NEW EncorePro Digital Series – What are the main changes?

By Danny Hayasaka

November 21, 2016

Plantronics introduced their new Plantronics EncorePro Digital Series, EncorePro USB Series headsets and the DA90 USB to 6pin QD adapter. I finally got my hands on some. To see what they are all about.

These are all the current available EncorePro variants:

At first glance they look like exactly like the current EncorePro Series variants so what’s the difference? What are the main changes?

 

  • Digital Memory
    • Model Number
    • Serial Number
    • Headset Inventory management support when used with Plantronics Manager Pro software (subscription service)
  • 6 Pin QD Connector (EncorePro Digital variants)
  • True Stereo for binaural models

One of the main points you need to be aware of is that currently, the NEW EncorePro Digital Series have a 6-Pin QD which currently only connects to DA90.

There are some accessories coming that will allow end-users to connect standard EncorePro Series to DA90 (4 to 6 Pin Adapter) and NEW EncorePro Digital series to connect to DA70/80 (6 to 4 pin adapter). Plus there is a 6-Pin Training-Y Cable on the way.

More and more companies are adopting/deploying softphones or web-based collaboration tools that require USB headsets. Someone has to support those devices. Because of the applications/platforms being used, it typically falls on IT to manage and support those assets.

I think Plantronics is on the right track as they look forward. These new EncorePro Digital Series along with the DA90 and Plantronics Manager Pro empowers IT Managers with easy-to-use tools to monitor, manage, and maintain every Plantronics headset across the enterprise.

 

What devices do I use to communicate and collaborate?

By Danny Hayasaka

November 17, 2016

I write a lot about multiple devices and solutions and I am often asked, “Since you get to choose whatever you want…what do you use?”

The answer… it depends on which Partner is onsite visiting. J

Seriously though, I do get to try multiple devices from multiple brands/partners and I do have my pick. First, let me talk about my communications and collaboration environment.

I have a private office but I also spend time out on the sales floor. My main modes of communication are my Dell PC with wireless Logitech K350 Wave keyboard/ MX Master mouse and Mobile phone (Apple iPhone 6s Plus). You’d be amazed at what a difference a good keyboard and mouse can do to improve/increase productivity. I use Microsoft Lync/SfB on PC for voice and video calls. Additionally, I have access to Skype, Google Hangouts, Fuze, RingCentral, Zoom and others.

I have Sennheiser SP10 ML USB, Jabra Speak 510 and Konftel Ego speakerphones but currently using the Sennheiser SP10 ML for speakerphone calls.

I have been using the Plantronics Voyager 5200 UC for my mobile calls and when I switch from speakerphone to headset.

I flip between Logitech C930e and Microsoft LifeCam Cinema webcams. I also have the new Logitech C925e but I stick between the C930e and Cinema. Main difference between those two models? Field of view. The Logitech C930e offers a 90 degree field of view. The Microsoft LifeCam Cinema offers a 73 degree field of view. If I am having video call and I have 3-5 other people in my office, I use the Logitech C930e. If I’m the only one on video, I’ll use the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema.

When I leave the office, my mobile phone is my primary communication device which means the Plantronics Voyager 5200 UC goes with me. The four-mic array and adaptive DSP along with six layers of Plantronics unique WindSmart technology have greatly improved noise cancelling feature compared to past models. Whether I’m walking the sales floor, in my car or in a noisy airport my voice can be heard.

So there you have it. For the moment here’s what I use:

Plantronics MDA100 QD – connect Plantronics Headsets to Desk phone AND PC

By Danny Hayasaka

November 17, 2016

Let’s get right into it. First I’m happy Plantronics FINALLY developed their own Desk Phone/PC switch. The MDA100 QD allows Plantronics QD headsets to connect to a desk phone and PC. In today’s world it’s absolutely essential to have dual connectivity. We do so many things on our PC’s now. Many organizations have hybrid voice and UC platforms meaning they have desk phones as well as soft phones and other web based applications that require audio like streaming media, webinars, and video calls.

