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Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews: Plantronics Discovery 655 Headset

Plantronics Bluetooth Discovery 655

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Review posted January 2007 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

We’ve been long-time fans of Plantronics Bluetooth headsets. We gave the Plantronics M3500 our Editor’s Choice Award back in 2004 for its superior voice quality and good Bluetooth implementation. In retrospective, the M3500 was a large headset compared to the next generation Plantronics Discovery 640 Bluetooth headset which also earned our favor for its elegant design, light weight, comfortable ergonomics and good voice quality. The Plantronics Discovery 655 and the upcoming Discovery 665 are the newest generation Bluetooth headsets for mobile phones. They feature Bluetooth v2.0, the latest Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and audio technology for noise level reduction, sleek design and lightweight.

Plantronics Discovery 655

Plantronics Discovery 655

These photos are the actual size of the 655.

Design

The Plantronics Discovery 655 has changed slightly in form factor from the Discovery 640. Instead of a round body, the Discovery 655 has two flatter sides for a better grip when you operate the headset. The front plate is silver with black rubber strip in the center that covers the volume up and down controls. The call control button, which controls calls, pairing and more, sits on the front top surrounded by a ring of LED light. You will find the mic hole at the tip facing inward toward the speaker’s face, and the charging port is above the mic. The earpiece is raised a bit for a better reach into your ear. Plantronics includes three different sized soft gel ear tips. Be sure to try them all and find the most comfortable size for your ear. The ear tip can be positioned to fit either ear and when you put the headset in, it stays in your ear securely. Like the Discovery 640 the 655 comes with optional ear hook for those who wish to wear the headset over the ear for additional security. Though unless you are doing something that’s requires a lot of head movement, even a speedy walk/light jog through airport trying to catch your plane isn’t going to dislodge the Discovery. It will rest securely in your ear.

The headset is very comfortable to wear and it won’t tire your ear out thanks to the design and the lightweight (1/3 of an ounce).

 

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Pairing and Features

The Plantronics Discovery 655 has Bluetooth 2.0 and it supports both Hands-Free and Headset Profiles. We paired it with quite a few phones and the Discovery 655 paired with every phone with ease. Press the call control button while the headset is turned off and hold it until the LED flashes red and blue alternately. Discover the headset using your mobile phone (you will see “6xxPlantronics” on most phones) and enter “0000” as the default pass code.

The Discovery 655 supports common features such as mute a call, send/end/answer calls using the headset call control button, call rejecting, transfer calls between the headset and mobile phone, as well as last number redialing and voice dialing. The headset has audio alert for incoming calls, low battery, missed calls and more as well as LED indications for these events. Be sure to read the User’s Guide for your most used features. 

Voice Quality and Range

The voice quality has generally improved on the Discovery 655 compared to the Discovery 640 with clearer sound and a more effective DSP (and the 640 was pretty good). The range between the Discovery 655 and cell phones we’ve tested has improved greatly compared to the Discovery 640 series.

When working with the Treo 700p on Sprint (Bluetooth v1.2)
Treo 650 and 700 smartphones have given Bluetooth headsets some tough challenges in the past. Only in the recently released Treo 680 Treo 750, users have found salvation. So we made sure that we tested the Discovery 655 with the Treo 700p. The incoming voice quality on the Treo 700p is good with clear sound and volume is decent. The outgoing voice has a slight underwater effect as reported by our call recipients. The DSP had less of an effect than we expected as you can hear noise loud and clear. The range between the Treo 700p and the Discovery 655 is about 12 feet. Further than 12 feet you will hear loud crackling sound or breakups that render the headset unusable.

When working with the Treo 750 on Cingular (Bluetooth v1.2)
The Plantronics works much better with the Treo 750 as we expected. The call volume is high and both incoming and outgoing voice quality is excellent. The DSP is more effective with the Treo 750. You can still hear some noise in the background, but the DSP reduces it much more, and thus it’s not at all distracting as it is on the Treo 700p. The range between the phone and the headset is also improved with the Treo 750 as we can reach over 20 feet before we start to hear some crackling, even then the crackling sound isn’t nearly as startling.

When working with the LG VX8600 on Verizon (Bluetooth v1.1)
The LG VX8600 has even higher volume than the Treo 750 with clear incoming and outgoing voice. It does have a bit more digital sound compared to the more natural voice quality on the Treo 750. But the slight amplification through the LG isn’t a bad thing. The noise reduction also works well with the LG. The Bluetooth range between the LG VX8600 and the Discovery 655 is about 15-17 feet.

When working with the Samsung BlackJack on Cingular (Bluetooth v2.0)
The Discovery 655 provides the loudest incoming and outgoing audio with the Samsung BlackJack Windows Mobile Smartphone among all the phones we tested it with. The incoming voice is superb with the outgoing voice slightly less so. The noise canceling isn’t as drastic as on the LG VX8600 but enough to be effective. The range between the BlackJack and the Plantronics also out performed every other phone and reached over 25 feet without having noticeable artificial noise, crackling or dropped connections.

When working with the Apple iPhone on Cingular (Bluetooth v2.0 +EDR)
Among headsets we tested with the iPhone, the Discovery 655 had the best outgoing voice quality with clear voice and no digital distortion. Range was about 10-12 feet.

Battery Life

The Plantronics Discovery 655 has an integrated Lithium Ion battery that’s rechargeable using the included AC charger. Unlike other Bluetooth headsets but similar to all Plantronics Discovery line of Bluetooth headsets, the Discovery 655 comes with a charging pocket (it looks like a small tube) into which you insert the headset to charge it. You can also store the headset even when not charging. The charging pocket on the Discovery 655 has a lapel clip that allows you to clip the headset to your pocket or other convenient places. The charging pocket will also vibrate when you first plug in to charge the headset and when a call comes in while the headset is in the pocket. It takes about 2-3 hours to fully charge the headset. The LED light will flash red while charging and stop flashing when fully charged.

size comparison

Size comparison: Plantronics Discovery 640, Discovery 655, Samsung WEP200 and the Scala 700.

While lacking the car-charging adapter found on the Discovery 665, the Discovery 655 does come with USB charging adapter and cable. It’s worth to point out that you can use the same AC charger that comes with most recent Plantronics headsets including the Discover 640 series and even the Pulsar. There is a third charging option: the Discovery 655 comes with a charging adapter for a single AAA battery included). It’s always nice to have an option to use the good ole battery for those times you are without AC or a notebook; or if you are my Dad who is allergic to chargers, the very idea of owning another gadget that requires a charger can make him sneeze.

The battery runtime on the Discovery 655 won’t lead the pack with its claimed 3.5 hours of talk time and 3.3 days of standby. The Cardo Scala 700 and the Samsung WEP200 can last at least 7 hours of talk time if not more. But with added AAA battery charger, you can extend the run time well over 8 hours and much longer standby. There is an option to turn off the DSP which saves quite a bit of power, a viable solution for those who make and receive calls mainly in quiet environments.

Conclusion

Plantronics did a good job with the audio technology in the Discovery series and the Discovery 655 has a good implementation of that technology including an effective DSP system. While it doesn’t come with the “space-age” 640 silver box, it does come with a nice selection of accessories. If you are looking for a small and lightweight headset with good audio, the Discovery 655 should be on your short list.

Pro: Comfortable to wear, good audio quality on most phones, easy to operate. The AAA battery charging option is good for business and road trips.

Con: DSP isn’t perfect. Doesn’t support use with multiple devices at once (but it does support multiple pairings).

List Price: $149.95

Web site: www.plantronics.com

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