I’ve worked for a few months on this report, taking care to use the new BlueParrott M300-XT in every situation possible, comparing it to others in my repertoire. I didn’t want to overlook anything in this review.
As followers may have surmised, I have been on a quest to find what is the best headset for daily on-the-go use FOR ME, with one purpose in mind. What is the best headset for all day calling while on the go & out and about? The headset has to be unobtrusive and comfortable, and it has to be easy enough to use so that it is difficult to screw up by unintentionally dumping a call or engaging mute, for example.
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What are the most important characteristics for someone who needs to take and make calls so others can hear the speaker and not background sounds? This is a tall order. Believe me, I have tried so many headsets on my quest. Still, even this top pick is not without compromises.
I have other headsets that I like and use at home base with their own sets of compromises.
While out and about I do not want both ears blocked. Blocking both ears is a no-no while driving in California. Besides, engaging and disengaging “hear through” technology can block and unblock ambient sound that is so important while driving. Using this technology adds another layer of complexity. Two-ear, in ear headsets currently available of any kind are, therefore, not for me when away from Gadget Central if I need to be available for calling, even if these other solutions would have other positives. Let me stress that my interests and needs in this circumstance are not so much for music, but primarily for taking and making calls while on the go. In addition, I need to have the use of nav apps at the same time as making and taking calls. I live by these apps. That’s right, calls and nav together in the same headset from the same phone.
Some usage scenarios are ideal for so-called True Wireless earbuds, when listening to music is primary, with calling secondary. A pair of buds, good ones, can deliver outstanding music, with sound tailored and optimized for the listener. As much as I like the Jabra Elite Active 75t, for example, they cannot do the job of rejecting background noise as well as this M300-XT and other types of headsets.
By the way, BlueParrott and Jabra are from the same parent company, both with products targeting different market segments.
I watched with keen interest the announcement a few days ago of the next gen of Jabra True Wireless superiority, the Elite 7 Pro, which aims to reinvent the category. Said to have superior fit, up to 9 hours use on a charge with up to 35 hours of battery when charged in the case, the ability to use just one bud at a time (a great feature!), four mics with beam-forming technology, bone conduction technology (nice!) to better deliver sound to the user even in windy environments. Also included is adjustable Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).
These will be available in October and I am looking forward to giving them their due. Pricing has not been announced, but there is no doubt that they will tip at much more than the $100 mark of the M300-XT and, in fairness, they are for a different user.
There are also numerous over-the-head single-and two-ear headsets with long battery life that are better at rejecting ambient sounds than the M300-XT so the other end of conversations is not bothered by whatever is going on around the user. But these are large, a visual beacon saying, “Hey, look at me. I am wearing a big headset out in public!” Uh, no. Were I exclusively inside a vehicle, I would not care about the optics of excellent performing models including the $140 BlueParrott BT450-XT available from Amazon. Wearing the BT450-XT I can be confident that ambient noise distraction will not be transmitted to the other end of a conversation, and with up to 24 hours use per charge, this is a great choice for many users – but not out and about for me.
Up front, I think this BlueParrott M300-XT is THE one, THE best, so far, for my out-and-about use as it has been described. What about you? What do you want or need? And it is affordable! Buy it now for a skosh under $100 from Amazon.
And let’s not forget to include Apple’s popular AirPods in the mix, in all their iterations. They are decent, though expensive for the quality, and I use them sparingly due to their deplorable battery life and poor rejection of outside sound.
I use and have recommended Plantronics Voyager 5200 Series headsets for about five years. Contrary to their ad copy, the Voyger 5200 does a poor job of rejecting ambient sounds that are not my voice. Whether shuffling papers, working at the kitchen sink or out on the street, the background sounds become prominent and are annoying to anyone on a call with me. Each of the four same model headsets I have owned have suffered from this issue. If it is quiet, then this is a good choice. Battery life of six hours of talk time is good, not great. This was my go-to headset until I became determined to find better, then best.
It is safe to say that the Plantronics’ physical design of the Voyager 5200 series set the standard, now so often imitated, even in the M300-XT, including its reversible capability for right or left ear use.
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- BlueParrott M300-XT
- Charging cable (USB-C to USB-A)
Download the BlueParrott app, Charge it up, pair with iPhone and laptop. Download and install software onto my iPhone. Set up the BlueParrott app, with firmware checking, then updating.
