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Plantronics Discovery 655: Worth Discovering

I have to admit that I was rather pleasantly surprised to get the very elegant new Plantronics Discovery 655 so soon after the release of the Discovery 645 barely a couple of months ago (see Treo Ultralight Wireless Headset Revealed).

Like its very popular and bestselling predecessors the Discovery 645 is an ultralight (only 9 grams) Bluetooth Headset which delivers excellent sound quality thanks to its DSP (Digital Signal Processing) technology and benefits from a unique two part pen-shaped AAA battery charger (which increases talk time to 10 hours instead of the rather low 3.5 hours standard talk time) and now vibrating cradle as well as ‘charge level indicator’ when the headset is turned on. 

Aside from this and the fact that the Discovery 655 kit does not include the (not particularly important) alternative charging tips nor the accessory carrying box both the 655 (pictured left below) and older 645 are nearly identical except for minor exterior design differences which remind me of the ‘rounded’ vs. ‘square’ debate between the Treo 650 and Treo 700.  It’s up to personal taste but I rather prefer the angular and more modern design of the new Discovery 655.

In my previous Discovery 645 review I had complained that “I found the lack of a USB charging cable in the [645] kit to be more than a little annoying considering that this is rapidly becoming a standard – it does however include a USB tip but you’ll need to purchase the USB cable separately”.  Thankfully someone at Plantronics was listening and the Plantronics Discovery 655 now includes a USB cable so that you can simply and conveniently charge your headset via your PC.

The Discovery 645 kit also includes an ear loop (above right) which I use because I find it considerably more comfortable to have my BT headset resting _on_ my ear with the loop for long periods of time rather than _in_ my ear as would be the case with just the ear gels.  Additionally, Plantronics have developed an ingenious mechanism for the fit of the ear gels so that they can be rotated left or right (images below) at a 45 degree angle depending on which ear you would like to wear it on.

However, while I believe that the rotating ear gels’ mechanism is indeed ingenious it is not necessarily practical.  My experience has been that precisely because the ear gels rotate they are constantly moving left, center and right in my pocket so that when I want to answer a call quickly I need to annoyingly fiddle with the ear gel first.  Plantronics could/should add a simple earpiece that can be ‘fixed’ so that those people preferring the on-ear experience can be satisfied.  Additionally, worse can happen if/when the ear gel falls off and gets misplaced rendering your $100 piece of kit useless…

Given the fact that the Plantronics Discovery line of headsets has been among the bestselling ones for the Treo for quite some time (and that even Palm adopted it as its new high-end Treo headset) existing and very happy Discovery owners might however consider that I am being unduly harsh but the on-ear vs. in-ear matter is one that I personally consider important.  Among others, this is why the high-end Jabra JX10 (below center) and low-end Treo Wireless Headset (below right) have been among my top 5 favourites for a very long time.

Leaving aside the ear gel issue as well as the relatively low talk time of 3.5 hours (albeit this can be increased to 10 by using the pen-charger), overall it is extremely hard to fault the new Plantronics Discovery 655.  It offers a truly elegant design, is ultralight, has a good and extensive kit which now includes USB charging, offers excellent sound quality with its DSP chip, vibrating cradle and also a built-in charge level indicator.

Below is a comparison of the current top 5 bestselling Treo Bluetooth headsets including the new Discovery 655:

   

Treonauts are always looking at all the ins and outs


Posted by Andrew on August 22, 2006 at 03:09 PM

Treo Accessories , Treo Bluetooth Headset

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Comments

1
by sbcrair | Aug 22, 2006 4:18:16 PM

Have you tried it with the Treo 700p? My biggest gripe with almost all of the bluetooth headsets (including the 645 and EXCLUDING (eg, it works!)the Jabra JX-10) was the incompatibility issues with the 700p (probably more the Treo's fault than the headset, but pretty annoying, nonetheless).

2
by Ruben | Aug 22, 2006 6:47:03 PM

Andrew - have you tried the new Sony-Ericsson HBH-GV435? How does it work w the 700p?

3
by felix | Aug 22, 2006 7:16:31 PM

Andrew I started out with the 640 lost 2 ear pieces device no longer connects after downloading treo 650 update from sprint which makes me leary of purchasing hi dollar bt devices.......but I hunger for more innovative designs and wonder if the motorola miniblue H5 will ever come to market.

4
by Michael | Aug 22, 2006 7:38:08 PM

When I bought the original Discovery 640, I remember thinking that this was the best headset ever. It was lightweight, chargeable with a AAA battery, and it plain worked. After a small amount of time I realized that the ingenious gel system wasn't so grand, and like you mentioned I have found that losing a few of those renders the headset useless while travelling unless you want to carry a bunch with you. I was carrying three of them with me at all times.

