How I extend the range of my Bluetooth headset in a Microsoft Lync/SfB UC environment

By Danny Hayasaka

January 11, 2016

I’m speaking for Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business only, however, I’m certain many UC platforms support this feature.

Plantronics, Jabra, Sennheiser, and VXi all produce multi-connectivity Bluetooth headsets that allow end-users to pair Bluetooth headset to their mobile device as well as their PC/Laptop via USB Bluetooth dongle.

Despite many of the UC Bluetooth headsets supporting Class 1 range (up to 100ft range), many users would like more range.

The majority if not all professionals have a mobile device (Smartphone/Tablet) at all times.

Here’s a tip I have used to increase the wireless roaming range within an office space. I simply utilize the “Simultaneously Ring” and “Call Forwarding” features of our Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business client. I have all Lync/SfB calls forwarded to my mobile device if I’m going to be away from my desk. This allows all calls to ring on my mobile device, whether I’m on the Sales Floor, Admin, IT, Operations area downstairs or even on my way to lunch! I don’t miss a call as I have my mobile headset paired to my mobile phone.

In Lync/SfB you have the options to forward calls to: Voice Mail, Mobile, Home (phone), New Number or Contact, or My Delegates. You have the same options for the Simultaneously Ring feature.

For more detailed info on these Microsoft Lync/SfB Features go to: Set Call Forwarding options

I am currently using the Plantronics Voyager Edge UC however I have evaluated tons of Microsoft Lync/SfB Optimized/certified/compatible UC Bluetooth headsets to include: Plantronics Voyager Legend UC, Plantronics Voyager Focus UC, Jabra Motion UC, Jabra Stealth UC, Jabra Evolve 65 UC, Sennheiser Presence UC, Sennheiser MB Pro 1 and 2 UC & VXi Voxstar UC.

There are many options available when it comes to multi-connectivity Bluetooth headsets depending on your use case and wearing style preferences. You can choose from single ear, dual ear, over the ear, in the ear, and over the ear. The Plantronics Voyager  Focus UC offers Active Noise Canceling speaker option. The Jabra Stealth UC offers remote access to Siri /Google Now voice assistant. Each model offers a different list of feature functionality as well as varying talk times. Contact a UC headset specialist to help guide you in making the right choice for your business communications needs.

Here is a list of Mobile & Softphone Connectivity Headsets (These Bluetooth headsets pair to your mobile phone/tablet as well PC/Laptop via USB Bluetooth Dongle):

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

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Review

By Danny Hayasaka

June 23, 2015

I’m a Fit Junkie. A few years back (161 weeks and 3 days) I made a decision to “lose weight”. I was 246lbs+ with a 42 in waist and growing. These days I’m happy to report I’m 184lbs with a 32in waist. It’s no longer about “losing weight”. It’s about being fit and healthy and able to do things.  It was a challenging journey. I went from getting winded walking a quarter mile to being able to run 16 miles non-stop. I now average 100+ miles per month. I went from not being able to hold a plank for 10 seconds to just yesterday holding it for 4:14 min!!! (I’ve challenged myself to do a 5 min plank).

All along the way there has been music. I must have gone through dozens of headphones/earphones. From corded to wireless. A little embarrassing but I sweat buckets in this Florida sunshine and humidity. I have ruined headphones and even iPods because of my sweat (I know gross). Other issue I ran into with other wireless headphones is the very short battery life. Most would only last 1hr to 2hr max. Well if I go run 13.1+ miles, I’m going to need a little longer battery life. Because even after you run, you need to cool down and stretch. The music needs to keep playing. Enter in…Plantronics Backbeat Fit!!!

I’ve had my BackBeat Fit since March of this year. So I’ve put them through heck. I’ve logged 408.4 miles wearing them. Not to mention my strength training workouts and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions. Regardless of how much I sweat they continue to play. Regardless of all the various movements I make, they stay put. No matter how long I run or workout…the BackBeat FIT keeps up.