The app has information and instructions for many BlueParrott models, including setup and pairing.
The headset can be multipoint paired, meaning it can be simultaneously connected to two devices. In my case, I paired with my iPhone and MacBook. However, it is not recommended to pair with a computer. The suggested usage model is for two mobile phones. I’ll explain what goes awry with this version of multipoint pairing.
The BlueParrott button on the boom’s pivot point may also be set for specific features. I leave mine in default mode, as a mute button. Others may wish to set it as a speed dial button, push-to-talk for group walkie-talkie use, to access a second paired mobile device or to check the battery level.
BlueParrott button setting instructions:
“To configure the Parrott Button using the BlueParrottt mobile app, please follow these steps:
1. Download the app for iOS or Android:
2. Connect your headset to your mobile device and open the app.
3. From the Headset menu, select Parrott Button. You may receive a pairing request notification for the “VXi Parrott Button” or “PB.” Select “Pair” or “Allow.”
4. Select the feature you would like to use for the Parrott Button
Mode: Compatible Apps – Allows you to launch an application of your choice from your headset simply by pressing the Parrott Button on your headset. This easy access makes your favorite application that much easier to access when you are on the go. Note: When on an active call, the Parrott Button will function as mute.
Mode: Walkie Talkie/Voice Memo – Configure the Parrott Button to Trigger Walkie Talkie or Voice Memos. When this option is selected and the push to talk application is open, press and hold the Parrott Button to open the communication channel and talk.
Note: The Parrott Button will not function as a mute when this option is selected. To mute, press and hold the Volume + button for 1-2 seconds.
Repeat to unmute.
Mode: Speed Dial – Speed dial gives you easy access to any number from your phone book. Once programmed, when pressed, the Parrott Button will dial the programmed number from any phone you use with your headset. It is not limited to the device you used when configuring the button.
Note: when on an active call, the Parrott Button will function as mute.
Mode: More – Options include:
2nd MFB (multi-function button) – Press the Parrott Button to access your second paired device.
Check Battery – Press the Parrott Button to prompt your headset battery level.
Voice Commands – Press the Parrott Button to trigger a voice command.
Mode: Mute on Call – In mute mode, the microphone is muted once the Parrott Button is pressed (an audible beep will be heard from the headset when selected, then once every 10 seconds while on mute). When the Parrott Button is pressed a second time, the microphone will unmute. Mute will function both while on a call and not on an active call.
5. When the Confirm notification appears, select OK.
To configure the Parrott Button using the BlueParrottt Updater, please follow these steps:
1. Download the app for your computer: https://www.BlueParrottt.com/software/BlueParrottt-updater.
2. Plug the headset into your computer using the provided USB cable. The LED will turn on.
**DO NOT unplug the headset during this process.
3. Open the BlueParrottt Updater and select Configure. The LED will turn off.
4. Select your preferred setting.
5. Click Save. Wait until you see the prompt “Device was configured successfully.”
6. Close the Device Configuration window. The LED will turn on.
7. Close the BlueParrottt Updater.
8. It is now safe to Unplug the headset.”
Walkie-Talkie mode can be used with the free third-party software called Zello. Using Zello, one or more others can converse outside of making cellular calls, as its name suggests. I did not try this feature, but it’s pretty cool.
I realize that the above instructions will have little relevance out of context, but it is provided here as an indication of their capabilities to those who will take my advice and purchase.
Another feature, not unique to the M300-XT, is the ability to use the headset during deliveries. As an example, as you will read scrolling down the page at the product link, leave the phone inside the vehicle while delivering, and have connectivity up to 300 feet away! I would never leave my car unlocked and with my phone inside except while at the gas station. Nice feature, though.
The M300-XT may be used while charging. It is automatically switched off when connected for charging, but it may be turned on after being connected for charging.
Next, it was time to get away from Gadget Central and use the M300-XT in the field, in a variety of places – while driving, with the noise of windows open as well as shut, in a busy retail location, and while walking on a busy street.
**PUT TO THE TEST**
Moving from home base to my car, it loses connectivity with the computer. An out-of-range tone at timed intervals reminds of this. Why? As indicated above, this is not how it should be used. It is hunting for the signal lost from the computer. The fix? When out of range completely, it is necessary to shut off and restart the headset. OR, pair with two mobile devices only. I decided to tell it to forget the computer pairing. No more hunting tone! I don’t need the computer connectivity and I do not normally use two mobile phones at the same time. No more out-of-range tone!
