ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset Review

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bluetooth_retro_handset_new2Throughout my career I have focused upon features,  benefits and the value proposition to recommend tech products to my customers.  The ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset from  is a device that has limited features, very few benefits and is not cost effective,  BUT I like it anyway.  If you’re curious how I came to this conclusion, read on:The device is essentially a cellphone bluetooth headset packaged in a 50’s era phone handset.  You all remember those, don’t you?  For the younger folks,  in the old days, your hardwired telephone was supplied by the the company that provided you service.  In most cases this would have been one of the Bell companies, which were part of AT&T.  For the hardware, AT&T had a division called Western Electric.  When you required telephone service at your residence, the local Bell company would install your telephone made by Western Electric and bill you every month for the service.  AT&T would provide the long distance service.  You had to use the equipment provided by the phone company.  It was illegal to hook non phone company devices to their system.

I fondly remember my first phone because I could call my friends without having my parents listening in.  The handset looked exactly like the Bluetooth retro handset, except of course with a base that contained the rotary dial and the whole thing was made out of bakelite.



  • Battery charges via USB connection
  • Make and receive calls
  • Approximately 30 ft range
  • Works with Bluetooth V1.0, 1.1, 1.2
  • Blue LED indicates function mode
  • Comes with: Handset, USB cable, Instructions

The instructions are very limited and it really doesn’t take much to pair the handset with the cellphone.  I used a Nokia 6103 for this evaluation and setup was a cinch.  Before I began I did let it charge overnight using the supplied USB cable.


You’ll notice that the unit doesn’t lend itself to handsfree operation.

Operation is exactly like any bluetooth headset.  It has one multifunction button which acts as the on/off swtich and the answer and end call button.  The blue led in the mouthpiece flashes to indicate connection to the phone.  When charging the led is on solid and turns off when the device is fully charged.

To answer a call, you press the silver button and talk.  The sound quality is better than I get from the  cell phone speaker and ergonomically I much prefer the Retro phone because the speaker part encompasses my ear and seems to limit some of the ambient noise.  The mouthpiece is positioned perfect and people I call comment that the quality is good.

Making a call is a little more problematic, as is the case with any bluetooth headset.  You can dial from the cell phone itself or do as I do and use the voice tags feature of the cell phone.  One of the surprises of this device is that I was able to get more reliable  hits on the voice tags than when using the phone itself.  It still wasn’t 100%, but it was passable.

The specs state a 30 ft range and I was able to exceed that without a problem.  None of the limited documentation nor the web site indicated battery times.  I determined after several days use that with minimal calling I would have to recharge every 24 hrs.  It never died on me during a call, but then again I don’t talk that much.  When all is said and done, the device has rather ordinary utility and could be bested by any modern bluetooth headset on the market today,  but the reason I like it and would buy again is that it is an attention getter and smile generator!

To a person, everyone who saw me use the handset  and asked about it, walked away with a smile on their face.  Even my skeptical 30 something daughter said it was “cool”.  People could not believe it was real, so I had them call my cell phone to prove it worked.  (This has the benefit of getting the person’s cell number).  I brought it to work, took it to places that serve adult beverages and even carry it when I’m riding my motorcycle.  It is a unique conversation piece that will guarantee attention.

From a practical standpoint it is difficult to carry it on your person and probably would be better suited for the ladies.  They can carry it in their handbag.  Just think how interesting it would be to pull this handset out of your bag when out with a group of friends.

For those of you that like to remain plugged in, there is a version of the handset that comes with a cord that connects to your cell phone, but I don’t think it’s as interesting as this.  I know what I’ll be giving for Christmas this year.


Product Information

  • cell phone
  • Makes everyone smile
  • Ran my cellphone bill up!

17 thoughts on “ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Just wanted to say I’ve had very spotty reliability using this with my desktop. (I bought one to use as a Skype headset. It’s been relegated to a drawer: It wasn’t reliable enough at connecting and staying connected.)

  3. This is awesome, I don’t care whether or not it works perfectly.

    One of my favorite things to do at a red light when I wind up next to some kids with their windows rolled down, blaring some death rap, is to crank my Pioneer Premier / Infinity sound system in my truck up to 11 and blast em back with Jim Croce or Simon & Garfunkel.

    This phone would be a nice added touch to the whole “Hey I’m old, but I have better gear than you” act of mine…. Must Have!

  4. heh, the corded one would be perfect if one have everything in a deep pocket, and the phone set to a classical ringing sound.

    its like a gag waiting to happen 😉

  5. Tough crowd…Some thoughts..

    Q: You may be correct, but I have already loaned out the unit and it’s been passed around. Several have been purchased. Too bad I don’t get commissions..

    DStaal: I was thinking of pairing it with the computer, but that’s not what I bought it for. I had similar problems with my BlueAnt headset with Skype. I found it to be interference with my Wifi. When I locked the Wifi router to one channel, the problems went away.

    TheDreamer: The original came in any color you wanted, as long as it was black. The President did have a red one though. It was the hotline to the Russians. You are correct about the weight. I’m looking at yard sales to get an original old time phone and then I’ll attempt to move the electronics over.

    David F: Obviously, we are of a similar generation!

  6. Is this a class 1, 2, or 3 bluetooth device (100mW radiation, 2.5mW, or 1mW respectively)? Does the USB interface double as an audio interface (speaker + mic) as an alternative to the bluetooth interface?

  7. Chris,

    I have no idea about what class it is and there is no info on the Thinkgeek web site. The USB port is ONLY for charging the battery. Lastly, here it is almost a year later and I’m still using it and now it comes in red!


  8. great Bluetooth handset! i liked that ! i am using chinabuye and i also bought bluetooth watch for my brother! he liked that very much! i will buy this bluetooth handset!! loved that !

  9. I haven’t had a chance to play with one of these yet but I will soon. To those who are complaining about it being so light, check out some of the surplus outlets and use some of the empty space to install a much larger battery. That’ll increase the weight to a more normal amount and also tremendously increase talk time.

  10. About the skype connectivity… It was a bit iffy to get it going but I managed to find a way into tricking the handset to stay connected to skype while switching my machine to normal builtin audio for the rest:
    1) pair it, set it up as main audio in/out
    2) (This was the trick) call skype test call and WHILE you are talking to echo123 change your system audio to whereever you want it to go.
    3) cut the cord of an old rotary phone and replace the handset with this thing.
    4) …
    5) profit 😀
    [ Its connected for 4 hours now.)

  11. I thought I would love this when I got it as a gift, but the light weight and the poor sound quality have been a real kill joy for me. A friend got the MM01H Moshi Moshi Retro POP Handset which is corded, but the sound quality is excellent in comparison. It also has a more substantial weight and Western Electric 500 style make it much easier to hold onto. (This one is modeled after the Western Electric 300.) For wireless use, this one is certainly as good of quality of most ear pieces I have used and has a nice classic style. Just don’t think you’ll be able to use it to clobber the gum shoe discovering your past crimes so you can get away; It simply isn’t heavy enough to knock someone’s lights out! ; )

  12. Did you see the Western Electric Bluetooth telephone on eBay? If you search ” Western Electric Bluetooth ” you can see the listing, that dang thing can make a receive calls and the original sounds off when a call comes in! Battery powered TOO!!

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