Cardo Scala 500 review

Design

Cardo System became originally popular with the introduction of the first Bluetooth headset designed specially for motorcyclist. Last year they also introduced regular Bluetooth headset called the Allways. It offered both eyeglass mounting and ear loop options. The Scala-500 is their third handset and the successor of the Allways. 

Specification

  • Weigh - 0.58 oz (16.7 gr)
  • Talk time up to 9h
  • Stand-by up to 1 week
  • Handsfree and Headset profiles
  • Bluetooth 1.2 version
  • Echo and wind cancelling technology

Sales Package

  • Headset
  • Ear-loop
  • Eye/sunglass clip
  • Wall charger
  • Carry sleeve + belt-clip
  • Neckband for Carry-sleeve
  • Cd-manual and quick guide
  • Warranty and registration cards

Scala-500 compared to other headsets

The Scala-500 has very sleek tear-drop like form – wider end part which covers your ear and elongated front. The top of the headset is dark grey and silver accents with all dark-gray back. A small clear plastic window in the middle of the headset is housing the LED which indicated charging status, battery and operation. The large silver multi-functional button on the front is used to accept, transfer or reject calls. There is also a jog wheel located on the top of the headset which is used to adjust the volume, put the headset in pairing mode or mute the headset. Right next to it is the charging port. The ear-hook is can be inserted in the headset either for the left of right ear. Unlike the one used in the Logitech Mobile Freedom, the Scala-500 ear-hook is gently and did not create discomfort.

Front

Back with ear-hook removed
Back

Back
Side
Front


The headset is relative light-weighted with its 0.58 ounces and about 2.5 inches length. The ear-piece located on the back is raised so it can get closer to your ear-canal, but it does not go inside it (like Jabra BT250). Once put on, the headset feels securely positioned and even vigorous head-shake does not make it wobble.
The Scala-500 is also ideal for people who wear glasses. Instead of using the ear-hook, Cardo has included eyeglass clip in the sales package. The clip is attached to the eyeglass' frame so the user is not inconvenienced by the headset's ear-hook and the eyeglass' rim behind the ear. This setup proved to be extremely comfortable and pretty much I forgot that I was wearing a headset.
For carrying the Scala-500, Cardo has included a plastic carry-sleeve which can be either worn as a neckband or as a belt clip. Alternatively, you can use the enclosed carry-key.
Insert it into the charging jack and carry it as a neckband.

Carring the Scala using belt-clip and carry sleeve and the neckband
Using the neckband and the carry-key

Eyeglass clip on sun-glasses.




Functionality
The Scala-500 supports Bluetooth 1.2 specification which means devices are discovered more reliably, their audio quality will be better, and they will have better reliability under interference conditions (compared to 1.1 Bluetooth version devices). The discovery and pairing with the Scala was easy and trouble-free – just press the Jog-wheel, hold it for 6-7 seconds after which both red and blue LEDs will start blinking. Initialize device search from your phone and after the Scala is discovered, enter the default “0000” code. The volume is adjusted by turning the wheel to the right or left. Pushing it during a call will mute the headset. To redial the last dialed number, press the silver button for 3 seconds. If you hold it for 3 seconds when the phone is ringing the call is rejected. Pressing it once when you are not in a call will invoke the voice dialing (if your phone supports it).

Performance
Scala-500 is equipped with patent-pending proprietary technology called WindGuard which should overcome wind interference better then other similar solutions on the market (Logitech Mobile Freedom). Please keep in mind that the WindGuard is not a DSP solution, but rather a design one. For our tests we use a small fan supplied to us by Logitech to test their Mobile Freedom headset. The comparison chart below shows at what distance the voice was not garbled by the wind.

Model

Type of wing suppression

Range

Cardo Scala-500

Design

7.87in (20sm)

Logitech Mobile Freedom

Design

9.84in (25sm)

Jabra BT800

DSP

11.81in (30sm)

Jabra BT250

None

23.6in (60sm)

The table above shows at what distances the air-stream created by a fan does not suppress the voice of the person using that headset

As the chart clearly shows, so far the Scala-500 is really the headset with the best wind suppression from all we have tested. On the other hand, in my ambient noise test (testing how the headset performs when there is loud surrounding ambient noise – radio, tv etc), the Scala-500 did not score well. The surrounding blare was muffling my voice pretty much. Keep in mind though that this test just tries to compare the different headsets. In the real world, such clatter could be heard only in a disco club for example.

In our sound quality tests, the Scala-500 reproduced voices very clearly with full tonal range. The loudness on the other hand seemed to be insufficient. Even with the volume set to maximum I would characterize the level of loudness as average, not loud. Cardo needs really to work on this a little more.

In our range tests, the Scala-500 performed very well. We were able to reach about 50 feet away from the phone and still be able to communicate despite the distortion. The Bluetooth 1.2 specification calls for up to 30 feet range, but as you can see most headsets archive more then that.

Model

Range (feet)

Jabra BT250

25

Logitech Mobile Freedom

45

Cardo Scala-500

50

Jabra BT800

150

The table above shows at what distance communication was possible when there was a clear line of site between the headset and the phone.

The battery according to the specification lasts up to 9 hours. In our continuous music playing test, we got 8 hours which so far is the best achievenent out of the all Bluetooth headsets tested. The stand-by time is rated at up to one week, so with moderate talk of about 30 minutes a day, the headset should last about 3-4 days without being recharged.



Comfort

Given my not-so-great experience with Jabra BT800 and Logitech Mobile Freedom I was skeptical as to how comfortable the Scala-500 will be. It is very important for me how long can I wear the headset without feeling any soreness in my ear. To my surprise the Scala-500 turned out to be very comfortable to the ear. Even after having it on for three and more hours of continuous use there was just a slight discomfort felt befind my ear. Another plus is the ease with which the headset can be put on with just one hand. Even though the Scala-500 wobbles just a little bit if the head is shaken vigorously, it sits very securely on your ear.

Conclusion
Not being one of the major players in the headset market has not impeded Cardo Wireless from creating one of the best-all around Bluetooth headsets we have tested. Starting with sleek and contemporary design, continuing with the best wind-noise cancellation we have seen so far, and ending with excellent sound quality, range and battery life, Scala-500 is really a bargain given its $79 MSRP.



PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless