April 8, 2004 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The Cardo Systems allways Bluetooth
headset is built on the CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio) chipset and
has a unique design that combines two types of headset designs
into one: the headset disk is large enough to cover your ear and
block the ambient noise and the ear bud piece extends into your
ear to provide better sound quality. Another feature that makes
the allways headset stand out is that it comes with a clip for
wearing with eyeglasses.
The allways Bluetooth headset has a rather large
disk compared to some of the Bluetooth headsets we've seen, such
as Motorola HS810 or Bluespoon
Chameleon. The front of the disk is actually a multi-function
button that will turn on/off the headset and pairing mode as
well as perform various functions when you are on a call. For
those fashion-conscious mobile users, you will be happy to know
that the cover panel of the disk is user-changeable. The allways
package includes two covers (blue and copper) in addition to
the silver cover that comes with the headset. The short boom
extends out about 1 in. from the disk. At the top of the back
of the disk, you will find an ear bud style speaker that has
a very smooth rubber cover. At the base of the ear bud where
it meets the disk, you will find an A/C connector that's hidden
under a rubber cover. When you charge the headset, lift the rubber
cover and plug in the included A/C adapter.
The allways headset has one LED that's on the side
of the disk. The LED provides you with the visual status such
as power on/off, pairing mode and charging. On the other side
of the disk, you will find volume up and down rocker and a mute
button. These buttons are easy to reach during a call. Below
the ear bud on the back, you will find a duct where you can slide
the ear hook in for either the right or left ear. The ear hook
is large and comfortable to wear. If the ear hook is in your
way when wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses, you can simple switch
to the included eyeglass clip that will clip the headset to the
arm of your glasses. The headset feels quite comfortable when
it's attached to the eyeglass clip. However the clip did have
trouble staying on eyeglasses with very thin wire arms. Regardless
of which method you are using to wear the headset, the 0.6 oz.
weight makes it easy to wear it for a long period of time. The
allways package also includes a hard plastic case with belt clip,
and the case is big enough for the headset, the clips and multiple
Deals and Shopping!
The allways headset supports both headset and hands-free
profiles. Pairing the allways with Bluetooth cell phones is quite easy.
We tested it with the Nokia 3650, Sony
Ericsson P800 and the Orange SPV E200, and all paired without a
glitch. We also tested the headset with the iPAQ
5555, which has a headset profile. The voice quality is quite good
when connecting to both cell phones and landlines. We did not however
get the claimed 10-meter (30 feet) range. Voice quality suffered when
we put some distance between the phone and the headset (high noise
levels and voice breakup). So keep your phone on your belt, in your
pocket or purse if you want the best voice quality. The allways headset
supports voice activation and redial functions.
If you don't have a Bluetooth enabled cell phone but wish
to use the headset, Cardo Systems sells a Bluetooth adapter that can
turn your handset into a Bluetooth enabled phone. If you have a Bluetooth
adapter for your laptop or desktop computer that supports these profiles,
you can even use the allways headset for Voice over IP, voice recording
or MP3 playback (not stereo).
The allways headset has a Li-Polymer battery. The claimed
200-hour standby time seems to be on target, our headset made just about
200 hours. The talk time was about 5 hours in our test. The allways headset
comes with a dual voltage (110V and 220V) charger and it takes about
2-3 hours to fully charge a drained headset. The LED will turn from red
to blue when the headset is charged.
The allways headset scores high with its design that combines
a large ear-cover disk and an ear bud to provide maximum noise blocking.
The headset is easy to pair and supports dual profiles. The voice quality
is very good when keeping the headset within several feet of the handset.
Battery life is very good compared to other Bluetooth headsets except
the Logitech Bluetooth headset which
is the champ. The eyeglass clip design is innovative and makes the headset
quite comfortable to wear. The allways is light at 0.6 oz. The only fault
we found in our tests is the limited range: it didn't come close to 30
feet, but 5 feet was fine.
The package includes the allways headset, wall charger,
ear-loop, and eyeglass/sunglass clip, carry case with belt clip, 3 designer
covers and a User Manual in 4 languages as well as a Quick-Start Guide.