Plantronics MDA100 QD 205255-01

What’s in the box: MDA100 QD Switch, Desk Phone Cable, USB Cable, 10 foot Coil Plantronics QD (Quick Disconnect) Cable, Set Up Guide

Set Up and Use: Set up is fairly straight forward. Connect desk phone cable to desk phone port on MDA100 QD and the other to either the “headset” port on your desk phone or directly into the handset port. Next connect the USB cable to the micro USB port on MDA100 QD and the USB cable to a USB port on your PC. (Make certain to go into your PC’s Control Panel > Sound > MDA100 > Make Default > Default Communication Device > Apply – For a Mac: System Preference > Hardware > Sound > Output/Input/Sound Effects > MDA100). Connect modular portion of 10 foot coil cable to headset port on MDA100 QD and connect Plantronics QD headset to QD connection.

There are six switch settings on the no-slip bottom of the MDA100 QD. (A, B, C, D, E, F). Select through the switch settings until you hear dial tone on phone. Make certain switch is switched to desk phone.

In order to get audio from PC, select PC on MDA100 QD.

Other nice feature is the Mute Button.

This works great with Plantronics QD headsets. Also tried with Plantronics CS540. Although it works, you will not have remote answer/hang up option. You must answer/hang up via desk phone. If you are in need of Desk Phone and PC connectivity with remote answer/hang up option, go with Savi 700 Series and optional EHS Cables or Handset Lifter.

The MDA100 QD is compatible with all major desk phones and softphones, PCs and Macs. PLUS if you have Plantronics Manager Pro subscription you can manage your MDA100 QD inventory.

 

 

Logitech B910 HD Webcam Review

By Danny Hayasaka

November 2, 2016

Logitech produces multiple models of webcams. They offer “consumer” models as well as “business” models.

For this series, I will focus on “Business” models as our company focuses on providing solutions to businesses.

Logitech offers these four webcams plus the PTZ Pro for Business applications.

Yes, many of the “consumer” models look identical to the “business” models so what’s the difference?

Conference rooms and huddle spaces need inexpensive, easy to use, platform agnostic devices…

By Danny Hayasaka

October 28, 2016

It’s been really fascinating to watch the evolution of the meeting space. I remember conference rooms, the analog speakerphone and using a conference call service to connect multiple participants. Oh, and paying by the minute.

Video was added to enhance the experience. It required expensive codecs, hardware, bridges, managed services and a degree from MIT to operate. So the reality was video conferencing wasn’t used and the codecs sat there and collected dust.

Nowadays there are so many options for audio and video meetings via Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Vidyo, BlueJeans, Adobe Connect, Fuze, ReadyTalk, and on and on. Additionally, meeting spaces can now be anywhere from the traditional conference rooms to huddle spaces.

With so many options, the need for platform agnostic devices has increased. Additionally, customers are in search of “easy”. How do they video enable a room easily, inexpensively and doesn’t require a specialized degree or certification to operate?

Fortunately, there are plenty of options from multiple vendors. That’s the other fantastic thing that has occurred…customers are no longer tied to “one” brand for a complete solution. They can mix and match depending on need and budget.

You can use devices from Logitech, Jabra, Plantronics, Sennheiser, Konftel, Revolabs and more!!!

For personal use, you can use a USB/Bluetooth headset or USB/Bluetooth personal speakerphone and Webcam.

For small groups of 2-5 people, you can use a USB speakerphone and Webcam.

For groups of 6-10, you can go with ConferenceCams, USB speakerphones and Webcam or PTZ webcams.

For even larger groups you have options for ConferenceCams with extended mics, or more robust speakerphones with USB connections and PTZ Webcams.

 

 

All these solutions cost thousands of dollars less than traditional video conferencing solutions and they are extremely easy to use. Most are “plug and play”. Simply plug the USB cable into your PC or laptop and off you go.

Logitech is making it even easier with their ConferenceCam Kit which includes Intel NUC, Keyboard, Mouse and Iluminari Quicklaunch SE (a fully configurable and simplified user interface that brings appliance-like ease-of-use to the meeting room, minimizing the need for user training or IT support.)

What does this mean do inexpensive, platform agnostic, easy to use devices mean for business?

Increased user adoption, more collaboration and decreased IT Help Desk trouble tickets.

Below are listed some examples of products that can be used to video enable a space. There are more from other manufacturers/brands. Below are some of the more popular, tested/certified webcams and speakerphones:

Webcams, PTZ Webcams and ConferenceCams:

USB and USB/Bluetooth/NFC Speakerphones:

 

 

One way to reduce distracting noise in your office… Jabra Noise Guide

By Danny Hayasaka

October 20, 2016

Open offices are great for improved team work and collaboration however with that comes an increase in noise! Yes, sometimes your colleagues become your biggest distractions.

