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Most Bluetooth headsets have a range of around 10 meters or 30 feet, and if they are outside of this range, the Bluetooth connection fails. This is typical of Class 2 Bluetooth technology, and until recently, not many headsets adopted the higher sensitivity and power of Class 1 Bluetooth, which promises a range of around 100 meters (328 feet). The Callpod Dragon Bluetooth headset is one of the first Class 1 Bluetooth headsets we've seen so far, and we were indeed impressed with how far we were able to extend the connection range. In addition, the Dragon features noise-suppression technology, multidevice pairing, a walkie-talkie feature with another Dragon headset, and a very secure and comfortable fit. Our only complaint is that outgoing sound quality wasn't the best. At $129.95, it's certainly quite a pricey headset, but if you want a headset with a large connection range plus walkie-talkie capabilities, the Callpod Dragon fits the bill.
Sporting a circular disc shape, the Callpod Dragon certainly doesn't have the look of a traditional Bluetooth headset. Measuring 1.25 by 2.16 by 2.25 inches, the Dragon looks more like a tiny black and gray hockey puck. That said, we liked how lightweight it was at only 0.9 ounce, and we liked how it lies flat to the face when worn. The multifunction button is placed prominently right in the middle of the headset, and thanks to its large size and rounded surface bump, it is easy to press even when the headset is worn. On the top of the Dragon is the Power button, which also acts as the volume rocker. You can push it down to toggle the power on and off, and you can rock it left and right to adjust the volume. This was also easy to press and use. Above the multifunction button are red and blue indicator lights, and underneath it are dual microphones for noise suppression.
On the back of the Dragon is a slender earbud that fits just inside the ear, along with an ear hook that can be switched to fit either the left or right ear. The ear hook is not quite optional, since you really do need it for a secure fit. But once it is properly placed around the ear, the Dragon fits like a glove. It's definitely one of the most comfortable and secure-fitting headsets we've tried. We should note that Callpod suggests you wear the headset in such a way that the headset's two microphones align in a straight line to your mouth, for better sound quality.
The Dragon has many of the typical Bluetooth headset features that we've come to expect: the ability to answer, end, and reject calls, call mute, and dial support. It also has some bonus features, like conference call support and multidevice pairing, meaning that it can be connected to two devices simultaneously. A nice bonus is that it can be paired with another Dragon headset for walkie-talkie functionality.
We tested the Callpod Dragon Bluetooth headset with the RIM BlackBerry Pearl and the LG Venus. The Dragon automatically goes into pairing mode the first time it's turned on, which is a big help in getting us started. If you want to send it into pairing mode again for another device, you can simply press the Power/Volume key once. Perhaps it was because of the full duplex speaker in the device, but we experienced excellent incoming call quality. Our callers sounded loud and clear, with natural-sounding voices. Outgoing sound didn't fare as well, however. Callers reported a slight echo in our voice, plus an occasional distant hum in the background. That said, they still managed to hear us in crowded environments, like a noisy restaurant.
We were definitely impressed with the Bluetooth range of the Dragon. When paired with another Dragon headset to test the walkie-talkie functionality, we were able to communicate even though we were in different corners of the CNET building--about 300 or so feet between us. We should note that at around the 250- to 300-foot mark, we heard increased static and noise, though that may have been because of the walls between us.
The Callpod Dragon comes with an AC adapter, a USB cable, and a car charger. It has a rated battery life of 8 hours talk time and 12.5 days standby time.