Plantronics Discovery 640 Bluetooth Headset

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I've been using Bluetooth wireless headsets for about a year. Not only do I love the convenience, but I also think they make it safer to talk on the phone while driving a car. Until recently, the simplest and lightest headset I used was Motorola's HS820, but now a number of even smaller and lighter headsets are hitting the market, from Motorola, Jabra and Plantronics. The Plantronics Discovery 640 is not just a tiny, easy to use headset—it comes with a Lego lover's delight of snap-on accessories.

Because I use a Motorola Bluetooth cell phone, I stuck to the Motorola headset. This isn't because of the invisible software that joins them together—that's based on a Bluetooth standard that guarantees that Motorola headsets and non-Motorola headsets will behave similarly when connected to a Motorola phone. No, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to use the same plug in my car to charge both the phone and the headset (at different times, of course). Having to buy a separate Plantronics charger cable for my car might have spoiled the deal. Plantronics engineers anticipated this, and included adapters that snap on to the headset's charging cradle, and fit four of the biggest Bluetooth phone makers: Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Siemens.

Another very cool snap-on accessory is the AAA battery charger. Although you can already plug the headset into a wall socket or, as I just mentioned, one of four existing car chargers (sold separately), you can also keep a battery stashed for an emergency juice-up. Just stick the battery in a lipstick-sized case, and snap it to the charging cradle where the tiny headset rests. You can't charge while talking in either scenario, but that would get messy anyway and besides, it only takes three hours to fully charge it up for five hours of talk time. And the AAA battery can be used to charge the headset three times, giving you a total of 15 hours of talk.

What's peculiar about the product is that there's no good way to carry it around. Sure, it comes with a big case that can hold the headset plus all of its snap-on accessories, three different sizes of rubber earbud inserts and an optional wraparound ear stabilizer. But once you assemble the headset to your satisfaction, it won't fit in the case. The lipstick charging cradle might protect the headset from some damage, but it leaves the call button, the most vulnerable part of the product, exposed. This means that when you stick the headset in your purse or pocket, there's a significant chance it might power up, and even make a call or two. Why can't any manufacturers ship Bluetooth headsets with nice, tiny carrying cases? In the meantime, I think I'll try an empty Bubble Tape dispenser.