Plantronics Voyager Edge review

This is my review of the Plantronics Voyager Edge. I purchased the Edge from Amazon in May of 2015. So far this is a five month review. I intend to keep the review up to date with any problems or features I might come across in the future.

I used to think that bluetooth headsets were more or less useless. Yet another electronic gadget with a battery that needs to be recharged all the time. The Voyager Edge from Santa Cruz, California, headset maker Plantronics changed my mind. I mean, it really changed my mind. Plantronics has really outdone themselves with the Edge. I think this is pretty much the best bluetooth headset available right now.

Plantronics Voyager Edge

While I still sometimes use a good pair of in ear headphones with remote and mic, this has pretty much become my go to device when I need to talk to someone on the phone and do something else at the same time. You know. Multitasking. Typically this means driving, although sometimes I will do chores around the house while on hold with customer support, or I might troubleshoot someone’s computer problem over the internet while talking to them on the phone. Also, not having to actually hold the phone to my ear while talking to someone makes it a lot easier to write important stuff down, like appointments. Being able to talk to someone on the phone and use the notes app without resorting to the speakerphone is pretty awesome. “AM I ON SPEAKERPHONE???”

Of course, any decent pair of headphones with a built in microphone could serve these purposes fairly well. So why spend those hard earned dollars on something like this? For me, two reasons stand out.

The first is not having to deal with cables. This might sound like a kind of weak reason. But the first time I answered a call by popping the Edge out of its case, flipping the power switch, and swiveling it onto my ear I was hooked. The ridiculously short amount of time (seconds) it takes for the headset to power on, automatically connect to my phone, and automatically answer the call has completely changed my view on bluetooth peripherals. Keeping it powered off in the case and turning it on to answer a call is typically how I use the Edge (unless I’m driving) and this has been flawless so far. Answering a call with headphones is easy enough if I happen to already be wearing the headphones. Otherwise, it’s kind of a pain.

The second reason is sound quality. I’m not talking about the sound quality I hear on my side of the conversation. I would rate that as about as good as a decent pair of earbuds. Good, but not great. Certainly better (far better, I think) than holding the phone to my ear, but not up to high end headphone standards. Where the Edge really shines is in clearly picking up my voice so that the person on the other end of the line can clearly understand me. This is especially the case in noisy environments, where I wouldn’t really consider a headphone mic to be useable. The edge utilizes an array of three microphones, has a boom which allows for excellent microphone positioning, and uses active digital signal processing. A single microphone dangling on a headphone cable just cannot compete with that.

A little on the expensive side

At about $130, the Edge isn’t the cheapest bluetooth headset, however, it certainly isn’t the most expensive either.

When I ordered the Voyager Edge you see in this review, I paid $116.25. That was back in May of 2015. As of this writing, Amazon has the Edge listed for about $80. I think that’s a pretty darn good deal.

The Edge is available in Black, White, and Grey. Black seems to be the most common and I have found this color to typically be the less expensive of the three.

Superb design but still a headset

Plantronics Voyager Edge superb design but still a headset

The Edge looks great. It really does. I think this is about as good as headphone design gets. However… This is definitely a headset. What do I mean by that? Well, the Edge doesn’t try to hide the fact that it’s a headset. The boom, although slim and attractive, is unmistakably a boom. The edge, although small, lightweight, and good looking, is unmistakably a headset.

Devices like the Jawbone Era have a less traditional boom and overall design that some might prefer over the more classic style of the Edge. Then there’s the world’s smallest bluetooth headset, which does away with the boom entirely.

Let’s face it, wearing a headset isn’t exactly stylish. If you are really worried about looking silly wearing a headset, you might want to look elsewhere. Might I recommend a good pair of headphones with built in microphone and remote? I will admit, I am a little self conscious about being seen with this thing in my ear. Just a little. But I don’t walk around with it in my ear between calls. I take it off, flip the power switch, and pop it back in the charging case. Thanks to the superb engineering Plantronics put into this thing, that’s really easy to do. It’s pretty much become a single fluid motion for me.

