Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset Review

I’ve been a user of Plantronics’ Bluetooth headsets for many years, starting with the Explorer 320 and more recently the Voyager Pro. I’ve always liked them because I found them a good fit on my ears but they’re trouble-free and easy-to-use with no problems pairing on a wide range of phones. More recently, I’ve taken receipt of a Voyager Legend and, so far, it’s living up to its name.

On review here is the full Voyager Legend UC package which comes with the headset itself, Bluetooth adaptor, desktop charging stand and charging case. This is the complete outfit for those in the office and on the go, aimed at those who use both mobile phones and IP-based communications, such as Microsoft’s Lync or Skype. This is the Microsoft version with an alternative version supporting Avaya, Cisco and IBM services. The Legend can manage two Bluetooth connections simultaneously so calls coming in from both routes can be answered on the headset and speaking from experience, this is very handy.

Plantronics Legend Box

The Voyager Legend UC comes in a plain box but opening it up reveals a wealth of accessories and adaptors, including UK and continental plug adaptors plus various USB connectors and chargers.

Plantronics Legend Inside Box

Here’s the charging case with the USB Bluetooth adaptor and the Voyager Legend itself. The Bluetooth adaptor is half the size of the previous generation that came with the Voyager Pro.

Plantronics Legend Charging Case

As might be guessed from the name, this is a charging case and the case has a built-in rechargeable battery which charges the Legend when it is in the case. In the photo below, you can see the contacts in the case on the right. It’s a clever idea, especially when on extended travel as you don’t need to lug around chargers – the case itself recharges via a micro-USB connection.

Charging Contacts

Of course, the desktop dock provides a convenient place to keep the Legend and charge it at the same time. There’s a magnetic catch to snap the headset in place.

Plantronics Legend Headset and Dock

Plantronics Legend in Dock

In use I find the Legend very comfortable to wear and I almost use it almost exclusively to answer my calls at my desk, whether the call comes through on my mobile or my desk phone. The headset is stylish enough to wear without feeling self-conscious, though I tend to take it off when I’m away from my desk. The Legend has three earpiece sizes in the box to accommodate different ears and can be worn on either the left or the right ear.

The Legend has some great features, such as auto answer, which detects when the headset is lifted from the dock and answers the call automatically. The Legend accepts voice commands, letting you put the headset into pairing mode, answer or decline calls and check battery level with ease. There are hardware controls on the headset for on/off, volume up/down, accept call and a multi-function button which does a couple of different things.

The talk time is rated at 7 hours and I never had any trouble with the battery running down unexpectedly. The charging case extends this even further with two full recharges from the case taking the total call time to 21 hours. Call quality is excellent, with callers sounding clear and natural, and most people don’t realise that I’m on a Bluetooth headset. The Legend also supports A2DP, which is handy if you want to listen to music or podcasts, albeit with one ear.

Plantronics have an Android smartphone app which, amongst other things, can help you track down where you last used the headset via GPS. It’s a neat idea but I found the app didn’t always play nicely with other GPS-using apps as the Plantronics app would turn off the GPS after getting a lock. The other app would than flail around looking for a signal lock. I submitted a bug report to Plantronics so hopefully they’ll get that fixed soon as it’s very irritating when playing Ingress.

There’s no two ways about it, the Plantronics Voyager Legend UC is a brilliant headset which I’m sure will do me for years – it has both the features and the construction to last. It’s definitely a premium product and it doesn’t come cheap: the RRP is over £150 but you can find it online for less than £100 including the carry case. However, it’s worth it if you want to to use a hands-free headset on an extended basis both at the desk and on the go.

The Voyager Legend UC was provided by Plantronics for review.

Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 Review

Wireless mice are commonplace these days but many only work with their own brand wireless transceiver, which restricts their use to devices equipped with USB ports. Less common are Bluetooth-based mice which have the potential to work with any Bluetooth-equipped unit, including Android and iOS tablets, potentially making them much more useful. On review here is one such mouse, the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. Snappy name, but let’s take a look.

