Hands-on review: Plantronics M100 Bluetooth headset

Yesterday, Plantronics debuted its latest Bluetooth headset, the M100. Today, we have a review. Take a look.

Yesterday, Plantronics debuted its latest Bluetooth headset, the M100. Today, we have a review. Take a look.

DESIGN

The plastic packaging is a little tough to get open, but the see-through aspect is helpful, especially for prospective buyers. Consumers can get a 360 degree view of the M100 without having to make any effort, which is particularly useful when spending a lot of cash on a tiny accessory.

Additionally, staying in tune with Plantronics' Santa Cruz roots, all of the packaging is made from is made from most recyclable materials possible, and everything can be recycled afterwards as well.

As for the M100 itself, it's much more light and slim than one would imagine. Weighing just nine grams and measuring 8mm thick, this Bluetooth headset is extremely light in the palm of my hand and doesn't weigh down on my ears. There are three differently-sized gel ear tips included in each box, which is very necessary as there are many consumers (myself included) that have trouble with the standard earbud size seen on most headsets.

There's also a professional and sophisticated touch to the M100 with its charcoal gray exterior. The backside, however, leaves room for personal expression. That color also bleeds to the front as an accent around the edges. The two currently available color options are electric blue (only at Best Buy) and radiant red (only at the Apple Store). Green and pink are on the way.

SET-UP

The best thing to do first after opening the box of a brand new portable gadget is to charge the battery. Knowing when it is fully charged is simple. The LED light appears in red, that indicates the battery is charging. A blue light appears when it is ready to be disconnected. (There's actually several different light flashes and tones, all of which can be identified in the user's manual.)

Just to get the battery life info out of the way, a full charge provides six hours of call time and 10 days on standby. A full charge typically takes 90 minutes, while a quick 30-minute charge can get you a decent two hours.

As the M100 is supposed to be compatible with all cell phone systems (BlackBerry, Android, iPhone OS, etc.), I tested the prototype out with my new iPhone 4.

Following the instructions in the user's manual (which ships in English and Spanish), the set-up is straight forward and similar to connecting any other Bluetooth-enabled device. (FYI, this one uses Bluetooth v2.1+EDR.) The M100 is also equipped with Multipoint technology, so it can be registered to and receive calls from two phones at once.

USE

I was surprised by how easy it is to use the M100. The set-up with my iPhone was nearly instant, and figuring out the buttons (even without the user's guide) was fairly intuitive. There are also immediate voice commands to get you started. Some of the announcements include when the M100 is turned on/off, adjusting the volume level, and whether or not the M100 is connected to another device.

The test call went smoothly as well, with the recipient of my call saying that the audio quality was on par with my iPhone (although that's not hard to do...). That's not to say the audio quality on either end was stellar, but it was sufficient.

Answering and ending a call is simple: just one tap on the center button in the image below. Don't press that button too fast (say two immediate taps), as you'll accidentally redial the last person from your phone's call long, which I did.

AVAILABILITY

Being a mid-tier product, the M100 is priced at $79.99. Plantronics refrained from setting the price too high as the company is aiming to attract first-time Bluetooth headset users as well. There's even a diagram for newbies on how to wear the Bluetooth based on which ear you choose to use, and this device is definitely something that could work for everyone.

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