Love ‘em or hate ‘em, using a Bluetooth headset is the perfect companion when it comes to using a cell phone. I personally ONLY use a headset when driving or sitting at my desk conversing with clients via my smartphone or Skype. I really don’t need the Captain Picard references or the need to look “fashionable” with a blinking blue light in my ear dining at a restaurant while worrying if my “ear roach” will fall in my salad plate (which I did see happen one time!)
But I’m not here to talk about the Five Rules of Bluetooth Headset Usage but rather review the Scala-700 VoIP Bluetooth Headset which will change the way you’ll perceive using a headset.
The feature set includes dual usage between Skype and your Bluetooth enabled phone of choice wirelessly from up to 33 feet away.
Here are some of the specifications:
Talk time: up to 8 hours
Standby time: 240 hours
Wireless range: up to 33 ft (10 m)
Headset weight: 11.7 gr / 0.41 oz
Volume: 6 levels, 20 db range
Battery type: rechargeable Li-Po
Charging time: 2 to 3 hours
Bluetooth version 2.0
USB 1.1/2.0 compatible
Supported Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows XP SP2
No need to install Bluetooth headset driver on PC
Echo canceling technology
Buzzer / Headset Locator
Swap-Technology allows toggling between two active phones or between VoIP and cellphone
Multi-Pairing: Headset connects with up to 8 cellphones
Required OS: Windows XP SP2
Voice Recognition Engine
Cardo Voice Dialer software
Inside the package is the Bluetooth headset, adjustable ear loop, USB Bluetooth connector, a USB charging cable, power cable with mini connection, carrying case/pouch, mini install CD and manual.
The manual advises charging the head set initially for five-hours. I’ve not tried the promised eight hours of talk time, but I can assure you that I received no complaints of static or talking from a barrel complaints after a marathon 2 to 3 hour conference call either from my Treo 680, Treo 650 or via Skype.
The standby time advertises 240 hours; I’m just surprised when I pick up the Scala-700 after three days, it’s still blinking and ready to pair with my phones. What is really cool is when the Scala-700 is misplaced, it can be paged and will buzz until the unit is found, which makes the standby time much more valuable. Simply make a call and press the volume key up and down repeatedly 3-4 times to initiate the buzzing. I simply love this feature, especially when the headset is buried in a carry bag or misplaced under a car seat!
The Scala 700 is pretty compact, compared to the Treo headset that I’ve been using.
What I like is how the earpiece fits comfortably and snug in my ear canal most likely due to the roundness of the fitting. The sound is clear because all the ambient sound is sealed out, especially inside an automobile. Since I can hear better, I don’t need to talk as loud. After talking and using other headsets for a prolonged time, I can’t wait to yank it out of my ear because of the generic fit and the lack of breath ability of the earpiece. There is nothing worse than having a sweaty ear canal; but I had no discomfort with the Scala-700.
The ear loop is flexible and very thin while retaining its shape without having to reach up and re-bend the ear loop when I feel like the earpiece is ready to slip off. Yet, because of its lightweight of 11.7 grams / 0.41 oz., I find it comfortable to wear while driving without having to remove and reinsert when a call comes in.
The function wheel controls the volume up and down with a finger size control button. There is no branding other than the logo minus the type as every piece of real estate is devoted to functionality.
To answer or disconnect a phone call, simply press the button on the side. Beneath the control button is a stylish V led that blinks a subtle blue when active. But if you are sensitive to little kids pointing at the blue light flashing in your ear, one can disable/enable the Status Light, while the Headset is on Standby move the Wheel down and hold for at least three seconds. The Status Light will stop/begin flashing, depending on whether you are disabling/enabling the Status Light.
To pair the Scala 700, simply press the on/off button (located in the middle of the wheel) until the light flashes an alternating red/blue. While the manual does imply to be patient for up to eight seconds, I decided to send an email to Cardo’s tech support asking a dumb question. Within 24 hours, I received a courteous email back:
Thank you for contacting the Cardo Systems Support Center regarding our products. The Cardo team takes great pride in maintaining a “working” relationship with many of our customers, and a significant part of our product design has come about as a result of our ongoing dialogue with customers such as yourself. We therefore welcome your query and encourage you to continue talking to us in the future.