Jabra introduces the Jabra Noise Guide with SoundEar®3 software. It’s a portable device that monitors noise levels and provides visual feedback so coworkers are more aware immediately that they may be distracting others.

There are three light color schemes:

  • Green = acceptable noise levels
  • Yellow = warning noise levels are getting high
  • Red = unacceptable noise levels
  • (Of course it can work in reverse if you want higher noise levels ie. Sales Floor, Green could indicate not enough noise going on)

The SoundEar software defaults to preset “Noisy Office” noise levels. You can also select from “Normal Office” to “Quiet Office” depending on acceptable level of noise in your space. Additionally you can customize and set it to what is best for your office.

The Jabra Noise Guide includes: Noise Guide, USB Key with software, Power Adapter with EU, US & UK plugs, USB Adapter Cable (A-plug to micro-B).

Your office environment will determine whether you obtain a Table Stand or Cubicle Mount.

How does the Noise Guide work?

Noise Guide provides you with 2 types of measurements, simultaneously. The ear symbol indicates the state of the current noise level while the LED panel at the bottom of the device indicates the average noise level over the past 15 minutes.

Software Setup

You will find the software on the included USB Key. When you have installed the software, make sure to check for software updates to ensure that you are always updated with the latest version.

You have three standard settings to choose from:

  1. Noisy Office (Default)
    1. The device is lit green when the noise level is below 60 dB.
    2. The device is lit yellow when the noise level ranges from 60 dB to 70 dB.
    3. The device is lit red when the noise level exceeds 70 dB.Normal Office
  2. Normal Office
    1. The device is lit green when the noise level is below 55 dB.
    2. The device is lit yellow when the noise level ranges from 55 dB to 65 dB.
    3. The device is lit red when the noise level exceeds 65 dB.
  3. Quiet Office
    1. The device is lit green when the noise level is below 50 dB.
    2. The device is lit yellow when the noise level ranges from 50 dB to 60 dB.
    3. The device is lit red when the noise level exceeds 60 dB.
  4. Customized Settings
    1. Allows you to customize settings

There are many options from this GUI in addition to Quick Setup:

  • Setup
    • Device Info
    • Light Settings
    • User Manual
    • About Jabra Noise Guide
  • Measurement Data
    • Live Measurment
    • Measurement Library
    • Import Data From USB

You can now review for peak noisiest hours and depending on where you position units, you can pinpoint which areas of your office are noisiest and when.

I think this is a really cool tool for any business looking to monitor noise levels in their office space.

To learn more go to http://www.jabra.com/business/office-headsets/jabra-noise-guide

 

Plantronics Manager Pro and Plantronics Hub for Windows/Mac

By Danny Hayasaka

September 29, 2016

Many communications and collaboration platforms in the enterprise space requires the use of USB headsets and devices. With that comes some challenges in the enterprise space for end-users and IT departments. Plantronics Manager Pro and Plantronics Hub offer a great solution.

From Plantronics Manager Pro and Plantronics Hub data sheet:

Plantronics Manager Pro and Plantronics Hub, both part of our Plantronics Spokes software offering, work together to give enterprises total control and flexibility over their Plantronics audio headsets and devices.

Plantronics Manager Pro is a web-based service that gives IT Managers easy-to-use tools to configure settings and update audio device software and firmware for end-users across the enterprise. Plantronics Manager Pro leverages a cloud-based architecture and offers reporting tools that provide new insights into your communications environment.

Plantronics Hub for Windows/Mac is a client application that works with Plantronics Manager Pro and allows end users to control the settings on their Plantronics audio device within the parameters established by IT.

