Here’s a wireless headset you’ll actually want to pack

When it comes to wireless headsets, I had all but given up on finding something usable for my travels. The leading products are too bulky, uncomfortable or deliver inferior sound quality. I preferred the cheap wired unit that comes with my iPhone 3G.

voyager-proThen I tested the Plantronics Voyager Pro and now I can say there is hope. This is a headset you’ll actually want to pack for your next trip — if you can get past some of the minor inconveniences.

The Voyager Pro is the evolution of Plantronics’ popular over-the-ear Bluetooth headset, the Voyager 510. At a $99 list price, the exterior design is little-changed, but it comes with a host of new internal features, including souped-up noise cancellation and three layers of proprietary wind noise reduction.

I evaluated the Voyager Pro under several conditions: in a noisy home office, outdoors, and in a car. The headset delivered crystal-clear audio indoors, and I could hear just fine outside, even in intermittent wind gusts. But in the car, I had several minor issues with the Bluetooth signal. On the up-side, I found that the Voyager Pro was comfortable after an hour of constant use (even though it looks like an oversize hearing aid).

What I liked: The device is a snap to pair with your cell phone, charges quickly and offers a super-long talking time (up to six hours). Plantronics’ obsession with noise and wind-reduction really paid off, and I’d love to see similar technology used in other headsets (you reading this, Apple?)

What I didn’t like: Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t pair the headset with my PC or with my regular phone, a Plantronics Calisto Pro that I loved right up until the day my two-year-old daughter decided to drop my headset in the toilet. Had I been able to tether this Bluetooth headset, I would be one happy caller.

What others are saying: CNET gives the Voyager Pro a thumbs-up, saying its sound quality “simply cannot be beat.” The folks over at Slashgear also delivered an upbeat review, touting the Voyager Pro’s “amazing” sound quality. Boing Boing had a lukewarm write-up that berated its design but liked the headset’s battery life. Oh well, can’t win ’em all.

If you need a wireless headset, for your travels, you can’t do much better than the Voyager Pro. It may be the only wireless headset on the market that doesn’t sound like a wireless headset — and that’s saying a lot.