These are definitely my favorite headset/headphones for working out. However, guess what? You don’t have to limit using these to working out! I use them when I’m grocery shopping, cooking dinner or just laying out by the pool! And because they have a mic, you can use it to take calls as well.

 

Ok, let’s get into the product.

They come in two variants:

BackBeat FIT – Blue 200450-01

BackBeat FIT – Green 200460-01

What’s in the box? Headphones with microphone, micro USB cable, armband for smartphone or headphones

At first glance: Single form factor with minimal moving parts which is what you need when working out.

Set Up and Use: It was very easy; they seem to go into pair mode as soon as you turn them on. Go to your Bluetooth menu on phone (I have iPhone 6 plus) and select PLT_BBFIT. Buttons are fairly easy. On right speaker you have on/off button, answer/hang up button for calls as well as covered charging port. On the left side you have volume up/down button (tap to increase volume and press and hold to decrease volume) and play/pause button. I was surprised there wasn’t a skip/forward/rewind button/function. I was also prompted to download an app, which I did. It has some nice features.

I was able to update my headset firmware (must be paired). The “Help Me” section offers some good info as well: Pairing: First Time, Firmware Update and Tips

So how does it sound? My personal opinion is they sound great! Volume is loud enough when I’m running where I can listen to the music clearly and still able to hear traffic/surroundings which is important when running. When I’m doing my strength training I can crank up the volume pretty loud.

The Plantronics BackBeat FIT is feature packed!

  • Bluetooth Headset
    • Bluetooth v3.0
      • A2DP for audio streaming, AVRCP for music controls, Hands-free v1.6 for wideband, and Headset v1.2
    • Up to 33ft range
    • Eight-device memory
      • Pair with your mobile device and tablet!
    • Status alerts
    • Carrying case
      • Can act as mobile device case/armband (too small for iPhone 6 Plus)
    • Up to 8 hours of listen time/Up to 6 hours of talk time (Very cool feature!!!)
      • Up to 14 days of standby time (we all forget to charge our stuff from time to time – no need to worry with these)
      • Deep Sleep Mode – Up to 180 Days
      • Micro USB charging
      • 2 hours for full charge
    • Sweat proof design plus P2i nano-coating on headphones (Another very cool feature!!!)
    • Only 24 grams
    • 1-Year Warranty

As I continue on my fitness journey, I expect that these will make it through. I really have put them to the test and they are holding up. Again, even if you’re not a “Fit Junkie”, these are great. Some folks don’t want to wear big bulky headphones however they still want to hear music through both ears, wirelessly while they shop or wash the car. The Plantronics BackBeat FIT, fits the bill.

 

 

 

Jabra Stealth UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

March 30, 2015

I attended EnterpriseConnect 2015 in Florida as I do every year.  As I made my way through the exhibit hall floor I came across one of our very good partners, Jabra. They outfitted me with their new Stealth UC. I’ll write another blog later because I was actually able to test the competitive product right there on the really loud exhibit hall floor.

The Jabra Stealth UC is a headset that allows users to connect to their mobile device via Bluetooth or NFC and PC/laptop via USB Bluetooth dongle. It comes in two variants:

5578-230-109 JABRA STEALTH UC supports most major UC platforms

5578-230-309 JABRA STEALTH UC (MS) optimized for use with Microsoft Lync

What’s in the box? Stealth Headset, Carry Case, USB Adapter, Car Charger, Micro USB charging cable, Large and Medium size ear hooks,

At first glance: It’s a small, sleek, cool looking Bluetooth headset.

Set up & Use: Headset goes into “Pair mode” when you first turn on. I went into my Bluetooth menu on my iPhone 6 Plus and selected Jabra STEALTH and headset “Connected”. One of the things I noticed is there are no volume controls.  Besides the on/off switch, you also have an answer/hang up and a dedicated Voice Control Button that allows you to activate Apple Siri and Google Now. It’s actually a cool feature as you can just tap the button, Siri comes on and you can ask away i.e. “Siri, find me a Chinese restaurant?” When I got back to the office, I plugged Uthe SB dongle into PC and it paired right up (the dongle and headset come pre-connected).

