Hey there Allison, Donald Burr of Otaku no Podcast here, back with another review. Today I am reviewing the Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: wearing a Bluetooth headset makes you look like a total tool. And indeed this is true. But they are the best solution if you want to use your phone handsfree. Holding a phone (even one as small and thin as the iPhone) up to your ear can get tiring, and you can’t use the old telephone handset trick (remember those?) of wedging it between your head and shoulder. Plus, in most states, it is now illegal to use a phone while driving without a handsfree device of some kind. Most phones come with headsets (e.g. iPhone earbuds) but they’re usually pretty lousy, and they are wired, and sometimes that cable tends to get in the way, or get tangled up in things (especially if you’re moving around your desk area, etc.) You might be thinking, “Why not use a Bluetooth speaker phone?” There are indeed quite a few of these devices out there nowadays, such as the Jawbone Jambox, and they work well, for the most part, but you can’t really use them when you are in a situation where you would disturb people (say, in an office setting) or if you want to keep your conversation private. So a traditional “wear it on your ear” style Bluetooth headset is still the best way to go in my opinion.
Now I have a love-hate relationship with Bluetooth headsets. I’ve tried them all, but every one I’ve tried has had one fatal flaw or another. Either they are really uncomfortable, or they don’t fit right (either the earpieces are too big or too small) or the audio quality is terrible (either you can’t hear the person you’re talking to, or they can’t hear you, or both), or they are flimsy and break. I’ve tried a lot of them and just never found one that I really like. So I guess that makes it more of a hate-hate relationship.
But I have finally found a BT headset I have fallen in love with – the Plantronics Voyager Legend.
The Voyager Legend looks similar to most Bluetooth headsets. It has a large back part that contains the battery, power on/off switch and volume control. Attached to that by a flexible length of plastic is the earpiece and mic assembly, which contains the rest of the controls. You insert the earpiece in your ear, adjust the mic to point more or less toward your mouth, and the rest of the headset sort of hangs off the back of your ear. It sounds uncomfortable but surprisingly it is not. I can wear this thing all day and I barely notice it. I can even wear it with glasses, which is not true for most Bluetooth headsets: usually the headset and the glasses tend to interfere with each other and get in each others’ way.
The part of the earpiece that fits in your ear is made of a soft silicon like material, and it is user-replacable. Plantronics includes three sizes of ear tip. The idea is that you pick the one that fits your ear the best. Furthermore, they also include two little foam pads that you can put on over the earpiece if the fit still isn’t right. In fact this is the best fitting headset I’ve ever tried. Both my girlfriend and I have unusually sized ears, and we were able to configure the headset to fit perfectly. It fits snugly but not too tightly, and doesn’t feel like it would work itself loose over time. And, as I’ve said before, I can wear it all day without it working loose.
It charges via USB, and it includes a USB charging cable. The headset end is magnetically attached, kind of like a MagSafe connector. But, like some MagSafes, it is prone to easily fall off. This is not helped by the fact that the cable that they give you is unusually short. You’ll most likely want to use a USB extension cable with this, especially if you want to use the AC adapter that comes with it.
Pairing the Voyager Legend couldn’t be easier. When you first turn the unit on, it immediately goes into pairing mode. Just go into the Bluetooth settings on your phone and it should appear there. Once paired a voice will announce “Pairing successful.” You can pair the device with up to 2 phones as well as a computer. (The iPad announces itself via Bluetooth as a computer, so you can have it paired with two phones plus an iPad.)
The sound quality is excellent. It has a very wide volume range, so you can make it really loud, so you can easily hear people even in noisy environments, such as driving with the window down, or on a noisy convention center floor. And the Voyager Legend has three microphones plus a built-in Digital Signal Processor chip which it uses for noise canceling, and it does a pretty good job; everyone I talked to said they could understand me clearly, even if I was talking to them while I was in a noisy environment.
According to the manufacturer, the Voyager Legend’s battery life is up to 7 hours of talk time and up to a whopping 11 days of standby time. I have found this to be pretty much spot on. When plugged into the AC adapter, it fully recharges in 90 minutes. Since computer USB ports provide less power, it takes somewhat longer to charge when plugged into a USB port, around 2-3 hours in my tests.
The Voyager Legend has two buttons and two switches. The power switch turns it on and off, and the volume rocker lets you change the volume. The call button lets you answer a call or hang up on a call that you’re on. If you long-press it, it will activate your phone’s voice control features (such as Siri or Google Now). Another button lets you mute or unmute the microphone if you’re in the middle of a call, or toggle pause/play if you’re listening to music or podcasts.
The Voyager Legend has its own built-in voice control. Tap the voice button and you can issue various commands to the headset to perform various functions including checking available battery level, activating pairing mode, checking to see if you are paired with your phone, etc. Also when you receive a call, you can answer it by saying “answer” or ignore it by saying “ignore.” This is great for total hands-free operation. The voice control works pretty well, about as well as your phone’s voice control such as Siri or Google Now.
Finally, it has one more neat feature: a built-in accelerometer. This lets you do some pretty cool things. For example, if the headset is lying on the table and a call comes in, simply picking it up and putting it on will answer the call. Likewise, if you are wearing the headset and a call comes in that you don’t want to answer, just take the headset off and set it down, and the call will automatically go to voicemail.
The headset supports both the Bluetooth “headset” and “audio” audio profiles (otherwise known as “A2DP.”) This means it can be used for listening to media playback on your phone. Since it’s only monaural, it’s not really suitable for listening to music, but it’s perfect for podcasts and audiobooks, as well as listening to the audio of a video that you’re watching. To be honest, this is what I use it mostly for, and I find it much more convenient than headphones; as I sit at my desk and move around, the headphone wire tends to get in the way and get all tangled up and is annoying.
There is one slight problem if you have this device paired with multiple devices, say both your iPhone and your iPad, or your phone and a computer. If one of the devices plays a sound while you’re listening to the other, the sound from the other device cuts out for a few seconds. Let’s say I’m listening to a podcast on my iPhone through the headset, but I’m also using my iPad, when I do something on the iPad that causes it to make a sound. This causes the podcast audio from the phone to cut out for a second or two. This is kind of annoying. It would have been nicer if they could slightly fade one of the sounds and blend them together or something like that.
Finally, the headset has the capability to announce who is calling when you receive a call; however for this to work, your phone needs to support this feature, and you must have it enabled. The iPhone supports this, but when you pair the headset, you must say “Yes” when it asks whether you want the headset to have access to your Contacts. Most Android phones support this feature as well, but you’ll have to look in your phone’s manual or dig through settings to make sure it’s enabled. Also, even with this feature enabled, it still occasionally fails to announce who is calling. Perhaps it works for people whom you have in your contacts, but not for new or unknown callers? I’m not sure if this is the phone’s fault or the headset’s fault, though I suspect the phone. But in general it works pretty well.
Overall I am very pleased with this headset. It’s small, easy to carry, and fits comfortably in my ear. The sound quality is pretty good, and the battery lasts a long time. If you need even more battery life out of it, you can buy an additional charge case, which not only acts as a case to house the headset, but also has its own built-in battery that will charge the headset whenever it’s in the case, adding an additional 14 hours of run time. Check it out at the links in the show notes.
Check out otakunopodcast.com if you are at all curious about Japanese anime, manga, culture, travel, food, etc. Hope you enjoyed the review, and I’ll see you next time.