With Audio iQ, Even Sound Gets Smart
The newest release from Plantronics, the Discovery 665 Bluetooth headset, seemed to be a potentially ground-breaking “discovery” – pardon the pun – to end my quest for a comfortable and functional Bluetooth headset. Continuing the Discovery line, Plantronics adds Audio iQ - digitally enhanced sound technology intended for in-car use.
Raving multiple charging options, ease of use and connectivity, the Discovery 665 has an MSRP of $149.95 (only $69.95 @ ShopCrackBerry.com).
Plantronics has had its techno savvy hands into almost anything. I mean really, they were on the moon!! So I would say it’s safe to assume that they know what they are doing. This is my first time dealing with a Plantronics Bluetooth device, though I have used some of their headsets in my previous jobs.
Essentially, its cosmetic design is almost identical to its predecessor, the 655. Would this newest addition to the Discovery family prove to be superior? This Bluetooth Enthusiast was about to find out.
Let's See What's in the Box!!!
The packaging seemed snazzy enough but I wanted to rip into the prize inside.
Upon opening the package I found the following:
As I said before, the 665 looks like the previous 655 and is luckily compatible with its charging solutions. Reason being, it comes with only a USB Charger and Car Charger. I primarily use my Bluetooth headset in the car, so the Vehicle Power charger is sufficient enough. For those who find the lack of an AC charger a bad move, don’t worry, you can pick one up. They also have a AAA battery charger, which I would love to have, and a mini USB charger available.
The Discovery 665 comes into the Bluetooth battle weighing in at an impressive 9 grams. For me, that’s light enough to be forgotten. Add in one of the three soft gel ear tips and you have one comfortable headset. Up until now, I had been using Samsung’s WEP-200 Bluetooth headset and although equal in weight, the Samsung is half the size…almost too small to use. Again, 3 gel tips are included, small, medium and large. This will accommodate most types of ears, sorry Spock.
Being one who wears glasses, I tend to stay away from Bluetooth headsets with earloops. After some online research, I unearthed that many people found the optional earloop quite uncomfortable. This was not the case for me, as I had on the 665 for a few hours at a time with the earloop and experienced no discomfort, even with my glasses on. In fact, it gave me an extra sense of security, especially when bobbing my head to Falco’s Amadeus.
The talk time was estimated at up to 3 ½ hours which was pretty accurate. I got up to approx 3 hours and 15 minutes. I would’ve hoped for longer, as I find more and more headsets boasting a talk time of 7 to 8 hours. The 655 also had a similar battery life, so hopefully Plantronics fixes this issue before the next Bluetooth installment (insert hint here). Standby time is roughly 3 days. For charging, the minimum time for a decent charge is 1 hour where a full charge falls around 3 hours.
The charging pocket was a novel idea to me, though my wife and I have different opinions as to what it resembles. She says it looks like a lipstick case, where I prefer the giant pen cap reference. This is still under debate!
Essentially the “pen cap” (sorry dear) is plugged into the multiple chargers, not the headset. I prefer to use the Vehicle Car charger due to ease of use. The set up in my car makes it easy to insert and remove the headset when a charge is needed. The charger itself has a swivel mount to help accommodate for any vehicle layout, rotating about 180 degrees. When plugged in, the “pen cap” briefly lights up in a pretty, I mean, bright purple colour. The indicator light on the headset will blink red during its charge and will shut off when the charge is complete.
If a call comes in during a charge, the bright purple colour will flash again to alert you. Please note that if you remove the headset from the charging pocket when a call comes in, it will automatically answer the call. Plugging it back in will then end the call.
Each time the headset is turned on, the indicator light will briefly show charge level:
I Wanna Push the Button!
The controls on the 665 are pretty straight forward, so first time Bluetooth users won’t be overwhelmed with bells and whistles. Firstly, there is the Call Control Button, which is encompassed by the indicator light. It’s basically used for powering off and on, entering pairing mode, answering and ending calls and blinking ever so hypnotically.
