One advantage stereo Bluetooth headsets have is that you can easily wear them while working out since they lack wires to get in your way. Many manufacturers now give headsets sports-centric designs that wrap behind the neck--the Motorola Rokr S9 HD being one of the more popular ones. BlueFox Extreme has followed suit with its BF-401. It's certainly lightweight and it has multipoint technology and decent audio quality. The BlueFox Extreme BF-401 costs $80, but you can get it cheaper online.
As we mentioned, the BF-401 is an around-the-neck-style headset. It measures 5.32 inches wide by 5.37 inches tall by 2.5 inches thick and weighs about 1.08 ounces. The earpieces hook behind the ears and are connected to two rather thick bases, which are then connected via a slim neckband. The earpieces are small and do not go too deep into the ear; they sit gently at the ear opening. BlueFox Extreme didn't include custom ear gel fittings with the headset, but we still found the fit to be comfortable and secure. However, its neckband is quite stiff. If you're wearing a collared shirt, the neckband may catch the collar.
The base of the right earpiece houses the headset's controls and the battery. The controls consist of two rockers on its top; the front rocker is for the power button and the volume controls, and the back rocker corresponds to the music player controls. Both can be pressed as well. Toward the front of the volume controls is a small LED indicator. The charger jack is at the bottom of the right earpiece base. Though the controls are tiny, we found the rockers easy to manipulate, as they are both raised above the surface.
We tested the BlueFox Extreme BF-401 with the Apple iPhone 3G. Overall, the BF401's audio quality was quite good. Since the earbuds do not seal the ear, you don't get a very full bass effect. However, just for the purposes of running or working out, they work great. Since the earbuds don't seal the ear, you can hear environmental noise, which is good for avoiding traffic if you're running outdoors.
The BF-401's call quality was a little more mixed. Its incoming audio quality was great; we heard our callers loud and clear with hardly any static interference. However, on the callers' end, they said they heard a bit of background noise, despite the headset's noise-canceling properties. Even in a quiet office, they said they heard an echo. When we were outside, our callers said we sounded a bit of muffled and sometimes the ends of our sentences would cut off. This wasn't consistent, though, and some callers reported that we sounded excellent.
We're happy that the BlueFox Extreme BF-401 has multipoint connectivity. This feature lets you connect up to two devices simultaneously, for example a music player and a cell phone. When a call comes in, the headset is smart enough to pause the music and go to the call. When the call ends, it'll resume the music. The BF-401 is, of course, A2DP compatible and it supports AVRCP, which lets it act as a remote control for your music player. Some phones don't fully support AVRCP; for example, the iPhone will let you play/pause but not change tracks.
Other features include the capability to answer, end, and reject calls; last number redial; call waiting support; and the capability to transfer calls from the headset to the phone and vice versa. The BlueFox Extreme BF-401 has a rated battery life of 7 hours music playback, 8 hours talk time, and 5.83 days standby time.