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Summary:

I’ve been reviewing a new Bluetooth headset over the past week — the Voyager PRO from Plantronics. The headset retails for $99, but you should be able to find it online for a few dollars less. After using it, I’m convinced it’s worth every penny. Aside from […]

voyagerpro.jpgI’ve been reviewing a new Bluetooth headset over the past week — the Voyager PRO from Plantronics. The headset retails for $99, but you should be able to find it online for a few dollars less. After using it, I’m convinced it’s worth every penny. Aside from the strong features and specifications, it offers the cleanest sound I’ve ever heard. More importantly, callers on the other end of the line simply can’t tell that I’m on a headset. At least none of them have yet.

Here’s a quick rundown of the advertised features:

  • Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR
  • Two noise-canceling microphones
  • Stainless steel windscreens
  • 6 hours talk time, 5 days of standby, fully charged in 1.5 hours
  • Multipoint support for pairing to multiple devices
  • QuickPair technology
  • Micro-USB connection for charging
  • S, M, L silicon eartips and two foam covers

I haven’t completely tested the battery life claims, but my initial testing indicates that this battery does last a long time. It took two hours of talk time and about a 1.5 days of standby before the battery indicator went from full to two-thirds full. Although I haven’t heard them yet, there are two battery warning indicators: one is a warning tone and one is an audible, spoken warning when you’re down to the last 10-30 minutes of juice. There is a small LED light over the power button that displays the remaining battery life. This light is also used to indicate that the device is on or is in pairing mode.

While battery life is important, so is the comfort and fit of the device. The PRO excels in all three areas for me. It’s a bit larger than other headsets I’ve used, but is still very comfortable. The larger size helps with the run-time since there’s more room for a battery, yet the device weighs a manageable 17 grams. The three different silicone tips offer sizes that should work for most people. The only minor gripe I have with the comfort and fit is for folks like me who wear glasses. Since the overall device is relatively large and fits over the ear, it sits up against my glasses more than any other headset. That hasn’t been an issue for me, but it may take getting used to for some. I’ve worn the PRO for over four hours straight, however, and it’s generally been comfortable.

The bigger size offers another advantage in my opinion as well: buttons you can see and touch. I’m just not a fan of trying to find the right button on a headset, which I often find is the case when using one that’s smaller. That’s simply personal preference, but if you have the same opinion, then you’ll be happy with the PRO. The power button is on the bottom, back of the unit, so you won’t accidentally turn your headset off when using it. Up and down volume buttons are next to each other on the top; press them both to mute or unmute a call. The call control button is placed intuitively over the internal speaker and is easy to use. By placing the buttons apart from each other, they’re simple to find and you won’t confuse one button with another.

So how does the headset sound? From my side, callers are extremely clear. Plantronics claims an adapter 20-band audio equalizer helps in this area. On the other end, I haven’t yet found someone that could tell I was on a Bluetooth headset. For each of my test conversations, I waited until the end of the call to ask about the sound quality;aAt that point, I told folks that I was on a headset. Not one of them had any idea until I told them. The AudioIQ feature helps to reduce background noise — up to 80dB, according to Plantronics.

Although this definitely isn’t the best test scenario, I paired the device with my MacBook and recorded a short sample for you to hear. I was standing at the open window of my home office while the rain was falling the birds were chirping. Here’s the unedited file in an MP3 format.

I haven’t tested the wind reduction solution, mainly because it hasn’t been windy. I suppose I could run around the yard and talk, but that isn’t a real-use scenario. ;) The boom microphone does offer a wind shield to offset wind noise.

Folks that carry more than one mobile phone will be happy with the MultiPoint support. I was able to easily pair the PRO with two handsets. To switch to call from one phone to another, you just press the call control button to end the one call, then press it again to pick up the other call. Pressing the call control button twice in quick succession initiates a redial, which is useful. The same button can be used to reject incoming calls as well.

All in all, I’m extremely impressed with the Plantronics Voyager PRO. If you prefer a smaller, lighter headset then maybe this isn’t for you. I find that the bigger size and smart design offer advantages in terms of usability and battery life. Here’s a video overview of the device just to give you an idea of the button placement and size.

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  1. Sounds like a winner.

    Do you think the audio quality would be adequate to use it with a PC for voice dictation (ie. Dragon Naturally Speaking)?

    1. That’s a tough one because most Bluetooth headsets just don’t sound good enough to the speech recognition engines. I’ve always used a USB headset for such purposes due to the incredible sound quality they provide. I’d still recommend USB for everyday speech recognition, but I think this could be used in a pinch or as a backup for limited amounts of time.

    2. I have a standard Sony headset (HBH-PV708 in this part of the world) I bought from a store and it works perfectly in DNS 10 on my desktop. The only thing I’d stipulate is buying one that has noise cancelling built in. The only annoying thing is that you can only pair it up to one device at a time.

  2. How well does the new Voyager Pro work in isolating outside sound? In other words, in a loud and noisy environment, how well can *you* hear the person you are having a conversation with?

    1. I find the volume levels are more than adequate in a noisy environment. I was playing PGR4 on my Xbox 360 with the surround sound turned on during one of my conversations. The music and automotive sounds from the game were at my normal playing volume, yet I had no problem hearing the person I was talking to. I did have a few more wall scrapes than usual, but in my defense: the roads were slick with rain. ;) Your question is a good one though because the PRO doesn’t really fit inside your ear canal.

