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Just say no to lousy laptop audio. With a few inexpensive upgrades, your notebook can sound like a million bucks.

Grooving and talking: Plantronics Pulsar 590A Bluetooth headset

Plantronics Pulsar 590A Bluetooth headset

Do you constantly switch between listening to music on your laptop and making and taking calls on your cell phone? You don't have to give up top-quality sound to talk on the phone -- the Plantronics Pulsar 590A headset excels at both. It includes a rechargeable Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into your laptop's audio jack and an AC adapter.

The headset interrupts the music from your notebook when a call comes in on your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. I quickly got used to working the buttons on the right earmuff for controlling the music and taking calls. Pairing a new Bluetooth device requires turning the device off and on.

The sound is crisp, clear and balanced, and the microphone picks up every word. The set worked with both my laptops and a Sony Ericsson W580i cell phone, ran for nearly 9 hours on a charge and had an exceptional range of 50 feet.

Pay no attention to the Pulsar 590A's $250 retail price tag; the product is being phased out (but should be available in stores until well into 2010), and you can find it at a variety of online outlets for about $130.

Price: $130 at many online stores
Available from: Amazon.com and other online retailers

Brian Nadel is a frequent contributor to Computerworld and the former editor in chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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