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Review:Plantronics M3500 Bluetooth mobile headset

By Vipul Shah

I have used this product for almost 5 weeks before I write this review. I have very mixed feelings about this product and still can’t make up my mind if this is best bluetooth headset available in market or worst bluetooth headset in market. This 27gram unit is technological marvel though it looks same as M3000 from outside.

It looks and functions just like its predecessor M3000 with same buttons and hanging on cheek look. I believe this look is not going to be there in future and you will see Jabra Freespeak 250 like behind the ear designs in future. Plantronics is introducing M2500 with behind the ear design and several other companies like 8COM are going for same design. Most people I spoke with don’t like wobbling hanging on cheek design; one famous international photographer said “Too wanna be techie!”

I find M3500 is worst headset introduced in market because of its tough on ear hard earloops. It comes with 2 earloops meant to fit ears of different sizes. It is too hard on ear and I doubt if anyone would wear it even if this product was given away free. Wearing M3500 even for few minutes causes severe pain. They are much worse then earloops found in M3000 After trying it out with this earloops bundled with M3500, I tried it with “nylon” earloops available separately for US$5, they are meant for Plantronics CS50/60 headset and they are very comfortable. You can wear M3500 with nylon earloops for hours without any problem. What makes me wonder is how did product guys let this product loose on consumer without including nylon earloops in box or at least reference to it in manual should original earloops cause discomfort.
(NOTE: After this review was published, Plantronics has informed me that what I received was not final product and now final product is shipping with Soft Nylon earloops, which makes M3500 best quality audio headset and comfortable one too.)

M3500 weighs 27gram and is supposed to have up to 3.5 hour of talk time and up to 76 hours of standby time. In my tests conducted several times it did reach very close to 3.5 hour of talk time, I tested this by streaming mp3 music from my home PC to headset on Sunday mornings. But it never reached anywhere close to 76hours on standby tests. Maximum it reached on standby without single calls being received was 52hours.

M3500 looks and weighs almost same as M3000 but inside everything is different. New Audio IQ technology and DSP technology with active noise cancellation makes M3500 stand apart in crowded headset market. This is ONLY headset available today which can be worn in crowded trains, buses, while walking on busy and noisy streets and still send and receive clearest noise free sound. In fact several times when I would switch from headset to my Siemens S55 phone speaker and mic, my friends at other end would start complaining about noise around and quality of sound dropping. I guess it is time that Plantronics license out this technology to phone makers to include it inside their phones. Quality was good enough that I kept hearing mp3 music from PC for days to conduct talk time tests, if it was not limited to 10 meter range I would have used it as my regular music device at home even though it is mono sound. DSP noise cancellation technology and Audio IQ technology has made its circuit board bigger and very little space is available for battery hence it has only 170mAh NiMH battery. This explains low standby and talk time. You can disable AudioIQ and DSP noise cancellation by pressing mute/power twice during any call and it will use 10% to 20% less battery for that call.

Plantronics is one company which keeps listening to product criticism and improves its product line and I can see it in this product. M3000 had shipped with 110V charger and you needed to buy extra universal charger as “accessories”. M3500 contains universal charger, a car charger, and carrying pouch for headset.

Like M3000, it supports handsfree profile and headset profile so if your phone supports you can send calls back and forth between headset and handset and use voice based dialing. Because quality of audio is very good you can also use it with PC for VoIP phone calls without tying yourself to PC/Laptop.

Overall M3500 is good value for money for street price of US$95. But keep $5 more ready for Nylon earloops.

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