  3. I picked up one last week – had a 20% off coupon from Best Buy. So far, so good for me too. I am surprised with how well it fits – I forget it is there. Could be a tad louder, but overall no problems or complaints so far. And the battery lasts as advertised (even like the voice that chimes in to tell you the battery is low).

    1. J. Evans Turner HSK Friday, July 10, 2009

      Where did you get the coupon? I want to save $20 on this headset!

    2. I am a Best Buy Premium Rewards customer and it was a mailer they sent me.

    3. J. Evans Turner HSK Friday, July 10, 2009

      Was it specifically for Plantronics-brand products, or was it a “20% off entire purchase of $x or more” deal?

    4. Specifically the Voyager Pro, if I recall correctly – maybe Plantronics products were also available, but I only wanted the Pro so I did not pay tht close attention.

    5. J. Evans Turner HSK Friday, July 10, 2009

      Thanks. I guess I won’t be able to score that coupon for myself.

  4. Really liking the video quality of your new Canon

    1. You and me both. :) The vid was done with the 18-55mm kit lens, which is usable, but not the best. I wanted to use my 50mm F/1.8 prime, but the shallow depth of field makes it tough for a vid like this. I’m super impressed by the 720p recording capability of this thing so far.

  5. Thanks for the recommendation! I think I’ll pick this up when I get back from my honeymoon :)

    I owned one of the first Voyager models a few years ago and loved it. Then my dog thought it would make a good chew toy and I just never picked another one up. I’ve bounced between a few different models and still have never found anything I like as much.

  6. Great review as always Kevin but I have to say I am personally not a fan of this headset. I bought one the day they came out at BB and took it back a week later to exchange it for the Blue Any V1. The look and feel of the Voyager Pro was awesome, best feeling headset i’ve ever used. However the battery life claims of 6 hours talk time was horribly wrong. It may have just been a bad headset in my case but I would only get about 1.5 hours of continuous talk time with the VPro. For my work I am constantly on the phone and a 1.5 hour talk time just won’t cut it. I have been very happy with the Blue Any that replaced it though, I get easily 5-6 hours of continuous talk time out of it and I absolutely love the Voice Command features. If anyone is interested in the V1 James has used it for about a year (until he switched to the Q1, lucky bastard) and has a review of it on this site.

    1. That’s a real shame on the battery life for your particular unit. I strongly suspect there was something not quite right with it. I’m not seeing the battery life issue that you did. :( Looks like you’re set with the Blue Ant though, which is another fine headset of course.

  7. Finally other manufacturers are catching up, while the competition for proper noise cancelling headsets is only a good thing I cant imagine that this compares with the Aliph Jawbone especially in the newly released “Jawbone Prime” version, I tested one recently and in my car (Targa top honda V6) at quite high speeds my caller could hear me extremely clearly, and more importantly the prime never made you look like some kind of borg…..
    Only downside is that it doesn’t use micro-usb for charging, perhaps on the next model.
    Anyway has anyone experienced both and would be prepared to provied their experiences, thoughts or views,
    Many thanks for a great site and keep up the good work

  8. wirelessjunkie Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    This truly is a great headset. It was compared side by side with the new Jawbone and the Voyager Pro completely outperfomed. And its reasonably priced at 89.99, here is the link to where I bought mine:

    http://www.msgdigital.com/productdetail.asp?productid=47748

    Plus here’s a promo code which I used and got another $5 off: $5BUCK

  9. hyfidelity808 Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    I agree. I orginally purhased the new Jawbone Prime, charged it up and tested it the next day. The damn thing fell out of my ear while I was eating a sandwich…and most of my time was spent trying to make sure it wouldn’t fall out. The ear loops it came with wasn’t any help, so I exchanged it and got me the Plantronics Voyager Pro, and am very satisfied with that decision. This is about the third day that I’ve had it and haven’t charged it since. In-Call quality is OUTSTANDING…and is sooo comfortable, I forget it’s there…considering the size is rather impressive. Pairing with the iphone3G and macbookpro was a breeze…but am wondering if I can pair it with the Xbox360??

    1. Microsoft uses proprietary wireless technology with the Xbox 360, so unfortunately, you can’t pair a regular Bluetooth headset with the game console.

  10. I bought the Jawbone to replace my 3-year-old Plantronics HS 655 but just could not get it to stay on my ear – The loop they give you is pretty pathetic and no matter what I tried, after a minute or two, every time I turned my head the thing would swing out and threaten to fall off.

    I traded that in on a Voyager Pro which has been pretty good so far – sits reasonably secure. Light enough that I forget I’m wearing it.

    Only two complaints:

    1. It seems to go into automatic standby and takes 1-2 seconds to re-activate so I don’t hear the first tone of an incoming call or the begining of any voice prompts from my phone BB Bold 9000

    2. The speaker lands just behind my ear canal so I have to crank the volume up. There’s no way to move that forward to be over the opening. An in-ear soft cone would maybe work but none is available. I don’t have particularly large ears so I can only imagine that other guys might have even more problems with this.

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