Bluetooth headsets are one in a million nowadays, and have been a standard in the cell phone world for well near a decade now. So what exactly separates one headset from another? You could always go out on Black Friday every year and buy one or two super cheap $10 bluetooth headsets and just get by with the bare minimum in hands-free talking, but you're likely going to be stuck with lots of background noise, low volume problems and maybe even just be plain uncomfortable. The alternative is of course spending more money, but sometimes spending more money means you get a considerably higher quality product, and one that you're not going to have to buy over and over again throughout the years.
Plantronics Voyager lineup of Bluetooth headsets has fit into this mold for quite some time now, and today we're bringing you a review of their latest product the Voyager Edge. The Voyager Edge is easily the best Bluetooth headset I've ever used, and that's considering every angle from the build quality to the features, the sound quality to the battery life. Starting off with the packaging it already feel like a more premium product, and at a retail price of $129 you'd hope that would be the case for a Bluetooth headset. Inside the fancy fold-out packaging you'll find the headset and charging cradle prominently displayed at the top. Removing this layer presents the owners manuals and other booklets, and underneath that are the charging cable, car port charger, ear piece and rubber ear guards.
As you would expect the rubber ear guards come in three sizes depending on the size of your ear, all three of which have a U-shaped piece that's supposed to make it fit better in your ear. The little plastic piece that attaches itself to your ear is clear and detachable, so in case you break it you can always get another one to replace it. My biggest problem with this design is that the headset won't fit into the charging dock with the earpiece snapped on, almost as if it were designed apart from the headset itself, but more on that later.
The design of the headset unit itself is very solid yet light. It fits on your ear comfortably and isn't heavy enough to really notice it at all, yet it doesn't feel like it's going to break if you drop it a few times. There are a number of buttons on the headset which are all positioned perfectly around the unit and include a volume rocker, power button, call button and a multi-function button. My favorite part out of the box was the NFC pairing, so instead of having to turn on bluetooth, put it into pairing mode, wait forever for the phone to find it and eventually pair, I literally just tapped the headset to the back of the phone and pressed OK. It's a shot of brilliance that's so often forgotten on accessories in a day in age when NFC is found on more phones than not.
There are tons of functions to be used on the headset itself, and they take a little while to get used to simply because there are so many. The basic and most important ones are simple; click the call button to accept a call, hold it down to reject the call. The volume rocker obviously changes the headset volume, and the power button does its thing as well. The multifunction button is context sensitive, and it will depend on what you are doing on the phone as to what action the button performs. You can mute the call by holding the button down until the headset says it's muted, and if you're listening to music while not on a phone call holding down the button will play or pause the track. If you want to voice dial just hold down the call button until the voice assistant comes up, in this case the simple Google assistant rather than the full featured Google Now.
The headset itself talks to you, and upon turning it on will read out the amount of battery left in hours, as well as when a phone connects or disconnects. You can also pair the headset with multiple phones, so if you have a work and a personal phone and have it paired to both, it will identify each phone as a number, so phone 1 or phone 2. When you receive a call, connect or disconnect from a phone, or any other action for that matter, the headset announces that phone x is performing said action. This way you'll know how to answer the phone. If the contact is in your phone book it'll even read out the name of the caller, which is super handy for hands-free driving and the like.
There are also a number of sensors built into the headset that will detect if you are wearing it or not, so putting the headset on while someone is calling you will automatically answer the call, transfer an active call from the phone to the headset or resume streaming audio. Taking off the headset will transfer the call to your phone, pause any streaming audio and even lock the call button so you can't accidentally call someone while the headset is in your bag or pocket. You can disable these sensors if you'd like, but they were very handy and I found myself using them all the time instead of pressing buttons or issuing voice commands.
Call quality is phenomenal, and it's even better if your phone and carrier support HD voice, as the headset is fully HD voice compatible. If you've ever experienced an HD voice call before you know how good it is, and most of the time bluetooth headsets ruin this experience by dumbing down the sound quality immensely. If you don't have an HD voice ready phone don't worry, the quality of the sound is still impeccably good, and the microphone might be even better. There's some serious noise cancellation going on here, and this is the only bluetooth headset I've ever been able to use while on the phone with my grandma, who frequently complains about not being able to understand me if I'm not using just my phone. That's a feat that would instantly sell me on the headset alone, as hands-free time while spending an hour listening to her chat is nigh invaluable.
In the two weeks I've spent using the Plantronics Voyager, I've only had to charge it one time. The battery life on this thing is beyond phenomenal, and it even comes with a portable charging cradle that holds its own battery, so if you're out and about for an abnormally long amount of time or maybe just out of town and don't want to bring yet another wall charger, just bring the base unit with you and drop the headset in there when needed. It's a super convenient idea that works very well, and the visual battery indicator on the charging base will let you know how full the battery is both on your headset and the base charger.
Overall this is easily the best bluetooth headset I've ever used, outmatching many in battery life, call clarity, weight and comfort, as well as function. At $129 this is a little pricier than you might be used to paying for a bluetooth headset, especially if you're like me and love getting the Black Friday special, but it's worth every penny if you're someone that uses the phone a lot. With only a minor complaint about the design of the dock and having to remove the earpiece to fit it in, that's hardly a negative for so many positives in such a device.