This is an in-the-ear headset. I know some folks don’t like that. I personally use the smaller black eartip and it stays in place comfortably.

Jabra also has the Jabra Assist App you can download to your iOS and Android mobile device that offers some nice features like battery meter that warns when you need to recharge device and Find my Headset and even a Find My Car. Jabra Assist works with multiple Jabra Bluetooth devices: Jabra Stealth, Storm, Style, Classic, Drive, Tour and Freeway.

So how does it sound? Again, due to size I wasn’t expecting much however it seems technology really is improving as the noise canceling was much better than expected. Initially the receive volume didn’t seem to be loud enough however it did adjust. Plus you can also use your mobile device to increase volume.

The charge port is located on boom.

Here’s a list of features and specs:

  • ƒƒ Smartphone voice control button for remote activation of Siri / Google Now
  • ƒƒ Noise blackout dual microphone technology reduces background noise
  • ƒƒ HD Voice* for high definition sound quality
  • ƒƒ NFC** for easy pairing
  • ƒƒ Stream music, podcasts or GPS directions
  • ƒƒ Up to 6 hours talk time
  • ƒƒ Stay connected with the Nano sized bluetooth dongle
  • ƒƒ HD sound with noise reduction
  • ƒƒ Superior comfort in a small design
  • ƒƒ Dedicated voice control button

* Network dependent **Device dependent

How you work really dictates which device is best for you. The Jabra Stealth UC suits how I work because I don’t have a desk phone. I use Microsoft Lync via my PC and my iPhone 6 Plus for communicating and collaborating.

 

Plantronics Voyager Edge UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

February 16, 2015

The Plantronics Voyager Edge UC is one cool little solution. It’s a Bluetooth headset (also supports NFC) that pairs with your mobile devices as well as a PC/Laptop via Bluetooth USB adapter for use with softphone clients as well as other web-based collaboration platforms. It comes in two variants:

B255, 202310-01 – Voyager Edge UC  – UC Standard version built for UC applications and softphones from Avaya®, Cisco®, IBM®, Skype® and more

B255-M, 202320-01 – Voyager Edge UC-M – Microsoft-certified version optimized for Microsoft® Lync and Microsoft OCS 2007

What’s in the box? Voyager Edge Headset with medium eartip attached, Charging Case, USB Bluetooth adapter, Micro USB cable, small and large eartips, and ear hook

At first glance: It’s a small, sleek, cool looking Bluetooth headset.

Set up & Use: It was fairly easy to set up. First I charged Voyager Edge UC in charging case (90 minutes for a full charge).  Voyager Edge also supports micro USB charging which is cool. Voyager Legend requires a proprietary charger.

This is an “in the ear” style eartip. So if you aren’t into that, then this isn’t for you. I personally don’t mind and it’s actually very comfortable to the point I forget I’m wearing. The occasional email/text notifications let me know I’m wearing.

When I turned on, it automatically went into pair mode. I went into my Bluetooth menu on my iPhone 6 plus and selected PLT_Edge. To pair to PC I simply connected Bluetooth USB adapter to a USB port and shortly thereafter I heard “PC connected”.

I have to admit that initially, I didn’t know how to answer/hang up. (I should probably read user guides/set up guides prior to use.)I just started dialing to make a test call. Below is a diagram of all the various buttons:

I’ve used many Bluetooth headsets, so I had a preconceived idea of what the audio quality would be like. I was pleasantly surprised. First I can hear loud and clear. Secondly and the most impressive was the noise canceling mic. Typically the shorter the boom mic, the poorer the noise canceling ability. The Voyager Edge changes that. The noise canceling was very good considering the size of the boom. I’m not saying it drowns out all background noise, I’m just saying for its size, it blocks out a considerable amount. I included an image of Voyager Edge vs Voyager Legend

Other Cool Features: The Charge Case actually acts as a secondary charger on the go if needed and adds an additional 10 hours of talk time for a total of 16 hrs of talk time. It also includes cool little slot/holder for the USB adapter.

