Plantronics Explorer 500 Review

Plantronics Hub app


There’s a complementary app available for download, which offers some basic features that allow us to check out the headset’s connectivity status, battery life, and some other guides. It’s available for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows (no Windows Phone support, though).

Frankly, it’s generic and elementary in what is does – with only its battery indicator being the most notable feature. That being said, it really would’ve been nice if it offered some enhanced functions to make the app experience necessary, but it’s not.

Connectivity


Establishing connectivity with its Bluetooth 4.1 radio, we’re able to retain a connection to our device, a Samsung Galaxy S6 Active in this case, for up to 20 feet. It’s reasonable enough, since most of the time we’re always within reach of our phone.

With its reputation of being affordable, it lacks many of the newer conveniences we’re seeing with Bluetooth headsets – such as NFC connectivity or amplifications of some kind.

Call Quality


Two notable features of the headset is its support for HD voice and its dual microphones with noise-cancelling plus Digital Signal Processing (DSP). Despite having all of that, its call quality is rather disappointing, making it only effective to use for conversations in quiet locations. Through its in-ear speaker, it produces voices that are crackly and strained in tone – so putting the volume down a few notches casts a more neutral tone. Still, it doesn’t help that there’s still background noise to deal with. Conversely, our callers fair better on their end, since the headset’s dual microphones capture our voice with a lot of depth and robustness

Battery


Rated to deliver 7 hours of talk time, we’re able to get just a smidgen over that in our test drive. That’s more than enough in our books, honestly, unless you’re a phone operator of some kind. For most folks, the 7 hours of juice can deliver a good couple of days if it’s used intermittently. However, it would’ve been nice to have a shorter charge time, since it needs a good 120 minutes to be fully charged.

Conclusion


Bearing a sticker tag of $60, that’s considerably less than the majority of models currently on Plantronics’ lineup. Factoring its support for HD voice, it’s not something we see in many headsets under the $50 price mark, so it’s a feature that benefits the Plantronics Explorer 500. The more we think about it, though, it’s still tough to recommend picking up the headset – mainly because it delivers an underwhelming performance with its call quality. That alone makes it a hard sell in the greater scheme of things, seeing that entry-level headsets can be snagged around the $20 mark.



Pros

  • Simple design
  • Useful charging strap
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Disappointing call quality performance
  • Voices through the earpiece sound strained and crackly
  • No media controls whatsoever

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

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