The 5000 is fairly typical of notebook mice being smaller than a typical desktop mouse at only 9 cm long and about 5.5 cm wide. People with large hands may find the mouse is too small but for occasional use with a tablet or notebook, it’s fine. I certainly wouldn’t want it as my main mouse as I can’t really rest my hand on it, but this is all subjective and some people may find it perfect.

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Looks-wise, it’s not a Microsoft Arc or a Logitech Ultrathin, but it’s not entirely unattractive. This is the version with silvery-white buttons and dark gray body; there is a version with these colours reversed too. The silver matched my Samsung Chromebook rather nicely but the colour does vary with the light.

Two Duracell AA batteries power the 5000, which are supplied in the packaging and Duracell’s make a welcome change from the generic AAs that usually accompany remote controls and other battery-powered accessories. There’s an on/off switch on the bottom to conserve power when not in use. I’ve been using the mouse for about a week and I’ve yet to replace the batteries.

To pair the mouse, there’s a second button on the underside that needs to be pressed for a few seconds to put the mouse into a pairing mode. After that, the mouse should appear in the device list of whatever computer is to connect to the mouse. I successfully paired with an Android tablet, a Windows 8 tablet and a Chromebook. I imagine that it will work with iPads and other iOS devices but I didn’t have one at hand to test.

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In use, the 5000 works pretty much like any mouse. It’s an optical mouse with a laser motion tracker so resistance will depend entirely on the surface in use. There are four buttons: left, right, middle and “back”, which is next to the main left button and can pressed by your thumb to take your web browser back a page – you can see it in the top picture. Great if you are right-handed, but a waste of time if you are left-handed. The scroll wheel has a bit of stiffness to it but I like that as it prevents accidental scrolling.

Overall, the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 is a good mouse but not a great mouse. It’s nothing special but there’s nothing wrong with it either (except for the back button only being useful to right-handed users) . The 5000 is available from all good retailers for around £25.

Disclaimer: this was a personal purchase.

It’s Time for Dual-Band Bluetooth Please!

170px-Bluetooth.svg[1]So this first week with my Google Glass has come with a lot of fun tasks like getting out and capturing the city through this new device. Yet, it also brought some annoyances – mainly the pairing of Glass to a mobile device. Whenever I got in my car, my Jabra hands-free unit kicked the Glass out and Glass never re-paired with it unless I manually re-paired.

Its not just Google Glass. I have a ZAGG folio on my iPad. I also have a Bluetooth headphones which I cannot use at the same time. I would like to use both – listen to music or podcasts and create an article or two. Instead, I pair the headset to my phone and the keyboard to my iPad.

As we continue down the mobile plug-free road, we’re going to be faced with the same problem as HDMI ports on a LCD TV have – too many devices fighting for limited connectors. Worst yet, we don’t want another device controlling our mobile Bluetooth connections in our pockets.

One way to solve would be to create a dual-band Bluetooth standard. This would be where the Bluetooth could pair 2 devices at the same time. Then you can have your headset and your keyboard work simultaneously.

Another option is a pass-through device. For example: device 1 could be a headset and device 2 (the passthrough) could be a keyboard. You would pair device 2 with device 1, then pair device 1 with the mobile. A little more complex and only effective if you have the passthrough device around.

Currently, Bluetooth version 4.0 has a data rate of 24 Mbit/s. A keyboard might not need that high of a data rate, whereas something like Google Glass might when pushing video. That is where data packeting can shine – giving 2 devices the ability to stay paired and the mobile device not overworked.

Of course, we also have to look at power consumption. Bluetooth low energy (BLE) protocol allows for Bluetooth to be in a nocturnal state. The device would have to also work dual-band so if device 1 is on and 2 is not, it can put half the device to sleep.

At any rate, these connection problems are only going to get worse as we rely on our mobile devices to become our primary computers. Current Bluetooth standards cannot meet that demand. With the growth of mobile devices starting to outpace computers (Gartner predicts 467,000 tablets sold vs. 271,000 PC’s in 2017), the list of companies wanting to connect to that device will grow. Soon enough, we may even need 4-band (or more) Bluetooth devices.

