PROS:Long battery life. Won't fall off your ear. Long range. Built-in voice commands. Completely reversible. Solid noise cancellation.
CONS:Ear hook takes some finesse to fit perfectly over glasses. Not quite as comfortable as previous Voyagers.
BOTTOM LINE:The Plantronics Voyager 5200 headset continues to set the standard for Bluetooth voice quality, but this model is a little less comfortable than previous generations.
The Plantronics Voyager series has long been the Bluetooth headset of choice for people who are really serious about their Bluetooth headsets. The Voyager 5200 ($119.99), the latest in the series, isn't quite as comfortable as Voyagers past, like the Voyager Legend$57.99 at Amazon. That said, the 5200 carries on the Voyager's reputation as the best Bluetooth headset on the market for intense, mission-critical voice calling. That makes it worthy of our Editors' Choice.
Design and Fit
Make no mistake: Voyager headsets are gigantic chunks of kit that scream, "I'm wearing a headset!" This may actually be good, because as I was testing headsets last week, my daughter kept worrying about whether I was going insane and talking to myself. No such danger with the 5200, which pairs a 2.25-inch behind-the-ear unit with a 2.75-inch-long red-and-black boom. No one will question whether you are wearing a headset or responding to the voices in your head.
I've loved previous Voyagers because their over-the-ear design makes them super secure. The 5200 doesn't fit me as well as older models. I think the ear hook is a little shorter than it used to be, so I had a little trouble getting it past the temple of my glasses, and the earbud hung a little bit high in my ear until I spent some time settling it. That is disappointing, and reduces the perceived volume a bit.
The headset has a physical on/off switch on the back, and two easily findable and pressable volume buttons on top. On the boom, there's a call button and a voice command button. The boom swings around, making the headset completely reversible between the right and left ears, and there are three different eartip sizes for the best fit.
Feature-wise, the 5200 has it all, for a Bluetooth headset. It pairs via NFC or Bluetooth, and you can pair it to multiple devices. It announces callers' names and lets you tell it whether to answer or ignore calls by voice. Built-in voice commands let you dictate text messages and get directions, with more accuracy than I got from Google Now on other headsets. It won't read your texts to you, though. A smartphone app, Plantronics Hub, lets you make the headset beep if you lose it, and monitor its battery life from your phone.
Thanks in part to its huge size, the 5200 has the best range of any headset I've tested recently, able to hit about 60 feet when in line of sight from the handset, although calls became pretty poppy after about 40 feet. Speaking of that popping: Interference sounds better on the Voyager 5200 than on other headsets we've tested. On other headsets, it often comes through as digital garble, which is difficult to understand. But on the 5200, interference sounds like pops and clicks, through which you can still clearly make out a voice.
Noise cancellation is aggressive on the 5200, and the price is a little bit of robotic voice quality. That said, it mutes background cars and buses with no problem. Wind noise offers a bit more of a challenge, and some wind made it through in testing (wind noise has always been an issue for Voyager headsets). But the 5200 is definitely your best choice for transmissions from very noisy areas.
The Voyager 5200 isn't perfect. I'm a little disappointed in its battery life, given its size. We got 5 hours, 16 minutes of voice calling, which is less than the seven hours promised. If that makes you nervous, an optional $39.99 charging case holds two more battery charges. The headset can be closed into the battery case, or can sit up in it, ready to be plucked out and used.
Plantronics Voyager headsets have had excellent voice quality for years. If you have a previous Voyager model like the amazing Legend, you don't need to replace it with the 5200. But if you're shopping for a heavy-usage, indoor-outdoor Bluetooth headset right now, the Voyager 5200 is still the benchmark by which we judge the rest, and our Editors' Choice.