From Monkeys to Dragons, DigitalReviews Network is traipsing through the animal kingdom in search of good gear for our readers. Thanks to Callpod we have the opportunity to review the Dragon, a Class 1 Bluetooth headset.
On paper, the Callpod Dragon sets itself apart from the rest of the market by its long range, functionality and looks. Let's take a deeper look at this beast with "brute Bluetooth power".
Unlike a lot of conventional Bluetooth headsets, the Dragon immediately differentiates itself with an elongated circular shape. For those diehard Star Wars fans like myself, it evokes images of the Hapan Dragon. At only 66 x 32 x 57 mm (HxWxH) and 25.5 g, it is a svelte little unit with an ear bud to fit just inside the ear. The unit comes with a detachable ear wrap which I found to be a necessity in order to wear the Dragon properly. The good thing is that it sits flush against my cheek. The smooth curve is interrupted only by a single multi-function rocker switch.
Dragon In Flight
As expected the first time the Dragon is powered up it enters into pairing mode. Pairing with my Nokia N80 was a breeze and by pressing the switch again once, the Dragon re-enters into discoverable mode ready for another device such as a second Callpod Dragon.
With the Dragon firmly secured, the ear bud helps to filter out background noise. The incoming sound quality is excellent for most part although I found it to be on the softer side. By pushing the rocker switch I can easily increase the volume, however at maximum volume the incoming sound became distorted and conversations were difficult to understand. By bringing the volume down one notch made it clearly understandable.
The outgoing sound was not quite the same quality although it was perfectly understandable even in a noisy environment. There was a slight hollowness and echo in my voice and a humming noise in the background once in a while.
For some reason, I was unable to use the Dragon to answer incoming calls on my phone. It is a mildly annoying issue although not detrimental as I have a habit of looking to see who is calling before I answer.
Dragons In Tandem
Connecting two Callpod Dragon headsets together in 2-way communication mode is a straightforward process. The first Dragon needs to be in discoverable mode and the second Dragon to be powered on with the multifunction button held down until the blue LED flashes repeatedly.
The Dragon is rechargeable via a mini-USB port and the connector is a very firm fit.
The Dragon Upgrade Wizard is available as a free download from the Callpod website, allowing firmware updates to happen as they are released. The installation of the Upgrade Wizard is straightforward, however I had problems getting my machine to connect to the Dragon itself.
Aside from the volume issues I mentioned earlier, there were three other major issues I encountered with the Callpod Dragon.
Firstly for some reason, I experience consistent disconnections from the Dragon soon after I am connected on a call. The second issue I encountered was having the Bluetooth connection to be active but no sound coming through via the Dragon. Both of which I seem to be able to fix for a period of time by deleting the pairing from my phone and starting from scratch. The workaround would fix the issue for a while before it returns again.
Thirdly when I have the GPS software running on my phone, there is a a delay from when the software would verbalise instructions to when the Dragon would kick in. This usually results in me hearing just the last word of the instruction like "left" in "after 100 m, turn left". This drove me slightly insane as I would need to disconnect the Dragon in order to hear my GPS instructions clearly, yet have to reconnect the device if I receive an incoming call.
In the Box
The Dragon headset package comes included with the following:
* Class 1 Bluetooth headset
* Large ear wrap
* AC/DC wall adapter
* Car charger
* USB charging cable
* 5-pin mini USB adapter for Chargepod
* Carry pouch
* User manual
The Callpod Dragon has some good points and bad points. Brute Bluetooth strength is definitely one of the strong points with its incredible 100 m range particularly in the walkie talkie mode. Combined with operating time of up to 8 hours of talk and 300 hours standby makes it a good proposition. Additionally, the comprehensive charging kit covers all the bases if you do happen to run low on power.
However with my issue of Bluetooth disconnection and loss of sound coming through the Dragon, 100 m is a fair distance and I certainly can't cover that in anything close to 10 seconds. Chances are that the problem is particular to my phone, and what would I be doing 100 m away from my phone?
The Callpod Dragon is available from here for USD$129.95. Currently in stock is Titanium Silver and Black Chrome, with Carbon Fiber finish to be added to the product line.