UGO Makes Little Speakers with Big Sound

UGO SpeakerI had the opportunity to check out these cute, colorful, speakers in person yesterday. This was completely unexpected, because the place I found the UGO speakers at was a Strawberry Festival. That isn’t the type of event where one would expect to find anything tech related. (The festival did live up to its name, however, and had plenty of desserts that were filled with some of the biggest strawberries I’d ever seen).

The name of the company is UGO (which is pronounced “you- go”). They were among the many booths of vendors at the festival. What immediately caught my attention about them was that I could hear the music that was playing through the little speaker from several feet away over the noise from the crowd. I can see where having just one UGO speaker would work well for a person to use at home (or wherever else they decide to go).

UGO speakers come in six different colors: pink, blue, red, purple, black, yellow, and silver (as shown in my photo). The UGO mini-speaker costs $39.95, and the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker costs $129.95.

Each has a micro SD slot. You can load your favorite songs onto a Micro SD card, insert it into the UGO speaker, and the speaker itself becomes your music player. It also has a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The website says it has a 30′ (9.14m) range in which the sound will carry. UGO offers a 12-month manufacturer guarantee. The vendor at the UGO booth at the Strawberry Fest said that the UGO Bluetooth Wireless Mini-Speaker can be used with any Bluetooth enabled device.

Runaway Air-Fi Bluetooth Headset by Meelectronics Review

HP-AF32-RB-MEE-1I picked up the Runaway Air-Fi AF32 Bluetooth Headsets from Meelectronics this week. They are a part of the Air-Fi series. I chose to get the black and red ones, they are black on the outside and have a red pad on the earpieces and at the top of the band. The band can be adjusted to fit your head.  They sit nicely on my ears. The controls which are on the side of the headphones include the button to connect to your Bluetooth device, the forward and reverse button and the volume button. Once I remembered where they were controlling them was easy. The headset also has a hidden headphone. I had no trouble connecting the headphones to any of my devices and including an iPad mini, a Mac Mini and a Galaxy Nexus. I used the headphone to disconnect a call and it worked well. Depending the capability of your phone you maybe able to use the headphones to make a voice call, this worked fine with my Galaxy Nexus .

How do they sound? First I have to say I am not an audiophile so your experience may differ. I thought they sounded good however like a lot of headphones of today the base is emphasized but that is something that I like. I did hear some crackling and hiss noise while I was listening to one song yesterday, however at the time I had walked downstairs away from the device and it was a song I had ripped at a lower bit level. The one thing I appreciate is that if you are having a problem with the Bluetooth connection there is an audio cable included that you can use to connect it to your device and use it as a wired device. According to the website the headphone audio play back will last up to twelve hours on a full charge and about ten hours of talk time. Unfortunately your device’s battery will drain much quicker than the headphone, so when you are not using it, make sure to turn it off along with the Bluetooth connection on your device. It takes about four hours to charge the headphones. They do fold up, however not as flat as I would like them to, they do however fit nicely in the supplied carrying bag.

Overall despite some hiccups I am happy I purchased the Runaway Bluetooth Headsets. They are available on the website and other online stores including Amazon from around $70.00 up to $99.00 depending on the color you choose. I was fortunate enough to get them for almost half price by getting them through the Lockergnome Deal Website. If you are looking for a decent pair of on ear stereo Bluetooth headphones I would take a look at the Meelectronic Runaway AF32 Headsets.

Vivick’s Latest Gadgets

Vivick HeadphonesCanadian firm Vivick produce a wide range of gadgets, covering everything from iPhone cases, laptop accessories and AV gear. Andy and Scott look at three of the latest products.

