In just a few short years, Cardo Systems has emerged as one of the leaders in Bluetooth technology and bluetooth headsets. Now that the technology has gone ‘mainstream’ we are starting to see some very small and very sophisticated devices. The S-800 is the new flagship of the Cardo line. Small in size but big in technology, this little headset hope to knock the Jawbone and Blue Ant Z-9 (among others) from the mantle of ‘best of the breed.’ Does the S-800 have what it takes? Read on for my full review. About Cardo Systems:
Cardo Systems, Inc., formed in 2001 and headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. is an established world leader in the field of wireless Bluetooth communications. Our award-winning products integrate state of the art technology and features, with the latest innovative audio design. Our in-house lab is operated by a highly qualified engineering staff that has had many years of in-depth experience with Bluetooth, RF and audio transmission. During the last 4 years Cardo has submitted several patents applications, some of which have already been granted.
Among others, Cardo has been: the first to offer the VersaClip(tm), allowing users to wear headset either over the ear or attached to eye /sun-glasses.
the first to produce and sell headsets equipped with true wind-blocking capabilities (WindGuard(tm)).
the first to offers a voice-controlled and detachable BT headset for motorcycle helmets that allow safe and hands-free operation .
the first to offers the currently smallest universal BT Adapter for cell phones. This little device renders virtually every standard cell phone Bluetooth capable.
the first to offer a dual-purpose BT headset for voice-controlled use of SKYPE(tm).
The S-800 crams an awful lot of technology into a very small package. The official line from Cardo Systems reads as follows:
Precision design meets advanced headset technology The Cardo S-800 is one of the most feature-rich and advanced headsets available on the market. Its ultra-small size and iconic shape incorporate sophisticated technology, designed for extensive wear and use. The headset fits equally well when worn in-the-ear or when used with the stylish over-the-ear loop. Among others, the S-800 offers :
Design: Make a bold statement with the quintessential precision architecture of the S-800. Its iconic presence and minimalist contours evoke the sense of a classic in the making.
A Lightweight Heavyweight: Barely 10.9 gr. [0.38 oz.] but every bit as powerful as the best of crop.
In-ear or over-the-ear headset: Fits comfortably and securely in the ear and can also be worn with an earloop (vertically and horizontally adjustable).
Hot Dialing: A dedicated button to quickly call any of your three favorite numbers.
Superb Audio: Embedded audio balancing with noise reduction technology and a high-end speaker booster provide superior voice quality.
Solid Performer: up to 8 hours talk time and one week standby.
State of the art functionality: Favorite numbers Hot-Button, SWAP technology (switches headset’s connection between two mobile phones), Headset Location Buzzer, Battery Status Indicator, Call Back, Auto Answer, Missed Call indicator, Conference Call, Voice Dial and much more…
S-800 Technical Specifications
Talk time: up to 8 hours
Standby time: one week
Weight: 10.9 gr. / 0.38 oz.
Battery type: rechargeable Li-Po
Charging time: approximately 2 hours
Volume up and down: 8 levels, 20 dB range
Temperature range: 32o F to 122o F (0o C to 50o C)
Mini-USB charging jack: allows charging from wall outlet or PC/Laptop (USB charging cable included)
High end speaker for superior audio performance
Noise reduction technology
Superior acoustic technologies
Additional Package Contents
Universal travel charger 110/240V 50 / 60 Hz
Functions and Profiles*
Voice dial supported
Handsfree and Headset Profiles supported
Hot dialing (store 3 speed-dial numbers)
Large control button
Call back button (calls back last incoming caller)
Missed call indicator
SWAP Technology: Toggle between two active phones
Headset location Buzzer
Battery Status indicator
Turn LED on/off
Volume wheel adjustable for right or left ear wear
Digital button lock
Multi-pairing: up to 8 devices
Auto answer option
Chip and Battery
Bluetooth(r) version 2.0
Chip manufacturer: Cambridge Silicone Radio (CSR)
Battery type: rechargeable Li-Po
On to the review…..
Some headsets have decided to take a more ‘minimalist’ approach to Bluetooth design – not the Cardo S-800. Unlike the Jawbone, which has received rave reviews on many a web site, the S-800 has lots of buttons and configuration options for the user.
The main control button is on the face of the headset. This makes it very easy and intuitive to answer calls. The Power button is separate and located under (or over – depending on which way you are holding the headset) the main button on the bottom (or top) of the headset. the power button also has two other functions attached to it – it is used to pair the headset to your phone and it is also used as a ‘hot dial’ button (more about that later.)
On the Side of the headset near the back of the unit is a mini USB charging port and a Multi Function Wheel. The Multi Function Wheel handles the volume control, redial functions, call waiting and conference call features and ‘Swapping’ between active phones.
On the back of the headset is a ‘One size fits all’ In the Ear Speaker.
While all the features are great – I did find the buttons a little small and sometimes complicated to operate at the correct time.
The S-800 is a feature rich headset. It handles the basic features found in most Bluetooth headsets – answering, rejecting, dialing back, call waiting, etc. It is designed with a built in audio balancing and noise cancellation technology. The good news is that the user doesn’t have to push anything or configure anything for this to work.
The S-800 has some additional features that many users might find quite useful. One of the innovative features is ‘Hot Dialing.’ The Hot dial button is the control button also used for power and pairing. Just tap it and speed dial #2 on the phone will be automatically dialed. Tap it twice, and Speed dial #3 is called – three taps dials Speed Dial #4. I found this to be a great feature for quickly dialing often used numbers.
Holding the same button for a few seconds and a battery indicator is displayed using the LED lights.
One of the very cool features that I really liked was the Locate the Headset feature. Just press the Multi Function Wheel in the up position for five times after dialing a call and the headset buzzes until you find it.
Another nice feature is what Cardo calls ‘Swap’ technology. You can pair your S-800 with two phones and push the MFW inward in standby mode to switch between the two phones. For real road warriors who carry more than one phone or if a couple is sharing headset – I guess this would be quite helpful.
As with all Bluetooth Headsets, the bottom line is always ‘how does the caller sound and how do I sound when using this headset?’ Well, I put this to the test. I called people using the Cardo S-800 and then called back using the Jawbone and the Blue Ant z-9. Most people told me that I sounded better on the S-800 than on the Jawbone. I heard others equally as well on both. The Z-9 and the S-800 seemed to be about equal is overall sound quality.
The Noise cancellation was not as powerful on the S-800 as it was on the Jawbone or the Z-9 – but it did a pretty good job of isolating the voice and minimizing the background noise. Over all, people I called while using the S-800 told me that I sounded as good as when using the device without a headset – which is exactly what you want to hear.
From the user end – the S-800 displayed great audio quality. On my end, calls were always loud and crisp and clear.
The Cardo S-800 is a great little headset. The button design is a little quirky. There are some awkward pushes to do to activate all the features and it is tough to remember which one to push for which feature. That being said, the feature set is outstanding. For more technically inclined people, this a very feature rich headset.
Most importantly, sound quality was very good as was batter life.
Final Grade: A-
Pros: Good sound quality, good construction, lots of features, great technology
Cons: Buttons are small and awkward, square design is not as ‘fashionable’ as other designs