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Search far and wide for Bluetooth headphones and all you'll find are bulky cans that hang on your head or around your neck, weighing you down in short order. Panasonic aims to fix that with its EB-M70083 Bluetooth 1.2 earphones, the lightest yet at less than an ounce with a battery that lasts 4.5 hours when you're listening to music, or six hours when you're talking on a cell phone. Available first in Japan on December 11, they'll be $60.

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Curmudgeonly commentary, plus an assessment of my experience with Bluetooth headphones:

Lanyard headphones are perfect for walkers, and if these Panasonic buds can deliver good performance with the battery life stated here, the company may be onto something. But in my experience, Bluetooth leaves much to be desired.

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Is it me, or is Bluetooth a bit connection-challenged? I've tried a pair of Motorola HT-820 (about $70, pictured below) phones for listening to tunes on my Motorola Q, and even when the phone is in my pocket less than three feet away, it drops the Bluetooth signal often enough to be annoying.

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.


It's also a bit dicey pairing the headphones with the phone. The process isn't anywhere near automatic, usually requiring a frustrating tweaking session each time I'd like to use them. And then there's the issue of short battery life.

Which brings up my experience with my Microsoft Bluetooth mouse (pictured below), a pointing device whose signal can travel through the wall of my home theater, but whose battery requires replacement on a too-regular basis, about once a month. And then, sometimes it just simply loses its pairing with its USB Bluetooth dongle plugged into the host computer, requiring a cumbersome re-acquaintance ritual that's starting to try my patience.

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.


Overall, Bluetooth so far has been a pain in the ass. I'm starting to think this technology is not yet ready for prime time. Let's hope Bluetooth 2.0 is an improvement. Commenters, are you having similar experiences?

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Panasonic EB-M70083 the lightest Bluetooth earphones [Newlaunches]