Cardo has certainly made a name for itself in the past year as a serious headset manufacturer. Going head to head with well-known names like Jabra and Plantronics, Cardo has stood its ground with excellent Bluetooth headsets such as the Cardo S-2 and the Cardo S640. Now it's come out with what it's calling the creme de la creme of its lineup, the Cardo S-800. Wrapped in a design-oriented shape, the S-800 comes with a slew of innovative features that sets it apart from the competition. We especially like the Hot Dialing (instant speed dials for three favorite numbers) and the headset location buzzer. It's currently retailing at $89.95, which is a very competitive price for such a full-featured headset.
The Cardo S-800 has a very chic and modern design, consisting of sleek, sharp lines and rectangular shapes. Measuring around 0.8 inch by 1.6 inches by 0.5 inch and weighing in at around 0.38 ounce, the S-800 is also a very compact and lightweight headset. Unlike most headsets that consist of only one multifunction key and a volume rocker, the Cardo S-800 has three different buttons: a control key, a multifunction wheel, and a separate power button.
On the front is a large rectangle with the Cardo branding and the Control button, which we find easy to use since it's so big. On the top is the multifunction wheel that can be rocked back and forth for volume or pressed down for other call functions. We found this to be a rather unfortunate placement for such an important key. When the headset is placed in the ear, the multifunction wheel is a little tricky to access since it bumps up against the curve of the ear. It's not impossible to access, but just uncomfortable. However, the wheel is adjustable for right- or left-ear wear, meaning the position of the volume increase/decrease functions can be switched. The Power button, on the other hand, is a tiny little key on the right spine. We found it a little difficult to press the Power button without having to use our fingernails. The Power button also doubles as the Hot Dial or speed dial key, which requires tapping the key rapidly in order to dial a couple of numbers. Normally this isn't an issue, but the size of the Power button makes this harder than it needs to be.
The S-800's microphone is on the lower-left corner, along with an LED light indicator. On the back is the earpiece, plus a slot for an optional ear loop. We strongly recommend the ear loop for added security as the earpiece just did not fit very snugly in the ear, no matter how much we tried. We kept feeling it slip out of the ear. As such, we didn't think the fit was all that comfortable despite the rubberized earbud cover. The ear loop does add a considerable amount of security though. You can also adjust the ear loop to fit either ear.
Even though we were disappointed by the S-800's design, we thought its features were outstanding. It has all the basic features, including answering, ending, and rejecting calls, voice dial support, call mute, last-number redial, and call transfer to and from the headset. There's also the aforementioned Hot Dial feature that lets you call any of three preset speed dial numbers with the Hot Dial key--press the key once for the first number, twice for the second number, and three times for the third number. Other features include a missed call indicator, a headset location buzzer, a battery status indicator, and an autoanswer option. You can pair it with up to eight different devices, and the "SWAP" technology lets you swap the headset between two active phones. Finally, there's a callback feature that calls back the last incoming caller, but it only works with certain phones.
We tested the Cardo S-800 with the RIM BlackBerry Pearl. The pairing process went very smoothly, and call quality was quite good. There is a speaker booster to boost the sound if needed, and callers managed to hear us loud and clear without a lot of noise or static. On our end, voices sounded very good as well.
The Cardo S-800 has a rated talk time of 8 hours and a standby time of 7 days. The Cardo S-800 comes with a USB cable as well as a lanyard so you can wear the headset around your neck.