QuickLook: Plantronics Voyager 520

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INTRODUCTION

   There are days that I long for just a phone. Or rather, a much smaller, lighter phone that gave me the same level of service as my existing XV6700. The same goes with headsets. While I love multi-function design, sometimes simplicity is the better way to go – especially if it’s easy to use, powerful, and comfortable. Another in a our series of Plantronics reviews, we are looking at the Voyager 520. Similar to the Explorer 350 in size and shape, but how does it rate for the power user who wants the simple life sometimes? Read on for our review!

AT A GLANCE
   

(all images link to higher resolution)

Bluetooth Headset

Our Rating
Talk Time | Standby (hours)

Street Price
Bluetrek Metal
5 | 180
$50
Jabra BT8010
10 | 300
$70
BlueAnt Z9i
5.5 | 200
$70
Aliph Jawbone 2
4 | 192
$119
iqua BHS-303
6 | 150
$35
Gennum nx6000
6 | 75
$110
10 | 300
$75
5 | 150
$80
5.5 | 200
$70
4 | 75
$50
6 | 120
$110
9 | 250
$40
12 | 360
$75
3 | 100
$120
6 | 300
$45
3.5-10 | 80
$80
7 | 180
$50
4 | 250
$40
5 | 120
$60
6 | 300
$80
6 | 300
$60
30 | 700

$40
15 | 300

$80
7 | 300
$80
6 | 300
$55
7 | 100
$115
5 | 250
$40
2 | 100
$250
8 | 1000
$25
unrated
4 | 200
$40

Here’s the comparison matrix of the headsets we’ve put through a review.

Sleek and stylish, the Voyager 520 has a black and chrome with what looks to be carbon fiber finish.

Hiding at the back of the box is the user guide. Other than this, there isn’t much paperwork to be found with the Voyager 520.

   Power is provided via a standard wall wart or, and I really like this, a USB power source. The ends are the now familiar Plantronics plugs, so if you have other Plantronics headsets, you’re likely to have an instant spare. By including the USB option, one no longer needs a car-only charger, as you can pair this with a USB CLA or connect it directly to any other USB source to recharge the battery.

  

   If you prefer a slightly more stylish way to charge the headset, you can use the included dock. One simply threads the power cord through the two-part case, and then the headset locks firmly onto the plug end. You can also order the car charger and dock separately. The battery life of the 520 ranges into 8 talk hours, with 180 hours of standby time. In my real world usage, I found that this was more than acceptable.

  

   Only one button is on the Voyager 520, and it accomplishes all the tasks you would normally expect: volume up/down, call answer/end, voice dialing control, etc. It is a little stiff, and almost requires you to hold onto the unit as you press down. The new ear tip shape does make it more comfortable to perform this action, as it doesn’t feel like you are squashing the headset into your skull. The ear loop (part hard plastic, part soft rubber) can be rotated to fit either left or right.

  

  On the back of the unit, we find the power port, the microphone, the rubber ear tip, and the pivot for the ear loop. The tip is chrome and is designed to help reduce wind noise. The microphone itself is noise canceling and helps to filter background sounds. The curved ear bud allows for a more focused sound, and helps isolate some of the background noise.

  The LED on this headset is bright and intuitive. Located just to the rear of the unit, it flashes blue about every sixteen seconds, alternates between red and blue (purple-ish) when you miss a call (or when you are pairing), and blinks red when the battery is running low. Speaking of the pairing process (which can be done with multiple devices), the first time you turn on the Voyager 520, it automatically goes into pairing mode for ten minutes. After which point, if you want to pair again, you have to go through the standard button press and hold.

  

  Comfort is important in my world, as it is for most folks, and the Plantronics Voyager 520 is certainly that. The over ear loop has a soft feel to it, and the rubber ear tip fits firmly and seems to be without any noticeable burrs or irritation that can come from wearing a headset for hours at a time.

  While not the smallest unit on the block, the Voyager 520 isn’t the largest either. It is fairly lightweight (coming in at 18 grams), and the size is certainly pocketable.

THE DRAWING BOARD


   About the only change that I would have liked to see would have been more range (especially the upper end) in the volume. While the button was a little stiff, without a complete rework of the unit, I don’t see this being changed in the near future.

PURCHASING

    You can purchase Plantronics’ Voyager 520 for an average of $75 as Froogle reveals.

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Very comfortable
  • Great sound quality
  • Includes USB power option

CONS

  • More volume would be nice in loud areas
  • Button press is stiff
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?


OVERALL IMPRESSION

   The Plantronics Voyager 520 now stands as my day-to-day workhorse. The inclusion of a USB power option really helped in this regard, as I can get recharged almost anywhere without having to carry around a bulky wall wart. This headset looks great, feels great, and works wonderfully. I would highly recommend the Voyager 520 to anyone looking for a Bluetooth headset in the future.




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About The Author
DickieAdams