Problems:

  • IT needs to modify audio device settings for hundreds of users to comply with company policy
  • IT wants to evaluate the effectiveness of their UC deployment, seeing which users are not using their headset
  • IT needs to push a firmware update to hundreds of users
  • IT wants to keep track of their audio device inventory
  • IT needs to troubleshoot user issues from a remote location

Solution: Plantronics Manager Pro with Plantronics Hub for Windows/Mac

Plantronics Manager Pro

SIMPLIFY ADMINISTRATION OF PLANTRONICS DEVICES

  • View a summary of all audio devices and Plantronics Hub software at a glance
  • Easily schedule and deploy device firmware upgrades
  • Adjust and implement setting configurations to ensure a seamless end user experience while locking in regulatory compliance settings
  • Configure devices quickly and consistently, at a time that works best for managers and end users
  • Conveniently troubleshoot and diagnose user issues from a remote location

GAIN DETAILED INSIGHT

  • Generate inventory and usage reports for all audio devices in your organization
  • View what softphone version is being used with Plantronics products across your organization
  • Identify compatibility conflicts between softphone and Plantronics Hub versions
  • Improve user performance and experience by ensuring compatibility between audio device firmware and softphone application

Plantronics Hub

EMPOWER USER PRODUCTIVITY

  • Enable device-level call control with call answer/end, mute, and volume adjust with supported softphone and UC clients
  • Access intuitive user features such as visible mute status, battery status, and mute control
  • Avoid disrupting normal workflow with silent installation option

For more information or to receive a quote for Plantronics Manager Pro, please contact your Authorized Plantronics Reseller.

 

USB and 3.5mm Connectivity Headsets

By Danny Hayasaka

July 22, 2016

More and more businesses/workers are using soft phones and mobile devices to communicate and collaborate. While there are multiple wireless solutions available, many customers want simple corded solutions that are portable and easy to use. The top headset manufacturers have answered the call and developed headsets that connect to your laptop/PC via USB and also allow you to connect to mobile device via 3.5mm connection.

Now folks can use the same headset for PC/Laptop as well as their mobile device. Additionally, all include carry case for portability.

Plantronics USB + 3.5mm Options:

  • Blackwire C315 Monaural (204440-02) and C315-M Monaural – Microsoft (204440-01)
  • Blackwire C325 Stereo (204446-02) and C325-M Stereo – Microsoft (204446-01)

 

Jabra USB + 3.5mm Options:

  • Jabra Evolve 80 Stereo MS (7899-823-109) and Jabra Evolve 80 Stereo UC (7899-829-209)
  • Jabra Evolve 40 MS Mono (6393-823-109) and Jabra Evolve 40 UC Mono (6393-829-209)
  • Jabra EVOLVE 40 MS Stereo (6399-823-109) and Jabra EVOLVE 40 UC Stereo (6399-829-209)

 

Sennheiser USB + 3.5mm Options:

  • Sennheiser SC 45 USB MS (507083)
    • Fkas;dfk
  • Sennheiser SC 75 USB MS (507086)
    • Uadfada;

Plantronics Voyager 5200 UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

June 7, 2016

I’ve been watching the Plantronics YouTube videos on this product and couldn’t wait to see if this headset lived up to the hype. In particular the noise canceling/wind reduction capabilities.

Finally received and I was so excited to get it set up and start testing.

Here’s the model I received and currently using:

What’s in the box? Plantronics Voyager 5200 Bluetooth Headset, Get Started Guide, Safety booklet, Warranty insert, Small, medium, and large ear tips, USB to micro USB charge cable & Portable charging case with integrated docking stand.

At first glance: Plantronics has a knack for designing good looking headsets. Looks very similar to the Voyager Legend form factor however there are differences with color, buttons, the shape of mic boom AND you can now charge via micro USB!!!

Ideal for: Mobile professionals who use PC audio, mobile phone, or tablet communications in noisy environments

Set up and Use: Nice and easy. I plugged USB cable to PC and micro-usb to charging case/stand. Placed headset on to charge (approximately 90 min to fully charge). Voyager 5200 UC includes three different size ear tips. To change out ear tips push in the ear tip and rotate to the left to unlock it. To attach different size ear tip, align ear tip into slot, push, rotate to the right and lock into place. I mention this because folks who don’t know, tend to break them before they even get started. I plugged BT600 USB Dongle into my PC. Once I turned headset on, it paired almost immediately to dongle. You get an audible “PC connected”. You use the answer/hang up button on back of mic boom to place 5200 UC into pairing mode. Go to your mobile device Bluetooth menu, select “PLT V5200 Series” and you will get audible “Phone one connected” and on my iPhone screen you can see its “Connected”.

 

We use Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business. From my Devices selection I select “Plantronics BT600”. I also have Plantronics Hub software that is absolutely necessary. In an Enterprise environment I HIGHLY recommend Plantronics SaaS subscription to Plantronics Manager Pro.

