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Review of Plantronics M1100 Savor Bluetooth Headset
In the box:
Once I wrote an article about razors. The main idea was very simple – it was vital to turn an open razor into a safety one, which killed the profession of barbers, but pushed male hygiene forward. The rest was pure marketing. That is why you may have four, five or six razors now. Marketologists initiated softening stripes, vibration and so on. If you want to go back to the basics try a cutthroat razor. I even managed to learn how to use it, but it is still too complicated. It is similar to a pipe. When you retire you can play with that, but so far I have not enough free time for similar experiments.
There is a similar situation with headsets. Especially if you look at mono headsets, which are in the middle of a stagnation period now. Jawbone decided to pay attention to software and create a family of voice apps, while Nokia pays attention to design and Sony Ericsson ignores the necessity to update their portfolio. Motorola creates add-ons to Android smartphones and Samsung adopted Bluetooth 3.0 and is working hard to improve the operation time. Jabra is taking its time and will hopefully return with the bang.
In the meantime, Plantronics added the third microphone. "Two microphones capture the voice аnd eliminate the noise, while the third microphone is activated in an extremely noisy environment to meet all challenges and save the battery at the same time". Let's see how it is going to work in real life.
Design and Construction
The headset is shipped in a weird package represented by a transparent tube covered by silver paper. It is beautiful indeed, but when you unpack the headset you can run into several problems. First you need to peel off the paper, then press two buttons at a time to open the lower part and two buttons for the upper part of the tube. You can obviously store accessories in the lower section, but overall too many efforts are required to achieve success. In the box there is a decent charger, which is good. Not all markets will get the pouch in the box.
The headset is compact and produces an impression, but instead of a metal you end up with plastic when you scratch the edges. The main part of the body is made of velvet plastic, which is good at hiding traces. The podium is standard and there is a grill on the front side. A shiny edge protrudes considerably from the main body and through the hole you can see an unshaven cheek of a male owner of the headset. Dimensions are the following: 55x16x12 mm, weight 9 g. In general it looks well and original.
Convenience of Use
The headset can be carried with the headband or without it. In the box you can find any tip you wish. In the gym the headset remains in your ear even if you practise brisk walking. M1100 is conspicuous and can be seen from afar.
Luckily we get a dedicated on/off button to save the battery by disabling the gadget when idle. It is convenient in comparison with rival models lacking such a button. The multifunction key is at the front near the microUSB jack. It is soft and yields a click. Further afield goes the voice control activation button and it works well with iPhone 4 by immediately launching an appropriate app. The light indicator is hidden in the main section, which creates an interesting effect when the light is reflected from the inside of the edge. I personally do not approve of this colorful addition and the feature cannot be disabled. The only volume control is located at the top and allows for consequential changes. The microphone can be disabled if you press and hold the button.
The manufacturer claims up to 4 hours of talktime and 7 days on standby. Unfortunately we were not offered a case with the inbuilt battery or something similar as 1.5 hours of talktime per day will give you no more than 48 hours of operation. Do not forget to turn M1100 off when it is not in action. The charging is carried out with the help of the charger from the box or via the USB cable. Once connected to iPhone 4 the battery level is displayed, which is a more than welcome addition.
The gadget supports A2DP and you can listen to the high quality music sound in one ear only if you wish. Multipoint is supported too and helps connecting to a couple of phones at a time. I tested this option with Blackberry 9780 and Blackberry Torch and was the second time lucky.
Phone Connection and Sound Quality
I decided to have a comparative test with Jawbone Icon, which is a popular two microphone model. I called a friend from different places and used both headsets until he got angry and impatient with me. In the office both headsets work well and my contacts did not suspect that I was using a headset. M1100 has a weird speaker. I heard some squeaking sounds and had to ask people repeat their words several times though their voices were carried well. Due to the speaker words were turned into a mess. I think that this model has higher volume levels in comparison with Icon. We should quote the source of marketing spin, because "signals from microphones are dealt with the proprietary Plantronics AudioIQ3 technology (next generation of AudioIQ®) based on DSP (Digital Signal Processing). This way the individuality of speech is preserved and the its intelligibility is increased. Wind protection in the car or in the noisy street is delivered by WindSmart technology. The headset also boasts a high quality speaker and self-adjusted 20 level equalizer, which eliminates distortions and customizes volume automatically to make manual fine tuning redundant during conversations". In fact I did not like automatic volume adjustment, because in a quiet room the voice of interlocutors was not heard well and I had to use manual settings after all.
The same situation was repeated in the car with closed windows. Icon offers more natural sound and gives you an impression of using a BlackBerry device. M1100 loses out due to a funny speaker. Automatic volume adjustment is also better in Icon. With open windows of a car M1100 provides authenticity and boosts speech reproduction in a noisy environment. Both models are quite close, but Icon is a bit noisier. All in all despite three microphones and various additions Icon fares better. The headset under review also has standard features: calling the last number, switching between the lines, etc.
The retail price of Plantronics M1100 is $90. I liked the design and the accessories in the box. The headset is easy to carry and has convenient controls. It also gives us A2DP and Multipoint. Limited operation time is not that crucial as rival models suffer from the same plight. Three microphones are nice, but I am accustomed to good speech reproduction of Plantronics devices, but in this model the speaker lets us down a bit. If you adjust the volume the result can be better. Overall the speech recognition is decent. I can easily recommend you to purchase this headset, but for the same money you can go for Plantronics Discovery 975 or even Voyager PRO +. I would have bought Discovery 975 instead.
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Published — 27 June 2011
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