The other two buttons are for volume control. The upper button is to increase and the lower to decrease volume. To mute or unmute the call press and hold both volume buttons until you hear a beep.
You can also redial the last number by pressing the Call Control button twice. A high pitch tone will be heard doing so. If a call comes in and you really don’t want to talk to the caller, simply press and hold the Call Control button for 8 seconds.
Once you enable voice dialing on your BlackBerry, simply press and hold the call control button for 2 seconds to activate voice dialing.
When 2 become 1…
Pairing is relatively simple. When the headset is off, press and hold the call button for 10 seconds until the indicator light blinks a police red and blue, pairing mode will last 120 seconds. Have your Berry search and select “6xxPlantronics”. Enter the ever difficult 0000 passkey and voila, you may talk to your heart’s content (for 3 hours anyway). What I really loved was that, once powered on again, the 665 would automatically connect to the Berry again! Quickpair Technology! This is a great feature, especially when driving in your car.
Plantronics, Putting Their Money Where Your Mouth Is
I bet you’re wondering what the deal is with the Audio iQ innovation I spoke of earlier. Gather around and I’ll tell you.
According to Plantronics, “Audio iQ is the future of smart headset design.”
Its digital signal processing adjusts the voice levels automatically for both incoming and outgoing audio. For the incoming, it will adjust the volume level, based on the noise level around you. Kind of like some cars that increase the volume of the stereo the faster you go. For the outgoing it will attempt to reduce the background noise by up to 50%.
According to Plantronics, the range of the headset is around 33 feet. As I snatch up my device out of the Lipstick case (I am forced to use this reference when the wife is standing right here), I head outside to give this a go. Walking towards the end of the lawn, I found the call quality began to degrade just over 24 feet. When the connection is dropped, a beep will sound. Once the headset is past its range, the only function available would be to power on/off.
Testing the Discovery 665 under various conditions I was somewhat impressed with the results, based on my personal needs:
Firstly, I tested the headset under normal driving conditions. The incoming audio was quite clear, as though I was using my BlackBerry directly. Background noise was detected in my outgoing audio but it remained simply that, background. This was tested at both city and highway speeds.
I then pulled an Ace Ventura and stuck my head out of the window. The wind had overpowered both the incoming and outgoing audio so neither party on the call could get away with saying anything. I somewhat expected this given the extreme nature of this test.
Setting my son in his stroller, we took the headset out for a “stroll” in the neighborhood. We live near the highway, yet while on a call I could hear and be heard, as again the incoming audio was boosted to fit my background noise level. I could still be heard fairly clearly. So far I am impressed.
My final test included another subject in the immediate area. Immediate as in a car seat behind me. Yes folks, I initiated the Baby Test (insert ominous yet cheesy music here). As I had suspected with my hearing, nothing could over power the might of a 5 month old’s scream. I would have included an audio clip for all of you to enjoy but I simply do not have enough money to replace all of your broken speakers.
And in Conclusion…
I must say I have to give the Plantronics 665 a big thumbs up! I loved the comfortable, lightweight fit with both the gel ear tip and the optional earloop. I don’t use Bluetooth headsets outside of my car so again, the easy Car Charger mount is ideal for me.
The Quick Pair technology is a nice touch as it lessens the fumbling around trying to pair. The battery life still needs to be worked on. A great device with equally great features must be backed up with longevity!
Under normal circumstances the call clarity is above expectations. I think entering gale force winds or the scream zone of the baby folk may be pushing any Bluetooth headset. And at only $84.95 in the CrackBerry.com store it’s a great deal. I think it’s time to retire my current Bluetooth Headset and stick with the Plantronics Discovery 665.
So for now, turn the lights down low, plug in your 665 and dance to the funky purple lights from the lipstick...I mean pen cap…PEN CAP!!!
Purchase the Plantronics Discovery 665 Bluetooth Headset in the CrackBerry.com Store