We all love to talk don't we? However, it's impossible to talk all of the time (although some people certainly try), with driving being one of those places. Ok, so it's fine to talk to passengers, however, with strict restrictions in place, it's important to abide by the rules of not using your mobile while on the road or you could find yourself with a hefty fine on its way to you.
With that in mind, I purchased the Plantronics 520 Voyager Bluetooth headset and after experiences with a vast array of Bluetooth headsets - some good, some not so good, I can safely say that the Plantronics 520 Voyager is the best by a long way.
*** Availability ***
At the time of purchase around 18 months ago, this headset cost around £60 from Play.com, however, these days you can pick yourself up an absolute bargain at just £25.79 from Amazon with free delivery.
*** Aesthetics and Comfort ***
Not only is the Voyager a fully functional piece of kit, it also looks good too, doesn't it? With the eye-catching black, silver and blue the voyager really stands out in an overcrowded market of dull and dreary looking headsets. I've had trouble with numerous headsets previously, in terms of fit and comfort; a lot of them would fail to stay in place and even when they were in place, they would be extremely uncomfortable and I'd be wanting to take it off within 10 minutes. Some headsets can be very protruding as well and even with hair covering my ear the headset would still stick out and make me look like I've failed to straighten a rather sizeable chunk of it.
All those problems disappeared immediately when I bought the Voyager. First off it's the most comfortable headset I've bought, with it's silicone casing fitting perfectly around my ear to keep it in place for hours on end. Plantronics obviously believe in the 'size doesn't matter' motto, as it's fully adjustable to fit everyone's ears - if Dumbo was made in the 21st Century it's a safe bet that you would have seen him wearing one. Apart from the outer shell that fixes around your ear, there's also the actual in ear part in which the sound emerges from. A rubberised shell fixes easily into your ear, without becoming too tight, whilst giving you the confidence that it's in place and that's where it's staying. The Voyager is also happy to stay in the background, without attempting to hog the limelight like previous headsets and doesn't protrude through your hair.
*** Connectivity ***
This is where a lot of people seem to run into major issues. There are of course the usual list of compatible phones, however, I've never run into any issues using, not one, but two phones that aren't included on the list. The phone pairs just as well with a 5 year old Nokia, as it does with an up to date iPhone, however, starting the journey isn't quite as easy as it should be. To pair with your phone you need to turn the device on by holding down the main button, which acts as the power and volume controls, if held down for around 3 seconds the light above it will flash red and blue, this indicates that the headset is ready to connect. Then it's all down to your phone, going through your settings menu to Bluetooth, before searching for Bluetooth enabled devices within 10 metres of your phone. If the phone successfully picks up the headset it will appear under the name of Plantronics 520 Voyager, a bit of a mouthful, but this is easily altered. Upon clicking on the device it will attempt to connect, if a connection is made you'll be asked to enter a 4 digit password, which will be 0000, once this has been entered successfully everything will be sorted and you'll be free to use your headset in conjunction with your mobile phone.
However, it's not always that simple, you see more often than not the phone you're using will fail to recognise the headset and it could take numerous attempts at turning the device on and off and holding it in different positions before any connection is made. If you're planning on using the headset with just one phone then this is only a minor issue as the connection only has to be made once, however, if you'd like to utilise two different phones this connection process can become extremely tedious, but it's also something that you'll figure out how to do more successfully the more often you do it. There's a definite technique there. When connection is successful the light will stop flashing from red to blue and will only flash blue. Once you've established a connection, turning the headset and phone off at anytime will not ruin the connection as, as soon as both devices are switched on again, they will pair once again. It will ask you to confirm this on your phone, but that's the only effort you have to go to.
The phone boasts the capabilities of being able to pair with two different phones - this is on separate occasions I hasten to add. This is true, although, as aforementioned it does create a bit of a hassle in terms of pairing them both, however, once paired, it's luck of the draw whether you have to pair them again. For example, I could be using my Nokia during the day in conjunction with the headset, however, in the evening I may wish I switch to my iPhone. 50% of the time the device will recognise my iPhone and pair automatically, however, the other 50% you'll be forced to manually pair. This is not only a pain, it can also be very time consuming if you've yet to master the correct technique.
*** Sound Quality ***
With the headset now connected, you're going to want to use it aren't you? Fortunately, in terms of usability this headphone can only impress you. The headset incorporates noise cancelling technology, which means you could be on a noisy building site, however, the person on the other end of the phone will be none the wiser. Ok, so it may not be that effective, because if a building site is enough to ruin your peace and quiet, it's bound to ruin your phone call, but the noise cancelling really does work. I've been on both sides of the counter, so to speak, both using the headset and speaking to someone whilst they were using it and the sound quality is utterly flawless both ways. The background noise is apparent in both situations, but it is just that, background noise and in no way does it detract from the phone call at hand. With crisp, clear calling quality the headset comes up trumps. The volume settings are extremely handy, there are around 10 different volume settings and they're all adjusted using the multifunctional silver button in the middle of the device. Simply tilt it one way to turn the volume up and the opposite to lower it. The volume options do cover a vast array of sound and if you're in a situation where you're having trouble hearing someone, turning the volume up even by a few stages really does make all the difference and it makes the clarity that extra bit special.
Answering a call is extremely simple and it's done using the, yep you guessed it, the all-singing, all-dancing multifunctional button in the middle. It doesn't matter which way you tilt the button, if the phone is ringing the movement will answer the call and it's the exact same method to turn it off. When the phone rings, you won't only hear the ringtone emanating from your phone, you will also hear it through the ear bud that's in your ear, which is a handy feature, if you just so happen to be on said building site. If you're not on a building site though, you may find the volume a little too loud, not deafeningly loud, but uncomfortably loud and while the phone is ringing, the only option you have to turn this down is to use the phone volume keys, as using the volume keys on the device will answer the call.
*** Battery ***
The battery life with this headset is incredibly impressive. The stated 8 hours battery time really is the battery time you get, infact, if you're an iPhone user, it's likely that your iPhone will run out of battery before this genius piece of kit will. There's of course a charger contained in the box which sits neatly on a surface and you simply slip the device vertically in to charge. The charging port has around a metre of cable so you're not likely to run out and the device will take approximately 5 hours to charge completely, although it's possible to take it off after only an hour or so and get a good few hours of use from it. Whilst in charge the light will illuminate red and once fully charged it will revert to green.
*** Overview ***
If you're looking for a relatively cheap, yet functional Bluetooth headset then this definitely deserves a look in. With its outstanding calling clarity and its admirable battery life it overshadows the not so admirable set up process, but with a device this good you'd expect it to have a flaw wouldn't you?