If you are looking for a small, lightweight headset that looks great, is easy to use, provides exceptional call quality, and has excellent battery life, this is probably what you want. This is form meets function. I think this is probably about as small and sleek as you can get without sacrificing call quality. It is difficult to compete with the advantages of a well positioned microphone, let alone three of them.

Lightweight and fits well

Weighing in at just 9 grams (that’s less than a third of an ounce) the Voyager Edge is indeed lightweight. It’s light enough that I’ve forgotten it was in my ear several times.

The Edge includes three eartip sizes

I am very happy with the fit using the medium size eartip. The Edge comes with small, medium, and large gel eartips, in addition to an around-the-ear-style loop that can be clipped on for an even more secure fit.

The gel eartip that Plantronics uses is a big part of what sold me on the Edge. It contours nicely around the inner curve of the ear, providing a secure fit while making it super easy to put the headset on and take it off. It’s about as easy to put on as one of those non-in-ear earbuds, yet far more secure fitting.

How securely does the Edge stay planted in my ear without the external earloop? It stays in there pretty good. Things like walking around the house or driving on a bumpy road are no problem. I’ve even been able to put a sweater on (although carefully) without knocking it out. All without needing the earloop.

Need an even better fit? Maybe you want to wear the headset while riding on a rollercoaster (not recommended). That’s what the external earloop is for. A really secure fit. Now, personally, I would probably just not wear the headset in a situation where it would need to be anchored to my ear that securely. But I suppose there are more practical examples where the loop might come in handy. It is nice that Plantronics includes it.

What I don’t like about the external loop is that it isn’t compatible with the charging case. I think that the charging case is a big part of what really makes this headset. Unfortunately, when the earloop is attached, the headset is just too much for the charging case to handle. This is really too bad.

Plantronics Voyager Edge with earloop doesn't fit in charging case

Another downside of the external earloop (yeah, the loop is kind of a downer) is that it might make the headset become uncomfortable faster than it would without the loop. The loop is made of a fairly soft plastic material but isn’t nearly as soft as the gel eartips. I personally think the Edge gets fairly uncomfortable after many hours of continuous use with or without the earloop. Of course, this will vary from person to person. In general, I think most headsets will probably become uncomfortable after continuous all day nonstop use. Something to be aware of.

Simple and elegant design

Plantronics Voyager Edge with interface labels

On the headset there are two buttons, one rocker switch, one slider switch, and a small (tiny) multicolor LED indicator. Oh yeah, and there’s also the earpiece, three microphones, a micro USB charging and data port and a proprietary port on the boom for connecting it to the charging case. Let’s take a look at the above picture without the labels. Would you really guess that there were that many buttons, switches, and ports? I mean, this thing has more ports than the new 12 inch MacBook… Unless you consider the headphone jack to be a port. Then it has as many ports as the new MacBook. Yet, somehow, the Edge still manages to look simple and elegant.

Plantronics Voyager Edge without interface labels

But wait! There’s more. Because that’s not enough functionality, the charging case has two touch sensitive surfaces on either side of where the headset rests. Tap either of them and a series of LED lights will display the remaining battery life of the charging case and the headset. Obviously, if the headset isn’t in the case, this will only show you the remaining battery life of the charging case.

A well thought out interface

To control the Edge there’s a power switch, a volume rocker, a button opposite the earpiece, and a button halfway down the boom. The power switch and volume rocker do what you’d probably expect. The earpiece and boom buttons are multifunction.

The power switch is just a simple slider on/off switch. Like the rest of the device, it feels solid. There’s a satisfying click when flipping the switch on or off. One side of the switch is painted green to indicate that the device is powered on. I think this is a really nice touch. It’s the little things. When powered on the headset announces that it is on, which phone it is connected to (it can connect to more than one phone), and how much talk time is remaining (headset talk time, not phone talk time).

The LED indicator is small (tiny) and unobtrusive. It briefly lights up blue when powering the device on and red when powering the device off. The LED indicator also lights up briefly when performing certain other functions. I’ll get to that a little later.

The volume buttons adjust the volume of the device it’s connected to when connected to a phone call or when playing music or other audio from the device. Otherwise, the volume buttons adjust the volume of the announcements and tones on the headset itself.

