Not all Bluetooth headsets are meant for Wall Street. Some, such as the Plantronics Explorer 370, are meant for the outdoor worker or sports enthusiast. The ruggedized, military-grade Bluetooth headset lives up to its durability. And sound quality was excellent outdoors, but you might want to think twice if you plan on using it in extremely loud environments.
Plantronics Explorer 370 Design
The Explorer 370 isn't the most elegant or compact headset in Plantronics' line, but it is seriously durable. Measuring 2.3 x 1 x 0.5 inches and weighing a little over half an ounce, the black-and-gray unit (the Rugged version is available in black and blue) is bulky but light enough to wear all day on your ear or around your neck with the included lanyard.
Its charcoal face sports a rubber multifunction button. A rubber ear tip on the spine of the device and a rubber loop on the back can be adjusted to fit either ear. Though hard to get on initially, the Explorer stayed firmly in our ear on a long walk. However, the loop did become uncomfortable and pinched at our ear when we wore it for long durations.
The top of the device holds a volume control, which is also used to redial the last number and initiate voice commands. These rubberized buttons were a bit tough to press. A micro-USB port is located on the right side of the headset for charging.
Certified to the MIL-STD 810 standards, the Explorer 370 is built to withstand water, shock, solar, sand, dust, and extreme temperatures. Not satisfied with the Army's gauntlet, we put the headset to the test by slamming it down on pavement from above 5 feet three times. We experienced no change in call quality, and the headset suffered only minor scratches. Though only water resistant, the headset withstood our dunk test; dunking it for 30 seconds 2-inches deep into a mug filled with water resulted in the water beading right off, and not a drop made it into the tightly sealed USB charging port.
Explorer 370 Performance
Pairing the Explorer 370 with a Motorola KRZR was easy; Plantronics QuickPair technology puts the headset into pairing mode instantly when it's turned on. Indoors, calls sounded extremely clear and were devoid of echos, both to us and our caller. When walking around New York City on a brisk winter night, we could hear voices clearly, though occasionally our caller complained of street and wind noise. When we stood by a loud garbage truck, our callers couldn't hear our clipped words.
During a blizzard we didn't worry about damaging our headset, and callers could hear our voices but did mention a windy echo. In this situation, we had a hard time hearing and wished we could increase the volume more.
The range on the Explorer 370 was decent but nowhere near Plantronics' reported 33 feet. Audio started to crackle at 24 feet, and by 30 feet we couldn't hear our caller's voice at all over the static. The Explorer 370 does not support alternating between two paired Bluetooth devices.
Charging the Explorer 370 is limited to its AC adapter. After 2 hours of being plugged in, the headset was fully charged. During our five days of testing we got 5 hours of talk time, which is just 2 hours less than the rated talk time. The rated standby time is 8 days. Our headset was still going strong on power after 7 days.
Plantronics Explorer 370 Verdict
For rough-and-tumble outdoorsy types, the Plantronics Explorer 370 can take whatever beating you give it. Though the Motorola Motopure H12 does a better job at wiping out background noise, those looking for a rugged headset with good audio quality will find this cell phone accessory well worth the price.