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Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews

Plantronics Explorer 330 Bluetooth Headset

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

Plantronics has introduced several great Bluetooth headsets for mobile phones in the past few years and they continue to create new designs and incorporate new audio technologies. There are three major series currently available in Plantronics’ mono Bluetooth headset portfolio: the Discovery series, the Voyager series and the Explorer series. While the Discovery 655 and the Discovery 640 are the high-end choices, the Explorer series is designed to offer easy-to-use and affordable Bluetooth headsets. There are three headsets in the series presently: the Plantronics Explorer 330, 340 and 350. Other than a slight difference in form factor, the main difference among these three models is what comes in the box. All three models have Bluetooth v1.2, support Headset and Handsfree Profiles, have an omni-directional mic, weigh 0.6 ounces and come with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that provides 8 hours of talk time. The Explorer 330 comes with just the wall charger while the Explorer 350 adds a car charger and cradle along with dashboard mounts. The Plantronics Explorer 330 comes in two colors: gray and dusty pink.

Plantronics Explorer 330

Design

While the Discovery series is designed to stay in your ear without earhooks, the Explorer series has earhooks. The Explorer 330 stays steadily in the ear thanks to the comfortable hook and a rubber earpiece tip that rest in your ear. Make sure that you tilt the boom so that it points toward your mouth. The headset does feel heavier than the extremely lightweight and small Discovery 655, but is still comfortable if you wear it throughout the day. Since the Explorer series is designed for quick action and ease of use, the Explorer 330 has only one control button on the front which functions as power on/off, pairing, volume control (rocker) and other phone feature controls. There is an LED above the control button to indicate pairing, battery and in call status.

 

 

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A bright silver strip in the middle highlights the pink or gray faceplate. The curves and color combo make the headset look elegant. The large and comfy ear hook mounted on the back of the headset can work for either ear. You will find a charging jack below the earhook mount and the mic at the tip of the headset boom. The charging jack looks like it can use chargers for other Plantronics headsets such as the Discovery series and the Plantronics Pulsar 590 series, but the output is slightly different: it’s 5.0v 180mA as opposed to 5.0v 350mA on other Plantronics headsets.

Plantronics Explorer 330

Plantronics Discovery 655 and the Explorer 330

The Plantronics Explorer 330 measures in at 2.6 inches long and 0.75 inch in width at the widest point. It’s a good proportion if you have a mid-wide face. It’s noticeably bigger than the diminutive Plantronics Discovery series.

Pairing and Features

The Plantronics Explorer 330 has Bluetooth v1.2 and supports both Hands-Free and Headset Profiles. We paired it with quite a few phones and the Bluetooth headset paired with every phone with ease. Press the call control button (the only button on the headset) while the headset is turned off and hold it until the LED flashes red and blue alternately. Discover the headset on your mobile phone (you will see “3xxPlantronics” on most phones) and enter “0000” as the default pass code.

Plantronics Explorer 330

The Plantronics Explorer 330 supports common features such as 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 plays ringtones for incoming calls and has audio alerts for phone connections/disconnections, low battery warning as well as LED indications for these events.

Voice Quality and Range

The voice quality of the Explorer 330 was very good on all phones we tested it with. Both incoming and outgoing calls are clear and loud. Phone features and voice dialing over Bluetooth headset work as claimed. The range was unexpectedly poor with all devices except the T-Mobile Wing. Here are the details when working with some popular phones:

When working with the Treo 700p on Sprint (Bluetooth v1.2)
The Treo 700p isn’t the friendliest fella when it comes to working with Bluetooth headsets, but the Explorer 330 had great incoming and outgoing voice quality when working with the Treo 700p. Not many headsets can make that claim. The DSP is very powerful and our callers said the call quality on their end was very good and they thought we were in quiet environment when we were actually surround by noise from small waterfalls, passing trucks and traffic. The volume is good on both ends of calls. The only thing that’s horrendous is the range. We could only get 5 feet range between the Treo and the headset before the calls start to suffer from crackling sounds and breakup. So be sure to wear your Treo 700p on the same side of your body as the headset and don’t go far from it when in a call via the headset.

When working with the BlackBerry 8830 on Verizon (Bluetooth v2.0)
The voice quality on the BlackBerry is less full than on the Treo 700p, but is still clear. The DSP did wonders again when working with the BlackBerry, blocking all the road noise in calls. Voice command via the Explorer 330 works like a charm. You can dial numbers and check status on the BlackBerry wirelessly using the Bluetooth headset. The Bluetooth range with the BlackBerry 8830 is also short, though not as bad as the Treo 700p, and it can reach about 8-10 feet.

When working with the T-Mobile Wing (Bluetooth v2.0)
The T-Mobile Wing has an excellent Bluetooth radio and it shows when working with the Explorer 330. The sound quality is excellent, beating out the Treo and the BlackBerry. Voice is full, nature and loud. The DSP works very well in noisy environments. Voice dialing via the headset using Microsoft Voice Command works likes a charm. The voice recognition is very fast. The strong Bluetooth radio on the T-Mobile Wing shows in the range between the phone and the Explorer 330 headset. We got over 20 feet easily in range which is by far the best range among all the phones we tested with the 330.

When working with the Samsung M510 on Sprint (Bluetooth v2.0)
The Explorer 330 had equally great sound quality when used with the Samsung M510 as it did with the Wing. The sound is full, clear and loud. Both incoming and outgoing voice sound better on this phone than others we’ve tested. The DSP again performed well. Voice dialing using the VoiceSignal’s voice command software on the Samsung works very well with fast voice recognition speed; faster than the BlackBerry 8830. The range again is the culprit here, getting about 8 feet between the phone and the headset. A shame really.

Battery Life

The Plantronics Explorer 330 has an integrated Lithium Ion battery that’s rechargeable using the included AC charger. The charging jack on the headset will fit most recent Plantronics headset chargers, but as stated before the output is slightly different with 5.0v 180mA, which is lower than the output on the Discovery 655’s 5.0v 350mA. A full charge will take about 2 hours via AC. The claimed talk time per charge is up to 8 hours and we got about 6.5-7 hours in our tests. The claimed standby time is 10 days which is just slightly over the target. The battery life is very good by Bluetooth headset standards.

Conclusion

The Plantronics Explorer 330 wins in voice quality, ease of use and long battery life. The affordable price makes it easy to get a hands free solution for your phone. The audio technology is superb and the headset has smooth and elegant style.

Pro: Comfortable to wear, good audio quality, strong DSP, easy to operate and long battery life.

Con: With the exception of the T-Mobile Wing, the headset has terrible Bluetooth range. No mute in calls.

Package contains: headset, AC charger, User’s Guide and safety guide.

Technical Specs:
-Bluetooth v1.2
-Profiles supported: Hands-free and Headset Profiles
-Claimed talk time: Up to 8 hours on a charge
-Claimed standby time: Up to 240 hours
-Headset weight: 0.6 oz. (17 grams)
-Battery: Lithium Ion.
-AC adapter: 100-240v

List Price: $79.95

Web site: www.plantronics.com

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