Review: Plantronics Savi Go Bluetooth Headset

LeatherBox-200 copyThere’s a little leather-covered box that sits at the back of my desk. It’s the recipient of small items of technology that for some reason I can’t really use but also can’t stand to just throw away. It held until recently an impressive selection of Bluetooth cordless headsets.

Seriously, I bet I’ve purchased eight of those little beasts over the years, ever hopeful that each would be the one that was actually usable…possibly even a pleasure to use…but I was always disappointed. This cycle has gone on for long enough that I’d pretty much written off Bluetooth devices as a pointless waste of time.

Over the period that I’ve been writing this blog I’ve tried to cultivate a good relationship with manufacturers in the space. As it says clearly on my disclosure page, sometimes I review stuff. Sometimes it’s offered to me, other times I just buy it myself.

In the case of Plantronics I’ve done both. I’ve purchased some of their wares, and after reading what I had to say about those items, the company has offered me some newer gear to try. Amongst the things that they’ve offered there was a Bluetooth headset, but you’ve not seen me write anything about that little device. I suspect it would have gone into the little leather box.

However, a couple of months ago as I was making plans for Astricon it occurred to me that it would be seriously cool to actually give the HDVoice presentation using a wideband capable wireless headset & a small Asterisk server. That would be the ultimate sort of “eating my own dog food.” So I approached Plantronics and asked what they could offer. They responded by sending me a Savi Go convertible Bluetooth headset.

Savi-2

In truth, I was still skeptical. I would have been more comfortable with the Savi Office WO-100 which is DECT based. But that device is considerably more costly…and simply was  not offered. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers. I had already invested a considerable sum in support of the Astricon HDVoice presentation.

The Savi Go comes packaged with a charging stand and a USB Bluetooth dongle. There’s also a USB charging cable that’s more convenient for portable use than the charging stand. Finally, they provide two options for wearing the headset. There’s a simple hook that goes around the ear (as pictured above) and also a more traditional over-the-top headband (pictured below.)

savi_overhead

I’ve used it with my laptop while traveling, my desktop while in my office, and finally with my trusty Blackberry Pearl. I’ve used it with various soft phones including Skype, Eyebeam, PhonerLite, PhoneFromHere‘s Java/IAX2 plug-in, the newly launched Blabbelon voice chat service for gamers and the Vivox voice chat application for Facebook. It works well with all of them.

It’s a class 1 Bluetooth device which means higher RF power output. It’s supposed to provide a 100 foot range when used with the mating USB dongle, which is about consistent with my experience thus far. The range is shorter when paired to a cell phone, but that’s not typically a problem in the real world.

The device is certified for use with Microsoft’s Office Communication Server (MS OCS) but that means nothing to me except that truly is wideband capable. From what I can tell MS only certifies devices that can provide a genuine wideband (aka HDVoice) call experience. MS OCS uses a combination of their own RTA codec for point-to-point calls and Polycom’s Siren14 for conferencing.

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    • Heather

      I purchased the Savi Go for my office VOIP application. I do not have MOC and cannot connect to my voip. Headset and fob are paired. I do not know what to do. I called plantronics and they were useless. Any assistance would be great.

      • http://www.mgraves.com mjgraves

        Before I can be of any help I need to know what your’re saying exactly. What do you mean by MOC? And FOB? These terms mean nothing to me so I don’t understand the problem.

  • Ray

    Great review.

    • http://www.mgraves.org mjgraves

      Thanks!

  • Valarie Moore

    In the PDF user guide for this headset, in the troubleshooting section, it suggests that when the battery is wearing out, factory service is required. Michael, can you confirm that the battery cannot be replaced by end-users?

    • http://www.mgraves.org mjgraves

      Yes, looking at the headset closely there’s just no way to get inside. That said, this does not cause me alarm. Presuming a LiIon battery it should be good for 300+ recharges. The same earpiece is used in several models of Plantronics product so it’s not completely unique. I expect that they’d simply ship you a remanufactured unit of you requested a battery replacement. But I will ask them to be suer.

      • Valarie Moore

        Thanks for looking into this. I’m not too worried about an inaccessible battery either, though it would be good to know what to expect.

        I was curious about the cost to have the battery replaced, so I asked in an online support chat session. I was told that during the warranty period, there’s no cost. To find the cost once the warranty has expired, I’ll have to call: 1-800-544-4660 prompt 5 ext 5560.

        • Valarie Moore

          I called and was quoted $56. For that amount, Plantronics will provide a headset. As I understand, it’s not possible to have only the worn-out battery replaced.

          • http://www.mgraves.org mjgraves

            That’s not too bad. I was thinking that I could get 2 years before the battery would be an issue.

  • Lifespeed

    Good review! I am pleased to see that Class 1 Bluetooth headsets actually exist. I have gone to the trouble to install a Sena Parani UD-100 Class 1 Toshiba transceiver with a proper dipole antenna. The range is much improved, and allows me to use a softphone as a cordless phone via Bluetooth headset.

    The class 1 headset should perfect a good setup.

  • Joakim

    Have you tried this headset without the supplied bluetooth dongle?
    I’m curious to see if the wideband and quality is still the same even when using built in bluetooth in a laptop (The range would be decreased of course)..

    • http://www.mgraves.org mjgraves

      I tried what you suggest just this afternoon. Oddly enough, I could not get the headset to stay connected to my Windows XP laptop. It would connect momentarily then drop the connection. I could not get my netbook running Win7 to even connect. It wanted a driver that I could not provide.

      That said, I frequently use it with my Blackberry 9700. In that application it works very well, but as you note, without the range made possible by the Class 1 BT dongle. Before I had the 9700 I had also used the Savi Go with an older Blackberry Pearl 8100 & a very old Motorola RAZR.

  • Lifespeed

    I use the Savi Go with a Sena Parani UD100 dongle. I use this dongle because it has an RP-SMA antenna jack, improving the Class 1 range. It uses the Toshiba Bluetooth stack and Cambridge Silicon radio chipset. Seems to be perfectly compatible. Toshiba is even clever enough to allow the option of launching Counterpath Bria when the headset connects.

    • http://www.mgraves.com mjgraves

      That’s interesting. What kind of improvement in range do you experience? My Savi Go reaches about 60 feet in my office, but with some noise at the greater distances.