Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth Headset review: Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth Headset

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Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth Headset

(Part #: 320)
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Comfortable fit; stylish design; user-friendly controls; acceptable call quality.

The Bad Troublesome pairing process; dim LED light; not great in windy conditions.

The Bottom Line Although it's not perfect, the Plantronics Explorer 320 is a solid lower-tier Bluetooth headset.

7.0 Overall

Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset

With three new Bluetooth headset announcements, Plantronics has been on a roll lately. We liked the Discovery 640 so much that we gave it our Editors' Choice award, and we generally approved of the Voyager 510SL as well. So when we first picked up the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset, we wondered if the company would make a clean sweep. And by and large, we found that to be the case.

Although the Discovery 640 and Voyager 510SL were top-range models that came with loads of accessories, the Plantronics Explorer 320 is better suited for novice and low-maintenance Bluetooth users. Included in the package are just the headset and a compact wall charger, with no additional parts to confuse things. Fittingly, it also comes at a reasonable price of $69.95. The headset itself has a clean and stylish design with silver and black coloring, rounded edges, and an overall streamlined look. It's relatively compact and lightweight (2.5 by 0.3 by 0.75 inches; 0.67 ounce), and since there's no extendable boom mic, you won't look too conspicuous when it's on your ear.

The Plantronics Explorer 320 employs a traditional over-the-ear fit with a flexible, rubberized ear hook. We had no trouble slipping it on and off quickly, and switching the ear hook for wearing on either ear was a simple process. The minimalist form factor should also please users with smaller ears, longer hair, or earrings. A soft earpiece protrudes only slightly into the ear, which makes the overall fit comfortable and secure. Controls on the Explorer 320 are unique in that a single two-way toggle activates all functions, including turning the headset on and off, readying it for pairing, adjusting the volume, and managing calls. The toggle could be larger, but it was exceptionally user-friendly and easy to locate when the headset was in use. The final feature in the headset is a tiny status-indicator LED light that was too dim for our tastes.

We tested the Plantronics Explorer 320 with the Sony Ericsson S710a. Although we were able to pair the two devices eventually, it did take us a few tries to do so. On our first two attempts, the S710a recognized the Explorer 320, but after we entered the correct passkey, the two devices failed to connect. We were finally successful on our third try, but the S710a recognized the headset as an unknown device rather than by its proper name. Once we were up and running, however, call quality was decent, with adequate volume and clarity. Callers said we sounded hollow at times, and they had more trouble hearing us in windy conditions, but it wasn't particularly troublesome. As for calling features, the headset supports last-number redial and voice-activated dialing. The Explorer 320 has a rated battery life of 8 hours of talk time and up to 10 days of standby time.

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