Bluetooth headset candidate #6: Plantronics Voyager 510

Plantronics Voyager 510
Bluetooth version - 1.2
Range - 33 ft.
Talk time - up tp 6 hours
Stand-by - up to 100 hours
Charging time - 3 hours
Weight - approx. 0.5 ounces
Noise cancelling w/WindStop technology

MSRP: $79.99

Around here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the entry-level offering from Plantronics, the Voyager 510, seems to be a very popular choice amongst the mobile-inclined! There are a lot of managers and directors at my workplace who have made it their headset of choice. In addition, from speaking with a lot of the cell phone retailers in my area they can confirm its popularity. and who could blame them knowing the reputation of Plantronics. These facts piquing my curiousity, I decided to add this to the line up for my consideration. Will it pass my test?

This headset isn't as small as the competition, but the majority of the unit is designed to be placed behind the ear to balance out the articulating boom mic attached to the earphone. At about 0.5 ounces, the weight is evenly distributed to be barely noticable, yet maintain a secure fit. However, for those with a slightly larger ear or plan on wearing it coupled with eyeglasses, it can be possible that you can experience some discomfort after wearing it for a few hours. The boom mic and swivel earphone does allow it to be worn over either ear.

Controls on the unit consist of a Power/Mute button above an intuitive Volume Up/Down rocker switch on the spine of the larger piece that sits behind the ear. The Answer/End button is placed on the opposite end of the earphone. I found the buttons to be responsive with some stiff tactile feedback, yet on the Answer/End button, pushing on that was quite gentle to being pressed against the ear. This is the same button that can be used to initiate voice dialing which I was able to execute quite easily.

In real world mixed usage I found the battery to allow me to go 2 days between charges. Charge time seemed to be about 1-3 hours. This is actually quite low compared to some competing models at this price range.

As for sound quality, I found the speaker to produce clear sound. People on the receiving end also noted the same in return. I had no issues to report of sound quality when using it around home, work, or even driving on city streets. Walking on city streets can be a bit troubling because of the ambient noise typical of the situation. On a quiet suburban street, the results are as good as can be expected. And now for my infamous test in using it while driving in my convertible with the top up on the freeway... Now the sounds remained clear to discern on my end, but people reported my voice as getting muffled and then muffled and faint. Again, this was another situation where the noise cancellation just couldn't overcome the roadnoise. In windy conditions, such as walking or people still reported to me that I was sounding faint, but somewhat clear; however, in my convertible with the top down, I still couldn't be satisfied.

This headset is well designed for those who want something comfortable that isn't to invasive to the ear canal like some other ones out there. The speaker can produce some clear incoming converstaion, and the mic is effective in clearing out light to moderate wind due to the patented WindStop technology branded noise cancellation feature. As you can clearly infer, this model falls short in terms of battery life, voice transmission, and fit for those who may wear glasses/sunglasses or have a larger ear than most. For this to be a popular model for Plantronics the reasons are obvious: price, form, function.

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