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Cardo scala 500 Bluetooth Headset

Posted Feb. 2005 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

Last year we reviewed the Cardo Systems’ last generation Bluetooth headset, the allways Bluetooth headset. This year, Cardo Systems has released a new generation Bluetooth wireless headset, the scala-500, with a much sleeker design and longer battery life. The sound quality has been improved as well thanks to its WindGuard technology. You will still get the eyeglass/sunglass hook if you don’t want the ear loop to compete with your glasses and only Cardo’s Bluetooth headsets provide this feature among all the Bluetooth wireless headsets we’ve reviewed.

The scala-500 has a modern sleek design that accentuates the curves with silver and dark grey colors alternately covering the front face. The back and the ear loop are grey and black. There is a small clear plastic window on the front of the headset for the LED. The large silver button is the multi-function button that can accept, transfer, reject or initiate calls. The LED light indicates battery and charging status. There is a jog wheel on top of the headset that will also perform multiple functions including turning the headset on and off, putting the headset in pairing mode, changing the volume and mute sound during a call. I prefer having two multi-function controls since that’s less confusing, especially the two multi-function controls are well designed on the scala-500.

The Cardo headset is about 2.5 inches long and weighs 0.58 ounces which feels quite light. The speaker on the back of the headset is raised for getting closer to your ear canal, but it doesn’t have the in-ear style like the Jabra 250. The ear loop can be inserted into the clip holder for either the left or right ear. If you wear glasses and prefer not to have both the eyeglass arm and the headset ear loop behind your ear, you can use the included glass clip to hold the headset on the arm of your glasses. This option may sound strange to those who have not used one, but it actually feels more secure wearing the headset using the clip than the ear hook.

In addition to the eyeglass clip option, Cardo has put a lot of thought into how users would carry and charge the headset. The scala-500 package includes an elastic neck strap that has two miniature dog-leash clips, and a carrying sleeve as well as a charging base. You can use the dog-leash clips to hook on the carry sleeve that will hold your headset securely and it has a miniature belt clip that you can use to clip the carrying sleeve to your shirt or belt. If you prefer not to use the sleeve, you can clip the headset to your neck strap directly by using the small hole on top of the scala-500, which allows you to use the headset while it’s strapped to your neck lace. Very convenient feature!

The scala-500 supports both Hands-free and Headset profiles and successfully paired with all the devices we used for testing, including the HP iPAQ 6315, palmOne Treo 650, Nokia N-Gage QD, and the Audiovox SMT5600. To pair the headset, hold the jog dial until the LED alternately flashes blue and red, discover the headset on your device and use “0000” as the pass key to connect. Once the headset and your device are connected you are ready to use it to make calls. Depending on the profile your phone supports, you can use features such as voice dialing, redial, reject calls and mute functions through the headset.

The voice quality on the scala-500 is very good. When calling other cell phones, the incoming and outgoing voice qualities were very good and had loud volume which you can adjust by turning the jog dial. Be aware however, when you adjust the incoming call volume levels, the caller on the other end can hear the jog dial turning beeps. When placing calls to the land lines, your caller can hear a slight echo of their own voice. This echo was mild when we used the Nokia N-Gage QD, but a lot more noticeable when using the Treo 650 in our test. One of the major improvements in this new generation Cardo headset is the WindGuard technology which blocks wind noise. If you drive a convertible or work in outdoor environment, this headset can reduce the wind noise in outgoing sound dramatically. The only other headset that uses a similar wind-blocking technology is the Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth headset, but the scala-500 has louder volume in general.

The range between the headset and devices is one of the best we have seen. The Nokia N-Gage, the iPAQ h6315 and the Audiovox SMT5600 could get up to 30 feet and the voice quality shows no degradation or added noise in the first 20-25 feet. The Treo 650 didn’t get that long of a range with the scala-500, but we must point out that Treo 650 has much shorter range with most Bluetooth headsets. You can get about 12 feet with the Treo 650.

The scala-500 comes with a rechargeable Lithium-Polymer battery and a charging dock. It takes about a couple of hours to charge the headset after the initial charge and the scala-500 has one of the longest talk times we’ve seen. Since the WindGuard technology is not digital and won’t use precious battery power, the headset can get about 7.5-8 hours of actually talk time and one week of standby time. When the battery is running low, the LED will flash red.


cardo bluetooth headsets







Pro: Sleek and stylish design that’s built on and improved upon the last generation Bluetooth headset. Light weight. Easy to pair and easy to use thanks to two multi-function buttons. Voice quality is very good on all devices and has good volume. The WindGuard technology should make this headset an attractive solution to users who work in windy environments. Great range and long battery life.

Con: The headset is comfortable to wear, but those who like the in-ear style design won’t like the scala-500.

Package contains the scala-500 headset, an ear loop, an eye/sunglass clip, a charging cradle, a travel size wall charger, a neckband and a carry-sleeve with a clip, a mini-CD contains User Manual in five major Western languages, a printed Quick Guide and a warranty/registration card.

Price: $79.95 with 2 year limited warranty




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