Answer call/end call. A single press of the earpiece button will answer an incoming call. Another press ends the call.

Ignore call. Press and hold the earpiece button for about two seconds to reject an incoming call.

Call back. Double press the earpiece button to call the last number back (incoming or outgoing).

Siri/voice commands. Hold down on the earpiece button until a low pitch tone is heard then let go (about two seconds). The earpiece then emits the tone that is heard when connecting to a phone call and after a brief moment the iPhone’s voice command tone is heard. The whole thing takes a few seconds, which feels a little long. But this feature is still quite useful and I’ve mostly stopped noticing the few seconds of delay. Unfortunately, I did not test this with an android phone.

Mute. A single press of the boom button during a phone call mutes the headset’s microphones. Press the button again to disable mute. The headset will announce “mute on” and “mute off.” If smart sensors are enabled they will unmute the microphones when the headset is taken off.

Play/pause. With the Edge paired, hold the boom button down for about two seconds. You will hear a low pitch tone sound. Let go of the button and the music or audio will play or pause. I tested this on the iPhone 5s. It works well with the Music app and even third party apps like Audible. I should mention that the audio needs to be started from the phone before the headset can pause or resume playback.

NFC

The Edge does support NFC. Unfortunately, my iPhone 5s doesn’t. That said, I don’t really see this as much of a drawback. The pairing process has been flawless without the need for NFC.

Recharging without even realizing it

The charging case is just fantastic. I keep the Edge in its case most of the time I’m not using it and plug the case into a power source once every few days (usually in the car). The case has a built in battery that keeps the headset charged. Even if the case isn’t plugged into a power source, the headset is still getting charged. It’s like magic. Maybe I’m easily impressed. Of course, there’s a limit to this. According to the user guide, the charging case adds about 10 hours of talk time to the headset’s 6 hours. Basically, the case provides a little over one and a half full charges. In my testing the battery life was initially almost exactly what the user guide claims. After five months of consistent use, it’s more like 15 hours 50 minutes until the headset and case are completely dead. I think that’s pretty darn good.

The charging case and the headset each have a standard micro USB port for charging. While I do really like the case, I also really like having the option to charge the headset without it. A good, albeit kind of short, micro USB cable is included. A USB power adapter for the car is also included (nice). Unfortunately, a standard wall outlet adapter is absent. This was not a problem for me because I have tons of USB power adapters laying around that work great with this. However, for someone who doesn’t just happen to have a bunch of extra adapters laying around, collecting dust, this could be pretty inconvenient. Another solution I found that works pretty well is plugging the headset into a powered USB port on a computer.

I don’t use external batteries very often. Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice to have around and can come in pretty darn handy in a pinch. I have a mophie Powerstation Duo that I am happy with. I’ve had it for almost two years now and it still works great. HOWEVER! Plantronics has managed to sneak an external battery into something that I would have used either way. This is just fantastic! It’s like magic. I should mention that this feature isn’t exclusive to Plantronics. The Jawbone Era, for example, also has a charging case.

While we’re talking about external batteries, let’s talk about charging the headset while docked in the charging case with the charging case plugged into a power source. Spoiler alert: It works. This is the first external battery I have owned where the battery can charge while simultaneously charging a device plugged into it. This is awesome, although probably what should be expected.

So many ways to check how much battery is left

The Edge does a great job of keeping you in the know when it comes to battery life. I seriously doubt anyone is going to be running out of power without knowing about it well in advance. There are voice announcements, an LED indicator on the headset, LED indicators on the charging case, and even an indicator on the smartphone its connected to.

When the headset is docked in the case, press the little headset or case icons on either side of where the headset sits. A series of six LED lights on the case light up to indicate remaining battery life of the headset and case.

Right after turning the power switch on, the headset announces how many hours of talk time are remaining (the headset, not the phone).

If you happen to be using the Edge with an iPhone or iPad, a battery life indicator is displayed in the status bar when paired. I tested this feature on my iPhone 5s and it just happened automatically (or was it automagically). I’m not sure which phone or iOS version introduced this feature, but I can say that it definitely works as far back as iOS 7.

