TreoCentral's James Hromadka reviews the Plantronics Explorer 320 bluetooth headset.
Read on for the full review.
I had high hopes for the Plantronics Explorer 320. I have always been a fan of the company's landline headset products and still use them to this day. I was hoping that the Explorer 320, with its long talk time and diminutive size would be just as useful. Unfortunately I was wrong.
On paper, the Explorer 320 looks like a winner. It is very lightweight (0.6oz / 17g) and looks sharp. The blue LED is small and not as annoying as some other headsets, and the earpiece quickly swivels so you can switch ears. The Explorer 320, unlike any headset I have ever used, has only one button. The button pulls double-duty, acting as both a volume control and as an action button when pressing it in.
To pair the Explorer 320, hold the action button in for 6 seconds until the LED continuously blinks blue then red. Passcode is four zeroes. Unlike other headsets, the volume control and action buttons are combined into a single button. Rock the button to adjust the volume or press it in to answer/disconnect calls.
It is this unique all-in-one button that makes the Explorer 320 a real pain to use. By combining buttons, it is very difficult to press the action button instead of the volume controls. The earpiece uses a hard rubber nub that goes into the ear canal. When I have seen this feature on other headsets, the rubber nub could be removed, but it is a permanent fixture on the Explorer 320. If you don't like inner-ear nubs, you're out of luck.
Sound quality was poor. Audio was scratchy and cut in and out unless the headset was within a few feet of the Treo. It was even worse when the Treo was in a skin case. On the other side of the call, audio was Ok but got worse when I moved a few steps away from the Treo.
The Treo didn't seem to play well with the Explorer 320 either. If I switched back to handset use, the Treo's microphone would sometimes stop working or the Treo would become sluggish for a few moments. I even had a soft reset once.
The Plantronics Explorer 320 is a very disappointing headset. While it is certainly a nice-looking headset that is lightweight and has excellent battery life, the poor usability, unacceptable audio abilities, and issues with the Treo make the Explorer 320 a poor choice for a Bluetooth headset. Stay away from this one.
(First posted at TreoCentral on Dec 2, 2005