I've switched though, and believe that I've found my next best headset in the $150 Nokia BH-800. It's small, light, and incredibly convenient. It doesn't have the flexibility charging wise of the Discovery, but it does have a fixed, round earpiece that fits well for me and stays there no matter what.

All in all my new best headset.

5
by david | Aug 22, 2006 11:19:26 PM

Thanks for the review!

however, in comparison to the Jabra JX10, you mentioned that you consider the in-ear / out-of-ear designs to be important.

what do you mean by that ? aren't both the plantronics 655 and jabra Jx10 both fit into the ear canal ?

i am using the SonyEricsson HBH-662 and i find that it doesn't enter the ear canal, and hence VERY soft.

care to elaborate, as i really need a new bluetooth headset, especially one that is easily chargeable, but overall, very loud and clear. thanks!!

6
by andrew | Aug 23, 2006 12:09:06 AM

david - regarding JX10 vs 655...

Well, they can both be in-ear but because of its earpiece design the JX10 more naturally rests on-ear when using the ear loop.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

7
by eric | Aug 23, 2006 11:48:46 AM

How about reviewing STEREO bluetooth headsets?? These normal headsets are old news (my opinion). And so many others have already done reviews on them. So since you guys at Treonauts seem to have money to burn on gadgets, who better to handle the job? Thanks!

8
by Ruben | Aug 23, 2006 11:03:22 PM

Andrew - anything on the GV-435?

Thanks!

9
by Al | Aug 24, 2006 2:03:49 AM

I guess so far this is the best Light weight Plantronics headset? Am I right?

10
by etherfarm | Aug 24, 2006 4:18:58 PM

I've had the Palm Wireless Bluetooth, the Discovery 645, and since yesterday, the 655. The 655 fixes a lot of the things I hated about the 645--namely the 645's tendency to fall out of the charging holster. There's still room for improvement, of course, but so far I really like the 655.

The competition at the high-end of the BT headset market is between the 655 and the Jabra JX-10. Choose whichever suits you best.

11
by andrew | Aug 24, 2006 8:50:04 PM

eric - I can promise you that as soon as I find a Stereo Bluetooth Headset that I like I will post a review about it...

Ruben - I'm still looking at a number of other headsets to review.

Al - as etherfarm notes the Plantronics 655 does indeed deliver some terrific value and performance. The final personal choice between this and the JX10 will of course rest with you.

Cheers, A.

12
by Plantronics 655 | Aug 25, 2006 12:58:38 AM

Have you looked at the Plantronics 590 stereo bluetooth headset?

13
by landoncube | Aug 26, 2006 12:54:39 PM

I have to chime in and add that I recently 'upgraded' from the Palm Wireless headset to the Plantronics built Palm ultralight. Being light was the only thing I liked about it!

I never found a comfortable solution with the ear gels and/or the loop. My ear was sore constantly and none of the settings improved this. I worked with the headset for ten days, thinking that I would get used to it but I never did.

In addition, I got many complaints about the sound quality of calls made with the headset.
Those who know I wear a headset all day asked if there was something wrong with it! Many opinions indicated the old headset was superior in quality!

I have returned the headset and now use my original Palm Wireless. I love what you have to say about the Jabra. It has been out for a while, any news on an upgrade of that model?

14
by jon | Aug 27, 2006 11:16:50 PM

I had two complaints with the 645 (which I preferred to the Jabra):
1. It would fall out of the charger (I use a rubber band to keep it in)
2. When I keep the headset in my pocket when not in use, the ear piece and loop separate from the headset. I often have to reassemble them to make a call.

1 out of two I suppose. I've missplaced my 645 (yeah, I know) and I'm unsure if I should get the new one or keep with the old since I have all the accessories.

15
by N2 | Aug 31, 2006 1:57:04 PM

I loved the design of the 645, but couldn't get more than 3 feet away from my 700w before callers were telling me that I was cutting out. If I put the 700w in my pocket on the opposite side of my 645, it was useless.

I've since returned the 645 and really want to try the 655. Could my issues be related to the 700w rather than the BT headset?

16
by Marty | Sep 3, 2006 4:56:54 PM

The only problem I had w/ the JX10 was that I was constantly fiddling with the ear wire so that the headset's microphone end wouldn't angle away from my face.
My problem w/ the Plantronics 650 was more costly, though. The headset fell out of the clip-on charger-holder so easily and unbeknownst to me that finally I lost it for good.

I still have the Plantronics 650 clip-on charger-holder. Will it also charge a 655? Having two chargers would be a great convenience.

