Callpod’s first Bluetooth headset was a little troubled. Yeah, yeah — the jaw dropping 100-meter range and walkie-talkie feature was cool. But the persistent echo and terrible audio quality wasn’t. So, for the revamped ‘Dragon V2′ Callpod did the sensible thing — keep all the sweet trademark features and bump up the audio quality.
But, damn, really did they bump up the jam enough?
On a basic level the Dragon V2 offers everything you’d expect from a headset. Despite a deceptively hulking mass, it fits comfortably thanks to an over-the-ear mount and a soft, snug ear bud. The power/volume rocker is intuitively placed at the top of the headset, while the huge multifunction button sits smack dab in the middle. There’s no easy way to say this…so we’ll just say it: the unit looks like a carbon fiber hockey puck slap shot to your head. Still, it’s an easily navigable hockey puck with controls that actually not excruciatingly difficult to use. We’re sure even a space-cased hockey mom could master it.
The call features star the familiar cast of characters. Rejecting, ending, and answering calls? Check. Voice dial support, muting, and even redial make cameos too. However, the V2 manages to raise the bar past these mainstays. Callpod was savvy enough to include multidevice pairing in the V2, allowing us to sync it with multiple gizmos within the office. And paired with its ability for firmware upgrades, it seems like Callpod is open to adding improvements to the V2 down the line. It’s a promising addition, sure, but only as promising as the next update.
And then there are the goodies. Besides looking, well, weird, the V2 sports other features from Dragons past — namely exceptional range and the aforementioned walkie-talkie functionality. The rockstar range comes courtesy of the V2’s Class 1 Bluetooth certification. Although rated to up to 100 meters (or roughly 330 feet for those of us in the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar), we averaged about 85 meters from our review unit. This shortfall was a little disappointing — especially after the tantalizing 100-meter claim — but compared to our other headsets, the performance was phenomenal. Unprecedented feats like staying on a conference call (while leaving the phone/office for a cup of coffee) produced few hiccups save for the occasional crackle. Less practical (but equally fun) was the V2’s walkie-talkie feature. In short, the V2 can sync with another unit in the area allowing phone-free 2-way communication between the headsets. Surprisingly, audio quality doesn’t suffer during this function, and switching back to ‘regular’ Bluetooth calls is a snap.
Of course, we can’t judge the V2 solely by its fun factor. And sadly, some of the fundamentals could use some polish. Most obvious is the outgoing audio quality. Although the headset does have surprisingly high audio levels (both incoming and outgoing), the boost does little to help the dreadful two mic noise canceling system. Long story short, unless both internal mics are lined up directly with your mouth, you can forget being understood. Even though it’s a rotation that’s barely a fraction of an inch, it makes a big difference on the V2’s outgoing audio. It only takes a flick of the wrist to rectify this problem, but really — how hands free is a headset you have to constantly fidget with?
In the end, this makes the Dragon V2 much like its predecessor. It neither challenges the throne of audio greats like the Jawbone, nor drinks the milkshake of more fashionable headsets from Nokia. Ultimately, what saves the V2 from complete failure is its original feature set. The Dragon’s unique feature set certainly adds utility beyond the standard headset fare (squad based paintball anyone?). But unless you’re specifically in need of range or a hands free walkie-talkie substitute, you’re better off sticking with one of the V2’s acoustically superior competitors.