Plantronics rarely steers us wrong when it comes to Bluetooth headsets, so we were pleased to hear the company has released yet another one, the Plantronics M100. Designed to be a midtier model for the urban professional, the M100 has a nice, slim design and features voice alerts and multipoint, in addition to the usual noise-canceling features. We were also pleasantly surprised by the addition of a headset battery meter specifically for iPhone users. We did wish the M100 had A2DP streaming as well, but for a mono headset, we were pleased with it. The Plantronics M100 is available for $79.95 retail.
The M100 doesn't look too eye-catching at first glance, but that's because it wasn't designed to be noticed. At 2.2 inches long by 0.5 inch wide by 0.25 inch thick, the M100 is one of the thinnest headsets we've seen. Wrapped in charcoal gray, the headset has thin stripes of color (green, blue, or pink) that run its length. Since it's so skinny and nondescript, it looks very discreet when worn, and not at all like the bulky telemarketer headsets of old.
Right on the front of the headset is the multifunction call button, located toward the top of the headset and flanked between two stripes. It has a curved surface so it was easy to find and press. On the left side is the power switch, which makes it easier to toggle the headset on and off. The volume/mute button is on the right side; one tap represents one volume level change, so you sometimes have to cycle through the whole set of volume levels to get to the one you want. We would prefer a regular volume rocker so we didn't have to do this. To activate mute, just hold it down for a second.
On the back of the headset is the earpiece, which is clad in a gel eartip. The eartip has a loop attached to it so you can wear it without a hook. You can rotate the eartip to the left or the right to fit either ear. Thankfully, Plantronics supplied two additional eartips in different sizes so you can have a more customized fit depending on the size of your ears. We found that it fit very comfortably; in fact, we can imagine wearing it all day without too much ear fatigue. Even so, Plantronics also includes an optional ear hook in case you want more stability. Also on the back of the M100 is a small LED indicator that blinks when the headset is on. On the top is the charger jack.
We paired the Plantronics M100 with the Apple iPhone 3G, and thanks to Quickpairing, we didn't even need to enter the PIN. As Plantronics promised, we immediately saw the headset battery meter next to the iPhone's battery meter. This is similar to the battery meter shown when paired with the Aliph Jawbone Icon. Though it only works with iPhones, we have to say it's nice to have, as we no longer have to guess about the battery life of our headset.
Call quality was fairly good, but not the best we've heard from Plantronics. The dual-microphone noise canceling was evident in especially noisy situations like a crowded street and a busy mall--callers said we came through loud and clear--but they could still hear some echo and background sounds. This was true even in relatively quiet environments like our CNET office. Still, we appreciated the automatic volume adjustment that prevented us from having to switch our volume levels too often. It also performed admirably in windy situations, with our callers not hearing a lot of wind buffeting.
The Plantronics M100 has multipoint connectivity in addition to the usual phone features like answering and rejecting a call. It also has last-number redial and voice-dialing support. We also liked that it had voice announcements for power on/off, when you run low on talk time, and when you lose or reconnect the Bluetooth connection. We did wish it had A2DP streaming, though, to put it on par with the Jawbone Icon. The Plantronics M100 has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and 10 days standby time.