Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset Review

plantronics-voyager-legend-headsetOk, so this is one of the coolest gadgets I’ve bought recently. I’ve been researching the Bluetooth headset market for a while. I’m after a decent quality headset which I can use in my home office.

I’ve been using the Plantronics M220 for a good 6 years; it has a 2.5 mm jack which plugs into my main phone, fits “over-the-ear” and weights practically nothing.

However, the M220 is a wired headset and I’m looking for something that’ll connect more universally to my computer and mobile phone – without fiddling around with wires.

I like the Plantronics range of headsets because they’re reliable and last for years. I never had any problems with the M220 headset; the sound quality was spot on and I would generally wear if for 8+ hours at a time without any discomfort.

So I went ahead and purchased the Plantronics Voyager Legend after reading good reviews. It’s a “sweat proof” Bluetooth v3.0 + A2DP (for audio streaming) Bluetooth headset which claims “professional grade audio” and “all day comfort”.

Why did I buy it?

I wanted a wireless headset that’ll easily connect to my phone and computer for two main uses:

  1. Make calls on my android phone
  2. Make calls on Skype from my laptop running Ubuntu 12.04

One of the main features which attracted me to the Legend was its ability to connect to multiple devices at the same time. I don’t want to fiddle around enabling/disabling Bluetooth on my phone/laptop. Having them both connected is a must.

I also like the feature of placing the headset on my ear to answer a call. Call me lazy, but pressing buttons is just another “fiddly” thing I can’t be bothered with. When my phone rings, I just want to answer it and take the call. Simple.

Finally, I wanted something with high quality audio. The headset will be used for business calls and keeping up with family and friends. So I want the person on the other end to hear me clearly. If I’m repeating words because they can’t here me – the headset’s no good.

So that’s why I bought the headset and what I wanted it to do. So how is it?

Reliability

I’ve put reliability as my first point because, in my opinion, it’s the most important. Even if the headset has amazing audio quality, looks fantastic and communicates with my phone and laptop. If it’s unreliable: I won’t be using it.

There’s a nifty little button on the headset which, when pressed, tells you the remaining talk time and which devices are connected. I feel strangely comforted in being able to quickly determine how much talk time I have left.

Since using the headset I’ve yet to run the battery down. All the calls I’ve made have been flawless. I can hear the other person clearly and they can hear me. The headset really does just sit on your ear, unobtrusively, while you can focus on the call.

I’ve made a number of long phone calls (lasting 1+ hours) and I quite enjoy the freedom of walking around whilst talking. It makes the phone call more enjoyable and relaxing. I find it easy to forget I’m wearing a wireless headset, partly because it’s so light, but also because the quality’s so clear. But more on that later.

So, for reliability, the headset gets 8.5 out of 10.

Quality

Personally, I’ve been very impressed with this little headset’s audio quality (and no, I’m not being unduly hyperbolic). I mentioned that I previously used the Plantronics M220 wired headset. Well, this Bluetooth headset sounds just as high quality to me, which surprises me.

Call me massively out-of-touch with Bluetooth headset technology; but I just presumed they all had to sound “crackly” – to both caller and recipient. I’ve owned the Cardo scala-500 Bluetooth headset for about 5 years and I never really use is, mainly due to its low audio and voice quality. But to be fair, I’m comparing two headsets at opposite ends of the price market.

On a side-note: the Legend headset uses Bluetooth v3.0+ HS which supports data transfer rates of up to 24 Mbit/s. Which is why the headset boasts such good audio and voice quality – it’s got more bandwidth to send it along. Although the device your pairing with will need to also support Bluetooth v3.0 + HS to get the best quality.

The build quality of this little chap is OK. It’s designed to be flexible and bends so it fits snugly on your ear. But, it does feel a little too flimsy at times. Also, I’ve tried changing the silicon eartips, but I can’t get the one that’s attached to come off. I’ve tried twisting and turning but I’m worried the plastic’s just going to snap.

So, I’m splitting the quality score into two:

  • For audio and voice quality, the headset gets 9 out of 10
  • For build quality, the headset gets 6 out of 10

Looks

Before I purchased the Legend I read all the reviews I could find. The reviews all agreed on top-notch audio quality, but gave it poor marks for looks. With CNET saying it “isn’t for the fashion conscious”.

However, I disagree. For starters, if you’re buying a Bluetooth headset you’re probably not overly worried about fashion. But aside from that, I personally thing this headset looks pretty darn sexy. Certainly compared to other office headsets available on the market, this one actually looks sharp, cool and professional.

Considering just how much technology is crammed into this little dude, it’s very discrete. I’ve got short hair and the main part of the headset (which sits behind the ear) is a bit chunky, so it’s visible. If you have long hear it’ll be hidden. But is this really an issue?

I turn to face people when I’m talking to them (unless I’m walking away), and from the front – this headset looks neat. When I’m talking on Skype webcam; the other person just sees a small boom mic coming from my ear.

So, for looks, the headset gets 7 out of 10

Compatibility with Skype on Ubuntu

As mentioned, I want to use this headset with Skype on my laptop which runs Ubuntu version 12.04. So this part of the review isn’t strictly about the headset, but more its interaction with Ubuntu and Skype for Linux. The Bluetooth USB dongle I’m using is the Kinivo BTD-300 (which I’ve reviewed here).

Setting up the Bluetooth dongle on Ubuntu is literally just a case of plugging it in. The device is listed (shell command “lsusb”)  as a “Broadcom Corp.” Pairing the device was simple and straightforward.

So what’s it like with Skype? I’ll be honest, this is where I’m less impressed with the set-up. However, this has nothing to do with the headset, it’s just the way Ubuntu works.

On my Android phone; taking the Legend headset off your ear routes the call’s audio/voice back onto the phone’s earpiece, and vice-versa. However, on Ubuntu with Skype this doesn’t happen.

I personally like to listen to music when I’m working. So when I make a Skype call I have to go into sound settings and select the Plantronics Legend Headset as the input/output device. Ok, it’s not exactly hard work – but it does make the whole process a “bit of a faff”.

Overall, it’s compatible with Ubuntu. The call quality in Skype is top notch, however, my only gripe is that the microphone quality isn’t quite so great on Skype. I’m not sure if this is specifically my set-up or if the noise cancelling technology in the microphone is making my voice sound a bit processed.

So, for compatibility with Skype on Ubuntu, the headset gets 6 out of 10

What I likes and dislike

These are the things I like about the headset:

  • Mute button on headset – quickly mutes/unmutes – very handy
  • Charging cable is magnetic – snaps onto headset, handy for quick release
  • Silicon earpiece is surprisingly comfortable – I’ve been wearing it all day without any problems

Finally, these are all the things which I don’t like so much about the headset:

  • Charging cable is very short, about 15 cm
  • Microphone quality on Skype could be better
  • Voice commands – technologically we’re not quite there yet, I have to repeat the command a few time for it to work

Would I recommend it?

Overall, the Legend is a champion Bluetooth headset. Crystal clear sound, professional looks and hassle free operation make it a dream to use. I bought mine from Amazon for £53.50 delivered. 

One final point worth mentioning: There’s a UC version of the headset, which stands for unified communications. This version of the headset is designed to be used with your phone and PC. It costs more but you get a desktop charging stand, USB Bluetooth dongle and a carry case which’ll hold the headset, USB dongle and also charges the headset on-the-go. Handy for the travelling professional. The Plantronics Voyager Legend Professional Mobile Unified Communication Headset is available for about £100 on Amazon.