I hate Bluetooth headsets. They all have two problems: they’re uncomfortable and battery life sucks. Considering that making phone calls more comfortable is the whole point of a wireless headset, Bluetooth sets are generally garbage. But recently I’ve seen a positive change, thanks mostly to two recent headsets. One of those is the Plantronics Marque M155.

Unsurprisingly, the Marque is sleek and small, measuring at 2” long and a quarter inch wide and thick. It has one “home” button on the outside, an on/off switch on the bottom, and a volume rocker on the top. A microUSB connector fits snugly on the back. A glossy black finish with silver rims gives the Marque a very clean design, even though the glossy surface picks up fingerprints all too easily. On a device this small, that’s barely noticeable, if ever. I have to say that it looks very similar to the iPhone 4/4S. Or at least the black model.

While I wouldn’t call it an innovation, the key ingredient to the Marque’s success as a BT headset is the lightweight build. It’s tiny, and after wearing it for several hours on my admittedly sensitive ears, I wasn’t bothered by it whatsoever. No other on-ear headset I’ve tested has worked so successfully like the Marque. Plantronics offers a number of different wear styles, including a speaker cover (designed to stay in the ear without pressing against it tightly), which can be worn with or without the plastic ear claw. In any case, users have four major choices of how to wear the Marque. My personal preference has been to use the claw, which delegates the Marque’s weight between the top and inside ear.

Battery life is spectacular. Claiming just five hours of talk time, I’m impressed by the idle time. I left the Marque on for several days while making calls on and off and it lasted – on the original charge – for four days. That is to say, without even charging it once myself. Straight out of the box, it lasted four days with moderate use. After fully charging it for the first time, the Marque can last up to a week with conservative use, and easily several days (anywhere from 4-6 hours of consecutive talk time per charge).

Another long-time problem with Bluetooth is the difficulty in setting it up. Pairing devices is cumbersome, even for seasoned technophiles. Plantronics solves this with two methods. The first is a voiced step-by-step walkthrough when first turning on the device, which is exceptional. The second, specific to iOS and Android devices, is an app that helps users pair the Marque (or any Bluetooth device) to the phone. The app may seem overkill for just a pairing process, but Plantronics includes a number of additional features in the app to make it worth keeping.

When first testing the Marque with my iPhone, I was surprised to find that immediately after pairing an icon of a Bluetooth headset with a gauge sat beside the battery life percentage. I don’t know how Plantronics managed it (and will update with an answer when I get one), but that gauge actually shows battery life of the headset. To my knowledge the Marque is the only headset to do this, and it only works on the iPhone. Android devices did not display any icon specific to the Marque.

Because the Marque is capable of voice commands (internally, not the phone’s voice command functions), there are a number of useful features found only on this headset. Every time the Marque is powered on, it states how much battery life it has left, for talk time. Users can answer calls by simply saying “answer”, or “ignore” to ignore the call. This feature isn’t perfect; I’ve found that about 25% of the time the Marque failed to answer the call because it either didn’t hear what I said or didn’t understand the command. When it does work, it makes for a really hands-free device. Users don’t even have to press the talk button on the headset.

The aforementioned app, MyHeadset(which is different on iOS and Android, with far more options on iOS), includes a pairing guide and walkthrough, a sound-check (so you can confirm that the headset is working properly before making a call), two (dumb) games, and even product support. For confirming that the audio works alone the app is invaluable…I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve made calls with BT not activating for some reason. Or how many times I’ve made test calls just to confirm that the headset is indeed active

I made it clear that Bluetooth headsets have been a pain in the ass for the majority of the technology’s existence. The Marque, as the lightest and most convenient Bluetooth headset I’ve ever tested, would with nothing else already be a great headset. Combined with simple voice commands and gestures and a strikingly useful app, the Marque M155 is the best on-ear Bluetooth headset, period. Nothing else compares. If you have hated using Bluetooth headsets and have stuck with wired sets that come with the phone, the Marque will convert you.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Bottom Line: The Plantronics Marque M155 is the best in-ear Bluetooth headset I’ve ever tested. Highly recommended.

Pros:

  • Excellent battery life, both for talk time and idle time
  • Very lightweight, comfortable to wear for hours at a time
  • Voiced phone answering and spoken battery life are both extremely convenient
  • For iPhone users, battery life displayed on the phone is brilliant
  • Free app is useful for setup and general use
Cons:
  • Voice commands aren’t always registered properly, and are sometimes slow to act



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.