Review by Andrew Kameka on Friday June 13, 2014.
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My love affair with Bluetooth ended last year when I traded my contact lenses in for glasses and grew tired of the awkward dance of having two objects fighting for space on my ear. However, Bluetooth and I rekindled our relationship this year thanks to the release of the Plantronics Voyager Edge, a Bluetooth earpiece with a design unique enough to not dominate my ear.
The Plantronics Voyager Edge has no hinges, latches, or anything else that needs to be strapped over your ear. The design relies entirely on a silicone ring placed below the top ridge of an ear. A light piece of equipment -- in small, medium, or large sizes -- coolly nestles within the ridge and stays there securely thanks to the Edge's light body. The earpiece measures only 2.8 x 0.8 x 0.8in (71.12 x 20.32 x 20.32mm), so it's a preferable design compared to last year's over the ear Voyager set. I've held long conversations while washing the dishes, putting away groceries, and walking rapidly through the city without ever having it fall out, The design of the earpiece made those activities feel as comfortable as I would were I sitting at my desk holding the same conversation.
The Edge has a few other tricks like moisture resistance to withstand rain drops or accidental drink spills, tap and pair with NFC, and automatically answering phone calls when picking up the Edge and placing it in your ear. There's a button that can trigger voice commands, and a smartphone companion app can locate a misplaced earpiece. Thanks to A2DP support, you can listen to any audio source from a paired phone. It won't replace a good pair of headphones by any means, but it was nice to still be able to listen to podcasts on my commute when I forgot my headphones.
The main reason that I've used the Voyager Edge is because I have no choice. New Jersey is one of many states that bans holding a cell phone while driving, and I'd rather not deal with those costly tickets. To that end, the Edge has proven a class above other Bluetooth headsets that I've used. Audio quality remains crisp thanks to high volume without any distortion or piercing sound. Driving from Newark to Philadelphia last month, I made it 15 minutes down the Turnpike without once having to repeat myself.
Plantronics's noise cancellation tech in the Voyager Edge helps drown out clutter, and the headset is compatible with HD Voice smartphones to ensure the calls remain crystal clear. There are also three microphones in the headset that are all tuned to minimize noise and pick up clear vocals. The Voyager Edge has two way cancellation, so you'll be able to hear the person over the noise around you, and the microphone will block out much of the racket in your background. The only complaint I had was that the mic couldn't block out very strong winds one day, but the person on the other end was still able to hear me.
The Voyager Edge has very good battery life (6 hours talk time), and a portable charging cable that adds an extra 10 hours of talk time. I've kept the cradle in a small zip in my backpack, and it can also be tucked into a purse. There's a small fabric hook at the end in case someone wants to attach it to a set of keys, but I wouldn't recommend that given the cradle's size. In the event that you can't get to a charger, or you simply want a small dock for cord-free charging, the Voyager Edge and its included cradle can support a lot of gabbing.
The main competition for the Voyager Edge is the Jawbone Era, which boasts many of the same virtues. The Era is also tiny, which may appeal to many because the slightly smaller size is less conspicuous. That's a win for the Era in terms of style; however, I'd still rate the Edge as the better sounding and longer lasting of the two. In the areas that matter most for a Bluetooth headset -- comfort, sound quality, and battery life -- the Plantronics Voyager Edge earns very high grades. Combined with the aforementioned fantastic build quality and superb audio clarity, recommending the $129 Voyage Edge is one of the easiest calls I can make.
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.