Bluetooth headset maker Plantronics is today introducing a new headset that is the first of several coming product introductions that mark a change in direction for the design, packaging and marketing of its products.
The Plantronics M100, at a list price of $79.99, is billed as a mid-level Bluetooth headset by Jeff Ducote, category director for Bluetooth products at the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based firm. It also represents a new product naming protocol. Plantronics headsets have been divided into good-better-best categories, namely Explorer-Voyager-Discovery, respectively. The M-series, thus, will replace the Voyager line and the Explorer and Discovery names will be phased out for most, but not all Plantronics products. The company also makes headsets for computers and office phone systems.
The M100 includes specifications normally only in top line headsets but that are now migrating down to more affordable models. They include noise cancellation and wind noise reduction technology, dual microphones and digital signal processing.
The M100 also offers voice prompts to alert the user with announcements such as “power on/off,” “phone connected,” “lost connection” and others. The device weighs 9 grams, offers up to six hours of talk time before the battery needs to be recharged, and has an optional ear loop that you can use or not use, it’s your call.
Of note, to me at least, is a new on-off switch to power on the earpiece that is a physical slider, an alternative to switches that the user activates by pressing on a certain portion of the device. For me it’s hard for me to tell if by pressing on a certain area that I’ve actually activated the function I wanted to. Move the slider to black to turn the earpiece on, slide it to red to turn it off. Other controls like taking and ending a call are still activated by pressing a particular area on the case and having used several Plantronics earpieces over time, I’ve gotten used to how they work.
One design detail was somewhat puzzling. Many Bluetooth brands, including Plantronics, market their products as fashion accessories; the Jawbone Prime, for instance, comes in many bright colors. While the base M100 comes in Charcoal Gray, it is also available in bright colors such as Glow Greeen, Electric Blue and Sparkle Pink, but only on the inside of the device, the part that faces your cheek, not the side that faces the rest of the world. Ducote said that was done for customers who want a a little style but don’t want to be too showy. I guess in this recession, it’s bad form to show too much bling.
Personally, I think Plantronics kind of overthought that one, but you can get the M100 in bright, but low key colors, or basic gray. It’s up to you.
Other new Plantronics products are coming in the next few weeks. Check back in to this blog for that.