Bluetooth headsets aren't the sexiest of technology devices. They're all about function over fashion. There are a select few, though, that manage to look good while also doing some pretty impressive things. Plantronics' Voyager Edge is a Bluetooth headset aimed at the tech-savvy — it's not as fashionable as some of its competitors, but it's just about the best you can get for making calls or taking voice notes.
What Is It?
- Headset Type: Boom, Earbud
- Bluetooth: Yes (3.0)
- Noise Cancelling: Yes
- Controls: Yes (3 buttons, voice)
- Battery Life (claimed): 6 hours
- Charging: microUSB (cable included)
The $159.95 Plantronics Voyager Edge is a Bluetooth headset designed for outright audio performance, but without making too many sacrifices in design. It's a boom-style headset, with a long and sleek arm with three microphones to pick up voice and cancel out ambient interference. It has three buttons for volume control, activating voice commands and answering calls, all arranged along its long and slim body.
The Voyager Edge uses Plantronics' tried and tested earpiece design, with a simple earbud-style insert that is surrounded by a removable stiff plastic cover. That cover can be switched out for one of three differently sized variants, although there is an around-the-ear cover that is slightly more secure during extended periods of wear. It looks similar to other Plantronics headsets, but it actually sits halfway between the fashionable Discovery range and the rest of the functional Voyager line-up.
Bundled with each Voyager Edge, you get different eartips and covers, a small cigarette lighter car USB charger, a microUSB cable and the Edge's battery carry case. The case entombs the Voyager Edge like Dracula in his coffin, but it's easy enough to unclip the headset by slipping a finger into the cavity and pulling. The Voyager Edge is available in both matte black and satin silver, each with carry cases to match.
What Is It Good At?
If you are looking for a headset for placing or receiving calls, the Plantronics Voyager Edge is the creme de la creme. Its microphone array is seriously well thought out, and the lengthened boom design means it's just about as optimally designed as possible for picking up your voice. Adaptive noise cancelling in the Edge's circuitry picks up your voice and powers on the microphones when appropriate, but mutes them otherwise, making your call or voice recording cleaner and less noisy. If your smartphone's carrier supports HD voice, for example, the Voyager Edge is perfectly suited to making high quality phone calls.
You can pair the Voyager Edge with a compatible smartphone via NFC, and once you're connected you can select a language for the voice prompts and voice commands. In English, for example, you can answer a call when you're wearing the Edge by just saying "answer", while battery level and caller ID are announced through the headset when necessary. Plantronics has a companion app for the Voyager Edge that lets you customise various aspects of its use, like the aforementioned system language, and it works well for the limited range of functionality that it has.
If you did want to use the Plantronics Voyager Edge for listening to music, it's capable. A2DP Bluetooth streaming means your tracks are limited by the speaker inside the headsets earpiece rather than the wireless transmission method, and while it isn't anything to write home about in terms of its audio performance there are no huge and obvious gaps in its sound quality for either bass or treble notes. If you want to listen to a song or two in the middle of a day of making calls, the Voyager Edge handles your requirements capably.
The party piece of the Voyager Edge is that you can power it on and off by taking it on and off with various integrated sensors; this means it can conserve power when not in use, lengthening its battery life to Plantronics' rated six hours of talk or audio playback time. The charging case included with the Voyager Edge — it's a coffin for the headset, really — boosts battery life to 16 hours. If you want to check the battery status of the coffin, brush a finger across the top and six status lights tell you the charge level of both the case and the headset itelf.
Plantronics' Voyager Edge is water resistant, too, so it'll handle a rainy walk home or the sweat of a workout — if you were so inclined to use the headset during your gym session. It's more of a pointer to the fact that despite its looks the Edge isn't a fragile flower — it's perfectly at home being thrown into a backpack or purse. The buttons click with a reassuring feeling, the headset clips into the case well; you get the impression that this headset isn't going to break the week its warranty period runs out.
What Is It Not Good At?
The hard plastic transparent earpiece that the Plantronics Voyager Edge uses generally sits quite securely in the wearer's ear, but it can be quite uncomfortable at times due to the stiff material used. Jawbone's softer silicone earpiece for the Era is much more comfortable, but also provides slightly superior ambient noise cancellation due to it sitting deeper in the ear and sealing better against outside noise. It's not that the Voyager Edge is bad, but there are better solutions out there — if the Edge used a softer silicone earpiece it would be a much easier recommendation.
Plantronics does't bundle a wall charger with the Voyager Edge, although a standard USB to microUSB cable is included. This trend of rechargeable-battery devices including a cable but no charger is annoying; chargers aren't cheap, and when tablets and smartphones are the only devices that include them you end up with way too many battery-powered gadgets and not enough ways to charge them.
While it's great for recording and playing back voices, the Plantronics Voyager Edge is not an especially capable headset for reproducing the nuance of music tracks. It doesn't have the same mid-bass range of the Jawbone Era, and it's a long way from the sonic capabilities of even a mid-range pair of wired music-listening earphones. It's not a headset that you'd buy specifically for listening to music, and it's reasonably capable for a quick session in a pinch, but it isn't quite up to par with competitors on this particular front.
In reality, there aren't too many things about the Plantronics Voyager Edge that could really be seriously wrong. The Bluetooth works just about as well as it could, the three integrated microphones and noise cancellation all work extremely well in concert, and the physical controls are both useful and easy to operate. Being so packed with tech, the Edge is quite expensive, like the Jawbone Era against which it directly competes, but you get what you pay for.
Should You Buy It?
If you need a Bluetooth headset, the $159.95 Plantronics Voyager Edge is one of the best you can get. it's not made for music, and it doesn't perfectly seal you off from the outside world when you're making a call, but for the purpose it was designed for — making calls, and capturing voice clearly and in a wide variety of environments — it does a very good job. It's quite an expensive headset, though, so you'll have to be sure of what you want before you buy it.
Apart from an earpiece that isn't quite as well designed as it possibly could be — it's engineered for easy on-and-off use, rather than full-scale all-out ambient noise cancellation and sound quality — the Plantronics Voyager Edge is, as Bluetooth headsets go, excellent. If you drive a lot, and don't have a Bluetooth stereo, the Edge is a perfect call-making device.
If you're on the phone a lot, and want a handsfree headset, there aren't too many reasons why the Plantronics Voyager Edge shouldn't be the one you buy.