The Q-Bean: Wireless PC Music and Calls

The device works well as pricey wireless earphones, but it doesn't live up to the rest of its promise.

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Getting a little space from the PC is a good goal. The $100 Q-Bean-U from LTB provides it, with a wireless audio receiver and a microphone that hangs around your neck. It also delivers some disappointments.

I've not seen anything else with the Q-Bean's aspirations. It allows you to roam a good 30 feet from the PC, all the time getting good-quality sound pumped to the included ear buds. The Q-Bean's buttons also pause, resume play, and skip forward or backward in a playlist—all of which works pretty well.

But the Q-Bean gets more ambitious with its microphone. With a little added futzing on the set-up, you can pause the music and answer a Skype phone call as you roam. That's nifty, full of promise, and maybe justifies the $100 price tag. But the Skype feature didn't always work, sending me running to the PC to catch some calls that I could hear ringing away. And while I could usually hang up a call wirelessly, there was no way to restart the music without returning to the PC.

The Q-Bean itself is about the size and shape of a small chicken egg and hangs off the ear buds. The included buds work well, though they come with a cord so short that the Q-Bean awkwardly dangles at chest level. A standard jack will accept other buds or headphones.

The Q-Bean connects wirelessly to a transmitter that plugs into the computer. Basic set-up was easy on Windows XP, though I couldn't get it to work on a PC running Vista, which the device is supposed to support (as well as Macs). And don't look to the manual or the product's site for much help—documentation and support are minimal.

Overall, the Q-Bean seems overpriced for a wireless pair of ear buds with a few music controls, or it's a more ambitious two-way communicator with too many rough edges.