In 2001 my wife and I attended a Peter, Paul and Mary concert in Hong Kong (yes, I admit that we belong to that genre – albeit we were inculcated into the American folk-singing music of the 60s without the benefit of freedom of choice). At one point Mary Travers confessed her apprehension seeing Hong Kong people walking along the streets and apparently talking to themselves. She was eventually told that Hong Kong people liked talking to their mobile phones via wireless ear pieces. Today we know these devices to be Bluetooth in-ear headsets

A Bluetooth headset lets you talk to someone from your mobile (cell) phone via a wireless device plugged to your ear. Early generations of Bluetooh headsets fell into either of two categories: utilitarian or fashion statements. Almost all failed in one category for which they were built – to let you talk to someone in a clear voice.

My first Bluetooth headset was a Sony Ericsson. Over the years I’ve collected several brands including Jabra, Samsung, LG and more recently Plantronics.

Why so many? One could argue I’ve been on a quest to find a Bluetooth headset that gives voice quality comparable to that on a landline, is comfortable to use, and lasts long enough to limit charges to maybe two times a week.

This week I was asked to try a Plantronics Discovery 975 headset. This model follows the Plantronics tradition of minimalist design. In fact, two things I didn’t like about an earlier model – the Plantronics Discovery 625 – were the rather clumsy design of the ear gel and the addition of the removable hook. The ear gel easily detaches from the main body of the headset. Because I often pocket the headset when I don’t use it, I end up detaching the ear gel from the main body. The hook can become a nuisance if you were glasses.

Thankfully, on the 975 Plantronics has done away with the hook and made the ear gel design more rugged and sturdy. Drawing from its experience with the 625 and other earlier models, Plantronics incorporated a dual-mic AudioIQ² technology to simultaneously capture your voice and also cancel background noise. AudioIQ² automatically adjusts incoming calls to comfortable levels. The addition of a 20-band equalizer delivers rich, natural voice quality further enhancing the call experience.

It is easy to tell if you are using a headset when you are out in the open. The wind often creates swooshing sound that annoys the party on the other line. You often come in choppy. Plantronics uses WindSmart technology to provide three layers of protection against wind noise.

The result is voice clarity I’ve never associated with bluetooth headsets.

One of the reasons why I want to have a headset is so I don’t have to hold the phone while talking to someone. This leaves my hands free to write down notes. So in addition to good sound quality, I’d like the device to be comfortable to use for long periods as well as unobstrusive. At 9 grams, the 975 is light on the ear. And because it snugs very neatly into my ear, I often forget I have it on.

Older headsets often run out of juice long before the phone itself looses power. Most headsets in the market use an audible beep to indicate its status. The problem with this is that its often difficult to decipher what the series of beeps mean. In the case of the 975, Plantronics has very nicely added voice alerts that tell you if the unit is running out of battery, or if the headset is on mute, or if the Bluetooth connection is lost.

Speaking of battery, most Bluetooth headsets will give you a few hours of talk time. My earlier experience with Samsung and LG models is I end up losing power during the day – an annoyance I can do without. The 975 solves this problem by incorporating reserve battery power in the leather carry case that comes free with the headset. According to Plantronics the carry case gives two charges worth of power, meaning you get maybe up to 15 hours of talk time with the 975. To make sure you don’t leave home unprepared, the carry case has a small LCD panel to indicate battery levels for both the headset and the case itself – very useful for today’s mobile user.

The 975 can be paired with up to two mobile phones simultaneously – a convenience not lost to people like my wife who carries two mobile phones – one for work and another for personal.

The 975 is compatible with Secure Simple Pairing meaning you don’t need to enter a four-digit security code during time of pairing – provided your phone supports it as well.

Like other Plantronics headset, the 925 follows a tradition of simple, minimalist design. The headset has only two buttons. A volume control button also works as a mute button and online indicator switch. The other switch is on the boom housing the mic. The call control button is for picking up or hanging up on phone calls, pairing to a phone, power on/off, and transferring calls. This button also happens to have slim LED which flashes red or white to indicate status.

The Plantronics Discovery 975 delivers on what many Bluetooth devices, even from the likes of Jawbone and jabra, promise – quality voice calls. In my view the 975 is one of those to actually deliver on this promise.

Click here for the full technical spec of the 975.

Below are other reviews of the 975:

Crackberry review

CNET review

PCMag review.