Sat | Apr 21, 2018

Plantronics Marque 2 - Using technology to help motorist

Published:Sunday | December 17, 2017 | 2:59 AM

WITH ROAD fatalities now at 300 since the start of the year, it is imperative that drivers stay focused on our roads, especially during the festive season.

Thankfully, technology has provided many solutions to help drivers concentrate on driving while staying connected with their mobile devices.

It is undeniable that cell phones have been one of the biggest culprits behind many accidents.

Once a driver takes his eyes off the road to read a message or search for a number, it drastically increases the chances of getting into an accident. For this reason, car manufacturers are making many modern cars with ‘hands-free’ technology incorporated in steering-mounted controls that can be used to assess the user’s cell phone, once it is paired with the car.

For persons that don’t have this modern technology, a great alternative is a bluetooth headset, which can be universally paired with any cell phone.

In the past, I have tried many different bluetooth headsets. However, either their audio was not good or they would just disconnect after a while. So now, my search has led me to Plantronics Marque 2 - a relatively low-key brand, but with a strong reputation for making quality products.

THE FIT

In the packages there are three silicone ear tips covers that have extended loops to fit different size ears. Once you have found the ideal size, the headset can be worn firmly in place with this alone, especially if the user is not doing much movement, like sitting in a car. If this is not the case, there is an ear hook for greater security for users who are doing aggressive movements like walking or running.

THE EXPERIENCE

Before this device, I had reviewed a Klip Xtreme headset that was underwhelming; so, I was eager to see how this performed. To get a comprehensive experience of the device, I wore it on a three-hour journey from Kingston to Trelawny to get a feel of the functions and call quality.

The first intuitive feature is the audio cues that the user hears such as ‘paired successfully’, which can be heard whenever it is paired with the user’s phone. After this is done, and there is an incoming call, the headset will notify the user giving the option of either answering or rejecting the call.

This is done by the user simply stating ‘answer’ or ‘ignore’, and what’s most impressive is that it works.

Most devices that have this function are usually a hit or miss. Other audible notifications include the amount of talk time left, if a connection is lost, and when the headset needs to be recharged.

There is also the option to connect it to two cell phones simultaneously, which is good for persons who have a phone for each network provider. It works like this: If the user is on a call and the other phone rings, the user is given an audio cue, and can answer the call in a normal fashion like the regular call-wait feature. It also must be noted that both calls cannot be merged in a context like this.

GETTING MORE OUT OF THE HEADSET

To boost the functionality of the device, users should turn on their phone’s data plan and use the device in conjunction with Siri or Google Now. These voice-assistant services allow users to communicate with their phones by giving voice commands to their Iphone and Android devices.

With the Marque 2 device, these assistant services can be activated by holding down on the call-control button. For Android users, such as me, this will give a beep, which will indicate that Google Now has been activated. From there, the user can say something like, “Send a whatsapp message to Mary stating ‘I am running late for the meeting.’ “ It will then find Mary, confirm if that is the Mary the user is looking for, then send the message. It’s an intuitive system to learn and requires very little practice to get the hang of it.

With data and Bluetooth activated, the phone will be using a lot of battery. Hence, it is best to connect it to a car charger.

As for the call quality, it was clear on both ends. My only gripe is the volume button, which is not a rocker style that allows the user to press either end for volume up or down functionality. Instead, it has four preset levels of volume that go through a cycle, meaning, when the loudest setting is reached, it goes to the lowest volume with an additional click. It’s a minor peeve, given that the device is smaller than the average person’s pinky finger.

The device also allows users to access their media content, as opposed to only calls, which is the case with most bluetooth headsets. This means, the user can click on a YouTube video and hear the content on the headset rather than through the phone’s speakers.

This comes in very handy when in a line at a public facility like a bank and the user wants to view a video someone shared without others around hearing the content.

Overall, this is a very impressive device and should be a worthwhile acquisition by motorists.