It seems as if finding the perfect Bluetooth headset has become a never-ending quest for me; it’s not just about finding one that keeps me from sounding like a fish in a barrel anymore, it’s also about finding one that fits my ear without making me look like a telephone operator or worse – a borg. Just to make things really difficult, so many headsets seem to fall into one of two camps: ridiculously complicated and over-featured or utterly simplistic and featureless.
Finding a headset that strikes a balance between sound, comfort and features has become my mission, and the latest contender is the Plantronics Discovery 975.
Included in the box are the earpiece, three pairs of stabilizing eartips (sized small, medium and large), an AC adapter, a special charging case which carries enough extra power to charge the headset twice — or in other words, triple your talk time, and a removable clip for attaching the case.
The last Plantronics headset I reviewed was the Discovery 925, which at the time I thought was elegant and pretty; believe me, that is not a description I would normally give to any headset –but the 925 deserved it, and the 975 does as well. The 975 headset’s design is even sleeker than the 925’s, and although it is more feminine than most, it looks
Before we jump into the headset, let’s take a look at its specifications:
- Dual-mic AudioIQ² technology simultaneously captures your voice and cancels background noise for superb call clarity
- WindSmart technology provides three layers of protection against wind noise
- Carrying case recharges the earpiece and triples talk and standby time
- Patented gel ear tips offer a secure and comfortable fit
- Up to five hours of talk time and one week of standby, from a single charge
- QuickPair technology for easy pairing with virtually any Bluetooth-enabled phone
- One-year limited warranty
The Discovery 975 measures about 2.5″ long x 0.5″ wide on the fatter ear tip and speaker end, and it weighs a mere 8 grams. The earpiece protrudes about an inch from the bottom of the gel eartip to the leather wrapped outer edge. The boom is slender and sensuously curved, with a brushed silver appearance. The earpiece has one slender LED – the white line that you see in the picture below; otherwise there are no lights on the earpiece, blinking or otherwise. The LED end of the boom is actually a button, in and of itself.
As you can see in this diagram, it is used to pair the headset to your phone, power the headset on and off, transfer and answer calls. You make calls by dialing the number on your mobile and pressing send. As long as the headset and phone are connected, the call will automatically be transferred.
This is the only other button on the earpiece; pressing it will adjust the volume as well as mute the call.
The gel tip on the 975 is the same type that I enjoyed on the 925; there is no over-the-ear hook to interfere when you are wearing glasses, and it is easy to put the earpiece in place or remove it when needed.
The headset can be paired with up to two devices, so if you carry a work and personal mobile, you’re set. The headset is compatible with Secure Simple Pairing (SSP), so if your phone supports it, you will not have to enter a PIN. The first pairing is extremely easy to do — just hold the LED end of the boom down for two seconds until it flashed red and white. Pairing the second mobile device is a little bit trickier:
To use more than one phone, you must turn the multipoint feature on. When this feature is off, your earpiece can connect to only one Bluetooth phone.
1 With your earpiece turned off, press and hold the volume and call control buttons simultaneously until earpiece turns on and indicator flashes white 2 times.
Once the multipoint feature has been turned on, the earpiece’s LED will begin to flash red and white; at that time you can pair the second device.
There’s no guessing as to whether your headset is muted or not – pressing the volume button for a second will result in tonal sequences followed by a voice prompt saying “Mute On” or “Mute Off”. Speaking of voice prompts, when your battery is low or needs to be recharged, as you’ll actually hear the words “battery low” spoken aloud, depending upon how much power is left. Putting the headset back in the case will charge the headset to full again, and there is supposed to be enough power in the case to do this twice; I haven’t yet had to put it to that test, however.
The Discovery 975 fits snugly in the recharging case, and it is easily removed by pressing the side eject button.
Unlike the Discovery 925 case, the 975 has an LCD that shows the current charge or charging status of both the case and the headset. If the earpiece is connected to a phone at the time it is inserted in the case, a Bluetooth symbol will show in the LCD’s center. You don’t have to turn the Discovery 975 to recharge in the case; you can leave it connected and when a call comes in the case will alert you with LCD flashes as the headset LED repeatedly blinks white.
According to Plantronics, the Discover 975 is built on dual-mic, AudioIQ² technology. This is where “two microphones simultaneously capture your voice and cancel unwanted background noise, and the earpiece’s 20-band equalizer delivers rich, natural voice quality, so you can be heard clearly on the other end, the way you were meant to be heard. Meanwhile AudioIQ² automatically adjusts incoming calls to clear, comfortable levels, so you can easily hear your caller.” In addition, when making calls outside “three layers of WindSmart protection keeps unwanted wind noise from interfering with your calls. Grooved vents in the earpiece’s design deflect the wind, a layer of acoustic fabric blocks the wind, and electronic filters remove the wind noise, keeping your calls clear and wind-free.”
That’s the claim, and for the most part, I found calls made and received through the 975 were exceptionally clear – without the echoing barrel effects that I abhor. Even when outside on a windy day, callers were able to clearly hear me as I spoke to them, just as I was able to hear them clearly when they were speaking. As I had found with the 925, when properly seated in my ear the 975 didn’t move, and it was comfortable to wear for hours on end. The only thing that I found a little bit klutzy regarding the operation of the headset was pressing the LED button to answer or hangup calls, but with a bit of practice it’s no longer an issue.
The Plantronics Discovery 975 is a very good looking headset that is easy to operate and that doesn’t compromise on sound; granted, it’s not the most feature rich headset available, but cluttering up the sleek design with extra buttons and an LED display of its own would completely miss the point.The Discovery 975 is minimalistic perfection.
The Plantronics Discovery 975 is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers.
MSRP: $ 129.99
What I Like: Beautiful and sleek design; easy to operate; ability to pair up to two mobile devices; vocal prompts for battery and muting status; recharging case that allows the headset to last three times as long
What Needs Improvement: The LED button is a little bit klutzy at first, but with use it gets easier; it’s pricey – but will likely be seen for less before too long