Every time we look at Bluetooth headsets, they seem to be getting smaller and smaller. So when the Callpod’s Dragon V2 headset arrived for our review, we were amazed that this headset was actually larger than most. We found that it also has some unique features such as Bluetooth Class 1 certification, the ability to hook up to other Dragon V2’s to be used as walkie-talkies, and the ability to pair with more than one device at a time. These exciting features made us anxious to take a closer look.
As shown in Figure 1, the Dragon V2’s come in a sturdy clear plastic cube. When we opened the box, we were presented with a pleasant surprise. There are three ways to charge the Dragon and all are included in the package. The USB cable can be hooked directly to the headset and to a computer for charging. The USB cable can also be attached to the wall-outlet charger for charging when a computer is not available. The USB cable and the car charger can be used for charging on the go. As shown in Figure 2, all of these components are included with the headset. There is also an extra slightly larger ear tip and a sturdy black nylon pouch included. The pouch makes a good carrying case and provides a way to keep all the small components together. We wish that other manufacturers follow Callpod’s lead here by including a little carrying case when their products contain multiple small parts like this one.
[nextpage title=”The Look & Fit”]
Many of the newer Bluetooth headsets are tiny rectangular devices and many have a microphone that protrudes toward the mouth of the user. The Callpod Dragon V2 bucks both of these trends. It is a circular disk shaped device that is reminiscent of a hockey puck. It comes in titanium silver, black chrome, and an all-black carbon fiber model. The model that we reviewed, as shown in Figure 3, is the black chrome. Although at 1.25" x 2.16" x 2.25" (31.75 x 66.04 x 57.15 mm) (W x L x H), it is larger than most, it is good looking and unobtrusive. Weighing in at 0.9 oz (25.5 g), it is light enough to be worn for hours at a time.
Figure 4 shows the back of the Dragon device itself. The over-the-ear ear loop is made of metal and rubber and wraps around the ear. This ear wrap can rotate 180 degrees around. It can also slide up and down and can accommodate either left and right ear. The soft ear bud is at a slight angle to fit comfortably into the ear. The ear piece must be properly adjusted so that the microphone is in the right place to pick up the voice. At first this took a little trial and error, but adjusting it properly became second nature for most of our testers.
The adjustable ear loop and the padded ear bud made the Dragon comfortable for most of our testers. Yet a few people had trouble getting the device to stay in place. In some cases it flopped out of the ear during normal everyday movements. As is the case with all of these devices, the fit can, and does, vary with the individual. So the Dragon may not be for everyone.
[nextpage title=”Using the Dragon”]
As with any Bluetooth headset, pairing the device with your cell phone is the first step that you must take before you can use the device. Most of the time you must power on the device and then press some series of buttons to get the device into what is called “discoverable” mode so the cell phone can find it. The Dragon makes this step extra easy. When you power on the headset, it automatically goes into the discoverable state as you can easily see by the alternating red and blue lights flashing on the device.
The next step is to turn on the Bluetooth in your cell phone and have it search for devices (directions can be found in your cell phone’s user manual). When your cell phone finds the device, it will show “Callpod Dragon” on the screen. You simply select that choice and enter the PIN code of “0000.” Most cell phone will then establish the connection automatically. The next time you turn the Dragon back on, as long as the Bluetooth is still turned on in your phone, the two devices will connect automatically.
The Dragon has only two buttons, the multifunction button, which sits in the center of the device, as shown in Figure 5, and the power/volume rocker on the top of the headset, which can be seen in both Figure 5 and Figure 6.
The power/volume rocker on top of the headset is used to power the device on and off and to control the volume. The multifunction button lets you handle calls.
In Figure 5, the area right under the words “callpod” contains two LCD lights which indicate the mode that the headset is in. Underneath the multifunction button are two small holes that are directly under each other. These are the device’s two microphones. The best audio quality is obtained when the two microphones form a straight line with the user’s mouth.
We found the Dragon intuitive and easy to use.
Call quality was exceptional. The noise suppression technology worked better than most of the other headsets that we have reviewed. If the headset is properly adjusted with the two microphones in line with the mouth, the outgoing audio was as clear as the incoming. When the headset was not aligned properly, there was a slight echo. While the Dragon performed well in loud situations, it didn’t do quite as well in our convertible tests. The wind created a muffled effect.
