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The Cardo Scala 700: Bluetooth Headset Extraordinaire

I’ve been searching for the perfect mobile headset for many months now.  My criteria: it has to be audible to me and the people I’m calling in noisy environments, small, able to work with both my PC and my mobile, and comfortable to wear.  To date, I’ve owned the original Motorola HS-810 (four of them actually, because they kept breaking), and the Nokia HS-26W. After four broken Motorola’s I gave up on them.  The Nokia seemed quite good until friends complained of an echo on the call.  A little diagnosis revealed that the Nokia headset was the culprit.

It was time for a new headset, and time to do a little research.

Scala 700Very quickly I zeroed in on Cardo Wireless, an innovative manufacturer of bluetooth devices from Pennsylvania.  Although best known for the Cardo Scala Rider, a headset for motorcyclists, their Scala 500 and Scala 700 were also winning rave reviews. 

A quick trip to EBay, and I grabbed one of these babies for US$36.99 + shipping.  Yesterday it arrived. 

The package consists of the headset itself, a moldable wire earloop, charger + USB cable for charging from a PC, and a curious little neoprene carry case.  You can see a photo of the headset on the right.

First impression?  It’s tiny.  At 0.4 oz, and 1.5 inches long, it’s by far the smallest headset I’ve ever owned.  By comparison, the Nokia and Motorola headsets are enormous.

Heasets

How does it perform, you ask? 

Audibility of the Scala 700 is great. When compared to my old Nokia or Motorola headsets, it’s a hands down champ.  There are two reasons for this.  One, of course, is the moldable ear loop.  You can simply bend the earloop to fit your ear, holding the headset snugly against your head.  It’s possible to lean your head from side to side with the Cardo, without the headset moving. That means you will always hear the person you’re speaking with.  The Nokia and Motorola headsets with their soft soft rubber earloops, by comparision, fall out every time.  Best of all, because the Cardo is so light and snug, you often don’t even notice you’re wearing it.

The other reason for the great sound quality is the speaker itself. In the photo below, note the small size of the speaker used in the Nokia and Motorola units, plus the tiny holes that the sound must travel through.  Compare that to the large, earbud-style speaker on the Scala 700.  It’s no wonder that the sound quality is so good.  In fact, yesterday I used the Scala 700 in a crowded tradeshow floor environment, and was able to hear and converse without any trouble.

Flipside 

The Scala also excels at pairing with multiple devices.  For instance, it’s currently paired with my desktop PC, and my Blackberry.  Making Skype calls with the headset is easy — just make them the way you normally would.  If you decide to make a call with your handset, instead, a quick double press of the volume wheel causes the headset to switch to another configured Bluetooth device.  You can have up to 8.

The Scala 700 is a winner.  Not only does it have great features, great sound, and great comfort, but at under $50 it’s a price leader is well.  Take a pass on the expensive accessories offered by your cellphone retailer (check out the inflated prices Rogers charges for a headset), head to EBay and grab one of these before they’re sold out.  You won’t regret it.

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Moshe Maeir November 4, 2006, 3:01 pm

    Thanks for the review! It came at the right time, just as I was looking for a BT headset for my Nokia E61. After doing a quick web search here in Israel, I see that many stores carry it and they claim that it was developed here in Israel!
    My only question is what is the difference between the 500, 600 and 700. The stores here want a premium for the 700! Worst case I will get it in NY :-)

  • MatthewS November 4, 2006, 4:15 pm

    How bizarre that in the same time period I bought a new headset as well. However I opted for a Plantronics Voyager 510. Cool thing about it is that it will automatically swap between two pairings–no clicking needed. So I can use my handset and then use skype without touching anything.

    I wrote a short review as well on my blog.

  • Alec November 5, 2006, 2:47 am

    Moshe, you can find the comparison page for all the cardo products here: http://www.cardowireless.com/scalaproducts.php

    My quick synopsis — the 500 is optimized for outdoor use with some kind of proprietary windguard technology. The 600 seems to be the same as the 700, but without some of the firmware features — handsfree activation of conference calls, etc.

  • Alec November 5, 2006, 2:59 am

    Matthew, I looked at Platronics products, but not the Voyager 510. Although I think very highly of Plantronics technology, it's usually pricey. I can see on EBay, though, that the 510 is just a couple bucks more than the Scala 700.

  • Roland Tanglao November 5, 2006, 5:32 pm

    hmmm, none of these headsets work for me. They don't fit over my glasses' arms! Alec do you wear glasses, any issues with glasses?

  • MatthewS November 5, 2006, 7:43 pm

    So far it has been a kick-ass headset. Comfortable with great battery life. The range buries my old bodyglove.

  • Alec November 5, 2006, 8:43 pm

    I do wear glasses Roland. The Cardo is great because the earloop is a bendable piece of wire. It's the first headset with an earloop that works with my glasses.

  • Chris November 7, 2006, 3:02 am

    You in the US will have to wait 😉 Do you want a device that lives up to expectations or exceeds? 😉 The Qstik evoQ is exceedingly obliging.

  • Alec November 7, 2006, 3:15 am

    Hey Chris — you're from the company. Send me one! I'll write about it.

  • Roland Tanglao November 8, 2006, 11:34 pm

    ooh, a bendable earloop that works well with glasses! tempted! thanks for responding to my comment!

  • james July 28, 2008, 2:18 pm

    I bought the scala 700 as my first earbud and am not very happy with it. people tell me I sound like I am underwater. I also were glasses or sunglasses and cant get it to be comfortable. i can hear people very well though.

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