Equipped with support for multiple languages, aggressive noise cancellation and a host of other advanced communication skills, the $129.99 Voyager Edge represents Plantronics’ latest stab at a high-tech tool for mobile voice chat. It sits alongside the company’s popular Voyager Legend ($99.99), another premium hands-free product. Additionally, the Edge replaces the Discovery 975SE which was crafted to be as sleek as possible without sacrificing call quality.
Indeed despite it’s compact size, the Edge uses the same impressive audio system as its big brother the Voyager Legend. This includes three discrete microphones and a boom arm to better pick up the words you say. The result is sound transmission that’s equal to the Legend and cleaner than its chief competitor, the bite-sized Jawbone Era 2014 ($129). Of course the Edge can’t match the Legend’s 7-hour talk time or the Era’s ultra-discreet design.
Design Continuing where the 975SE left off, the fresh Voyager Edge has the same distinctive diamond-shaped body. Relatively compact, the Edge sports a long, thin boom, too, which houses its microphone array. It also relies on a design that forgoes a bulky earloop, an approach the Legend and Jabra Motion take. Even though the Edge is a lot smaller than these gadgets, it’s nowhere near as tiny as the bite-sized and recently refreshed Jawbone Era. But while the Era lacks any physical controls save for a power switch and multifunction button, the Voyager Edge sports a real volume rocker and voice command key. Like the Era, the Edge uses a standard Mini-USB port for charging up and interfacing with PCs.
As for wearing the Voyager and overall ear fit, I find that the Jawbone Era more comfortable than the Edge. That’s because the Era’s teardrop silicone ear gel is much softer than the tough, rubbery sleeve around the Edge’s earbud. The Era also has a tighter seal and ultimately is more stable, probably since its pliable and pointed ear gel actually enters the ear canal. The result is I can really jam it in there. This is a huge contrast to the Edge whose earbud is meant to sit outside and at the entrance to the ear. Initially it felt less secure to me, but I admit I prefer in-ear earphone styles.
After fiddling with the Edge’s ear tip for a spell, however, I was able to find my personal sweet spot. Basically if I angled the ear tip’s stabilizer loop so that it hooked into the inner fold of my ear, then the device stayed put. And because the headset became more stable using this technique, its comfort and fit improved greatly.
Bluetooth abilities and other extras Supporting the Bluetooth 4.0 standard, the Voyager Edge packs in plenty of slick capabilities which belie its slim profile. The device uses a group of three microphones which work in unison to stamp out background noise and transmit your voice cleanly to people on the other end of the call. Essentially it’s the same hardware onboard the larger Voyager Legend, and in theory trumps the noise-cancellation systems of the Jawbone Era and older Discovery 975SE (both have dual mics).
Other tricks the Edge has in its tool belt are dual-capacitive sensors to detect whether you’re wearing it or not. Users can simply place the Edge in their ear when a call comes in and the headset will automatically answer. And because the device supports voice commands, you can also pick up incoming calls by saying, “Answer.” If English isn’t your tongue of choice, the Edge offers Spanish, French, Cantonese, and Mandarin as well.
Plantronics includes a nifty battery case inside the Voyager Edge kit. Besides functioning as a way to transport and protect the headset, a built-in battery ups the Edge’s 6 hours of talk time to 16 hours (through repeated charges). Still, the Legend offers a longer 7 hours of continuous gab time. The Era provides the shortest stand-alone longevity at just 4 hours without its battery case.
Finally, the Edge boasts near-field-communication circuitry for quick pairing with compatible smartphones. Just tap the gadget to the back side of your handset to create a new Bluetooth connection. For instance, a few seconds were all it took to get the Edge up and running on my Nexus 5 and Galaxy Note 3 test phones.
Performance I have to say I was impressed by how well the Voyager Edge handled real-world conditions. When linked to my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 test phone, calls I made using the wireless Bluetooth connection came through the headset loud and clear. Most importantly, the Edge transmitted my voice cleanly whether I was sitting in an office building conference room or talking on crowded New York City streets.
In fact, even surrounded by noise from construction, thundering trucks, and chatty passersby, people on the other end of the call could easily hear me. In contrast, audio quality was muddy when I conducted phone calls on the Jawbone Era (at the same location, time, and with an identical test handset). The Edge carried calls as cleanly as that of the Voyager Legend, which makes sense given that they both rely on the same hardware. To put things in perspective, though, I have to stress that talking through Note 3’s mouthpiece delivered the best calling experience, proving there’s always a price for going hands-free.
Conclusion I admit I didn’t expect the Plantronics Voyager Edge to impress me as much as it did. After all, it lacks the large, robust over-ear boom mic design employed by the company’s $99.99 Voyager Legend and the Jabra Motion – both of which boast excellent call quality. Likewise, while the Edge is much sleeker than its predecessor the Legend, it can’t match the shockingly small size of the Jawbone Era.
In the end, my misgivings proved unfounded. Not only is the Edge as good at killing background din and isolating your voice as the Voyager Legend, it sounds noticeably better than the Era without being a heck of a lot bigger. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth headset that strikes an admirable balance between performance and possessing a compact frame, the Voyager Edge can’t be beat.