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Plantronics Voyager PRO HD Bluetooth Headset

It's inexorable -- computing power is cramming into smaller and smaller devices, as our tools become more and more intelligent and connected. We now expect smartphones to deliver serious computing power and capacity for running rather interesting apps. And now the same kinds of features and even programmability are coming to Bluetooth headsets.

For example, the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD Bluetooth headset has voice prompts, automatically picks up a call when it senses it is put on your ear, and supports the Plantronics MyHeadset apps to update and customize its functions.

The Voyager PRO HD is the latest iteration of this well-established over-the-ear design (see earlier post). It rests comfortably on your ear, so it's particularly good for extended use, whether moving around at the office or in the car.

The new "HD" designation refers to support for high-quality streaming audio -- With a Bluetooth wireless connection to today's smartphones, you may find yourself spending much more time listening to audio playback then you do talking on the phone.

Bluetooth also provides control signals between the headset and the phone, so you can press the buttons to play or mute the music, answer a call, transfer the call between the phone and the headset, and even activate voice dialing (or the Siri intelligent personal assistant on the iPhone 4S). The Voyager also displays a battery meter on the iPhone or Android 3.0+ display.

The addition of voice prompts is also quite helpful -- they are much better than trying to count beeps or track tones in order to check the headset power level / talk time, or to confirm the volume level or Bluetooth connection.

But the coolest intelligence in the Voyager PRO HD is the Smart Sensor technology that senses if the headset is being worn, or has been placed on your ear or taken off the ear. For phone calls, it can answer a call when you put on your ear, and send the voice back to the phone if you take it off. Or when you're playing streaming audio, it can pause the music when taken off, and restart when you put it back on your ear. This is impressive stuff -- it doesn't always work, but it works well enough to be quite useful.

Finally, apps are coming to Bluetooth headsets. Instead of having to load a new ROM to add new features, or tap secret button sequences to change settings, you can simply download new apps to modify the built-in functionality.

The Plantronics MyHeadset apps are available for Andoid, iPhone, and Blackberry. You can change settings including the language, sensors, or streaming audio. And you can download apps including InstantMeeting for one-touch connection to conference calls from your calendar and the Plantronics Vocalyst service for voice-controlled actions and information (something like Apple's Siri).

So the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD is a welcome update to this venerable product. It's available for under $99 for more comfortable use when talking -- and listening.

See my Audio Accessories Gallery for details and related products.

And see my Holiday Gadgets 2011: Portable and Wireless feature for more on Bluetooth headsets and other holiday goodies.

Find the Plantronics Voyager PRO HD headset on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on December 30, 2011.

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