Product review: Plantronics Discovery 655


27 Sep 2006

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May I firstly say that I would be the last person in the world to describe Bluetooth headsets as stylish. Practical and useful, yes. But stylish, never! Usually when I see an executive cross the street with one of these contraptions I have images of the Borg from the Trekkie universe coming to assimilate me. Or think Terminator…

Bluetooth headsets are hard to review. They all pretty much do the same thing. And for that very reason I have a number of tripwire tests set to gauge their impact.

The first test was the reaction test. That’s when people actually notice that you have some electronics hanging from your ear. The Plantronics Discovery 655 (pictured) was so discreet that nobody noticed, which was fine by me.

Then I put it into its handy portable holster that powers the device up while you’re out and about. It was sitting on my desk at work when someone walked up and asked me what I was doing with a doctor’s ear tester on my desk. Close, but no cigar pal.

The next test I have – and this goes for all Bluetooth devices – is to see just how easy it is to connect up with a mobile phone. In this case I used a Sony Ericsson K800 camera phone as the guinea pig. Connection was actually quick and easy compared with most headsets I’ve used. It only took one go as opposed to spending half an hour staring in frustration at a little lump of plastic with only one button that won’t do anything.

In terms of style and comfort – which Plantronics is emphasising heavily around the 655 – I have to say that I’m sticking to my convictions around style. Cars and shoes are stylish. Mobile phones can be stylish but I can’t and never will accept headsets as stylish. It just looks wrong. Anyway, they all look the same to me. Mind you, the 655 wouldn’t look too out of place with a charcoal gray pinstriped suit…

Comfort, yes, the Plantronics 655 is indeed comfortable. It has this little rubber grip that holds the device nicely inside the ear. With the driving ban on mobile phones firmly enshrined in law, comfort is the No 1 factor most people will need to bear in mind. There’s no point taking off something uncomfortable and then nearly crashing your car trying to find the damned thing. The Plantronics 655 is barely noticeable. Just don’t walk into the shower with it still on.

But the ultimate test in my book is the volume on the device. Most Bluetooth headsets have you straining to hear the conversation, even at full blast. Whatever digital signal processing (DSP) technology Plantronics is using it is perhaps the best I’ve ever encountered and the quality of sound is first rate.

The Plantronics Discovery 655 has a retail price of €99 and is available from 3G and Harvey Norman stores nationwide as well as www.phones.ie.

STAR RATING

Handling: ****
Features: ***
Performance: ****
Value for Money: ***

By John Kennedy