While on calls, did anyone alert me to sound issues? I called friends and colleagues to ask if undesirable sounds were detected, even if those sounds did not become intrusive and bothersome. Not one complaint about background sound. But there have been other issues.
I frequently use nav apps on my phone, principally Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze. Calls can be taken and generated at the same time. Here is one discovered glitch, that is not unique to the M-300XT.
This headset is optimized for phone calling and can play music. There have been instances when Bluetooth was wonky, just the same as has been experienced with other headsets. Bluetooth is far from a perfect technology! Restarting my phone usually clears out the junk and allows for better connectivity. Some might attribute the problem to the headset, but it is correctly blamed on the technology. BlueParrott gets a pass on this.
Even when not on a call during nav instructions, the first second or so of the instruction is clipped.
Again, this is normal. Doing the same thing with other Bluetooth headsets yielded the same result. Now that I know, I can live with it and not wonder if something is wrong.
On the road, calling throughout the day OR being available for calls, listening to navigation instructions, podcasts or live radio through the best-of-the-best, my favorite iOS radio app called Ootunes with a one-time cost of $4.99, this headset performs admirably.
Here is a recording made calling myself with abundant background noise, though none of it is discernible:
Summoning Siri is easy, since the headset is always listening. “Hey Siri” summons the genie most of the time. Sometimes, I need to press the multifunction button. Again, this is not the fault of the headset. Rather, it is an anomaly of iOS and the multitasking asked of it. Maybe the next iOS, coming soon, will correct this issue.
I recently drove about six hours out and back, covering over 400 miles, exclusively using the M300-XT with my iPhone securely in its dash mount, another favorite, the iOttie Easy One Touch, $25 at Amazon. The road test was to see how well the headset performed over that long drive, stopping only briefly half way, they turning around and arriving at the Costco gas station near home.
With windows up, then down at high speed, callers did not detect the difference while on two different calls. With windows up and the A/C blowing at my face, no one complained. Listening to the radio, no one complained. Multitasking with nav instructions AND Ootunes in the background AND simultaneously on a call, Ootunes automatically pauses during the call, but nav instructions come through. Once the call had concluded I had to restart the live radio stream from Ootunes, to be expected because Ootunes’ buffer cannot pause while on a call longer than a minute or so. Normal. Why use Ootunes on the road? In areas where radio signal was spotty or non-existent, so long as there is strong cellular signal, I was connected to local LA radio as well as any of the thousands of stations and other content provided through Ootunes. I also listened to podcasts and nav instructions during the drive as well as SiriusXM with nav instructions in my ear.
As indicated up front, I am sold and very happy to have discovered the BlueParrott M300-XT, my new GO-TO favorite all around headset.
**WHAT MAKES THIS THE BEST?**
- Ultra-light (.7 oz) and comfortable
- Three eargells for the perfect fit
- Small, effective mic boom
- Up to 14 hour battery life per charge
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Superior noise cancellation for its design (~80% from 2 mics)
- Ability to pair and use with two devices simultaneously (i.e., computer and mobile phone or, better yet, two mobile phones)
- Easy to use after a learning curve
I’ve become spoiled by one Plantronics feature. As close to truly hands-free as they come, the caller is announced, and then there is a voice prompt to, “Answer or ignore.” This is not a feature available on the 300-XT, but it is on some others, including the untested BlueParrott B550-XT.
Answering a call on the M300-XT requires a finger press on the multifunction button.
Regardless of any headset’s hands-free answering capability, all require a button press to end a call.
Using for an entire day, there is no fatigue, no ear pain. For anyone who requires mobility with the best in phone calling as well as the other features of which the extraordinary BlueParrott M300XT is capable, you cannot go wrong. A most enthusiastic JUST GET IT from me.
Also in my conclusion, these other headsets may be just what YOU need, if long battery life and calling are your primary need and if looking geeky is not a concern.
- AfterShokz OpenComm Wireless Stereo Bone Conduction headset- reviewed here
- BlueParrott B450-XT with up to 24-hour talk time as indicated above and linked here again
- Jabra Elite 7 Pro might be a good choice in true wireless earbud design, and will be available in October, 2021. At this time, I do not know if voice control for answering calls is in its set of capabilities.