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Plantronics M3000 Bluetooth Mobile Headset

Plantronics is one of the best-known headset manufacturers, providing thousands of devices for call centres throughout the world, so you might expect this company's take on a Bluetooth headset to get most things right. Unfortunately this assumption is only half true.

The M3000 is a reasonably inconspicuous headset, shaped more like the Belkin device, but with a better design and a sharply curved front end for its microphone. A small indicator LED shows when the device is charging and a large button is used to pick up or make new calls.

There are two miniature buttons along its top or bottom edge – depending on which ear you wear it on – which control volume and mute. A miniature jack socket takes the plug from the supplied power supply to recharge its batteries. There's no supplied holder or case for the device.

The worst thing about the M3000 is its ear clips. Although two are provided for varying sizes of ear, they’re made of a resilient plastic with very little cushioning and become hard on the ear after an hour or so’s wearing. You'd think the design of a suitable ear clip would be a task Plantronics had long since mastered, but even Belkin manages to find a softer material for its similarly-shaped clip.

Pairing the M3000 with a phone or Bluetooth-enabled PC involves pressing the call control and volume up buttons at the same time for two seconds – it then switches to ‘discoverable’ mode for a minute. We had no trouble getting it to pair with our test devices.

Incoming sound was reproduced clearly and with little distortion through the earpiece, though the audio bandwidth is more suited to speech than to music reproduction – it's not much good for playing back MP3s from your PDA, for example, but that’s true of all the headsets reviewed here. Although several suppliers offer this as a typical use in their publicity, few people would choose to listen to their music in mono, when nearly all portable music players offer stereo.

Voice reproduction from the Plantronics unit is pretty good, second only to the sound quality of the Logitech. It's feasible to use this device with speech recognition software, though again you won't get the level of accuracy available from a hard-wired headset. All in all, this is a convenient hands-free device, but a better match for a mobile than for a PC.

Verdict

The Plantronics performed reasonably well, but the poor design of the ear clip makes it uncomfortable to use for long periods.

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