Thursday, December 16, 2010

Impressions of a Plantronics Discovery 975 headset

In my quest for a new headset, I tried the Plantronics 975.  You can get it for around $70 online, shipped, but I bought it locally because I was worried I wouldn't like the fit.  Always best to try before you buy.

Now, I had this thing for less than 24 hours, so take these for what they're worth.

Good stuff:  Fit me pretty well.  It is as light as they say, and (surprisingly) doesn't move around in your ear.

I was surprised because I expected the boom to create some leverage, but it doesn't.  Or maybe the hoop in the earbud is what keeps it in place, I don't know.  But I was personally happy with the comfort level for short periods.

The volume button on the headset only has low, medium, and high settings.  But you can use the volume control on your phone to set any volume level you please.  So the volume button is really a 'boost' button for kicking up the volume when it's noisy out, or dropping it when you're in a quiet area.  Works fine, and is really a non-issue at the end of the day.

Sound on my end was quite good.  It's not ear-splittingly loud at max, as some of the shills would have you believe, but it's OK for my car at low speeds.  I didn't try it at highway speed.

The voice prompts are good.  I only ran into them once, when I walked away from the phone accidentally.  The set said 'connection lost'.  Nice idea.

Bad:  Well, a few things.  It sits in your ear, so pressing on the multifunction button pushes the headset directly into your ear, which I found uncomfortable.  Not a deal breaker, because possibly I'd get used to it.  But the MF button is a bit stiff, and since you have to press to both answer and hang up, I can see it irritating my ears pretty easily when calling a lot.

 I left myself a test message, and tried calling a friend, both from a very quiet home office.  In both cases, the outgoing voice from my headset was tinny and had an electronic-sounding overtone to it.  It's hard to describe, but it's akin to what you would get when running a voice through a synthesizer.  Turning off the headset and returning to the phone mic eliminated the problem, according to my buddy.

Knowing this, the noise-cancelling features quickly became a non-issue.  For this kind of price, I expect perfect performance in good conditions.  This headset didn't have that for me (on my Xperia X10i, YMMV).  I can get mediocre call quality for much less money.

Also, I can't figure out the case thing.  What is the use scenario for this headset?

Personally, I keep my headset in my pocket, and pull it out when I need it.  Or, I might be wearing it, but not too often.  Would be hard to wear 100% of the time no matter how comfy.

The 975 is too fragile to put into your pocket unprotected.  Maybe part of the reason why they provided the case.

(Certainly part of the reason they provided the neck lanyard, but I've only ever known one guy who wore his headset around his neck, and it's not a look I want for myself.  Enough said about that.)

Now, the case is cool.  The embedded battery is a great idea, and you know your headset is always topped up for use.

But it does make the case a bit chunky.  It's still pocket-able, which was a surprise to me - I can actually fit it into my front pocket not too badly.

Unfortunately, it does not include a belt loop or clip.  Nor is there any provision for fitting one.  So it's a bit large to pocket, but impossible to belt on.  Really strange omission, considering the size and the nominal cost of adding a loop or clip.  I guess they intended it to go in a pocket, bag or purse.

But how to use it?  I get a call, so I have to stop, pull out the case, open it, eject the headset, and turn the set on, before I can use it?  Oh, and do it one-handed because I'm on the damn phone already.  The call will be over before I can accomplish this Houdini trick.

It's (potentially) even more time if you're a girl, and have to dig your phone out of your purse in the first place.  Or a guy and need to dig it out of a briefcase, day bag or jacket pocket.

For guys, you can't pull the case out of your front pants pocket while seated, nor put it into your back pocket because it's too large to sit on.  It'll fit in your front pocket, but it's big enough that the corners will be well worn inside of a few months - same effect as having holes in your jeans, it'll look crappy.  I know because my old Treo holster case suffered the same fate, although after years of hard use.

Try and pocket the unit without the case and it'll be in pieces in no time.  It's not strong enough.  One sit and crack! - the end.

Nice unit, but obviously not for me.  Especially for the $150 retail.  Maybe for the $70 online, but not with mediocre call quality.  Glad for everyone who likes it, but it's obviously not perfect for everybody.

I think I need a unit that is more solid, so I can pocket it without fear.  My old Scala 500 was durable, if nothing else, and survived routine crushing with only cosmetic wear for years.

Back to BB I go - maybe the oft-maligned Jabra or Blueant models will work better for me.

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