Nokia 3650 not in tune with Bluetooth headset

Swapping a wired cell phone headset for a wireless Bluetooth counterpart is a good idea for safe driving'but not with a Nokia 3650.

The $249 phone, from Nokia Americas of Irving, Texas, has embedded Bluetooth capability and a large display capable of 4,096 colors at a resolution of 176 by 208 pixels.

But the test unit sent to the GCN Lab ran the Java Mobile Information Device Profile 1.0, whose counterintuitive user interface made a hassle of every task, from receiving a call to entering a phone number.

Worse, the Java operating system crashed every time I tried a Bluetooth wireless headset. After placing a call and pressing the wireless headset button on the phone, I would have to reboot the 3650 at least once.

The second time, the connection between headset and phone would usually work and the call would usually go through. But sometimes it took a second or third reboot.

This quirk of the Nokia 3650 defeats the safety reasons for using a wireless headset while driving. On one long road trip, I didn't succeed at placing even a single headset call.

Despite its Bluetooth quirk, the phone comes loaded with features.

An integrated digital camera can capture 640- by 480-pixel images with 3.4M of internal dynamic memory. But Nokia located the Cycloptic 3.5-mm eye too close to the center of the camera's 5.1-inch length and right in the middle of the 2.2-inch width.

Many camera-phone vendors put the camera at the top of the frame to avoid dirt and scratches. The camera eye on the 3650 always collected smudges from my fingers.

The 3.4M of built-in memory isn't reserved for pictures but also acts as a repository for phone numbers and messages. If a user needs more room, as I did shortly after beginning to test the phone, a MultiMediaCard slot is located under the lithium-ion battery.

I put a 16M card in the slot, which was easy to reach, although an external slot would have made it easier to swap cards.

The 3650 can switch from a 900-MHz Global System for Mobile communications network to 1,800-MHz or 1,900-MHz GSM. That seamless triband switching is by far the phone's best feature.

At 4.2 ounces, the 3650 is light for its size though somewhat bulky for frequent travel. And if you require long battery operation, this isn't the phone for you. Talk time is supposed to be two to four hours, but I could barely eke out an hour and a half. As for the advertised standby time of 150 to 200 hours, my test unit died after 48 hours.

Good for driving

Despite my problems with wireless headset communications, I consider a headset well worth the investment for safety while driving.

The $299 GN 6110 cordless headset I tried, from GN Netcom Inc. of Nashua, N.H., has a couple of sterling innovations.

Its microphone, from Motorola Inc., makes it compatible with any modern Motorola cell phone charger, and the mike folds into the earpiece for terrific portability.

The headset feels as light as a credit card and measures less than an inch long and a half-inch wide.

Three buttons on the outside of the earpiece control the volume and initiate wireless connection with a Bluetooth-enabled phone. The buttons were easy to use. What I found less easy to get used to was the heat over my ear. After 10 minutes of talking, I was uncomfortable enough to switch to the other ear.

The GN 6110 comes with a bay charger that connects to an office phone and has a Bluetooth receiver, so you can use the headset in the office, within 30 feet of the bay.

The headset can even distinguish between multiple phones, in case your cell phone is turned on when you receive a landline call.

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