The Cardo S-800 Bluetooth headset is a stylish and small one-ear headset that won't come close to weighing down your ear or breaking the bank. But while it's comfortable and minuscule, its call quality left us reaching for our handset more often than not.
Cardo S-800 Design
One of the smallest Bluetooth headsets we have seen, the rectangular S-800 looks no bigger than a board game piece. Measuring 1.6 x 0.9 x 0.8 inches and weighing less than half an ounce, this sleek black unit (also available in silver) is light enough to wear all day. The face of the headset sports a large Cardo-emblazoned control button.A rubber earpiece on the spine of the device fits into your right or left ear and the top of the device holds a mini-USB connector and a multi-function wheel. A small Power button that triples as a pairing and hot dial button is located on the right side of the device.
The included ear loop attachment made the headset feel more secure while walking around. However, when compared with the headset, it's unsightly; it looks like a wire pulled off a coat hanger. Also, it doesn't come with an assortment of earbud sizes.
Cardo S-800 Sound Quality
Pairing the S-800 with the BlackBerry 8830 was easy. Unfortunately, many of our calls sounded fuzzy, despite the embedded audio balancing with noise-reduction technology in the headset. Callers asked if we were using a headset and complained of hearing a windy echo and lots of street noise when we were outside. We encountered a similar echo and patchiness when using a Motorola Z6tv. Indoors, though, our calls sounded clear, and those on the other end of the line thought we were on our regular phone. We heard our callers clearly but with a slight echo.
Testing Cardo's Multipoint Technology
We paired the S-800 with two devices at the same time to test its SWAP or multipoint technology. We successfully paired the headset with two phones (the Motorola Z6tv and the BlackBerry 8830) without a problem, and toggled between them using the multifunction wheel. We also liked the location buzzer, which helps you locate a misplaced headset by causing it to vibrate, but we wished it buzzed louder. We also had no problem with the basic features, including answering, ending, and rejecting calls, voice dial support, last-number redial, and call transfer to and from the headset. The Hot Dial feature lets you call any of three preset speed dial numbers with the small power button.
The headset's weak 12-foot range (the company claimed 30 feet) was disappointing but gave us ample room to keep the phone on the table while cooking in the kitchen or walking around the bedroom. We got close to its advertised eight hours of talk time, but we were peeved that we had to wait two hours to fully charge the headset out of the box. Battery life is rated for 8 hours of talk time or 7 days on standby. We found ourselves recharging the headset after two days of normal usage.
Cardo S-800 Verdict
The Cardo S-800 is comfortable, stylish, and full of the features you need for going hands-free at a reasonable price. However, for walking around outside or driving in a car with the windows down, it's less than desirable. If you are willing to shell out a few extra bucks, Motorola's H12 makes more sense for heavy talkers or those who are frequently outdoors.
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