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 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.