Plantronics 855 Stereo Bluetooth Headset Review
The new Plantronics Voyager 855 is probably the most comfortable, lightest and innovative A2DP stereo Bluetooth headset that I have had the opportunity to test to date – it’s the first that feels and acts just like a normal Bluetooth headset but with the added benefit of being able to listen to wireless stereo music on the go.
The Plantronics 855 is actually a very elegant 2 in 1 solution as it is BOTH a standard mono Bluetooth headset AND/OR a Stereo Bluetooth headset. The ingenious way this works is that when you specifically want to listen to music a “Stereo plug in cable” (above left) can be attached to the main body of the headset (detail below left) to create a simple but effective stereo headset. Then when you only want to make calls with the mono headset you just plug the cable out and either pop the headset straight in your ear or attach one of the included ear loops.
Although the Jabra BT8010 (see my review) was the first to apply this 2 in 1 concept, the newer Plantronics 855 offers great improvement as it is a considerably smaller, lighter (about 15 grams versus 35 grams for full stereo unit) and thus more comfortable and easier to use solution on a daily basis.
The Plantronics 855 accessory kit (above) is also very complete with an included wall charger, three sets of two ear gels (S, M, L) as well as two excellent black foam ear buds which offer nearly 100% noise cancellation when listening to stereo music, two spare ear loops and a small pouch to keep all of these in. The only thing frustratingly missing is a USB charging cable but since the connector is a standard microUSB you should be able to easily find one.
In terms of performance, I found inbound and outbound audio quality to be very good thanks no doubt to Plantronics’ AudioIQ technology which digitally enhances sound quality on both sides of a call. There’s also the fact that you can seamlessly switch between making calls and listening to music (when you receive a call the music pauses and the phone rings in your headset then the music resumes when you end the call).
The sliding boom (image above) lets you be heard more clearly by positioning the microphone closer to your mouth and it can also conveniently be used to answer and end calls. Also, thanks to the great ear buds you’re able to “seal out the noise, seal in the sound” and enjoy full-spectrum stereo sound with rich, balanced bass. Additionally, buttons on the headset allow you to easily control music Play/Pause, Next/Previous track and Volume.
Finally, the Plantronics Voyager 855 offers up to a very good 7 hours talk time, 6 hours listening time and 160 hours standby time from a single charge.
Please Note: currently only the Windows Mobile powered Treo 750 and 700w|wx smartphones support native A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) and AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) required to use the Plantronics 855 stereo functionality. Nevertheless, thanks to a software called Softick Audio Gateway you can add A2DP and AVRCP functionality to your Centro, Treo 680, 755p and 700p as well.
Treonauts always look for something special…