hands free mobile phone devices plantronics explorer 370 test

on your marks, headset, go!

Plantronics' Explorer 370 bluetooth headset helps drivers keep on the right side of the law while standing up to anything modern life can throw at it. Matt Low reports

With laws surrounding the use of mobile phones while driving becoming tougher all the time, it's important to equip yourself with a decent mobile phone headset. Headsets keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Although some models were once awkward, poorly made and uncomfortable, we're told in all the glossy ads that this is no longer the case. To find out whether that's really true, we thought we'd put one to the test, the unit we chose being Plantronics' Explorer 370.

Everyday life can be tough on electronics so it's important that when choosing your headset, you go for one that can withstand the world around you. There's no point buying an inferior headset that has a crackly line and falls off your head every couple of minutes before breaking the first time it comes into contact with a spot of rain.

The Explorer 370 from Plantronics looked a good choice on paper, being a shock-resistant, water-proof mobile phone headset that seems to be able to stand up to everything modern life can throw at it, while at the same time maintaining the comfort and ease-of-use you would expect from the company that supplied the headsets to NASA for the first moon landing.

In fact, the Explorer 370 is so tough, it has been certified by the United States Army's Developmental Test Command, for use in the field of battle. Battlefields are all well and good, but can it cope in the kind of family situation where you've got an important call to make and you're travelling in company with three tired children in the back of a people-carrier stuck in traffic on the M25?

Our experience on this front, we have to say, has been pretty positive. Well, yes, it can. Thanks to its shock-resistant and water-proof design, it can withstand spilt drinks, falling out the window, being stamped on, even being run over if your kids are particularly wild.

Even more impressively, if you're more used to an active and adventurous lifestyle and find yourself regularly getting in and out of your vehicle in adverse weather conditions, then our experience suggests that the Explorer 370's water-proof build and windshield technology will ensure your call remains as clear as it reasonably can be while you drive up hills in your 4x4 or plough through a ford in your truck. Again, the Explorer 370 is perfect if you work in loud, dusty areas where there's the potential to drop something on the headset or come into contact with dirt.

This unit also features QuickPair technology to simplify headset-to-mobile phone pairing and provides up to seven hours of talk time and up to eight days of standby time making sure it's easy to use at all times. It also comes with a lanyard so you won't lose it when you're busy enjoying your active lifestyle.

Overall, our test suggested that headsets have come on a great deal since the last time we tried one. This Explorer 370 unit isn't perfect, nor is it the best looking of its kind but it delivers all you could reasonably expect and a bit more. We'd recommend one. Also see www.plantronics.com.