Chances are that you will have a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. If you're anywhere near as busy as I am on a daily basis and happen to use the phone for extended periods, you will have considered purchasing a Bluetooth-compatible headset.
Headsets can range from cheap-and-cheerful models costing less than a fiver to premium offerings retailing for well over £50. Higher-priced Bluetooth headsets ship with noise-cancelling technology, dual microphones, and, of course, excellent sound quality.
Worth bothering with premium headsets?
Plantronics is one company that has considerable lineage in manufacturing headsets. Its premium Bluetooth-enabled, in-ear headsets are split between the Discovery and Voyager PRO series. Designed ostensibly for the fast-growing smartphone market, Plantronics has released an update on the Voyager series with the introduction of the PRO+.
Priced from £50 and representing a £10 premium on the regular PRO headset, Plantronics' revised PRO+ adds to the incumbent by integrating what is known as the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), which governs the streaming of audio - songs, GPS navigation, podcasts, etc. - from a phone to the headset.
The A2DP's usage extends to providing low-battery, out-of-range, and remaining talk-time warnings, as well as a specific iPhone heasdset meter, should you have one of Apple's phones.
Function more than form; the PRO+ is an all-business headset
The same as a PRO?
A look at the PRO+ reveals that its form is the same as the regular PRO's. This means it remains an over-the-ear device, with the battery integrating into the larger section fitting behind the ear. Setup for the right ear out of the box, rotating the boom mic and flicking it around makes it usable for folk who prefer the headset to sit in the left ear.
Pairing up the PRO+ with a smartphone is as easy as pie. On my BlackBerry Bold the process is as simple as requesting the phone poll nearby devices and then accepting the PRO+: you're good to go after a 20-second setup. It also features multipoint technology, which enables it to be connected to more than one phone within the Bluetooth coverage area.
Weighing in at 18g and fitting very comfortably around the ear, to the extent that you become oblivious to its presence, the PRO+ is an old-school-looking headset that puts function over new-fangled form. Folk who wear glasses needn't worry, as the arm that comes over the ear doesn't impinge upon the specs at all.
Microphones on each side, screened from the wind
Sound quality; usage
The earpiece is made out of a rubber gel and sits nicely inside the ear. Should it not fit quite right, Plantronics bundles in small and large gel eartips, along with two foam covers. The boom, which is complete with dual microphones, does an excellent job of providing clear, crisp speech, even with a gusty wind blowing across the microphones.
Five separate call recipients remarked on the clarity of speech coming from the headset when I was walking or driving through the town centre. In fact, one would require genuinely adverse weather conditions for it to impact on either the outgoing or incoming audio quality.
Primarily controlled by the call button on this side of the earpiece, taking an incoming call requires a single tap, while two taps automatically dials the last number. Holding it for two seconds initiates the phone's voice-dialling, should it be implemented.
Volume buttons are contained on the top part of the behind-the-ear section, and these double-up as rudimentary music controls in A2DP mode, while the lower part is home to a micro-USB charging port and on/off switch.
An honest five hours' constant usage
Taking some 90 minutes to charge from being completely drained, the PRO+'s A2DP functionality extends to providing a post-call voice alert that details remaining talk-time left. Speaking of which, the unit is specified with six hours of talk time and five days of standby time, according to Plantronics. I managed just over five hours of talking through a period of four days, putting the PRO+ pretty close to the spec. sheet.
The Bluetooth connection provides a through-wall coverage area of over 30 feet. This means you can potter around the house without carrying the phone around; handy if in the middle of a laborious conference call. Should you stray too far, A2DP's voice-alert system also details when connection is lost and reconnected.
The package ships with a USB-to-micro-USB charging lead, at-wall charger and an in-car charger, keeping all the important bases covered.
The Plantronics Voyager PRO+ provides excellent sound quality from a Bluetooth headset that's super-comfortable to wear for long periods. Backed by a genuine six hours of talk time and easy to use, I have no hesitation in recommending it to the business user who needs a clear, crisp and dependable connection to their smartphone.
It could be prettier - the fashion-conscious crowd will likely shun it - and the upgrades over the regular PRO aren't necessary for everyone, yet the Voyager PRO+ is the best Bluetooth headset I've used. Expensive, yes, but you get what you pay for.
Excellent sound quality
Good job at cutting out extraneous noise
Very good talk time
A bit on the bulky side
Expensive, but you get what you pay for
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