Plantronics Voyager Focus UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

July 27, 2015

Do you work in an open office environment? Are your primary modes of communication a PC and Mobile device? Do you like streaming music while you work? Are there times when you really need to focus but can’t because you’re distracted by all the noise around you? If you answered yes to any of those questions, the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC may be the device for you!

This is another great product from Plantronics! It’s a Bluetooth stereo headset with Active Noise Canceling speakers. There are a couple of other Active Noise Canceling (ANC) products that have recently been introduced however they are corded and miss the mark on some features/functionality. The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC seems to address those missed features.

There are currently four variants:

  • PLT-202652-01-006 Plantronics B825 Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth Headset
  • PLT-202652-02-006 Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC Lync/Skype for Business Bluetooth Headset
  • PLT-202652-03-006 Plantronics B825 Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth Headset (No Stand)
  • PLT-202652-04-006 Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC Lync/Skype for Business Bluetooth Headset (No Stand)

I’m reviewing the Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC-M for Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business.

What’s in the box? Plantronics Voyager Focus Stereo Headset, Charging Stand, BT600 USB Dongle, Micro USB Charging Cable, Travel Case, Quick Start Guide, other documentation

At first glance: It’s a pretty cool looking wireless stereo headset.

What does it do? Bluetooth stereo headset with Active Noise Canceling speakers. Pairs to your mobile device via Bluetooth and to a PC/Laptop via USB Bluetooth dongle. You can answer softphone calls and mobile calls. You can stream music. There are some other very cool features I’ll get into.

Set Up and Use: The charging stand has one hardwired USB cable. I connected to USB port on my PC and I placed headset in to charge. I only charged for few hours because I was excited to use it. I didn’t read any of the instructions however I’ve set up tons of headsets in my almost 17 years doing this. The Voyager Focus UC was fairly intuitive. I assumed if I wanted to pair to mobile device I would just turn on and hold on/off/Bluetooth button until headset went into pairing mode. It did. I selected “PLT Focus”. Next I plugged the new BT600 USB Dongle. It took a little bit however soon my Lync client recognized it and I selected the Plantronics BT600. Also, if you want this to be your primary device, be sure and go into your PC’s Control Panel –> Sounds (or Hardware and Sound) –> Select Plantronics BT600 as Playback and Recording Default Device. This way you hear when you get notifications, emails, IM’s, as well as have audio through the headset when streaming online media.

 

The Voyager Focus UC is a very comfortable headset. It has very soft leatherette ear cushions and a nice cushioned headband.

The power button acts as “on/off” as well as the button to place headset into pairing mode. The red “mute” button is on the mic boom. You get audio prompt letting you know “Mute on” as well as “Mute off”. It automatically turns “Mute off” if you hang up call.

The “answer/hang up” button is on the mic side of headset as well as the online indicator lights. A cool feature if you are streaming audio from mobile device is that if you get a softphone or mobile call, it will pause the music. When you hang up call, it starts the music from where it paused. If you are using a music streaming program like Windows Media Player and answer a call, it pauses the music and starts back when you hang up. If I am watching a YouTube video and answer a call, it does not pause the video or audio. In fact, I can hear the audio from the video and the caller’s voice simultaneously. So that was interesting. No, the caller can’t hear the video that is playing. Another cool feature, let’s say you are in a call and as it quite often happens, someone comes up to you and they can’t wait for you to get off call. If you take headset off, in the middle of call, it automatically places headset on mute. When you place headset back on, it turns mute off. Also like the Voyager Legend and Edge, the Voyager Focus UC has Smart Sensors so it knows when you are wearing the headset. Let’s say you aren’t wearing the headset and you get a mobile call. You can answer via your mobile phone like normal, if you put the headset on; it automatically transfers the call from your mobile device to the headset. I’ve loved this feature ever since it was available. Similarly if you aren’t wearing headset and you get a softphone call, simply put the headset on and it answer call. Super cool.

The non-mic side contains the controls for music: Volume Control, Play/Pause button, track forward and back buttons. A cool feature of the volume is regardless of which side the mic is on, forward is always volume increase and if you rotate back it’s volume decrease. The Active Noise Canceling (ANC) on/off button is on same side.

Audio Quality: So it looks good, it’s comfortable but how does it sound? If you are streaming music, it’s great! Sounds really, really good. If you have ANC activated plus the music streaming…you won’t be able to hear anyone or anything. This is so important if you are working on an important project that requires your complete attention. Ok, here’s where I give a just a couple dings. The noise canceling mic is not going to completely drown out background noise. If you are in an area with “loud talkers” or there is laughter, cheering, etc in the background, it will be heard. However, it’s a sufficient noise canceling mic. It does have an online indicator however, it’s a tiny little light so not certain how effective it would be at showing/informing others you are in an active call unless you educate them beforehand.

