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Computerized Investing > May 21, 2011

Plantronics Voyager PRO+ Bluetooth headset

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

In this column I have reviewed several Bluetooth devices from Jabra that offer hands-free calling with a mobile phone. For the last couple of months, however, I have been testing out the second generation Voyager PRO+ from Plantronics, another stalwart in the industry. I am very familiar with Plantronics, having used the company’s wireless headset in the office for several years. It is extremely useful, allowing me to take calls while leaving my hands available for typing or navigating with a mouse. I have been just as pleased with the Voyager PRO+, which was given to me by the company for this review. This headset offers excellent noise-canceling capabilities and also allows you to stream audio from Advanced Audio Distribution–enabled (A2DP) devices. Best of all, the Voyager PRO+’s comfort fit allows you to wear it for hours without any trouble.

The Look

The Voyager PRO+ isn’t the most stylish of headsets, especially compared to some of the other Bluetooth headsets I have reviewed, such as the Jabra Stone. Plantronics placed function over form, and this focus is to the benefit of the user. That being said, the Voyager PRO+ isn’t a bad looking piece of technology. It is a bit on the bulky side, but it still has a low enough profile that you do not feel too self-conscious wearing it in public. At roughly half an ounce, it is not too heavy on your ear.

Compatibility

According to the Plantronics website, the Voyager PRO+ is compatible with most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. To see if the headset will work with your particular phone, the Plantronics website has a compatibility guide. I have a relatively low-tech Pantech phone from AT&T, and I had no trouble pairing it with the Voyager PRO+. I had the headset paired with my phone and was making calls within minutes of opening the box. The Voyager PRO+ also has multipoint technology, which allows you to pair the headset, and maintain a connection, with two devices.

Comfort Fit and Design

Even if a headset offers superior performance, it is of little use to me if I can’t wear it for long periods of time. I usually use a Bluetooth headset while driving, and the majority of my driving is between Chicago and my hometown in Michigan, which is about a five-hour trip. The quickest way for me to stop liking a Bluetooth headset is if it isn’t comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Although the Voyager PRO+ is somewhat bulky, wearing it for hours at a time did not lead to ear fatigue. It fits snugly behind the ear without being a nuisance, and the soft earbud keeps the device secured in your ear but, again, is not uncomfortable. I often have trouble finding eartips that stay in my ear without popping out, yet I didn’t have that problem with this headset. To help you achieve the best fit, the Voyager PRO+ comes with three soft gel eartips of different sizes and foam eartip covers. The headset is also adjustable to be worn in either the right or left ear.

The controls on the headset itself are relatively easy to locate and operate. Turning on the device involves pressing the power button until a blue light comes on. Holding the power button down again until the light flashes red turns the headset off. One tap of the power button activates a battery level voice alert. The volume rocker is at the top of the headset. Holding both volume buttons simultaneously will mute a call or pause audio playback. The call button is on the earbud, making it easy to locate. A single tap will answer or end calls and two taps will redial the last number.

Sound Performance

The Voyager PRO+ is one of the best Bluetooth headsets I have used in terms of sound quality and noise cancellation. My biggest complaint with many Bluetooth headsets is that the volume is never high enough, especially for situations with a lot of background noise. Pleasantly enough, I did not find this to be an issue with the Voyager PRO+. The headset sports two noise-canceling microphones that negate background noise without adversely impacting sound quality. I used the headset in a variety of environments—the car, the airport, walking on a busy sidewalk—and I never had a problem hearing the person I was talking to, nor did they have a problem hearing me. The WindSmart technology wasn’t able to fully compete with strong gusts, but I was still able to carry on a conversation without much trouble.

Streaming Audio

With A2DP technology, you can stream audio—music, GPS directions, etc.—from your mobile phone. The ability to receive audio GPS directions is a useful feature, but I don’t see many people listening to music through a single earpiece.

Voice Commands and Alerts

The Voyager PRO+ offers voice alerts for low battery and lost connections, even if you are talking. The headset also comes with a free one-year subscription to Plantronics Vocalyst—an automated phone service that allows you to use voice commands to perform a variety of tasks. You can use the service to send and listen to email messages, listen to local weather forecasts, record reminders and send them to your email, post messages to Twitter or Facebook, and more. The service costs $24.99 to $59.99 a year.

Battery Life

According to Plantronics, the Voyager PRO+ offers up to six hours of talk time and five days of stand-by time. I recently took the headset with me on a week-long trip to Florida for a series of local chapter presentations and never once used the micro USB charger that comes with it. The headset takes less than two hours to fully charge.

If you use the headset with iPhone, the iPhone battery meter provides an on-screen readout of the remaining battery life.

Verdict

Overall I found the Voyager PRO+ to be one of the best Bluetooth headsets I have ever used. While it doesn’t receive the highest of marks based on its looks, it more than makes up for that with its high-quality sound and ease of use. I think the $100 price tag is more than reasonable, given its performance.

Plantronics Voyager PRO+ Bluetooth headset

www.plantronics.com/us/product/voyager-pro-plus

$99.99 ($68.61 currently from Amazon.com)

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear for long periods of time
  • High-quality sound under most conditions
  • Easy to set up and operate

Cons

  • A bit bulky
  • Some sound quality issues in gusty winds
  • Not the most stylish of headsets

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of "Gadget Corner." All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


Discussion

Craig from WA posted over 3 years ago:

I have owned both this and the previous model. They both have excellent sound quality and extreme battery life. The comfort level is very high but use with thick glasses frames is difficult. This particular model suffers from a weakness of the plastic just above the ear peice, I turned mine the wrong way when switching ears one day and broke it easily. Others have complained of it breaking if dropped. I think I would like it better with an inner ear feed option or a noise cancelling tip as it is very difficult to hear a caller in loud background noise area. This model is more comfortable and more glasses friendly than the previous model and it is fairly easy to use the buttons without having to look at them or try to remember a complicated sequence.
-good review


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