Cardo’s latest and greatest headset gets a full review. But is Cardo’s latest and greatest the industry’s latest and greatest? Read more to find out.
The first key to using the Cardo scala-700 is to read the manual completely. The scala 700 is designed in a manner that makes it impossible to understand how to take advantage of all the functions without reading the manual. Unlike idiot-proof Sony Ericsson and Motorola headsets, this unit requires being fully informed before using.
Audio performance with the headset functioned well, we had no complaints about audio reception. The largest complaint stems from positioning the microphone for adequate reception of audio, see below for that. Bluetooth 2.0 performed well, providing the expected marked improvement in static reduction.
In other words, it’s what we expected from a modern Bluetooth 2.0 headset.
At PCS Intel, we do not mark down a device for not conforming to our preferences on form-factor. That said, the scala-700 was not perfect for this reviewer’s head. The scala-500, its predecessor was simply not usable. The scala-700 does improve things with a flexible bar that can be “flexed” into fitting properly onto the head.
And, it did stay on my head. Despite attempting to cause it to fall off, the headset remained on when properly positioned. However, the problem is that the microphone simply wouldn’t adjust to point downward towards my voice. Instead, it stayed 90 degrees, pointing outward, and impacting audio quality.
In short, the headset is an improvement over past problems with Cardo, but it still could be improved by elongating the microphone outward, and lower to the person’s mouth.
The scala-700 tries to outpace competitors from Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Jabra, and other Bluetooth 2.0 headset vendors with value-added features. First and foremost is the ability to pair two devices to the headset at once.
This feature really shines, especially when you have two phones. The unit does not however make it easy to identify which phone you’re using. It does not have determining beeps or a voice prompt alerting you to which phone/device is paired at any given time. This can make for juggling when needing to take things like a call. But, the competition is not better in this regard, and in most cases requires you to re-pair rather than multi-pair.
One feature Cardo added was the ability to locate the headset if it is missing. The tiny unit is easy to misplace, and so Cardo added a headset locater. By simply turning the volume up and down a few times, the scala-700 broadcasts a loud buzzing noise. This could be a cause for concern though, especially if your phone has external volume controls. It is conceivably possible that you could rock the volume enough to trigger this while wearing the headset… which could cause hearing damage. The buzzer is certainly something you don’t want to go off while wearing…
Another qualitative concern is with the LED on the unit. It features bright blue and red indicators. The problem is, it’s too bright. You can be seen across a room with all the lights on… blinking blue from your ear. It would be okay, if the unit only blinked in a call, however like most headsets, the unit has a standby blinking that is constant.
To respond to this, Cardo built-in the ability to disable the status light completely. However, this is swatting a fly with a hammer… the option to do this disables all functionality of the status light with the exception of battery status. A more apt solution would be to have an option to disable just the standby light, avoiding letting the world know your status when nothing is actually happening. Then, the headset would blink in a call alerting others that you aren’t blinking blue for no apparent reason.
Finally, the device adds support for charging over USB with an included USB charging cable. The cable is a mixed blessing, as it is not a standard 5-pin USB connector. Which, means that while you can charge over a laptop, you still need to carry a cable. Since all other headset manufacturers have either third-party or aftermarket USB charging cables as well, this won’t be a reason to sell your current headset. However, if you are upgrading, you won’t have to pay upwards of $10 for the simplicity of charging with your laptop.
The scala-700 clearly is a good headset. It isn’t a perfect headset though, with heavyweights such as the Sony Ericsson HBH-610 clearly outpacing it in audio quality, especially in microphone quality. However, the scala-700 does have features that no other Bluetooth 2.0 headset can match currently. While some of these new features can be annoying, and downright deafening, it is a good headset to take for a spin… especially if you have two phones.
Pros: Bluetooth 2.0, USB Charging, Multi-Device Paring, Headset Locater
Cons: Poor microphone positioning, difficult adjustment, LED too bright
Final Score: 4/5