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Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews

Cardo scala-700 Bluetooth Headset

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

Cardo Systems is no rookie when it comes to making Bluetooth headsets. We reviewed the Cardo allways Bluetooth headset back in 2004 which scored high on design and voice quality compared to the Bluetooth headsets it competed with back then. In 2005, Cardo improved sound quality with WindGuard technology in the Cardo scala 500 Bluetooth headset which turned a good product into an even better product. In the same year, Cardo made a Bluetooth headset system for motorcycle riders, the Scala-Rider, which impressed our motorcycle-riding editors. The scala-700 Bluetooth headset is the latest offering from Cardo and it features Bluetooth 2.0, an even smaller form than the scala-500, long battery life in both talk time and standby, good voice quality with noise reduction and speaker booster and support for voice commands over headset.

Cardo scala-700

Design

The Cardo scala-700 has a very similar design to the scala 500 but it has a smaller body and a thinner ear hook. It’s also lighter at 0.42 oz. compared to the 0.58 oz. scala 500. Like the scala 500, the scala 700 Bluetooth headset has a smooth curvy body that looks good and is comfortable to wear. The scala 700 has silver housing with a shiny black center plate where the control button lives, and a black jog wheel for volume adjustment and pairing. You will find a clear LED window near the tip on the front of the headset and the mic hole on the back. Even though the scala 700 doesn’t have an in-ear design like the Jabra BT250, the headset actually stays in your ear quite securely thanks to the raised earpiece that extends into your ear and the curved body that rests partially in your outer ear. The thin ear hook can be used on either the left or right ear and it’s rigid enough to keep the headset in place yet light and smooth. Thanks to its lightweight and comfortable design, we had no trouble wearing the headset throughout a working day without tiring out our ears. Below the jog wheel on top of the headset, you will find a mini-USB port for charging the unit with the included A/C charger and the USB charging cable. The LED will flash red while charging and turn off when it’s fully charged.

Cardo scala 700

 

 

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Pairing and Features

The scala 700 Bluetooth headset supports both Hands-Free and Headset profiles, and it can store pairing info for up to 8 mobile phones. To pair the headset, turn the headset off then hold down the jog wheel until the LED light flashes red and blue alternately. Use your phone to discover the headset and pair the default pass code is 0000). We tested the headset with a variety of phones including the Samsung Trace, the LG CU500, the Treo 680 and the BlackBerry Pearl. The scala 700 easily paired with all phones except the LG CU500. It couldn’t connect to the phone though the LG had no trouble pairing with other Bluetooth headsets including the Plantronics Pulsar Bluetooth stereo.

While the scala 700 can keep track of 8 mobile phones after pairing with them, it will automatically reconnect with the last phone you paired it with. There is a special feature on the scala 700 that’s not yet commonly seen on Bluetooth headset: working with 2 active mobile phones without a re-connection process. This means you can swap between the two most recently paired phones by double pressing the jog wheel. The headset connections will flip between the two. This is a very nice feature for those have work and personal phones (or weekday and weekend phones) but only want to use one headset.

Cardo scala 500 and 700

The cardo scala 500 left, and the scala-700 on the right

The Cardo scala 700 supports common features such as call muting, transfer voice back to the phone and volume adjustment. And if your mobile phone has Hands-Free profile (most phones made in the past two years do), you can use the headset to voice dial, use call waiting, conference call and other advanced features. The scala 700 also offers button lock so that it doesn’t accidentally dial when you store it in a pocket or bag. We tested all these features and the headset performed well. Though you might want to practice a bit before using several advanced features to avoid pressing the wrong controls during a call.

Voice Quality and Range

The voice quality has generally improved on the scala 700, although the scala 500 had good voice quality. The incoming voice quality was great on most of the phones we tested it with clear sound and effective noise canceling. Outgoing voice varies, ranging from very good to having echo effects, depending the phone we tested it with. Volume isn’t the loudest we’ve heard on a Bluetooth headset, but is good enough for most of environments including driving on a highway. Range between the phone and the headset has dramatically improved for all the phones we tested. The headset can get 15-20 feet consistently with most phones. Here is a tally on some of the handsets we tested the scala 700 with:

When working with the LG Chocolate on Verizon (Bluetooth v1.1)
The incoming and outgoing voice quality is good and sound is clear. Volume is quite loud. The range when working with the Chocolate is the best we’ve seen on a Bluetooth headset: over 20 feet. Of course you can still have a conversation beyond the perfect range, but you will hear noticeable cracking and artificial noise and even drop audio.

When working with the Samsung t519 on T-Mobile (Bluetooth v1.2)  
The incoming voice quality is good, though not as good as the Chocolate phone on Verizon, and the volume is loud on the Samsung. The outgoing voice via the Cardo scala-700 Bluetooth headset has some echoing that sounds like you are on a good speakerphone. You can get about 20 feet.

When working with the LG CU500 on Cingular (Bluetooth v1.1)
The LG CU500 has integrated Bluetooth v1.1 that supports Headset and Hands-Free profiles. The LG paired with all headsets with ease, but couldn’t connect to the scala 700. The CU500 works fine with the scala 500 and had great voice clarity but low volume on both incoming and outgoing calls.

When working with the Treo 680 on Cingular (Bluetooth v1.2)
Voice quality via the scala 700 Bluetooth headset is decent with some slight white noise, good volume on both incoming and outgoing voice, and it has better range than all previous Treos. Veteran Treo users are accustomed to as little as 5 feet of range with their Bluetooth headsets. We got 15-20 feet between the Treo 680 and the scala-700 before we started to notice crackling and a little voice degradation.

Battery life

The Cardo scala-700 Bluetooth headset has a built-in rechargeable Li-Polymer battery that’s not user removable. Battery life on the scala 500 was quite good, but the scala 700 improves a little bit with talk time of over 8.5 hours and over a week of standby time. Those are longer talk and standby times than the Motorola H700 and similar to the Samsung WEP-150. You can turn off the headset if you know you won’t be using it for a long period of time. The scala 700 comes with a world AC charger (100-240v.) that connects to the mini-USB charging port on the scala, and a USB cable that allows you to charge the headset with your laptop or desktop computer. It takes about 2-3 hours to fully charge the headset.

Conclusion

A good Bluetooth headset has just gotten better: the scala-700 is smaller and lighter than its predecessor and very comfortable to wear. It comes with a good set of features including voice dialing over the headset and multi-pairing. Overall improved voice quality and much improved range. Good battery life ensures the headset lasts twice as long as most phones, which is handy if you wish to use it with two phones.

Pro:
Attractive looking and modern design;
Small and lightweight, comfortable to wear for long period of time;
Supports most features such as mute, voice transfer and two BT profiles; plus advanced features such as voice dialing over BT, conference call, call waiting and multi-pairing;
Good battery life.

Con:
Doesn’t work with the LG CU500;
Outgoing voice has an echo effect on the Samsung t519 (Trace).

Package contains the scala 700 Bluetooth headset with an ear hook, a compact world A/C charger (100-240v.), USB cable for charging via computer, carry case for the headset and a printed Quick-Start Guide.

Technical Specs:

-Bluetooth v2.0, Cambridge Silicone Radio chipset.
-Profiles supported: Hands-free and Headset profiles.
-Claimed talk time: Up to 10 hours on a charge.
-Claimed standby time: Up to 240 hours.
-Range: 33 feet.
-Headset size: 2.1 x 1 x 0.9 inches.
-Headset weight: 0.42 oz.
-Battery: Li-Polymer. AC adapter: 100-240v.

List Price: $69.99

Web site: www.cardowireless.com

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