Few Bluetooth headsets have become as popular as the Plantronics Voyager 510, and for good reason. When Plantronics introduced the Voyager 510 over two years ago, its sound quality and day-long comfort made it an instant success. Now Plantronics has released the Voyager 520, the long-anticipated successor to the Voyager 510, and their latest offering is certainly worth a close look. That said, the Voyager 520 is far more than a simple upgrade over the Voyager 510. Plantronics went above and beyond with their latest headset, completely redesigning the ergonomics as well as the electronics. Whereas the Voyager 510 was an over-the-ear device, the Voyager 520 is a completely in-ear headset. The Plantronics Voyager 520 lists for $99.95, but sells for less.
The Voyager 520 is stylish, especially when compared to the cyborg-like Voyager 510. Featuring a glossy black case and shiny metal and carbon fiber accents, the Voyager 520 could pass for a piece of jewelry. There are several specific subtleties that make the Voyager 520’s design stand out. Plantronics wisely decided to make the ear loop out of a soft, clear plastic, which helps conceal the extra material when in use. The soft silicone earpiece is designed to fit a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes, and its sloping, funnel-like shape assures a snug fit for ears small and large. However, we do wish Plantronics had provided a few different sizes for us to experiment with. The headset can be used on either the left or right ear; all it takes is a simple flip and turn of the ear loop.
The headset isn’t exactly easy to put on, though. When receiving a call, we found ourselves struggling to get the ear loop behind our ear and the silicone earpiece inserted into our ear canal before the phone stopped ringing. Once in place, though, it’s not likely to move. We tried our best to shake off the Voyager 520, but despite our efforts, it remained securely attached to our craniums.
There is a single button on the face of the Voyager 520 which performs all of the necessary functions, including turning the headset on and off, answering and ending calls, and adjusting the volume. Unfortunately, the button is made of a slippery silver plastic which makes operating the headset awkward when it is on to your ear. Plus, the button itself is rather stiff, so you have to hold the headset with two fingers while you operate it with another.
We were delighted by Plantronics’ choice of a charging cradle. The cradle is simply a piece of plastic designed to hold the charging cable in order to facilitate desktop charging. Since the charging cable is completely independent of the cradle, it isn’t necessary to bring the bulky cradle with you when traveling.
Pairing and Features
Just like the other Plantronics headsets we’ve used, the Voyager 520 pairs quickly and without a hiccup. Plantronics’ QuickPair technology automatically puts the headset into pairing mode when it is first turned on. The headset is now discoverable, and can be used with any phone that supports a hands-free Bluetooth profile. Once the headset is paired, the QuickPair mode is disabled until the headset is unpaired.
Voice Quality and Range
The Voyager 520 benefits greatly from Plantronics’ AudioIQ technology. The Voyager 520 did a great job of filtering out background noise, especially in busy city environments. However, our listeners did notice a fair amount of wind noise, despite Plantronics’ claims of a windscreen technology.
The Voyager 520’s range is decent as far as Bluetooth headsets go. One thing is certain- it’s nowhere near the advertised range of 33 feet. We got an average of 10 feet of signal with the headset, which is more than adequate for most uses.
We ran into a few bumps when pairing the Voyager 520 with the Apple iPhone. Initial pairing worked well, but we had trouble getting the iPhone to recognize the Voyager 520 when the headset went out of and then reentered range. Most of the time, all it took was a click of the Voyager 520’s button for the iPhone to recognize that the device was within range again. We got around 8 feet of signal when using the Voyager 520 with the Apple iPhone.
We didn’t experience the same problems with the S710a as we did with the Apple iPhone. The Sony Ericsson phone did a great job of noticing whenever the Voyager 520 was ready to be used. This wasn’t a surprise, though, as we’ve had good experiences with the Sony Ericsson Bluetooth profile in the past. Range was better, too- around 15 feet.
We were able to pair the Voyager 520 with the BlackBerry 8800 relatively easily, despite BlackBerry’s confusing Bluetooth setup screen. Range was on par with the other phones- we were able to move about 10 feet away from the phone before the Voyager 520 lost connection.
When working with the Motorola RIZR
The Voyager 520 worked well with the rather basic Motorola RIZR. Pairing was achieved in a matter of seconds, but the RIZR had difficulty noticing when the Voyager 520 was no longer in range- around 11 feet away.
The Voyager 520’s battery life can withstand an impressive 8 hours of talk time and over a week of standby. In our tests, it took around 2 hours to recharge the headset from a completely depleted state.
The Voyager 520 is a great headset for mobile professionals or anyone who wants a dependable, long-lasting Bluetooth headset. Plantronics will continue to offer the Voyager 510 along with the Voyager 520, but the newer version is far superior to the old in all respects. The Voyager 520 is a great Bluetooth headset with reliable audio quality, great comfort, and a solid set of features.
Plantronics includes the Voyager 520 Bluetooth Headset, a desktop charging cradle, a 100-240V world AC adapter, and a quick-start manual.
-Profiles supported: Hands-free and Headset Profiles.
-Claimed talk time: Up to 8 hours.
-Claimed standby time: Up to 180 hours.
-Headset size: 2.5 x 0.7 x 0.5 inches
-Battery: Rechargeable Li-Po.
-Ac adapted: 100-240v.