Big Performance in a Low-Priced Package
Experienced wireless communications manufacturer Cardo Systems Inc have added yet another strong contender to the Bluetooth headset market with the Scala-700. An elegant device voted “Best Bluetooth Headset” among 17 leading brands by Germany’s most prestigious trade journal (Mobil News, July 2006), the Scala-700 packs a lot of performance into a very affordable package. With an MSRP of $79.95 (available in the CrackBerry store for $34.95), this truly is a headset for all budgets.
In The Box
Inside the Cardo Scala-700's hanger-style plastic packaging you will find:
- Scala-700 headset
- Ear Loop
- Travel Charger
- USB Charging Cable
- Carry Pouch
- User Guide
After Cardo’s last success with the Scala-500, they have managed to bring back a newer improved model that is even lighter and smaller. Albeit beautiful, this is not the only beauty that lies within this headset.
The Cardo Scala-700 has a curvaceous silver casing that is divided up by the multifunction button which controls the headset. The ear loop (which is not an optional extra with this headset) easily slots into the designed hole near the front end. By turning the headset on its side, the user can see and use the volume rocker switch, which is cleverly located over the USB charging unit. Like most Bluetooth headsets, there is the standard LED function light which on this unit, is very large and noticeable. The build quality on the Scala-700 leaves something to be desired. Perhaps it’s the cost of making a high-performance headset affordable, but compared to some of the other headsets I have tried this one seems to be more thinly constructed. Depending on your viewpoint, you may consider this to be a good thing as it means the Scala-700 itself is very light in weight and easy to wear.
Cardo have included a neoprene holster that can be worn on your belt to store the Scala-700 when not in use. I didn’t think this would be my cup of tea, but having given it a try I did find it to be quite useful. While you may choose never to use the pouch, it is nice to at least have the option!
Pairing the device to the BlackBerry Curve worked flawlessly and was instant. Being quite picky about my settings, I made sure everything was the same as the other headsets I have used in the past. One of the main features that Cardo boasts is this headset can be paired with up to eight phones at anytime, but most importantly can be used with two phones at any time without having to disconnect and reconnect.
This is a fluid transition, a great feature which has been named SWAP Technology. I was able to leave the headset in the car and allow both mine and my wife’s BlackBerry to alternate the usage of the headset by the simple double click of the rocker wheel situated on the end of the headset. This function worked extremely well, and was handy to have especially as I find it easier to have the one headset in the car than have several bouncing around.
The second function that I really want to discuss is one of the most talked about features for this headset – “Headset Location Buzzer”. This enables the user should he/she put down their headset and not be able to find it to page it from their handset. Sounds crazy, but the idea behind this is excellent. There is however, a small BUT – This function does not seem to work with the newer BlackBerry handsets. I tried testing it on all 4 BlackBerrys I have in my house and in every case had no luck in getting this function to work. I went through pairing process again and again hoping it would start to work but to no avail.
I wasn’t sure if this is just with BlackBerry that it doesn’t work as I don’t have any other phones available to test it on (BlackBerry Addict…. only use a BlackBerry!), but considering this is one of the headset’s main features, I would assume it should work with most/all mobile devices. [ Having since checked with Cardo Wireless, they have confirmed this function does not work with BlackBerry and Treo handsets . Now I know this headset is not aimed to be used in conjunction with BlackBerry handsets only, but I can’t help but be a little disappointed. ]
After that let down, I have to talk about the other features that are on this headset, as it does make up for the disappointment of the Headset Location Buzzer function not working. One of my pet ‘hates’ on a headset is the fact that there is a big blue flashing LED that screams “look at me …” but Cardo have developed a nice touch - the option to turn this off so that when the headset is on standby you can wear it without the LED flashing, making it more discreet.
I normally choose to wear the headset over my left ear (as I seem to be partly deaf in the right). On occasions when trying to turn the volume up, the wheel rocker would in effect be upside down, but having learnt most of the functions on the headset, I was able to reverse this function allowing the user to happily wear the Scala-700 on either ear. I would point out though, if you power the headset down, you would need to reset this function.
Another important feature that was very impressive was the battery life. The specification sheet states up to 10 hours talk time and 10 days stand-by. I achieved roughly 9 hours of talk time out of the unit over approximately 8 days of usage until I really noticed the sound quality deteriorating. That was really impressive and seeing as this is double the talk time of most phones – you know you won’t be left hanging in the middle of a call with a dead headset.
Sound quality on a Bluetooth headset is always important, after all, if you are going to be using such a device you want quality. This really is something that stands proud on the Cardo Scala-700. Even in the outdoor environment, the headset volume was loud and there was always clarity in both directions (for me and the person on the other end of the wireless line).
I don’t think there was ever a time that the Cardo Scala ever let me down on the call quality, and I love the fact that I was able to have the ability to use Call Waiting, Hold Calls, Call Mute and even have an indicator telling me if I have missed a call.
I also never received any complaints from people not being able to hear or understand me whilst using the headset.
Aesthetics & Comfort
As mentioned previously, this device is an attractive headset. It reminds me of the ever cool original “Blue spoon AX2” headset from Nextlink, and I really like the look of the silver and black casing. I just wish it was constructed better – it does feel a little “cheap”. However, on the plus side, you could wear this headset for long periods of time. It’s incredibly light, and while I tend to not wear headsets unless I am actively using them, I did forget to take this unit off several times. You do forget its hanging on your ear.
Ease of Use
One of the strengths of this small headset is the fact that is it full of functions and is still very easy to use, especially considering the current price tag of $34.95 (originally $79.95) in the Crackberry.com store. It’s a powerful tool, packed with more than enough features to suit any power user. Once you play with the headset for a bit you quickly learn how everything works and functions.
Also included in the box is both a main wall charger and a USB charger. USB charging always adds appeal, allowing the user to gain power in most situations – however as mentioned before, power isn’t a real issue for this headset.
Despite the small annoyances I found with the headset, I really can’t fault it on sound quality, battery life and function, which are probably the most important factors to consider when purchasing a Bluetooth headset. The only part I can really complain about is that the Headset Buzzer Location function did not work with my BlackBerry. Regardless, I don’t think this one lack of function would stop me from considering the Cardo Scala-700 as a BlackBerry Bluetooth Headset option.
If you want value for money, the Cardo Scala-700 is an excellent choice.
Purchase the Cardo Scala-700 Bluetooth Headset in the CrackBerry.com Store