Plantronics has released its latest entry-level Bluetooth headset, the Plantronics Explorer 395, which offers a simplified user experience aimed specifically at people that haven't used a Bluetooth headset in the past.
And we have to say it was really easy to use. We charged it up using the mains (you get a UK and 2-pin adaptor in the box as well as a 12V car charger) and away we went. Officially Plantronics state that you can get 5 hours of talktime and up to 7 days of standby with this device, which seemed about right in our tests.
Pairing it up to our iPhone was very straightforward, there is a pin code (the default 0000 as usual) but it wasn't needed. You only have three buttons to worry about - a volume adjuster, an on/off switch and a call button. The call button answers and hangs up all calls that come through to your paired device and if you double tap it outside of calls, it will call the last contact you rang on your phone. The speaker was clear and there were no volume issues at all.
There's no noise cancellation with the Explorer 395, but it has got digital signal processing (DSP) technology to reduce noise, echo and wind distortion. We tried out the headset in a number of situations, including sitting right next to a speaker with music belting out and the call recipients all said that the call was clear and that background noises seemed distant. Some people did say that we sounded a bit tinny when using the 395 but no one said this was a major problem.
If there's a fault with the 395 it's that the earpiece isn't the most comfy we've come across. It's not uncomfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but you can definitely tell the difference between the 395's slightly bulky earpiece and the ergonomically pleasing pieces you get with £50+ headsets.
We also paired the 395 to a PS3 and used it during an on-line game of Resistance: Fall of Man. The PS3 found it without any problems and, once you've changed the audio settings in your PS3 setup menu, you should be able to use it in any headset compatible game. You cannot, however, pair the 395 with multiple devices at the same time. It can only handle one pairing at a time.
Overall, for less than £30 you can't really knock the Plantronics Explorer 395. It does what it says it will do, and it does it well. It's basic, for sure, but do you really need a feature-ridden Bluetooth headset?
If you're looking for a first time Bluetooth headset the Plantronics Explorer 395 would be perfect. In fact, if you're looking for your umpteenth Bluetooth headset, and you want one that functions well without costing much then, again, the Plantronics Explorer 395 would be perfect.