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Scala-500 Bluetooth Headset

Tue Feb 1, 2005 - 1:10 PM EST - By Douglas Morse


The Scala-500 is a solid over the ear earpiece that is lightweight and comfortable. The speaker is designed to rest against the ear, not slip inside it. Enterprising individuals have modified ear gels so it does slip in. This is neither a plus or a minus – simply a personal preference. The ear loop can be switched to wear the earpiece over either ear and is very flexible and designed to be gently squeezed into shape for a good fit. With extended wearing, the earpiece remains comfortable.

The materials and workmanship are of high quality with the ear loop flexible and strong and the headset rugged. That said, in my quest to break every piece of equipment I test, I did manage to pull the speaker away from the body of the headset when I manhandled the earpiece getting it out of the slipcase. It did click back into place, so we’ll just chalk it up to user ineptitude.

The color is a very unobtrusive dark gray and metallic silver, matching the Treo nicely. It is a little short and stubby and does have a bit of a leftover Star Trek prop feel. Still, it is compact and lightweight.

The Scala-500 comes with a carry sleeve that can be clipped on a shirt, hung from the included lanyard, or slid into a bag, purse, or pocket. It is so easy to wear the lanyard and click the earpiece into the carry sleeve without thinking -- which means the designers themselves put a good amount of thought into the system. It is possible though, with some serious shaking, for the earpiece to inadvertently pop out of the carry sleeve. So I think the carry sleeve on the lanyard or clipped to a shirt pocket is good for around the office or in the car, but out on the street the earpiece should either be on your ear or in a pocket.

The included eyeglasses clip replaces the ear loop so you can clip the headset to your glasses. I think this is better in theory than in practice as it is easier to use the earpiece with the regular ear loop next to your glasses. It is nice to have the option (which I’ve never seen before) and users will be able to experiment and certainly find a combination that works for them. The multitude of included accessories is fantastic giving you great options on how to carry the earpiece.

Sound Quality

The Cardo Scala-500 has solid sound quality. It’s taken me through 5 levels of customer support of Time Warner without a hitch (I got that $50 credit) and through several levels of Sprint support when I was charged per KB instead of the flat 5 bucks a month for Vision. The Scala works in what I find to be the most trying of situations: customer service.

It also has WindGuard technology that seems to help a bit outdoors and the echo canceling technology also contributes to the solid sound quality. There are some sound examples at the TreoCentral Store. All of the Bluetooth headsets have their own volume control in addition to the volume control on the Treo. So I’m still looking for the perfect balance between them. On the Scala-500, the sound volume varied from call to call and often needed to be adjusted. Occasionally, I just couldn’t make it loud enough for my liking.

Button Functions

Like many Bluetooth headsets, the buttons are simple because they are on the headset itself. There is the aforementioned multi-function wheel at the top of the headset for on/off, pairing, mute and volume control. The volume control works nicely as you move the wheel up a notch, a corresponding example tone is heard. There are 12 levels of volume.

The control button on the face of the unit is much easier to use. Simply press anywhere to accept, hang up, and redial calls. The headset kicks in automatically when making or receiving a call. The only issue with this is the length of time before the Bluetooth is recognized and it seems to vary from headset to headset.

On the face of the main control button are the red and blue LED lights – the blue blinking occasionally when you are not on a call. Again, a bit Star-Trek-y but a useful indicator that the device is on and searching for the Treo should a call come in.

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Product Info
> Name Scala-500 Bluetooth Headset
> Company Cardo Systems
> Battery life Talk 9 hrs, Standby 7 days
> Weight 0.58 oz.
> Size 2.4 x 1.2 x .86 in
> Left/Right Ear Both
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
> Available
> $49.95

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