I want to get right to it. I have made several test calls. One of the last test calls made was really something else. Most manufacturers tout great “noise cancelling” mics in their Bluetooth headsets however the reality is most Bluetooth headsets have lousy to okay noise cancelling.

I’m driving in my car going 60mph, car stereo on and then I roll down the window during middle of storm. It’s so windy and loud. I can’t even hear myself. However I proceed with test. When I played back recording I was very impressed. It’s like you can hear the wind and then it just cuts out and all you hear is my voice. Again, very impressed with Noise Canceling mic.

I’ve had several Lync and Mobile calls in private office, open office space, in airports, hotel lobbies, car, and other various locations inside and outside. No one has complained. Typically if person I’m speaking with “hears” background noise they ask, “Where are you?” I haven’t had that question asked yet so I’m assuming they can’t hear what’s going on in the background. I did ask my wife when I was outside a hotel near airport if she could hear anything. It was a busy street and you can hear the planes taking off overhead. I asked if she heard that jet fly by. She asked “what jet?” I asked you didn’t hear that plane that just flew by super loud? Have you heard all the cars zipping by?” Her response was “No”. Again, I’m very impressed with the Noise Canceling ability of the Voyager 5200 UC.

And of course it’s very comfortable. I wear Voyager 5200 UC from roughly 7:15am until 6:30pm and there is no discomfort. Receive volume is good. I like the location of the volume increase/decrease buttons. Easy to access.

The Charging Case is very sleek looking and doubles as charging stand. When traveling there is slot for BT600 USB Dongle in case.

The Voyager 5200 UC is packed with features:

  • Four adaptive microphones and proprietary DSP
  • Six layers of WindSmart® technology
  • Wideband audio
  • SoundGuard® technology
  • Worry-free mute assurance
  • Up to seven hours of non-stop talk
  • P2i moisture protection
  • NFC pairing
  • 14-hour portable charging case
  • Smart sensors auto-manage calls
  • Range of up to 98 feet/30 meters
  • Works with smartphones, laptops, tablets, and Bluetooth desk phones
  • Enhanced voice alerts
  • Quick access to smartphone Virtual Personal Assistant
  • Designed for all-day comfort
  • Simple voice commands
  • Dynamic mute alert
  • Dedicated mute button
  • Timed voice alerts
  • Visual mute status
  • Customizable mute notifications

In conclusion, this is a pretty awesome headset. It’s comfortable. It pairs up automatically. I can now charge at home no problem with one of the many micro-usb chargers I have floating around. I can use it in the office with my PC via Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business calls as well as my mobile. It’s the perfect fit for how I work. And of course, the Voyager 5200 UC noise canceling is really really good.

 

 

New ear hook give Sennheiser wireless headsets a whole new feel…

May 17, 2016

By Danny Hayasaka

One major complaint customers had who have used Sennheiser wireless headsets is the over-the-ear wearing style just wasn’t good.

Sennheiser has introduced a new ear hook accessory HSA 20 that is designed to offer an improved, flexible and perfect fit to the already existing SD Office and D10 wireless headsets.

A click-on adapter fitting the SD Office and D10 headsets is used for mounting the new improved ear hook featuring a soft leatherette sleeve.

Improved noise isolation and a secure fit are offered with in-ear earbuds in three different sizes (S, M, L) that are mounted on the adapter for the perfect individual fit and optimal wearing comfort.

I was fortunate enough to actually get some of these hooks to test for myself. Of course, I couldn’t write or talk about my experience until now.

Initial thoughts… why didn’t they do this sooner? I’m not huge over the ear fan but I tell you what… this was a very comfortable fit. The SD Office and D10 headsets are super light as it is, the stability this new ear hook accessory HSA 20 offered was very nice.

It’s funny how when people test wearing style stability people shake their heads around like they’re at a metal concert but really? Who does that in an office environment? Don’t answer that. I did bend over to pick something up off the floor and other normal daily movements. The headset stayed in place.

I was able to wear all day comfortably. Really like the soft leatherette sleeve. You don’t think it makes that big a difference, but it does.

 

And yes you can easily switch out the hook for right or left ear wear.

If you have a Sennheiser SD Office or D10 wireless headset but weren’t too keen on the over the ear wearing style… you may want to consider the new ear hook accessory HSA 20.