One very impressive thing about the Dragon V2 is the range. Because of its Class 1 Bluetooth certification, this Dragon could still be heard quite clearly when 300 feet away from a Class 1 cell phone. In fact it is rated for 100 meters which is over 328 feet when used with a Class 1 device.
While most Class 2 Bluetooth devices seldom get over 30-35 feet
of range, hooking up to a Class 1 device can extend the range of a Class 2 device. The Dragon really extended the range of our Class 2 device. The Class 2 cell phone we tested with was still loud and clear through the Dragon headset when we were as much as 120 feet away.
Remember that when you talk about Bluetooth devices, there are different versions, like Version 1.2 and Version 2 and there are different classes, like Class 1, 2, and 3. The Version has more to do with the speed of the data while the Class has to do with the range of the transmission. In any case, since the Dragon is a Class 1 device, it will definitely give you more range than many other headsets which are Class 2 devices.
Our initial reaction to the extended range was, “Why would anyone need that much range?” However, the first time we left our cell phone in the office and were still able to take a call in the parking lot, we changed our mind.
The battery life of the Dragon is also impressive. It bested both the Jabra BT8040 and the Alph Jawbone 2 that we put it up against. Callpod rates the talk time at 8 hours and the standby time 300 hours.
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
The Dragon V2 has most of the other features commonly found in other headsets. You have the ability to answer and end calls with the press of a button. You can also reject calls, mute calls, adjust the volume, and conference call. If you cell phone supports voice commands, you can also place calls by saying the party’s name as it is programmed into your cell phone.
One unique feature found in the Dragon is its ability to pair with other Dragon V2 headsets in a walkie-talkie mode. Since we only had one headset, we were unable to try this mode. Yet, given the quality of this device, we can be fairly sure that it works well. When in the walkie-talkie mode, you can easily switch back to the cell phone mode to take a call. Whether from car to car or around the shop, the factory, the store, or the office, this feature is sure to be appealing to many users. Also, note that after the cost of the headsets, the walkie-talkie feature is free. You don’t have to pay monthly fees or airtime as you do with cell phones that have a walkie-talkie feature.
Another useful feature of the Dragon V2 is that you can pair the headset with two other devices at the same time. The most obvious use for this would be to pair it with your cell phone and your Bluetooth-enabled computer. Then you can listen to Internet radio or iTunes music or talk on Skype call through the headset. If a cell phone call comes in, you simply press the multifunction button to answer the call. When the call is over the Dragon device will automatically switch back to the music or audio that you were listening to before the call.
Dragon also give you the ability to do a firmware is upgrade when it is available by hooking your Dragon up to your PC or Mac. This enables you to upgrade without any additional cost when new features are added.
Callpod Dragon V2 Bluetooth headset main specifications are:
- Bluetooth 2.0
- Battery charge: 3 hours
- Internal Battery: 3.7 V lithium ion
- Talk Time: Up to 8 hours, 300 hours standby
- General Audio: QualitySCO and eSCO links supported
- Dual microphone noise suppression
- Firmware Upgradable
- Supports Hands-free 1.5, Hands-free audio gateway, Headset
- Dual Simultaneous Connections
- Working Range: 328 feet (100 m)
- Physical Dimensions: 1.25" x 1.26" x 2.25" W (31.75 x 66.04 x 57.15 mm) (W x L x H)
- Weight: 0.9 oz (25.5 g)
- Frequency Band: 2.4 – 2.4835 GHz
- RF Output: Class 1
- Suggested Retail Price in the US: USD 99.00
If you don’t mind the larger size and if the Dragon fits well in your ear, you will find it ideal for many situations, including communicating with co-workers and family members. The walkie-talkie feature, the ability to pair two devices at once, and the long range make this headset stand out from its competitors.
- Easy-to-navigate controls
- Dual device pairing
- Walkie-talkie function
- Included car charger, A/C adapter, and USB
- Long range
- No Microphone protrusion
- Upgradeable firmware
- Excellent Battery Life
- Doesn’t fit snuggly in some ears
- Large and obvious
- Must be adjusted properly for optimum performance
- Occasional echo
- Mediocre noise canceling in windy conditions