Plantronics 975 bluetooth headset

Sat 20 February 2010 by Kevin van Haaren

I'm on my 5th bluetooth headset. Two Motorola something or others, an Etymotic etyBLU which I lost, a Jawbone 2, and now a Plantronics 975.

The Motorola headsets were cheap and adequate. Not spectacular looking and the audio wasn't great. I upgraded to the EtyBLU based on reviews that it was supposed to be the best. It's an in the ear canal model. It also has a removable boom mic combined with its noise supression makes it work really well in noisy conditions. The problem I had with it was its bluetooth connection to my Blackberry was terrible. I couldn't get more than 5 feet away from my phone without completely dropping the connection. Even with it right next to the phone it was fairly poor connection. Then I lost it in an airport.

After that I got a Jawbone 2 pretty cheap on Woot. Initial impressions were favorable. It certainly had a solid connection to my phone. But in actual use I wasn't quite as impressed. It has a switch on the phone called a voice activity sensor, it's supposed to help the headset with noise suppression but i don't think it sat on my jaw correctly and actually caused problems. The button for answering calls was very hard to hit as it is hidden under the surface of the headset, but has no tactile feedback for when your finger is over the button.

Both the Jawbone 2 and the EtyBLU have custom USB chargers. I find this annoying when I travel. I'm always forgetting a cable or two, and needing special cables for each device is a pain.

Now comes the Plantronics 975. I really like this headset. Like the EtyBLU it has a boom mic (permanently attached so I'm not worried about losing it) I don't feel like I have to yell to make sure the mic picks up my voice. The answer button is easily found and activated. The bluetooth connection is solid, I can walk across my living room into the kitchen and not lose signal. The recharger is a standard mini-USB connector. This is the same as my Blackberry so one cable can recharge both.

The ear connection is really nice. I thought it was an in the ear canal model, but it actually has an interesting silicon system that hooks inside the ear lobe and the speaker sits outside the ear canal. I really like this, it doesn't block outside noise nearly as much as the in the canal ones do (this may turn out to be a disadvantage in noisy environments, but my calls so far have been great). Also I seem to have a slight reaction to silicon in my ear. After an hour or so it starts to itch (foam ear tips work better for me, which I switched the EtyBLU to, the Jawbone 2 can't be changed.) The Plantronics starts having a reaction too, but it seems to take 3 or 4 hours. Washing the silicon may help with this as well.

One final thing that really put the Plantronics ahead of the other models for me is the case. It comes with a really nice faux leather case. It's like a small solid box. The box really feels like it'll protect the headset during travel. You dock the headset in the case via the mini-USB and you can charge the headset while it's in the case via a mini-USB connector on the outside of the box.

All well and good, but then reading the instructions I found out the case actually contains an additional battery. When fully charged the internal case battery can charge the headset two more times. That's 15 hours of talk time before needing to find an outlet. Perfect for those long travel days with lots of layovers. This design is really great, and makes it well worth the $100 price ($130 list, I bought mine cheaper via Amazon.)

I'll have a better feel for how the headset itself works for me over the next few calls but so far I'm very impressed with this headset.