately 3 hours. The headset also has a rated 140 hours of standby time, but as I mentioned earlier, for those of us who park our cars in the sun turning off the headset and placing it on the dashboard will charge the battery.

So for those of us going green and who want a headset to help us do that the SolarVoice 908 is a great choice. It's small, sleek form factor makes it comfortable yet fashionable at the same time. Priced at a MSRP $74.99 USD it's a great start toward taking advantage of the abundant solar energy that bombards us every day.

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Joshua Virata is a 2008 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He has been using computers since the age of 2 and is proficient in the areas of home wired and wireless networking, music creation, secure computing, cell phone communication and GPS navigation. You can email him at jvirata@mac.com

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