Most helpful positive review
898 of 916 people found the following review helpful
Best Wireless Headset at this time
on June 28, 2009
Lots of reviews out there, but mine is a bit more objective due to the testing I have done.
Probably, like you, I was in the market for a headset to use with speech recognition, Skype, music playback from iTunes, etc. But I wanted to cut the cord on my Logitech USB headset. So a few months ago I went out and purchased the Logitech ClearChat Wireless headset. Between this latter headset and the Plantronics 995, there really is not much else on the market as far as non-bluetooth wireless headsets go. These headsets use a USB 2.4 GHz transceiver. This is much better than bluetooth, which constantly needs pairing and has sub-par performance when used with speech recognition, VOIP, etc. due to low bandwidth.
Testing and using the Logitech ClearChat Wireless headset, I was pretty impressed. It worked with Dragon Naturally Speaking/MacSpeech Dictate, as well as with Skype.
However, what I did not like about the Logitech ClearChat headset was that the ear muffs were too small (many complain about it) and there was constant static whilst speaking to someone on Skype (Skype to phone calls). Additionally, the more you move around with the ClearChat, the more static there is, and the range was acceptable but not great. To make my testing objective, I was switching, on the Skype call, between the USB headset and the wireless ClearChat one. The static was only present with the ClearChat headset and not with the USB headset.
So, having read all the great reviews about the 995 Plantronics, I went down to the store, exchanged my ClearChat for a pair. I then phoned from Skype to a telephone (same person) and tested the reception again. This time, there was hardly any static at all (user feedback): their comment was that it was "much improved" from the previous wireless headset. I also got better range with the Plantronics as well.
In addition, the speech recognition seems to work a bit better too, and is actually working amazingly. Seems even better than my USB headset.
Furthermore, I tested some iTunes playback and no question the Plantronics has fuller, deeper, richer sound than the Logitech ClearChat headset.
The only thing I like better about the ClearChat headset is that you can quickly switch the headset off when you don't want it to be connected to the receiver.
With the Plantronics, you can quickly switch it on and off too, with auto-pairing (nice), but there is only one button, not a switch, which needs to be held down for 2 seconds to turn the unit off or on. The only issue is, unless the unit is off your head, you won't be able to see the solid blue light turn to red then off. So if you want to shut it off and leave it on your head, it is not possible to get confirmation from the headset that it is off. However, you will see the blue light flash on the receiver, from solid blue, and that is confirmation you have turned off your headset. But it also indicates the headset is out of range, so the only way to really know for sure that your headset is turned off is to remove them from your head and look to see if the light is off on the side.
Thus, the ClearChat's simple on/off switch is superior in this regard, where you can turn the unit off without the need to remove it from your head for confirmation. At any rate, this is sort of minor because most times you can be confident that a flashing blue light on the receiver indicates you have successfully turned off the headset, so you won't be needing to remove it.
And I like to power down the unit frequently to save on battery life...
As for battery life, I think the Plantronics is better than the ClearChat as well, and both demand roughly the same charging times. Of note, when you first get the unit, charging it may be a bit quirky. You should calibrate the battery (the ClearChat headset took 2 days before it was fully charged, for instance).
Other than that, do yourself a favor and get the Plantronics wireless headset. It is truly liberating to have the cords cut, and it works extremely well with speech recognition.
4.5 out of 5 stars, because of the on/off procedure and paltry instructions that do not explain how to turn the unit on/off. In addition, nothing is perfect. But a 4.5 out of 5 star rating for me is a huge compliment to anyone. I am very critical of everything, and demand a lot from my computing products. Plantronics: well done.
Remember, hold down the power button on the headset for 2 seconds ONLY to turn it on or off.
January 6, 2009 UPDATE:
I just wanted to update everyone. Just recently, the headset's power button broke (it wouldn't press any more: sort of stuck). I almost had a suspicion that it would happen because the power button feels a tad cheap and must be pressed and held down for a few seconds to power down the headset. Since I like to power down my headset often to save on battery life, the switch didn't hold up. I just received my new unit from Plantronics and it's charging. Customer service was pretty helpful. They express shipped it to me, which was nice, after sending in my old unit.
Now, do I stand by my review? Yes, yes, and, yes. Aside from a flimsy power button, the unit has worked as I have described. Speech, Skype, and music are the ticket items for this headset. All these latter work very well. Also, I just had a friend call me on Skype recently using the Plantronics 995 headset. It was on my recommendation that he bought the headset. He's got a standard cable internet connection with 1 mbps upload speeds. This is the first call I have received from someone who was using the Plantronics 995 headset.
The thing is, I did not know he was using it when he phoned me. When I picked up, and he started talking, I interrupted him and asked him what kind of microphone he was using. He said the Plantronics 995. I was blown away by the quality of the audio. It sounded so good like it was in stereo sound. I had to smile because I was the one who recommended this to him, on the pretense of a boatload of research and testing. As the conversation took course, I just was smitten by how well it sounded. That right there was confirmation enough to me that this headset is 'for real'. It sort of concluded my testing.
Since I didn't know he was using the Plantronics 995 Headset, it puts that extra layer of validity into my testing. This was no 'placebo' effect. I noticed the quality of the sound without knowing he was using the 995 headset. If you read my entire review, and this update, I think you would agree that my testing is rigorous enough to pass the standards set in the context of the scientific method. Far too many reviews float around the internet with giant holes in their testing methods. I am not tooting my own horn, I am just stating the facts. I put this through some objective testing to prove to you, the reader and consumer, that this headset works as I have described.
I have a feeling this headset is going to be a sort of 'cult classic'. That is, one of those landmark products in a category that struggles to define itself. Although the power button is a bit flimsy, Plantronics really got it right with this. Call quality is incredible on Skype, music has thick, rich sound, and speech recognition just works. This is really the freelancer's/home user's/business user's competitive advantage.
So, like I said, go get liberated, and pick up the Plantronics 995. You won't look back. Rest assured the hard work, the research has already been done for you. I'll stand by this review for all my waking days.
As I spent a lot of time researching, writing, and updating this review, maybe you can take a minute and comment! Let me know what you think. Thank you!