Pardon the punny headline, I couldn't come up with something better!
I have owned the Plantronics Voyager 520 headset for over three years now. I had a # before (which I thought I lost; of course it turned up after I shelled out the money for this one), and I was impressed with the sound quality and ease of use of the first one. Of course that meant that when it came time to upgrade I kept it in the family and sprung for the 520. I am so glad that I did!
I have used this with a Blackberry Curve 8900, three different HTC phones (#, Mytouch Slide 3G, and I forget the name of the last one), and my current phone, a Samsung Galaxy S2, so I have quite a bit of cell phone manufacturer variety to conclude that this headset is amazing. That being said, the bulk of this review will be based upon my recent use with the Samsung Galaxy. I am fairly certain that the syncing process for this product is similar amongst all cell phones (regardless of carrier, brand, and cost), so when I cover that point, I am going to assume that other brands sync similar to all of my phones.
Durability & Comfort
The Plantronics Voyager 520 (I'll abbreviate going forward to PV520) is a plastic device with a rubberized ear "hoop". The hoop itself is hinged and rotates 360 degrees, enabling the headset to be used on either ear.
The PV520 is lightweight and comfortable to wear. The rubber piece of the headset which is inserted into the ear canal (not far) is soft and pliable, allowing it to "mould" to the shape of the canal. For someone like me (I have very narrow ear canals), this is a critical aspect to the design; most headsets that I have used which need to be inserted into the ear become uncomfortable after a short period of time. With the PV520, I have been able to wear the headset all day without any discomfort. Putting the device on is a bit weird at first, although you will quickly become acclimated. Over time, you will be a pro and be able to put the headset over your ear with one hand!
In terms of durability, the headset is great. The lightweight feel may result in the user believing the product to be "cheap" - this is far from the truth. My headset receives all sorts of abuse, crammed into my pocket, pulled in and out of my hear, jostled around in my handbag, dropped; I am sure that you get the idea. There has been no reduction in the sound quality!
After a year of use, the only issue that I have had with this headset involves the ear "hoop" (the part of the phone which goes over the back of your ear). A few months ago, the rubberized piece of the hoop came off of the plastic base it was attached to. It was a clean "break", I would imagine the glue used to hold it together had simply worn off. A little bit of superglue resolved the problem.
Using the Headset
The design of the headset is sleek; surfaces are rounded (for comfort) and the silver stripe is somewhat stylish. The abuse I have inflicted upon the device resulted in the silver paint chipping, but I am not out to win a fashion show, so this is a minor issue. The flashing light (the headset will flash blue to indicate the Bluetooth is turned on (on your phone) and that any phone calls will have the audio routed through the PV520. The light will flash red and the headset will beep (again, not so that it can be heard without it being in your ear) to let you know that you have a low battery. If the light is off completely, either you have turned the device off or the battery is dead.
The charger is a "snap" (think of a snap closure on clothing). This means quick attachment to the charging cable that can be accomplished blindfolded (if that is your sort of thing). The PV520 charges quickly and the battery life is roughly 7 hours of straight talking (I know this because I was once on a phone call for 7 hours... don't ask). If left off the charger, the power will hold for maybe 2 days, however; the battery will slowly drain after that point.
As mentioned above, the headset itself is lightweight yet durable. The picture of the product shows the single button on the side. In addition to depressing the button straight down (like clicking a mouse), the button also toggles left and right. The toggle function is used to control the volume on the headset - the volume for your phone will still need to be adjusted separately.
Using the headset is simple. All commands executed by the headset are accomplished from this button. After it has been synced to your phone, all that you need to do is press and hold the button to initiate voice command dialing. Adjusting the volume works well, with the button clicking when it is toggled to either side (left for louder, right for softer). After a year, the button has not worn out and still functions exactly as it did brand new. When you receive a phone call, the headset will play a jingle (not audible to anyone near you). This jingle will play even if your phone is set to vibrate/silence. To answer the call, simply click the button on the side of your headset; after a moment of silence, the call will proceed as normal.
Setting Up the Device (Syncing)
For all of my cell phones, the sync process was smooth and quick. The instructions included with the headset are clear and easily understood. After you have initiated the "find device" function from your phone (usually an option in the Settings menu, some phones have a specific Bluetooth option as most of mine did; if yours doesn't and you are unsure how to set your phone into the bluetooth seek mode, you may need to call your carrier's tech support), it is time to setup the headset for recognition. To sync your headset, hold down the button until it flashes red and blue quickly (roughly six seconds). If done correctly, the headset will be acknowledged by your phone and ready to go within seconds.
This headset is LOUD. It is by far one of the clearest bluetooth headset that I have ever used. In fact, in some instances, it can be too loud! My old Motorola headset was so quiet that I could not even hear anyone while I was driving. This is definitely not the case with the PV520. For 99% of the time, the microphone on the phone works excellently and the person that you speaking with will hear you clearly and with no trouble. The noise filtering on the headset also helps to clear out background noises (it makes them softer, not necessarily eliminating them completely), resulting in your voice being heard and not the motor of your car. For the other 1% of the time, sometimes you just need to turn off the headset and turn it back on. I do not know why that happens, but since it so rarely does I am not too concerned about the annoyance.
I recommend the Plantronics Voyager 520 quite enthusiastically. It does cost a bit more than some other models of Bluetooth headsets, however; the quality of this headset it worth it. After three years of vigorous use, I am happier than ever with my investment. With the optional vehicle charger, you can charge your headset on the way to your destination (great for long trips!), further amping up my praises for this phone (it may not seem like much, but it is VERY convenient once you are spoiled by it).
In short, if you want a quality headset that more than performs, this is for you.
*Note, I am updating this review to reflect the fact that I have owned and used this product for over three years! My review still holds, but there are minor updates to reflect useability with different cell phones!*
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