Product review - Callpod Dragon V2 Bluetooth headset
When looking for products to review, I'll usually stay clear from Bluetooth headsets. There are simply too many of them, and rarely does a headset do anything special. The Dragon V2 is different, and has a long list of features not found on most other headsets.
The Dragon V2 promises a couple of things that made me pay some extra attention to it; amazing battery life, huge range, the ability to connect to other Dragon headsets and use it as a Walkie-talkie, and the ability to pair to multiple Bluetooth devices at the same time. I'll go over each of these features one at a time.
One of the main reasons I've never been a big Bluetooth headset fan has always been the lack of endurance from their batteries.
A headset becomes pretty useless on a trip if you need to recharge it every 8 hours. The Dragon V2 has a manufacturer specified battery life of 8 days standby or 300 hours talk time.
Since I wasn't willing to devote a full week to talking on the phone, I simply left the Dragon paired to my phone in the on position for over a week. After 7 days it was still able to make a phone call for me.
If you have ever been suckered into buying one of those $10 headsets from the bargain bin at your local drugstore, you'll probably have some experience with the Bluetooth crackle of death. This is when you start to lose the signal as soon as your phone moves more than 5 inches away from the headset.
Improvements have been made with Bluetooth devices, including a newer version of the technology, and most A-name headset companies have switched to this new system.
The Dragon V2 naturally supports this, but takes it one step further with an even larger range. In my test, I was able to leave my phone in one corner of the house, and walk outside to the mailbox before I started noticing a very slight drop in call quality. This extended range is fantastic if you leave your phone in your jacket, and walk away from your desk to get a cup of coffee.
Dragon to Dragon communications
This feature on the Dragon V2 is one that impressed me the most. To use a Bluetooth device with another Bluetooth compatible device, you need to "pair" them. This involves letting each device know who they are allowed to communicate with. In a normal setup, this would be between the headset and a phone, or a laptop computer.
The Dragon V2 actually allows you to pair with another Dragon headset. By pairing 2 headsets, you instantly turn them into a Bluetooth enabled walkie-talkie! The headsets communicate directly with each other, without the need for a phone.
When you are wearing the headset, you simply press the multifunction button to open a voice channel to the other paired headset. This feature is perfect for at the airport, or anywhere else you don't want to make an expensive phone call.
Of course, the range is limited to the transmission range of the headset (about 330 feet), so don't expect to be able to talk from one end of Disneyland to the other. One other advantage, is that Bluetooth is an approved system in almost every country in the world, so you don't have to worry about the legality.
Another benefit from the newer Bluetooth standard is the ability to use a headset with multiple devices at the same time. If you are often on the road, you'll probably have some kind of VOIP or Internet calling program on your PC (Skype is a prime example).
Using multipoint means you can have the headset connected to your PC and your phone at the same time, and don't have to worry about connecting or reconnecting each time you need to use either one.
The Dragon V2 in day to day use
If you are used to a tiny headset, then you'll probably find the Dragon to be a bit of monstrosity. It really is quite a bit larger than most headsets on the market today. That said, it is still about a third the size of my very first Bluetooth headset (the Ericsson HBH-10).
The headset has an easy to adjust ear clip, and once you find the right fit, it actually feels very comfortable, without feeling like it will fall out of your ear at any moment.
The headset has 2 buttons; one is a rocker switch/power button on the side, and the other is the multifunction switch on the front. The rocker switch also controls the volume.
The headset charges using a regular mini-USB charging cable, which in my opinion is absolutely brilliant. Almost anyone on the road will have at least one mini-USB charger in their bag. The headset package includes an AC charger, a DC (car) charger, a USB cable and a mini-USB charger tip for the Callpod Chargepod (recently featured as one of our top 25 travel products of 2008).
Also included in the box is an assortment of ear pieces and a carrying pouch with enough room for the headset and all its chargers.
Audio quality on the Dragon V2 is outstanding, and I found it to be one of just a few headsets that is actually able to produce a good amount of volume. The headset features an active noise cancellation system and dual microphones, and not once did I hear any complaints from people on the other end of my calls.
The Callpod Dragon V2 costs $99, but is available from retailers like Amazon.com for around $67.
The Callpod Dragon V2 has restored my faith in Bluetooth headsets. Good battery life, excellent range and the ability to charge using a common mini-USB charger make it a winner in my books.
Of course, the one thing no Bluetooth headset will ever change, is the "dork factor", don't be one of those people wearing their headset 24/7, and remember that there is no need to yell when you are making a call on your headset.
Filed under: Gadling Gear Review