The speakers do fold flat for easier portability. I was impressed that in addition to the charging stand, they also include a micro-usb charging cable and travel pouch. The travel pouch has another zippered compartment where you can neatly store the charging cable and even the BT600 USB dongle for safe keeping. Really digging the second compartment.

Conclusion: The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is another great addition to the Plantronics portfolio that definitely fills a void. It’s packed with many very cool features. Oh and one of the best parts!!! Can’t believe I hadn’t mentioned it earlier. Are you ready for this? 12 HOURS OF TALK TIME!!! 15 HOURS OF MUSIC STREAMING!!! So you get ALL DAY hi-fi stereo sound! If you really need to “focus”, the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is definitely a must.

Logitech ConferenceCam Connect – Uniquely Portable and Versatile, All-in-One Video Collaboration for Small Groups

By Danny Hayasaka

July 23, 2015

When I first saw the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect I knew I had to have one. Well, I finally do. It’s been sitting here for a little bit now. The Logitech ConferenceCam Connect is jam-packed with features!!!

It comes in two variants however I’m being told it’s really tough to obtain a Ruby – Limited Edition version so if you want one of these, you should go with the Silver.

PN 960-001013 Silver

PN 960-001026 Ruby – Limited Edition

What’s in the box: ConferenceCam Connect device, Power adapter with plug, Regional plugs, USB cable, Documentation

 

At First glance: It looks like this cool gadget that has you wondering what it does.

What does it do? The Logitech ConferenceCam Connect is a USB webcam + speakerphone that supports Bluetooth and NFC pairing. This allows you to use as a webcam and speakerphone for web-based calls from Microsoft Skype for Business/Lync, Cisco Jabber, Skype, WebEx, GoToMeeting, and most major web-based collaboration platforms. The ConferenceCam Connect can be used as a wireless speakerphone for your mobile device to have a small group conference call. You can connect your *supported mobile device wirelessly to screen mirror presentations, spreadsheets, videos or Internet content to a projector, monitor, television or other display that’s connected to ConferenceCam Connect via HDMI cable (not included).

*Screen Mirroring: Android 4.3 or higher, Windows 8.1 or higher (As phones or tablets may vary, please check your mobile device specs or contact manufacturer)

Set Up and Use: I let charge overnight. It’s a very clean design. Once ConferenceCam Connect is charged you should get up to 15 hours (3 hours for video conferencing and screen mirroring). The remote control also acts as a lens cover and attaches magnetically. Again, very clean design. You have three operating options once you turn unit on: Screen Mirroring, USB and Mobile (Bluetooth or NFC). The selection options are on top of ConferenceCam Connect.

 

Here’s one of the downsides, it doesn’t automatically switch from Mobile to PC mode. For example, I’m connected to PC for Lync voice and video calls. I am also paired with my mobile device to stream music. If I am in mobile/Bluetooth mode and I get Lync call, I have to manually press the USB mode to answer the call. It doesn’t automatically switch.

Audio and Video Quality: I don’t have an HDMI cable here so I’ve been unable to test the Screen Mirroring feature however I did witness it at the tradeshow and it was pretty cool. They were streaming movies from Netflix to a tv monitor. Good quality.

When streaming music the audio quality is very good. Nice sound. Plus it’s wireless so very portable.

Audio quality on Lync (softphone) call was very good. I can clearly hear and be heard.  Video quality appears to be very good as well.

What’s really cool is that the ConferenceCam Connect offers a 90-degree field of view with autofocus, 4X digital zoom in Full HD, Rightlight™ 2 Technology for clear image in various lighting environments (even low light), and Digital pan, tilt and zoom from remote control or optional downloadable app plus a mechanical tilt. The remote control offers camera controls and speakerphone functions with a 10-foot range.

Image of my view with ConferenceCam Connect and then an image of the view from the person I’m calling. So you can see the video quality is very good. Nice clear image.

 

The microphones and speaker support a 12-foot diameter range. This is great for small group audio or video conference of 1-6 people.

The Logitech ConferenceCam Connect also has nice light indicators on base to let you know if you are muted or not. Blue light means you’re on active call. Red light means you’re on mute.

ConfereneCam Connect Certifications

  • Certified for Skype for Business
  • Optimized for Lync
  • Cisco Jabber™ and WebEx® compatible (See logitech.com/ciscocompatibility for the latest version.)
  • Skype™ certified
  • Windows®
  • Mac®
  • ZEISS®
  • HDMI™

Conclusion: This is a great device for small groups (1-6 people) for audio/video calls through your PC/Laptop or voice calls via your mobile device. The ConferenceCam Connect is very simple and intuitive. It’s sleek and portable design offers a very small footprint. Click to see all the features and specifications. And the best part…it’s only $499.99