Please verify that you are attempting to put the headset in pairing mode in the following manner. From the off position press the volume wheel straight in and do not release until you get the red and blue. The headset may briefly flash blue but should shortly switch to the red and blue. Please contact us back if this does not solve the issue.
Always a good sign to get prompt tech support with a toll free and fax number!The device allows up to eight unique pairings, so whatever my flavor of cell phone is for that day, whether a Palm, Samsung Windows Mobile 5 or Motorola RAZR, I can activity swap between Skype and one smartphone or the last two used devices. Somebody please tell me how cool that is without having to stop and pair up each unique device.
When a call comes in, I hear a little musical chime like someone ringing a doorbell. Redialing is easy by short pressing the wheel. While on a call, short pressing the wheel mutes/un-mutes the call.
So everything I said thus far makes me recommend the Scala-700’ VoIP Headset hands down (or ears wide open). The features sets, light weight, pairing memory, on/off status light, locator buzzer, a battery status indicator and sound quality sets the standard for a Bluetooth headset.
But there is more! Speaking of Skype, the Scala-700 VoIP Headset was intended to serve as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) headset with a laptop (or a PC) when paired with the Cardo Systems VoIP USB Adapter.
Note: I did try pairing the Scala-700 on the iMac, but it didn’t recognize Skype on the Mac OS configuration as the unit is specially designed for use on Windows XP.
The first thing to do is to download the latest version of Skype 2.0.0 or greater. The mini-cd installs the Bluetooth driver for the USB connector to start the Scala-700 pairing process and the proprietary Cardo Voice Dialer (CVD) software.
Once the software is installed, the Adaptor can then be plugged into an available USB port.
The voice dialing software is speaker independent, meaning that it attempts to recognize and match within reason the voice commands spoken.
To initiate a call using voice dialing, I would tap the control button. After hearing a short beep, I would speak:
CALL (Skype contact name – Call Rob Smith)
DIAL (Skype speed-dial number – Dial one eight)
Other voice commands recognized are: –
A voice prompt repeats the spoken command and if recognized, the call will initiate after the voice prompt.
If the recognition fails, there are two short beeps the voice command again.
From the manual:
CVD expects a Skype contact name to be pronounced in a specific way. To hear how it should be pronounced, click the left mouse button on a Skype contact.
If a different name, number or command was recognized, or any other error occurred, press the headset’s Control button to close the connection. Wait a few seconds, then press the Control button and try again.
To get good recognition results:
Make sure the Skype contact names are real names with English characters only.
Names such as “Paul Newman” will be recognized well, while names such as “1234 B4U” will not be recognized.
If necessary, click the right mouse button and select the Rename option to provide suitable names for your Skype contacts.
The last piece of advice makes sense, as foreign names such as Alexandroni, Vyacheslav or Nijmegen are not easily recognizable. There are sensitivity settings to calibrate your particular accent or compensate for pronunciation. The simplest thing to do is just use a mouse click to initiate the call.
Regardless whether one uses the voice dialing features or not, the Scala-700 still shines in VoIP mode with a great wireless range of up to 30 feet and 7 hours of talk time.
Headset Profiles include the cabability to:
Minimize or maximize Skype on-screen window
Answer incoming Skype calls
Skype address book search
As I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend the Scala-700 VoIP Headset with its feature sets, light weight, pairing memory, on/off status light, locator buzzer, a battery status indicator and sound quality which for me, sets the standard for a Bluetooth headset. The VoIP capabilities is just icing on the cake. I never could imagine a headset this good especially at a reasonable list price.
As VoIP phones become available on the market, I have full confidence that Cardo Systems will continue to improve and accommodate those phones. I recommend this headset for anyone wanting to purchase their first Bluetooth headset or upgrade for the feature sets. The Scala-700 VoIP Bluetooth Headset will change the way you’ll perceive using a headset. It’s that good!
The Scala-700 VoIP Headset is available from www.cardowireless.com.
What I Like: The light weight, feature sets, sound quality.
What Needs Improvement: None