Plantronics has long been one of the biggest names in telephone headsets and their new Voyager 5200 Bluetooth headset offers noise-cancelling features aimed at making the device easier to use in outdoors and windy conditions. Wireless earpieces have long gotten a bad rap as being the preferred lifestyle accessory for clueless, as evidenced by this Farmers Only dating site TV commercial that seems to run three times an hour if you're a satellite TV customer.
Here's the surprise: if you're actually talking on your cellphone instead of using it as a music player or a web computer, a device like the 5200 is far better for making and receiving phone calls. It's available for $119.99 direct from Plantronics.
The 5200 can be easily adjusted to work with either your left or right ear and it's sturdy enough that you can switch back and forth without worrying about weakening the structure.
The big upgrade with this model is what Plantronics is calling WindSmart® technology. There are four isolated microphones built into the device and onboard DSP (digital signal processing) that reduces the outside noise in your own earpiece and improves your voice clarity for anyone you're speaking with on the other end of a call. It definitely works as advertised: it's a a far better calling experience than you'd get with a pair of headphones or earbuds designed for music listening.
The other big difference is that the 5200 loops around the top of your ear and the earpiece sits loosely in the ear canal. If you're used to the kind of tight fit most earbuds use, the 5200 is going to feel a little weird at first, like it might fall out of your ear. After several hours of use, though, you'll appreciate the comfortable fit.
Voyager 5200 Case
The 5200 delivers seven hours of talk time on a charge but you're also going to want to buy the Charge Case for $39.99. Not only does it offer effective storage and protection for transport, a fully-charged case offers two more full headset charges.
Voyager 5200 Desktop Stand
You can keep the case on a desktop and charge by setting the headset in the open slot on the top of the case.
Voyager 5200 in Case
You can also fold up the unit and charge it inside of the case with the lid closed. Both the headset and the case charge via Micro USB cables.
This is not an all-purpose device or one designed for music listening. It's a single-purpose tool that provides an impressive array of call-specific features that make it a better choice for people who use their smartphones to actually talk on the phone.
The headset can announce who's calling if they're in your contacts and you can accept or decline the call with a voice prompt.
There's a multifunction button on the boom that can answer or hang up calls, but its real usefulness comes with its ability to activate Siri, Google Now or Cortana for whatever smartphone you're using.
The headset can answer a call when you put the device on your ear or transfer an active call to your phone if you take it off.
There's an app that allows you to adjust settings but also play a loud tone from the headset if you've misplaced it. I found that incredibly useful; more organized people might not need the help. The device manual is also built into the app.
While I wouldn't wear this device to the gym (see fit above), it's water and sweat-resistant and would stand up well to use on an outdoor job site. And it works great in your car.
You may not be the guy with the expensive sports coat and no tie and you most definitely don't want to come off like the cliché represented by the clueless guy in the commercial above, but the Plantronics 5200 is a purpose-built tool that makes phone calls on a smartphone almost as good an experience as the one you remember back in the old Nextel days.