Plantronics Voyager 510: A pretty darn good Bluetooth headset

As a follow up to my review of the Motorola E815, I wanted to share the good experience I’ve had with the Plantronics Voyager 510 Bluetooth Headset. Not only does the Voyager 510 work well with my bluetooth phone, but it also works great with the bluetooth on my Mac when using skype.

Before I tried the Voyager 510 , I was skeptical that the sound quality of a bluetooth headset would ever be good enough to replace a wired headset. I had a little evidence to support this fact. For starters, I borrowed a friend’s headset, which I believe was the HS-850. I wrongly assumed that this top-of-the-line headset produced by Motorola would be the perfect match for my Motorola phone. Unfortunately, I found the audio quality was poor, with that tin-can sort of sound. People on the other end could hear me as long as there wasn’t any other noise around, but it all seemed very fishy. How the heck do those little mics work when they are so far away from your mouth anyways?

Overview

Enter the Plantronics Voyager 510 The earpiece is kinda like an ear bud, and gets pretty far into the ear canal. This configuration gets the sound a lot closer to the eardrum, and increases the sound quality quite a bit. Next, notice the long rubberized cushion that doubles as the battery back and the hanger-on-the-ear piece. I believe the large surface area of this part enables the headset to stay comfortable even after long periods of use. I’ve been on a few 3 hour conference calls with this headset, and never had the urge to rip the headset off my ear because it was painful. Finally, the mic is on the end of a small boom which seems to help a lot with sound quality for folks on the receiving end. Lyla has even told me that she thinks I sound better when using the Voyager 510 than when I use my cell phone alone. In fact, Lyla is getting a Voyager 510 for herself since she likes mine so much.

Skype

The Voyager 510 features “Multipoint Technology”, which is supposed to mean that you can pair two different connected bluetooth devices at the same time without too much trouble. I’ve been connecting the Voyager 510 to my Mac via bluetooth as my skype headset, and it’s been working pretty good recently. When I first started using the headset with my Mac, I did run into a few odd problems where skype wasn’t able to pair with the headset, but I suspect that was a problem that’s been resolved in a recent OS X update as it’s been working flawlessly recently. Remember those 3 hour conference calls I referred to previously? Those were all over skype. Not bad I say, not bad.

Minor gripes

As glowing as my review here is, there are a few minor issues. I miss the way the HS-850 instantly connects to your phone when you open the headset. It’s also a little annoying that I have to use a separate charger for the headset. Some of the newer Motorola headsets allow you to plug into any USB port for charging, cutting down on the amount of stuff you have to carry with you when you travel.

wrap up

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. The Plantronics Voyager 510 does the trick.

16 thoughts on “Plantronics Voyager 510: A pretty darn good Bluetooth headset

  1. Thanks for the review! I’ve had a 510 for about 4 or 5 months now (and I’m totally convinced that it’s the greatest headset on the market), but I’m about to pull the trigger on a Mac Mini tomorrow morning, and one of the many things I’ve been trying to figure out (I’m a Windows guy, more or less) is how I can make myself more productive. I take it you’ve been able to pair your 510 with your Mac and your phone at the same time and take calls on each?

    Later!

  2. Yes, I’ve been able to pair the headset with my Mac and my cell at the same time. I’m not really sure what happens if you try to use both at the same time, but I am able to switch back and forth without any trouble. Have fun with the new mac!

    -chrisk

  3. I have seen a couple of references to using a Plantronics Voyager 510 with a Mac — I was using my 510 with my PowerBook G4 and a D-Link external Bluetooth adapter successfully, but now that I have upgraded to a new Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro, I can’t get the headset to pair with the Mac at all. Am I missing something obvious? The MBP is running 10.4.8, with all the latest patches and updates, but when I go into set up device, select Headset and wait for it to discover the headset, there is no indication that there’s anything there… The headset is in pairing mode (flashing blue/red alternately), but never gets discovered.

    I believe the MBP is Bluetooth 2, wherease the D-link dongle was 1.1 or 1.2, I believe. Is this an issue?

    Regards,
    Scott

  4. Hi Scott,

    I have a Core Duo 1 Macbook Pro, and the headset is working fine.

    I’m no expert in this area, but I would see if bluetooth is working for you at all on your new machine. Can you try connecting to a cell phone with bluetooth? You might consider heading to the Apple store to see if they can help.

    -chrisk

  5. Thanks, Chris — based on your reply (which I just read today) I decided to try it again. This time, it worked! It paired with the MBP, and I was able to use it for a VOIP call… I don’t understand why it didn’t work before — no change in my procedure this time — the only thing that might have contributed is the MBP has been rebooted after several weeks of not being rebooted… so perhaps something was corrupt…

    Anyway, it seems to work!

    Thanks,
    Scott

  6. Did anyone work out how to pair with cell phone and PC for skype?

    I have a Logitech BT dongle.

    It has paired with the PC, but does not appear as an audio input/output option in either control panel or skype.

  7. Time for the stupid question. I have used the voyager on a pc lap top and it works fine with Skype. I also have an iMac PowerPC G4. The disk that came with the headset is not recognisable by the Mac. The question is do I need separate drivers for the Mac or should it recognise the headset.

  8. Great question! 🙂

    I’m pretty sure no drivers are required assuming your iMac has bluetooth and the version of OS X you have supports the bluetooth headset profile.

    I’ve used this headset with a PowerBook PowerPC G4 in the past. I think I had OS X 10.3 at the time…. it definitely worked with OS X 10.4.

    I hope that helps!

    -chris

  9. I Have a problem with my voyager 510. When I try to connect to my iMac (Leopard) it says that there are no configuration settings needed. But when i go to my audio settings it doesnt display my plantronics headset. And then when i check in my bleutooth settings i says that my headset is not connected. . .

    I have a external bleutooth stick and i am also using my wireless keyboard and mouse on it. Can somebody please help me with this problem.

    Thanks,

    Bas Blokhuis

  10. Hi,

    Im facing problems with V510 and flash movie players (youtube, openforum.com, etc).

    The movie loads, I hear the beep indicating the presence of audio signal, but the movie plays 2 seconds and stops. I upgraded Flash player (release 115) and tried to find any audio options related to this, but without sucess.

    This happens with anyone else? Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards,
    Leo

  11. Same problem flash movies stops after 2 secs. This happens when i plug in my Plantronics USB-transmitter. I am finding a lot of complaints about the 2 sec-and-stop-problem on forums, but there may be other causes for this too.

  12. As a result of your post I bought the Plantronics 510 to use as a bluetooth headset for Skype on Mac. It worked perfectly, although as you said the hang up / call button does not work.

    This was tested on OS X 10.5.6 and Skype (BETA) 2.8.0.324 with all the latest updates on an iMac 24″ Early 2008 model.

    It also pairs with my iPhone so I can use them together without having to switch config.

    I wrote a followup post with more detail on my blog at http://blog.boxedice.com/2009/05/12/bluetooth-headset-for-skype-on-mac/

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