Ah California, thank you for making driving and talking on a handset illegal. I've lost count of the times I've been cut off, nearly run into or stuck behind vehicles going 10+ MPH below the speed limit because the driver is smashing a handset into their face. Now, how about a law for those stuffing In-and-Out or trying to do make-up while driving? Anyway, driving a stick shift economy car, I've always lived by this law because trying to steer, shift and hold a handset just does not work. One thing about economy cars is the road noise level adds a bit of challenge to finding a good bluetooth headset.
Recommend this product?
When I first got the pink RAZR from Verizon, I had to get the matching Motorola H500 Bluetooth headset ... only to find out it was horrible! It did not stay on my ear right, was uncomfortable when it did. The weak speaker on it sat far from my ear, requiring to volume to be turned up pretty high to hear over road noise. But, because the speaker was so close to the microphone, that caused an annoying echo. So I got rid of that one for a Plantronics Voyager 510 which was 100 times better. It was so comfortable that I often forgot I was even wearing it. The speaker went inside the ear, leaving little room for road noise to interfere and and microphone was far from it. Many people I spoke to on it while driving could not tell I was driving because the sound quality was so good. But, it had and annoying issue with my Verizon RAZR, apparently that generation of Motorola phones only liked to work well with Motorola Bluetooth headsets. So it would randomly connect and disconnect with the Plantronics causing beeping chaos in my ear when it did. Thankfully that issue has been fixed with my current AT&T RAZR. Anyway, another issue I had with the Plantronics Voyager 510 was how it looked, like I was either wearing an 80s hearing aid or a receptionist earpiece. It wasn't very stylish and being a young female, I was self-conscious about that on the days I wore my hair back, fully exposing it. And the bulky battery part that went over my ear did not fit right with sunglasses on.
So, I was at Costco a few months ago and found the Plantronics Discovery 610 for a reasonable $30. It looked stylish and minimalistic while still having the inner ear piece. After getting such good functionality from the 510, I decided to give another Plantronics a try. In the monster-sized blister pack I found the headset/earpiece, optional ear stabilizer (coated loop to go around the back or ear), three sizes for the soft gel ear speaker (small, medium and large), manual, easy setup card and AC charger. I've tried all the soft gel ear speaker sizes and found the large size works best for me because I use it without the stabilizer loop and there's more grip in the ear. Now, I regularly clean out my ears, but earwax happens. The soft gel ear speakers are a clear gel that seem to get a yellow tint quickly and they're not easy to clean. It just looks gross to me, why couldn't the ear pieces be black?
I tried using the optional ear loop and for me it's comfortable for about 10 minutes. Then it starts pinching the back of my ear while wedging the gel ear piece at a strange angle. My sunglasses tend to make it more uncomfortable. But it's very comfortable without the loop, there are no strange pressure points on my ear, it affects my hearing in the ear very minimally and I could easily wear it for hours making it great for road trips. For me, the smaller ear piece sizes have to be used with the loop because they can't get enough grip in my ear. The earpiece is very light, only weighing 9 grams, making it easy to forget it's in your ear.
Powering the headset on and off can be a bit tricky, the power/call button requires a lot of pressure and to be held down for a few seconds. Once powered on, it's quick to connect with my phone, typically within 5 seconds or less. When on, there's a blue LED around the call button that flashes every 6 seconds. To turn the headset off, the call button has to be pressed for 6-8 seconds and the LED will go red when it shuts off. The LED is not easy to see in sunlight, I don't recommend waiting until you get outside to turn it on or verify it's on. When there's a missed call, message, etc., the LED flashes blue/red (looks purple) every few seconds and is handy when it's connected to the phone, but I'm not wearing it, especially when in a dark theater and the phone is on vibrate/silent.
According to the manual, when the headset is first turned on, the LED will flash red x amount of times to indicate the battery level, 3 times if the battery is full to 2/3 full, 2 times if 2/3 to 1/3 full and 1 time if 1/3 or less. That's not something I've been paying attention to, I can typically get 5 days out of the battery while using it for about 10 minutes a day and it being on standby the rest of the time. Over, very impressed with the battery life, it out-lives my cell phone and makes it simple to just charge the headset with the phone. Headset features include last number redial, mute and voice activated dialing support. I've only tried the voice dialing feature a few times because it's kind of a pain to use with my current phone, but the Bluetooth part of it worked fine.
The sound quality is great, I have no problem hearing over road noise, even when driving on the worst of pavement. And I've never got a complaint from anyone on the other end, unlike the Motorola H500. Overall, this headset is a great, stylish value for $30 and I really appreciate the small size that's easy to hide behind my hair or look cool when tied back and the absence of an ear loop to interfere with sunglasses.
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