A Bluetooth headset, like a baseball cap, a bandanna or a gold tooth, is an investment in fashion as much as it is in technology. You want the benefits of hands-free calling, but you also have to wear it, and not in a discreet location, but right on the side of your face; beside your make up, your expensive glasses and your freshly coiffed hairdo. This means whichever headset you choose must not only deliver crisp, clear audio, but it needs to look great and feel comfortable.
These strict criteria has lead Bluetooth headset manufacturers to design some highly uninspiring accessories of late. Tiny black or silver units with clear or black ear loops resting on your ear like a dormant parasite. The Plantronics Discovery bucks the trend somewhat. Gone is the ear loop and the small rectangular profile of the competition, and in its place is something that looks like a young girl's hair clip, or the severed fingertip of a woman with extremely long fingernails. The microphone boom is moulded out of gun-metal-coloured plastic and is surrounded at the ear by smooth black leather. That's right, leather — not pleather or vinyl but actual leather, a very nice touch indeed.
On the underside you find the clear rubber ear-gel with a small square extension. This holds the headset in your ear without the need for an ear loop. The rubber square folds to secure the headset at the entrance of the ear canal, and while this might sound like a technological torment, it is surprisingly comfortable. We wore the Discovery 975 for hours on end in the office and quickly forgot we were wearing it at all, a huge compliment for a device like this.
For the RRP of AU$179.95 you also get a very nifty charging case, which can hold a charge worth twice that of the headset's own battery. This means you can charge the headset and case simultaneously while the headset is mounted in the case, then walk away with three times the charging capacity of just refilling the headset on its own. The case is reasonably attractive too, sort of like a giant, black lipstick case, but the battery life is what really sells this accessory.
Plantronics would love for us to espouse the various techno-wizardry involved in delivering and conveying the audio during calls, with features like AudioIQ2 (Plantronic's proprietary digital signal processing feature), WindSmart and an adaptive 20-band equaliser, but these are marketing jargon for "works real good". And indeed, the Discovery 975 does work really well, delivering some of the best audio we've encountered from a Bluetooth headset. Apart from some intermittent static on one or two calls during testing, the performance of the 975 was top notch.
One other feature worth mentioning is this headset's multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, described by the Plantronic's rep we spoke to as the "only true multipoint in any headset available in Australia". This refers to the headset's ability to connect to two devices simultaneously, and connect to a call from one phone immediately after hanging up from a call on the other. This is a handy feature for those of us who call two phones, one for work and one for freedom hours.
The Plantronics Discovery 975 is a first rate Bluetooth headset and we highly recommend it to anyone shopping for this kind of device and in this price range. After all, AU$180 is a lot of money to pay for a headset; you can buy a whole mobile phone for as much, and it is worth pointing out that you needn't spend this much money to buy a Bluetooth headset that works. But then, it's the same choice you'll make when you drive past the Mazda dealership and pull into the yard selling the Rolls Royce; the Discovery 975 certainly is the Rolls Royce of the Bluetooth headset market.