On show from Vivick is anLED desk lamp speaker that can be driven via Bluetooth but wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a 70s sci-fi movie. Continuing the theme, they had a Bluetooth headset which looked a bit more up-to-date but I can’t comment on the sound quality. Finally, they showed off a combo-laptop / USB rechargeable battery which had some really good design ideas. It seems to be a brand new product as it doesn’t yet feature on their website, but if you are a battery hogging traveller, keep an eye out for it.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Scott Ertz of F5 Live for the TechPodcast Network, who should be commended for keeping the interview going.

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Stick-n-Find

Sticknfindinhand575If you are like me and put your keys down and then forget where you put them then Stick-n-find may be the device for you. Stick-n-find is a sticker with Bluetooth embedded in it. Stick-n-find is a small device about the size of a quarter and will stay on almost anything you put it on. It comes with a replaceable watch battery which will last about a year. There is a Stick-n-find app for both for both Android and iOS devices that pair with the app.

As you come closer to an item that has a tag on it you will see the indicator getting closer to the target point on the phone. You can also turn on a sound and light indicator through the app so that when you are very near to the device that you looking for the sticker will admit a beeping sound and a small light. Stick-n-find has also added the ability to create a virtual leash. The way the virtual leash works is you create a distance from you that you will allow a sticker to go and if the sticker goes past that distance and alarm will go off in the app. You can also have an alert go off when a sticker gets within a set range.

Stick-n-find was an indiego project The retail price for two stickers should be around forty-nine dollars and it should be available beginning March. To find out more information about Stick-n-find visit their website.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.and Interview by Jamie Davies of the MedicCast and the Health Tech Weekly

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Casio G-Shock with iPhone Mobile Link

Casio G-Shock GB6900AAFor digital watches, there’s really only one range to look at – Casio G-Shock. From day-to-day wear to aviation and snowsports, there’s a G-Shock watch that will fulfil your needs. The GB6900AA takes this to a new level, providing incoming call and email notifications from your iPhone. Don straps it on.

The GB6900AA has all the features of a rugged digital watch, but it also has a low-power Bluetooth transceiver, allowing the watch to connect to the Apple iPhone and display or buzz on incoming phone calls and new emails. As a security feature the watch will alert the owner if they get too far, reminding them not to leave their phone behind.

The GB6900AA is currently only certified to work with the iPhone 4S and 5, and there’s Casio’s “G-SHOCK+” application to be downloaded from the App Store. However, an Android version is expected later in the year. Available now in limited numbers for $180.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Zooka Bluetooth Speakers

Zooka Anyone who has a tablet, or smart phone knows that their one weakness is their speakers. One solution is to use a speaker dock. The problem with this solution is that it requires an outlet to plug the dock into. This is not very useful if you are in a park or on a beach, the other solution is to use Bluetooth Speakers. This is where the Zooka speakers by Carbon Audio Inc come in. They are Bluetooth speakers made of medical grade silicon. There are no mechanical moving parts and no dock. It slides on to a tablet or top of a notebook. It was designed so it doesn’t hide the iSight camera. There is a kickstand which tucks away into the side and screws into the back. It includes:

  1. Two 30 mm speaker drivers at either end of the Zooka
  2. 30ft Bluetooth Range
  3. Rechargeable battery, providing up to 8 hours of playing
  4. Frequency response of 150 to 20,000 Hz

The Zooka is available at Target, Best Buy Amazon and at Carbon Audio Inc. It comes in a variety of colors and is priced at $99.00

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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iHealth Blood Pressure Monitor at CES

iHealth LogoJamie chats to Adam about the iHealth blood pressure monitor, an FDA-approved device that uses Bluetooth to transfer health data to a smartphone or tablet.

The new version  of the iHealth blood pressure monitor builds takes the original docking device and adds wireless data transfer using Bluetooth. The first version integrated with iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads but the Bluetooth feature expands the potential of the monitor to other smartphones and tablets. A cloud service complements the free app providing tracking and monitoring features and integration with other healthcare systems.

Aimed squarely at the home health market, there are two different models priced at $79 and $99, which is very affordable. Check out iHealth’s online store.

Interview by Jamie Davies of Health Tech Weekly.

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