Plantronics M155 MARQUE Bluetooth Headset (Black) review: Plantronics M155 MARQUE Bluetooth Headset (Black)
Plantronics M155 MARQUE Bluetooth Headset (Black)
Plantronics is marketing the Marque M155 as a Bluetooth headset designed for use with smartphones. Indeed, we can't help but notice its silver sides and button design are very similar to the iPhone 4 (and the upcoming iPhone 4S). Features are decent--you get A2DP audio streaming, voice alerts, and a free one-year subscription to Vocalyst, a Plantronics service that will read your messages, let you dictate replies, and carry out other functions. It also has a companion application for both Android and iOS devices, and if you pair it with an iPhone the headset's visual battery meter shows up on the iPhone's screen. Call quality wasn't perfect, especially in an outdoor setting. For only $59 retail, however, you might be able to forgive that imperfection.
Even though Plantronics said that the Marque M155's sleek and svelte design is meant to complement most smartphones, we think it's quite obvious the company took major design cues from Apple when designing the Marque. The Marque M155 is thin and rectangular, with a glossy black or white finish on the front and back. It has squared-off sides covered in silver, which reminds us of the iPhone 4. Even the multifunction call button on the front looks very similar to the iPhone's home button.
On the back of the headset is an earpiece clad in a clear earbud cover. The Marque M155 comes with three different sized eartips, and each of them has a loop attached so the headset will fit securely without an ear hook. Still, it does come with an optional plastic hook if you feel the need for additional stability--we didn't. To us, the Marque M155 felt very comfortable in the ear, fitting neither too deeply nor too loosely. We were able to wear it all day without feeling like it was going to fall off.
Also on the back of the headset is a hidden notification LED that lights up when the headset is powered on or when it's charging. There are a sliding power switch on the left spine and a volume control button on the right. There's no volume rocker, so you have to cycle through a few volume levels before getting to the right one. Plantronics seems to want you to use your smartphone's volume control instead if you want more refined control. It's a little annoying, but not terribly frustrating.
As we mentioned earlier, the Marque M155 has A2DP music streaming, voice alerts, and a free one-year subscription to the Vocalyst service. Vocalyst is essentially an automated phone service through which you can send e-mail and even tweets with just your voice. You can read more about Vocalyst in our review of the Plantronics Savor M1100. Bear in mind that the basic Vocalyst service does require a payment of $2.49 monthly or $24.99 annually if you decide to stick with it. Vocalyst Pro (which enables you to send text messages via voice) costs $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
The Marque M155 also lets you answer calls by saying "Answer," which is handy if you're not able to press the button. Last but not least is a companion app that is currently available for both the Apple App Store and the Android Market called MyHeadset. It's essentially an app that teaches first-time users about the headset's features, like A2DP and Vocalyst. It also has a Sound Check app that lets you hear the sound quality of the room you're in.
We paired the Marque M155 with the Apple iPhone 4. Pairing was quite painless, but if you need even more help pairing your headset, the Marque M155 provides a voice-guided tutorial once you turn it on. It'll ask you if you have an iPhone or an Android handset, as it has tutorials tailored for those operating systems. Again, when paired with an iPhone, the smartphone shows a battery life indicator for the headset next to its own battery meter.
Listening to audio was a treat. Audio quality was rich, full, and sharp. It's certainly not as good as a pair of stereo headphones for music, but for listening to podcasts and audiobooks, it's just fine.
Call quality wasn't as good, however. While our callers sounded natural, loud, and clear, they weren't too happy with us. In a quiet room or a moving car, we sounded decent enough, but in a noisy outdoors environment, they heard plenty of distortion and background noise. They had to ask us to speak up several times.
The Marque M155 is a stylish and fashionable headset, especially for the iPhone crowd. A2DP audio quality is good and it has a very comfortable fit. If you're looking for a headset primarily for indoor use, the Marque M155 should work fine. But if you plan to be outdoors a lot, you should plan on not taking many calls on it, as it doesn't have very good noise suppression.