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Plantronics has been in the communications business since the dawn of the Jet Age and heady days of the Apollo space program. This experience shows in the company’s latest premium Bluetooth headset, the $99.99 Voyager Legend. It’s sure not a modest product name but designed as a follow-up to the Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus, and the Legend does what many might have though was impossible, improve on an already stellar design. In fact, the Voyager Legend offers even better call quality, a smaller size, a more comfortable fit, and a longer battery life. It’s still not inconspicuous compared with more minute headsets but if you do a lot of talking all over town and clear sound is your priority, you’ll want to splurge on this excellent mobile accessory.
There’s no getting around the fact that the Plantronics Voyager Legend is a big contraption as Bluetooth headsets go these days. With its signature, and rather dated boom arm design, the headset is more bulky than compact competitors such as the Motorola Elite Silver, Jawbone Era, or even Plantronic’s own M55.
That said, the Voyager Legend is elegant compared to the rather unwieldy Jabra Supreme. Compared with the Supreme, the Legend has a premium feel thanks to plastics that I found reassuringly solid and well crafted. Indeed, while the headset’s ear loop is thick, it provides controls within easy finger reach. At the ear loop’s base sits a sturdy power switch while another switch above it toggles volume up and down.
The boom microphone arm is thinner that the one found on the Voyager Pro yet manages not to bend when positioning or appear flimsy. Two buttons live on the arm as well, a Voice key on the bottom edge, and Call button at the tip closest to your ear. I found both a cinch to press, though it was easy to accidentally hit either one while pushing the headset into my ear.
A standard gel ear tip comes attached to the Voyager Legend but Plantronics also bundles a larger and smaller size along with two foam earbud covers. I really appreciate the effort Plantronics took to make these tips a breeze to swap in and out of the device too. Just press inward and twist left or right to lock or unlock tips for insertion and removal.
Plantronics also says it took steps to make the Voyager Legend easier to wear for poor folks with glasses like myself. It seems the plan paid off since this is the most comfortable wireless headset I’ve used to date. The device also felt secure and lightweight in my ear, especially for a gadget this big. Another slick feature is the headset's sensors, which automatically detect when you remove it from or place it on your ear. It will smartly mute audio or answer calls depending on your actions.
Of course my experience wasn’t all puppies and rainbows. For example, none of the supplied ear tips felt anywhere as comfortable as the in-ear ear buds I prefer to use. Frankly what would really make the product impeccable in my view is an ear tip that compressed and slowly refilled my ear canal to provide a truly superior audio seal, almost like earplugs do.
To charge the Voyager Legend, Plantronics includes a small adapter to rest the headset’s metal contacts upon. The company also plans to sell a nifty travel case accessory for the device that also operates as an extended battery pack and charger for $29. Plantronics claims the case adds an extra 14 hours of additional talk time.
Plantronics told me that this new incarnation of the Voyager line boasts not two but three microphones to improve audio. The device also supports wideband audio for extra clarity. My test calls backed up this claim with the Plantronics Voyager Legend turning in excellent call quality whether I was chatting from bustling New York streets, within crowded restaurants, or inside my raucous CNET offices. People on the other end couldn't tell I was chatting from a mobile connection either, though they could pick up ambient background noise such as babbling babies and running water.
Adhering to the Bluetooth 3.0 spec, the Voyager Legend features multipoint pairing, meaning you can link it to two devices simultaneously. In fact I had the headset connected to both my Samsung Galaxy S3 test unit and Windows 7 laptop. That said, using the Legend for VoIP calls yielded choppy audio mostly due to my old notebook’s old Bluetooth stack and supporting drivers. Plantronics sells a $49.99 Bluetooth dongle for this purpose. The Voyager Legend is also rated at to provide up to 7 hours of talk time and 11 days of standby time. My anecdotal use so far matches up with this boast and I have yet to charge the headset over two days of casual use.