Plantronics officially announced their new Discovery 925 Bluetooth headset early on this week, and we’ve been putting it through its paces. In a market crammed with rivals offering striking designs, tiny casings and impressive performance you have to do something special to stand out, and Plantronics have picked the fashion route with their new VFrame design. That’s not to say the Discovery 925 falls flat as a hands-free, of course, but how would it stand up to favourites like BlueAnt’s Z9…
Weighing just 0.3oz and measuring a smudge under 2-inches from end to end, the Discovery 925 manages to look even smaller thanks to the flared cut-out in the boom (what Plantronics call the VFrame). It lacks an ear hook, and instead comes with three sizes of gel ear-plug each with a protruding loop to keep things stable. As with many Bluetooth headsets, it can take a while to get used to fitting the 925 – especially if you’re not wearing it and the phone is ringing – but after a little practice it becomes a relatively natural push-twist movement. The device’s low weight means it’s comfortable for extended periods of wear, and it’s not too distracting for others either since its status LED – which is embedded in the jewel-finish multifunction button – flashes only when powering on or off, or when the 925 is in pairing mode. On the edge of the 925 is a single button that cycles through three volume levels.
Turn on the Discovery 925 for the first time and it automatically enters pairing mode; it can support connections with two devices simultaneously – handy for use with both a cellphone and a VoIP app on your laptop – and connected readily to an iPhone and BlackBerry. The multifunction button answers or ends calls, initiates voice dialing, starts pairing mode and powers the 925 on and off; despite the plastic build, it feels solid and you know you’ve pressed it. Usable range tailed off at around twenty feet, although that was in an environment heavily laced with WiFi, Bluetooth and other RF interference. Sound quality at that point was pretty patchy, but you’ll be fine with your cellphone in a pocket or bag; overall, the Discovery 925 managed reasonable audio performance, not the measure of the BlueAnt Z9, perhaps, but clear and solid. Wind noise can be a problem outdoors, however, thanks to that relatively long boom.
Battery life is quoted as 5hrs talktime and 200hrs standby; while we didn’t manage to achieve either of those figures, with typical use the Discovery 925 gave almost four hours talktime. Plantronics include a small case for the headset, inside which is a secondary battery that can add another 5hrs (quoted) talktime, and the company suggests that the 925 will last longer if it’s paired with only a single cellphone. Recharging is via a microUSB socket on the headset (or case) itself, rather than Plantronics’ previously proprietary connection.
It’s hard to fault the Discovery 925 for its specifications; yes, perhaps call quality doesn’t quite equal the current headset champions, but it’s undoubtedly near the top of the list, and the functionality is usable and straightforward in a comfortable design. What will swing it, then, is the design and the price. Plantronics have made the 925 in in Onyx Black, Alchemy Gold and Cerise Pink each with a “fire-blasted enamel-like” finish which, together with the jewel-effect button, makes for a definite style statement; only you know if that’s a statement you’re comfortable making! Price, meanwhile, could be the thorn in Plantronics’ side: the Discovery 925 has a MRSP of $149.99, which is higher than both the BlueAnt Z9 and the Aliph Jawbone.
Despite the challenging competitors, the Plantronics Discovery 925 held its own. If you can afford it (or find it cheaper online) and you like the design, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.