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Finding a Bluetooth headset that fits snugly in the ear and feels comfortable to wear can be tricky. Fortunately, the Plantronics M100 ($80, price as of 9/1/2010) satisfies on both counts. The M100 has other strengths, too; but a few weaknesses leave it in the middle of the pack.
Available with five different color accents, the M100 distinguishes itself with a lightweight, svelte design. It weighs 9 grams (0.32 ounce), and comes with three different-size ear gels and an over-the-ear loop that feels comfortable and easy to place, despite being fairly rigid. The device is notably less obtrusive than some of Plantronics's previous offerings.
One point that impressed me: Upon sliding the power switch, the headset reports the number of hours of talk time left, and it appears to do so accurately. Plantronics rates the M100 at up to 6 hours of talk time and up to 10 days of standby time; plus, as the specs promise, I found it charged efficiently, requiring just 1.5 hours to achieve a full charge.
Plantronics positions, and prices, the headset in the middle of its lineup. As such, I wasn't surprised to find the audio quality good, but not knock-my-socks-off great. The headset has dual microphones and DSP (digital signal processor) noise cancellation. While callees were generally satisfied by the headset's clear audio, occasionally even the built-in wind-noise reduction and echo cancellation couldn't squash the background noise in places like a crowded restaurant. Moreover, while I was largely satisfied with the audio, I could sometimes perceive a hissing noise during calls.
The headset charges via a micro-USB port, and has volume and disengage buttons in addition to the power switch.
I liked how the headset paired quickly with Bluetooth-enabled phones, and particularly loved the iPhone battery gauge that popped up on-screen while the headset was paired with the phone. The various voice prompts were convenient, and the buttons were easy to feel by touch. I did find that to hang up a call, the headset pressed into my ear a bit more than I liked, but that's a minor gripe--especially considering that the headset felt comfortable in-ear for extended periods of time.
Some other Bluetooth headsets may have better audio quality, but its conveniences, long battery life, and comfortable fit--together with its reasonable price--make the M100 headset a solid choice, especially for iPhone users.
Comfortable Bluetooth headset strikes a pleasing balance between performance, design, and price.
- Provides estimated available battery life
- Comfortable on the ear
- iPhone battery gauge
- Lacks A2DP streaming support
- Audio quality suffers mildly in noisy environments
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