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Cardo Scala 500: A Noteworthy Bluetooth Headset

I have been extremely happy with my Treo Bluetooth Compact Headset to date so I really haven’t focused much on other options.

However, after hearing many people (including me) mentioning how much they would like to have a case for their headset, I set out to find another Bluetooth headset that might have this.

I was in for quite a surprise when I eventually found the Cardo Scala 500.  Among others:

  • It is $49.95 compared to $69.95 for the Treo BT Compact Headset
  • It has 2 hours longer talk time and the same standby time
  • It is almost identical in size and weight (16.44gm vs. 16.86gm)
  • It comes with an ultralight charger that is only slightly bigger than the headset itself

Leaving the best for last it has the best accessories kit of any BT headset that I have come across with:

  1. Eyeglass/Sunglass Clip with which you can attach the headset
  2. The all important Belt Clip Holster which I had specifically been looking for
  3. Easy to use Neckband
  4. Naturally it can also be worn with an over-the-ear clip

The normal over-the-ear clip (above left) is extremely easy and quick to fit and can be worn on either the right or left ear by removing and placing the clip the other way around.  In the same vein, removing the over-the-ear clip and replacing it with the glass clip (above right) allows you to easily fit the headset on your glasses – I was really impressed with this little attachment.


Here above is the full accessories kit for the Cardo Scala 500 with (left to right clockwise) the neckband, over-the-ear clip, glass clip, headset and holster case.  As you can see above right, the charger really is minute – barely larger than the headset.  Naturally, it cannot compare to the Treo BT Headset which does not require a separate charger at all – as it uses the standard Treo one – or other headsets which use USB to power like the Bluespoon AX but compared to most BT headset chargers out there this is the smallest that I’ve come across.

Above left, on my waist, my favourite case the Seidio Shield holster now happily hanging next to Scala’s own small holster.  Scala’s holster comes with a short clip and so it is best worn either upside down (as per the picture) or sideways.  Additionally, it is very easy to slide in and out of the holster but not easy enough that it might fall out.  However, I would have preferred to have a larger clip to completely fit over a belt.  Also, I’m not personally a huge fan of neckbands but this one is again surprisingly easy to use with a rubber pin entering the charging slot at the back of the unit.

In terms of sound quality and range, I found the Cardo Scala 500 to be very good and similar to other units that I have tested.  The volume can comfortably be raised high and the only thing is that I haven’t yet had a chance to test it in outdoor conditions.  Answering and ending a call is done via the large front silver oval faceplate and the volume can be adjusted with a small dial at the back.

Overall, there is no doubt that in terms of innovation and value for money I’ll happily give this Cardo Scala 500 a rating of 9.5/10 – I would have given it a 10/10 had it had the option to charge via USB.  I regret not having found and reviewed it earlier because it really deserves all the praise and unless someone comes out with a holster for the Treo Headset I may very well permanently switch to the Scala 500.

UPDATE: Following a flurry of comments and emails as well as additional testing on my part, I have very disappointingly found that the Scala 500 suffers from a significantly higher level of ‘static’ compared with the Palm Treo BT Headset as well as others.  There is no doubt that the Scala 500 still offers the best accessory kit but unfortunately with a sub-par call quality I now have to reconsider my earlier rating and lower it to just 6/10.  It’s a real shame but I hope that Scala will work to improve their offering in the future.

Treonauts want more companies to focus on innovation

Posted by Andrew on August 1, 2005 at 05:01 PM

Treo Accessories , Treo Bluetooth Headset

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Cardo Scala 500: A Noteworthy Bluetooth Headset:

» Deal on Cardo Scala 500 Bluetooth Headset at Amazon.com from Operation Gadget
Treonauts published a review of the Cardo Scala 500 Bluetooth Headset which is considered a worthy alternative to the PalmOne Bluetooth Headset for the Treo 650. There are a couple of things that make the Cardo Scala 500 stand out... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 2, 2005 3:01:41 PM

» More Bluetooth Headset Reviews from treo Addicts
treocentral.com and Treonauts have recently posted reviews of a couple Bluetooth headsets - the Nokia HS-11W Bluetooth Headset and the Cardo Scala 500. Nokia HS-11W Bluetooth Headset - “The Nokia HS-11 does the job. All you get in the package ... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 3, 2005 11:44:37 AM

» Treonauts Backs Off on Strong Cardo Scala 500 Rating from Operation Gadget
In my search for a Bluetooth headset for my Treo 650 and VoIP use, I revisited a favorable Treonauts review of the Cardo Scala 650 that I pointed out a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised to see the... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 27, 2005 9:40:22 AM


by Doug | Aug 1, 2005 7:46:44 PM

I've been using the Scala 500 BT headset for 3-4 months now and love it. I've tried others and this for me is the best. I was able to find it on Amazon.com for about $35.