If you are using an Android phone, don’t worry, there’s an app for that. With the free Plantronics HUB app you can see battery life, customize settings, and get help. The HUB app requires Android v2.3.3 or later.

Reasonably durable and even water resistant

I have had the Edge since May of 2015. As of October 22nd it’s still alive and kickin’. It has held up well to being tossed in bags and stashed in one of the cup holders in my car.

While I don’t use this headset all the time, I would say that I am using it a good four or five days a week, for about an hour on average on the days that I use it. I don’t wear it between calls and it spends most of its time in the charging case.

The Edge provides some amount of water resistance with a moisture repelling nano coating from “THE GLOBAL LEADER IN LIQUID REPELLENT NANOTECHNOLOGY”. I haven’t tested this out yet, and to be honest, I don’t intend to. But it’s nice knowing that if an accident were to happen, that wouldn’t necessarily mean game over.

From what I can see, the construction is mostly plastic. Even so, the headset feels like a solid, well built device. The earpiece is metal mesh, and the ports are obviously constructed of metal. Many of the photos used in this review were taken after several months of use. As you can see, no scratches, dings, or dents.

Charging, upgrading, and customizing settings

The headset has two ports. A proprietary port on the boom makes it pretty easy to connect to the charging case. It just clicks right in. A micro USB port near the earpiece next to the volume buttons allows for charging without the case. Connecting the Edge to a computer with a micro USB cable and downloading software from Plantronics makes it possible to update firmware and customize settings on the Edge.

The dreaded random disconnect problem

I have read that some people have had problems with this headset randomly disconnecting while on a call. I am happy to report that I have not experienced this problem at all and I think this issue may have been solved in more recent iterations of the Edge.

While I really have no idea what is causing this problem, I have a suspicion that it has to do with the smart sensors. The Edge includes smart sensors that allow it to detect whether it is being worn or has been taken off. A malfunction with the sensors could conceivably cause the Edge to act as though it has been taken off, transferring the audio back to the phone’s earpiece and receiver, even though it’s still being worn. This might seem like a bluetooth related connection problem with the headset at first, even though it’s not.

This is obviously just a guess, but if I’m right, resetting or disabling the smart sensors could correct this problem. Fortunately, both of these things are pretty easy to accomplish.

Disabling the smart sensors: I don’t really use the smart sensors, so if they were causing me problems I would just disable them. It’s a neat feature, but simply flipping the power switch will transfer the call back to the handset. Disable the smart sensors by holding down both the boom and earpiece buttons for at least six seconds. The LED indicator on the headset will flash purple then red. Repeat this procedure to reactivate the sensors. When reactivating the sensors, the LED will flash purple then blue. It is important to make sure you aren’t connected to a call, listening to music, or otherwise using the headset while doing this. If this procedure isn’t working, it might be worth it to try unpairing with any devices it’s paired with and (with the headset still on but not connected) try again.

Resetting the smart sensors: It is also possible to reset the smart sensors. Place the headset on a nonmetallic surface with the earpiece pointing up and connect it to your computer with the included USB cable. Wait at least 10 seconds. The sensors should then be reset.

What’s included

  • Plantronics Voyager Edge bluetooth headset
  • Charging case
  • Car USB power adapter (no regular wall socket adapter)
  • Micro USB cable
  • Small, medium, and large gel eartips
  • Clip on earloop

Specifications

Talk time 6 hours
Charging case capacity Adds 10 hours talk time
Standby time Up to 7 days
Battery type Non-replaceable lithium ion polymer
Time until full charge Approximately 90 minutes
Weight 9 grams / 0.3175 ounces
Sensors Dual capacitive sensors (wearing status)
Noise canceling Triple mic active digital signal processing (DSP)
acoustic echo cancellation
sidetone detection
automatic volume adjustment
Water resistance P2i nano coating repels moisture
NFC Touch to pair with supported phones
Bluetooth profiles Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Wideband Hands Free Profile (HFP) 1.6, Headset Profile (HSP) 1.2, and Enhanced Data Rate (EDR)
Multiple device support Up to two phones
Ports Micro USB (case and headset)
Battery meter LED display on case, status bar in iOS, Plantronics app for Android
Operating temperature 32F – 104F / 0C – 40C