Technology

The Scala-700 Headset: No Going Back


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Editor's Rating: star rating

Even if you've resisted the pull of Bluetooth-enabled headsets, once you try this lightweight model you may well join the horde

It took me a while to embrace a Bluetooth headset. I long associated them with those sometimes annoying, workaholic guys walking down the street or through an airport appearing to yabber at no one. But now I'm one of them, though in my defense I restrict use of the earpiece to my car and office, for the most part.

Neither Esquire nor GQ, to my knowledge, has blessed the permanent installation of any Bluetooth earpiece as a savvy fashion accessory. But should the stamp of approval be granted, it's likely to land on the Scala-700.

The headset connects wirelessly using Bluetooth technology, fits snugly and comfortably over time, and ably handles a range of calling features, all while delivering crisp sound.

Smaller and lighter than the earlier Scala 500, the 700 is the same thickness. It holds to the ear by means of a bendable plastic ear loop. It fit well from the start, but one of the real tests of a headset is how comfortable it remains over time. One of the few outdoor places I allowed it to remain in my ear was a flea market/antique fair, where I kept it in for four hours. At a zoo, it remained in for three hours. No ear fatigue. Indeed, the 700 is so well designed and light that I haven't experienced ear fatigue at all, even after months of use.

Clear Calling

The Scala-700 also handles calls capably. Transfers are immediate, which hasn't been the case with other models I've used. On incoming calls, the device chimes a musical note. Redial works well, and you won't have any trouble finding the 700 when you've taken it off. I carry a backpack that's often chockablock with stuff, including a microcasette recorder, cell phone, notebooks, magazines, and the like. If I tossed in that little 700, it could easily get lost. So, I like the cool feature that locates the Scala by pressing the volume up/down buttons on my Treo repeatedly, which causes the headset to start buzzing.

My wife and other people I call frequently tell me I sound clearer on the Scala-700 than I do when speaking directly into my Treo 700. That's impressive. Even though the Scala-700 doesn't have an in-ear design like some others, it stays in the ear, not just comfortably but also quite securely. No slippage.

The Scala-700 also works with a variety of handsets and can store pairing information for as many as eight phones. To pair the headset, turn the headset off then hold down the jog wheel until the LED flashes red and blue alternately. Among phones compatible with the 700 are Palm's (PALM) Treos, Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry, and devices made by Samsung and LG—though some models may connect easier than others.

Plenty of Features

For people wanting to toggle between a work and personal phone, the Scala handles the chore quite well. After pairing with each phone, it automatically reconnects to the last phone with which it pared. You can swap between the two most recently paired phones by pressing the jog wheel twice. The headset connections will then switch between the two.

The Scala-700 supports common and advanced features that most of us don't use that often. But it's nice to know they're there when a person decides to stretch their calling repertoire. It will handle call muting and volume adjustment, for example. And for phones that operate hands-free, you can use the headset to voice dial, use call waiting, and conference call, among other advanced features. I still do most of that on my Treo screen. Old habits die hard. The 700 also has a button lock so that it doesn't accidentally dial when you store it in a pocket or bag.

The talk time on the Scala-700 is 10 hours, while the standby time is 240 hours. Wireless range is 33 feet. Charging time is between two and three hours.

You too may find yourself irked by those who go through life with a headset over one ear. But after trying the Scala-700, you just might become one of them.

Kiley is a senior correspondent in BusinessWeek's Detroit bureau.

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