Plantronics Savor M1100 Bluetooth Headset
Plantronics has been a household name for quality Bluetooth headsets for some years now, and for good reason. We dubbed the Plantronics Voyager Pro and its stylish sibling, the Discovery 975, as two of the best in the industry late last year primarily because of Plantronics' excellent audio quality technology. Not content to rest on its laurels, the company has once again come out with a fantastic little headset, called the Plantronics Savor M1100.
The Savor M1100 has all of the features you would want out of a modern headset--wind noise reduction, digital sound processing, automatic volume adjustment, multipoint, and A2DP streaming--but it also offers a few extras we find particularly intriguing. One of them is access to Plantronics Vocalyst, an automated phone service that lets you perform a variety of tasks like sending e-mail and posting tweets simply by using your voice.
Even though the Vocalyst is not an entirely free service (more on that below), all of these features and the excellent audio quality make the Savor M1100 one of the best Bluetooth headsets we've tried to date. We think it is well worth its $99 retail price.
Measuring 2.2 inches long by 0.7 inch wide by 0.5 inch thick, the Savor M1100 is small, slim, and black from top to bottom except for gunmetal gray along its sides. It takes design inspiration from the Discovery 975 with its V-frame build that tapers down to a point. Though not as flashy as other headsets like the Jawbone Icon, we appreciate the Savor M1100's discreet understated style.
The unique V-frame allows Plantronics to incorporate three microphones on the face of the M1100--one near the top, one in the middle, and one at the end tip. Also on the front are two buttons, though you can't see them. The multifunction call button is at the top, and the voice recognition button is in the middle. Even though these are "invisible" buttons, they're fairly easy to press, and are far enough apart that you won't mistake one for the other. The Savor M1100 is the only headset we know that has a button just for voice commands--we really appreciate this as it makes controlling the headset that much easier.
On the left side of the headset is a sliding power switch; on the right is a single volume/mute button, and the microUSB charging port is on top. As always, we like having a dedicated power switch as it is easier to power the headset off when not in use. We do prefer a volume rocker instead of the single volume button however, since you need to cycle through the different volumes instead of just shifting it up and down. The Savor M1100's automatic volume adjustment helps alleviate this concern.
The earpiece on the Savor M1100 comes with the usual Plantronics ear gel cover with the attached hoop. This style of ear gel lets you wear the headset without needing the optional ear hook. Plantronics has thoughtfully supplied a couple of different-size ear gels, and you can twist them to fit either the left or right ear as well. We found the fit to be quite comfortable, and didn't feel like it was in any danger of falling out.
As we mentioned, the Savor M1100 has a number of notable features. They include multipoint connectivity, A2DP streaming, and voice alerts to let you know of incoming calls and other notifications. Similar to the BlueAnt series of headsets, you can press the voice recognition button and ask it "What can I say?" to be presented with a series of voice commands. Some of the voice commands include "Pairing," "Am I Connected," "Check Battery," "Redial," "Cancel," "Call Information" (this calls Bing 411), "Answer" to answer an incoming call, and "Ignore" to ignore it. The latter two functions don't require you to press the voice recognition button first.
If you happen to have an Android or a BlackBerry smartphone, you can download apps that will read incoming text messages to you. You can also send stock text replies like "I'm in a meeting, and I'll text you back later." If you have an iPhone, you'll be able to see the headset battery meter next to the iPhone's own battery icon.
The Savor M1100 is also unique in that it has built-in access to the Plantronics Vocalyst automated phone service. You need to register your headset via a unique activation code on the Vocalyst Web site first. After that, simply tap the voice recognition button, say "Call Vocalyst," and your phone will automatically dial the Vocalyst number.
The Basic Vocalyst service lets you hear updates on the weather, and your favorite sports, finance, and newsfeeds--simply state a command like "sports" or "weather" to access them. You can set up reminders and update Evernote with voice recordings. You can also set up your e-mail and Twitter accounts on Vocalyst so that you can listen to incoming messages. If you want, you can also send e-mails and tweets. The Basic service records your voice, and then it'll send the links to the audio files. Note that when sending out messages, you don't get confirmation prompts and they are sent out immediately, so you should probably watch what you say.
If you would rather have your voice transcribed into text, you'll have to upgrade to the Vocalyst Pro service for $3.50 a month or $35 a year. The Pro service lets you dictate text messages, e-mails, calendar appointments, task lists, expense reports, and blog posts to a variety of services that include Ping FM, Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, Remember The Milk, Xpenser, 30 Boxes, and more.
The Basic level is free for the first year with purchase of the Savor M1100. Every year thereafter, it will cost $2.49 a month or $24.99 a year. If you want the Pro level after the first year, that will cost $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year. We applaud the variety of services Vocalyst offers, but we probably wouldn't pay that much for it. For power users who need to check their e-mail and Twitter messages on a constant basis, perhaps it is a better deal.
We paired the Plantronics Savor M1100 with the Apple iPhone 3G. We were pleasantly surprised by how much the headset enhanced the audio quality of most calls. Utilizing Plantronics Audio IQ 3 noise suppression technology, an improved wind noise reduction system, and the aforementioned three microphones, we found that the Savor M1100 delivered excellent sound. We had no problems listening to what our callers had to say, though there was a low static hum at times.
Callers reported loud and clear audio quality, and the headset did a great job at canceling out most environmental noise. We tested it while we were in a car, at a busy restaurant during lunch hour, and in a quiet office, and it performed excellently in all situations. Callers did say our voice quality was a little harsh and not as natural as that of a landline, but that had more to do with the phone than the headset.
The Plantronics Savor M1100 has a rated talk time of 4 hours and standby time of 7 days.