by Tony | Aug 1, 2005 8:14:54 PM

I, too, have the Scala 500 BT. The sound quality is great, but I haven't been able to get a good fit with the over the ear clip. It never falls off, but if I move my head to the side it flops around, separating momentarily from my ear, then plopping back into place. It's a very shaky fit...very loose. I've played around with it to no end, and haven't been able to get a secure fit. Other than that, it's a great headset. I also wish it came with a car charger or USB charger...I run out of juice at the most inopportune moments, and my charger is always at home.

by Brian | Aug 2, 2005 3:53:19 AM

I have a Scala 500 BT and the sound quality is very poor on my end (lots of static) with the Treo 650. If others are getting good quality it may just be that I have a defective unit. I'll RMA it and see if the replacement is better. Volume at least is decent, much better than the Motorola I started with.

by j | Aug 2, 2005 5:23:25 AM

Now the important question. Does it have a massive blinking blue light that'll blind other drivers on the night road?

by Slithy | Aug 2, 2005 11:40:18 AM

WARNING: don't rely on the belt holster to keep your headset. I had a Scala for about four days. I liked it, but the holster is very weak. I lost mine in the airport while it was in the holster. The slightest brush will knock the headset out of the holster.

by alex_mayorga | Aug 3, 2005 9:39:01 AM

So far so good. Just some little questions: Why don't you publish a coupon code or discount? Also I haven't been able to put my hands on a Treo 650 and I'm still struggling with my aging Treo 600, so there's my little rant: Why is the Treo 600 version almost double the price than the 650?
BTW: Do you ship internationally at reasonable rates?

by Raad Bunni | Aug 4, 2005 4:10:20 PM

Please test the Scala BT headset indoors and listen if you hear any static (which it does). Then test it outdoors and finally test it while you are driving on the freeway, very bad performance. I have using Cingular. I am now using Tekeion BT headset, bought it on recommendation from CNET. Bad performance in all the above.

by rob | Aug 4, 2005 7:08:45 PM

my scala-500 is kind of flaky. the charging red LED turns off almost right away when its on the charger, but there's no way its fully charged. also for a while the red LED was on all the time. then it was on dimly all the time. then it went back to acting "normal". cardo told me to RMA it but since it started working right again, i figured they would just return it to me "no trouble found"...

i cant really say i'd buy another one.

by Paul | Aug 11, 2005 9:50:37 PM

Do you know if you can use the Scala 500 as a headphone set to listen to MP3's?

by Dave | Apr 26, 2006 10:18:23 AM

Well I had my Scala 500 for a month now and it WAS working perfectly but as of a few daya ago its got static and makes it basically unuseable. what would cause this to happen all of a sudden?

by Aviator | May 3, 2006 5:18:42 PM

Scala 700 is to be out within next month or so w/ improved quality and feature set.

by Krish | Jul 30, 2006 11:55:51 PM

I bought the Scala 500, don't remember if it was based on a review on this site or not, but long and short, it really sucks.

The accessories and feature list make it interesting, but not worth it when reality sets in.

-- Severe static when my Treo 650 is more than 1 foot away.
-- Very poor sound quality in both incoming and outgoing.
-- As someone else mentioned, belt clip is poor holder. Luckily I only lost it in the office and I tracked it back to the spot where it fell off.
-- Glasses clip is impossible to keep straight.

All in all, I would never recommend this. Others in this blog have reported good sound quality from this. More people have reported poor quality.

by cindy | Aug 16, 2006 10:26:58 PM

I had a scala 500 for over a year. i said had because while i was in walmart the other night it fell out of the neck strap and has not been recovered. lost it 3 months ago at the grocery but got it back via a good samaritan. i will definitely buy the scala 700 but will carry it in a pocket! but i had great reception, better than just using my cell phone to my ear.

by cindy | Aug 16, 2006 10:27:39 PM

I had a scala 500 for over a year. i said had because while i was in walmart the other night it fell out of the neck strap and has not been recovered. lost it 3 months ago at the grocery but got it back via a good samaritan. i will definitely buy the scala 700 but will carry it in a pocket! but i had great reception, better than just using my cell phone to my ear.

by Nemo | Sep 7, 2006 1:39:01 AM

I have been quite happy with my Scala 500. I have used it with both the BTA II adapter config and a Sanyo 7300 ( Excellent service. ) and now my Treo 650. Yes there is a little static at times but that is to be expected with such devices. I find that sometimes the connection is better than others. That is also to be expected. During some thunderstorms , the other end of my calls lose words. Also to be expected. Overall, I am well pleased and at the price point , it is definitely a top contender! I look forward to upgrading to the new Scala 700.

by Jack | Feb 23, 2007 11:03:25 AM

I'm liking the Scala 500 in erms of sound quality but I can't keep it paired to the Treo 700P I'm using. I've tried the "soft reset" they recommend but after a minute or two of being paired the headset drops out and I have to shut it down, restart it, and re-pair the whole deal again including the top secret "passkey". This can't be right. I'd appreciate any help.

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