Pros:battery life, good sound quality with no background noise
The Bottom Line: The 510 is a sturdy headset with good battery life. Sound quality is not as flawless as advertised, but ranges from average to very good.
With New York state laws strictly requiring hands free phones and my phone plan eligible for a new phone earlier this year, I was introduced to the wonders of Bluetooth.
Recommend this product?
Initially I bought Verizon Wireless's cheapest bluetooth headsets, although I wasn't thrilled with the peformance and other, more expensive models were alluring. I ended up returning the Verizon junk and buying a used Plantronics Voyager 510 online. Seven months later, I'm still happily using it.
The device itself looks very different from the newer "modern" bluetooth headsets. Gray plastic forms a large "C" shaped piece that houses most of the controls and sits behind the ear. Thick rubber tubing carries wires to a straight piece of plastic containing the microphone and the earpiece. The mouthpiece can be pivoted vertically or horizontally, completing a Star Trek/sci-fi look.
The 510 comes with three different sized earpieces. However, I only have one since it was purchased used. It may not fit perfectly, but the fabric is still holding strong and the earpiece must intentionally be removed by twisting it.
Unfortunately, the device is plagued with poorly designed buttons and control designs right from the start. Turning on the headset requires holding a very small button on the top of the base until a small indicator light on the mouthpiece flashes blue. A larger elevated volume control sits next to that button, although I don't frequently change the volume, nor do I feel comfortable messing with it while driving.
The process to pair the 510 is counterintuitive and easy to forget. The user must hold the volume increase button and the call control button [located on the mouthpiece part] until the indicator light flashes red and blue. I use several Jabra bluetooth devices and they simply require holding the power button down after startup; why couldn't Plantronics do something that simple?
To be fair, the call control button is all that bad. It's a round button located between the mouthpiece and earpiece and lets you start calls, end calls and transfer audio back to the phone. My beef is that doing all of that requires a lot of memorization and is only rewarded with beeps. For example, answering or ending a call requires holding it for one second, entering voice controls requires holding it for two seconds and rejecting a call requires holding the button until the user hears two tones. Holding the button for two seconds can also transfer audio back to the phone, although I've accidentally done this several times while pushing it twice to call back the last number I dialed. There's got to be a better way to get all this done.
The quality of the incoming sound isn't bad, but it could be worse. If the other person is speaking reasonably clearly at normal volume, you'll have no problem hearing them. But good luck if they mumble or start moving away from the phone as they chat; it's worse than on the phone itself. Obviously gauging the quality of the outgoing sound is near impossible for me, but it seems to be similar to it's counterpart. So long as I don't have the stereo on or a window open, I've never had a single complaint. Plantronics claims the 510 has a windshield on the microphone, but I doubt it really does much since wind still gets picked up.
One of the best parts about this headset is the battery. I drive roughly 90 minutes round trip to work everyday. While I don't necessarily always wear the head piece, or talk on the phone, it does get used multiple times a week. And when I do use it, it's often for the entire length of that trip. I can use it for at least a month like that until it starts with warning chirps, flashing red and shutting down. Since I purchased just the headset, charging the unit requires connecting the odd connector to an AC adapter for several hours.