Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset: Smaller, Better, Smarter — But New Quirks Too [Review]
Plantronics has a long and storied past making headsets, with their devices even gracing the heads of Apollo astronauts. Here on Earth, it seems impossible to avoid noticing one of their iconic Voyager line of Bluetooth headsets protruding out of someone’s ear while walking down, say, New York City’s Broadway or Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The latest incarnation of their legendary line, the aptly named Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset ($100), gets some high-tech upgrades, a slimmer profile and improved sound.
For those who’ve just emerged from a five-year stint in a cave, the Voyager headsets consist of a smallish boom connected to a bulbous section, connected by a flexible conduit. On the Legend, both the boom and the bulbous section (we’ll call this the command center) have been seriously pared down. In the boom’s case, this is really just cosmetic. But the command center’s reduced bulk actually translated into better comfort; I could even slip on sunglasses without affecting the Legend’s fit.
Sound is as expected: Great. The Legend’s boom adds an extra microphone (for a total of three) over its predecessor’s two. Whether or not this made a difference, I don’t know — but callers on the other end were able to hear me clearly, even in moderately noisy environments (though they had trouble hearing me when things became really noisy, like say in a Starbucks during morning coffee rush). Sound on my end was crystal clear, with plenty of volume. The Legend’s earpiece rests outside the ear canal, rather than inside the ear canal like many other Bluetooth headsets, which helps the Legend remain perfectly comfortable over extended periods.
As icing on the cake, the Legend is packed with bells and whistles. The Legend’s most noteworthy trick is that it uses a proximity sensor to route calls. Place the Legend in your ear and it’ll answer a call (or switch the call from phone to headset if you’re already talking); take the Legend out of your ear and calls are automatically routed to your phone. The feature works as advertised, and it’s pretty slick. Another cool feature is a signal that can be sent from the Plantronics MyHeadset Android app to the headset that causes it to emit a tone so it can be found.
Of course, there’s also the stuff you’d expect of a premium headset like A2DP for music streaming (with great sound to boot), announced caller names and voice commands for things like redial and ascertaining battery level.
Plantronics claims seven hours of talk time (with 11 days of standby); our testing found the talk-time claim more or less right, as we eked about 6 hours and 30 minutes of talking.
I wasn’t a big fan of the controls. Most annoying was the volume toggle, located at the top of the command center; the combination of awkward location and the force needed to budge the toggle made for more fiddling than I wanted. The call button, located on the back edge of the boom, and the voice command button, located on the underside of the boom, were a little small, and not exactly where I would have liked them. Range of the device was mediocre — once in a while I had I bit of trouble maintaining a signal when my phone was in my pocket.
But the most troubling issue I had with the Legend is with charging the device: Instead of micro-USB port in previous Voyagers — and every other Bluetooth headset I can think of — the Legend has a proprietary five-pin charging port that docks magnetically with a supplied charging cable. This isn’t ideal; the charger’s cable is very short, and while replacing a lost cable at $7 isn’t all that expensive, it’s still more expensive — and a heck of a lot more of a pain — than rummaging around for another micro-USB cable.
Plantronics further refines the Voyager, giving the Legend improved sound over it’s predeccesor, putting it on a diet and sprucing it up with a suite of sophistacted new tricks. It’s also saddled with one or two annoyances, but they fail to fade the Legend’s sparkle.