During last year’s CTIA conference I saw a voice service from a company called Dial2Do. There have been, and continue to be, a sea of voice applications — ranging from offerings from Vlingo, DriveSafe.ly, to Google’s own Android integration of voice-to-text, voice search, and application control. So what is special about Dial2Do? Their service can be used with any bluetooth-enabled phone and does not rely solely on an application running on your mobile phone.
Plantronics recently partnered with Dial2Do, branding their joint service as Vocalyst and featuring it on two of their latest bluetooth headsets: the Plantronics Savor M11o and the Plantronics Voyager Pro+. Sure, you can listen to your email, send a text or even tweet hands-free — but even better is that if you are a user of applications like Evernote, Remember the Milk, Toodledo, WordPress or Xpenser you can send reminders or updates to those services using nothing but your voice.
Change phones? No problem! The service is device agnotstic, so you can use it for your iPhone today and then not miss a beat if you were to change to an Android smartphone later. So put down your phone, stop texting and typing at those emails behind the wheel. Sound good? Let’s take a closer look at the service with the Savor M110.
I was fortunate enough to receive a Plantronics Savor M11o to use with the Vocalyst service. I’ve used many a bluetooth headset (my prior ‘daily driver’ over the past few months was a Jawbone Icon), and I was very interested in seeing how well the M110 suited my needs and personal preference. I’m happy to report that the M110 was a pleasure to use. It’s small, sleek and extremely comfortable to wear. In fact, I personally found it much easier to use and wear for extended use (commutes to and from work, as well as on conference calls throughout the day) than the Jawbone Icon.
Calls were clear, and I never had anyone on the other end asking me to repeat myself or telling me that I sounded like I was sitting in a cave somewhere. Add A2DP audio streaming (great for listening to Pandora or Slacker Radio while toiling away in the office) along with solid background noise reduction and you have a very capable headset even before you add in the Vocalyst service.
Plantronics Savor M1100 Specs
- Three microphones deliver superior sound quality
- Convenient voice commands with dedicated voice button
- Plantronics Vocalyst™ text and voice services
- A2DP for streaming music, podcasts and more
- Bing411™ for news, traffic and driving directions
- AudioIQ3 and DSP reduce background noise
- Whispered voice alerts for low battery and more
- Dedicated on/off switch preserves battery power
- Flexible silicone ear gel tips
- Easy to put on to quickly answer calls
- Lightweight and comfortable design
- Battery provides up to 4 hours talk time / 7 days standby
- Weighs only 9 grams
Honestly, using the M110 was such a positive experience I ended up ordering one for myself to use permanently as soon as I sent the review unit back. It’s now my personal favorite bluetooth earbud. But you want to know about the Vocalyst service don’t you? I don’t blame you. Let’s jump right in…
While I know a lot of folks prefer to drive and use their mobile in-hand, it’s both impractical and downright dangerous to yourself and everyone around you. As more states here in the U.S implement bans against cell phone use while driving, a service like Plantronics Vocalyst serves as a way to stay available, productive, but most importantly be safer on the road. Beyond the benefit of driving with both hands on the wheel, the service is a productivity booster.
Need to work on that important project or have a looming deadline? Stay focused on your work without jumping to and from your email inbox on the computer — Vocalyst will read out your emails. You can also do quick replies and your voice will be transcribed (if using the Pro version) or sent as a .wav file to the recipient (Basic version). The fact that Dial2Do and Plantronics let you vocally send updates and reminders to services like Remember the Milk or Toodledo for your tasks, or Evernote — for those things you want to keep permanently — is huge.
Forget rummaging around feverishly for a pen and paper, or even tapping through multiple screens on your smartphone. Using your Vocalyst-enabled bluetooth headset you just say it and you’re all set.
If you purchase a Plantronics M11 or Voyager Pro+ (both are $99.99 as of this writing) you get a year of Vocalyst Basic thrown in for free. After that first year, the Basic service will be $24.99 annually. If you want to bump up to the Vocalyst Pro service for added features like Voice-t0-Text email transcription and even more application integration with WordPress, Remember the Milk, etc., then you will have to cough up $59.99 a year.
Definitely not cheap, but depending on your productivity gains and the added safety of hands-free usage Vocalyst service could certainly be money well spent. If you are not interested in the Plantronics branded offering — or either headset — you can check out Dial2Do plans and features right here. Service pricing is the same annual cost.
What I Like: Very reliable hands-free service that integrates into a wide variety of applications. The Plantronics M1100 Savor headset is extremely comfortable to wear and use over extended periods. The combination of the headset and Vocalyst service make hands-free use and voice-control both simple and seamless during use.
What Could Be Improved: The Vocalyst service comes at a monthly or annual subscription cost. If you are a ‘light’ user it may not be worth the longterm added expense; but if you find yourself needing to respond to urgent messages behind the wheel or doing any task, the $25 for basic/$60 for pro service may be a good investment.
All images courtesy of Plantronics.