17
by Kevin | Sep 10, 2006 5:19:05 PM

Just got my 655 today. And so far it is the bomb baby.
I had my Treo 650 replaced with a 700 because the 650 was damaged. Had a Motorola HS850 headset and it worked terrible with the 650. Could barely hear, had a mind of its own. I am really impressed with the 700P + 655 combo. I actually had to turn the sound down. And others say they hear me clearly. Also, all of the features work except I think the voice dialing which I havent tried because I heard it doesnt work.

18
by Ajay | Sep 17, 2006 5:38:45 PM

I just got this on Friday as well and terribly disappointed. The USB and AAA chargers don't work (thank god the Plantronics one does).

Also, sound is not as good as my old Plantronics M-3500 or Voyager 510. My wife complains to noise when I am standing in a quiet store.

And to top it all the ear-gels are rather uncomfortable. Either you keep them loose and use the over-ear loop or they are too tight and hurt my ears.

Ugh!

19
by Daniel | Jan 29, 2007 5:39:38 PM

How 'bout reviewing the Plantronics 665 with the new AudioIQ technology? It made its debut in Las Vegas this month. I just ordered mine... we'll see how it turns out...

Even so I always enjoy your blogs so I'm very interested to hear what you have to say about the 665 as it pertains to the Treo.

20
by Tom C | Jan 31, 2007 6:48:32 PM

I have a Treo 680, and I can't initiate a call using my Plantronics Discovery 680/Bluetooth. I can push the button and receive calls, but when I dial from the phone, I can't use the headset for a call I've initiated...don't I just push the button? Or is 640 not compatible with Bluetooth in the 680?

21
by Daniel | Feb 2, 2007 11:17:11 PM

About the new Plantronics 665 released 1/07... let me save everyone the suspense... it's TERRIBLE with the Treo 650. In the 665's defense, I paired it with two other non-Treo phones and it worked beautifully. Plus remember I'm talking about the 665, and the 655 has gotten plenty of good reviews.

But the 665 with the Treo??? ... Nothing but static with the phone over 3 feet away. I've already heard similar grumblings. Save your money.

22
by Maynard | Feb 10, 2007 8:48:44 AM

Can anyone comment on this: On the Plantronics website, it allows you to view devices for which the 655 and 665 are compatible with. If you choose palm and then navigate through the list, the 700p is not listed in any of the choices. Comments anyone? Or is this review and the future 665 review bogus? Can't wait to hear this explanation.

23
by Yolanda | Feb 26, 2007 7:04:35 PM

I have had the Plantronics Discovery 655 for about 6 months and it works fine with the Treo 700p. I upgraded from the 645, the Palm version, which had the previously-mentioned issue with not connecting in the charger and popping out so that you couldn't charge it. They fixed this problem with the 655, which I charge daily while suspended in the air. I also had the Jbara JX-10 but that did not work well for me as people complained of bad sound quality/ static and the sound was bad for me too - got full of static even in close range. Some of the functions didn't work well either and was extremely frustrating to work with so I returned it.

I have no problem using the 655 and I use it without the ear stabilizing arm you can wrap around your ear, although, even though I don't use it, I would recommend it as a couple of times I have had to catch it because I knocked it out by accident so I worry about it a bit even though I've never lost it. I also agree with the other comment that the volume is plenty loud and often needs to be turned down. My only complaints are the short talk time and the fact that I find that I need to re-establish the connection with the phone every once in a while even if the devices have not been separated.

24
by Neil | Jun 10, 2007 2:07:37 PM

I have a Treo 650 w/Cingular. I had the Jabra x-10 and returned it after a month because the loop broke (probably from me having to adjust it so many times because it never fit well). The x-10 also didn't get loud enough for me. I bought the Plantronics 665A (the "A" means it includes the AC adapter in the package). After having it a week, it's ready to go back too. Like a previous poster said: "It's terrible with the Treo 650." Further, it never really stays put in my ear no matter what gel size I use. Sure I can use the loop, but what fun is that? It wouldn't really matter anyway because the sound quality is so bad w/my Treo. I will give the 665A two thumbs up for volume -- it can get very, very loud. But loud statis doesn't cut it.

25
by Neil | Jun 10, 2007 2:07:40 PM

I have a Treo 650 w/Cingular. I had the Jabra x-10 and returned it after a month because the loop broke (probably from me having to adjust it so many times because it never fit well). The x-10 also didn't get loud enough for me. I bought the Plantronics 665A (the "A" means it includes the AC adapter in the package). After having it a week, it's ready to go back too. Like a previous poster said: "It's terrible with the Treo 650." Further, it never really stays put in my ear no matter what gel size I use. Sure I can use the loop, but what fun is that? It wouldn't really matter anyway because the sound quality is so bad w/my Treo. I will give the 665A two thumbs up for volume -- it can get very, very loud. But loud statis doesn't cut it.

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