The Voyager Edge UC has responsive smart sensor technology. This is a super cool feature that was first available with the Voyager Legend. This technology basically “knows” when you are wearing the headset and when you are not. If you get a phone call via your mobile and you are NOT wearing a headset, you can answer via your mobile device, if during the middle of call you place the headset on, the call is automatically transferred to Voyager Edge headset. Additionally, you can answer calls simply by putting the headset on. If you are streaming music and you get a call, it pauses music. You also have voice commands that make call management easy.

P2i technology is a nano-coating applied during the manufacturing process, resulting in invisible liquid repellent properties that help protect headset from rainy days or drink spills.

As always, with any USB device, I strongly recommend downloading the appropriate software. With Plantronics Hub you get added value of:

  • Call control across multiple softphones
  • Battery meter conveniently displays headset battery life remaining in PC icon tray
  • The headset control panel allows for customization of settings, including call notification and related options
  • UC presence automatically updated when on a call; not only on PC calls, but also when on mobile calls (Microsoft Lync and Skype only)

In closing: So far I’m digging the Voyager Edge UC. If your two main communications mediums are a mobile device and PC/Laptop, this may be a solution for you. It’s lightweight, comfortable, easy to set up but more importantly, it sounds good.

 

 

 

Plantronics BackBeat PRO Review

By Danny Hayasaka

October 28, 2014

Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless, Active Noise Canceling Headphones + Mic is another great addition to a solid Plantronics portfolio.

First the packaging is kind of cool. It was somewhat of an “experience” and I hadn’t even used the headphones yet.

What’s In the Box: Wireless, active noise canceling headphones, Ballistic nylon travel sleeve, 3.5mm inline cable (with 4‐pole for Apple), Micro USB charge cable

Set Up: First thing I did was start charging my BackBeat PRO headphones by connecting Micro USB charging cable to headphones (port on left speaker) and USB portion to PC. (Please note I charged them on 10/16/14). Once headphones were charged (after 3 hrs) I quickly and easily paired to my iPad and iPhone. The first time you power on your headphones the pairing process begins. In addition to being able to pair via Bluetooth, BackBeat PRO also supports NFC (Near Field Communications). The NFC zone is also on left speaker. Additionally, you can pair to the Plantronics BT300 USB Dongle for use with softphone applications.

Actual Use: These headphones have tons of features. Let me get the one ding out of the way however it’s a minor ding considering how these would actually be used.  The microphone isn’t the best. It works well in terms of I can be heard clearly however, it does pick up background noise. Again, minor ding. Also, this is not really a “contact center” device. I see the knowledge worker using these to help them “focus” while at home, coffee shop, airport, subway, train, plane…you get the idea.

There is a power on/off button on right speaker in addition to answer/hang up button, Open mic button: allows you to listen to surroundings if you have ANC activated – If in a call, it acts as Mute button, volume up/down wheel. If your smartphone supports, you have voice-enabled assistant. Using answer/end button you can decline call as well as call back last number dialed.

The left speaker controls include Active Noise Canceling (ANC) switch, Play/Pause music and track selection wheel.

Here’s yet another cool feature! The Backbeat PRO has Smart Sensors like their Voyager Legend. Putting on headphones will play music, activate noise cancelling (when switched on) and answer call. Taking headphones off will pause music and deactivate noise cancelling (when switched on). So let’s say you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner jamming out to your favorite tunes and your significant other taps you on the shoulder to talk, just lifting the left speaker off ear pauses music so you can hear her. Once you’re done with conversation, place speaker back on ear and back to your song right where you left off!!!

Speakers lay flat for easy storage into the really cool bag that’s included.

 

Remember I stated I charged these back on 10/16/14. It’s now 10/28/14 and when I turn them on, the voice message states “Battery High”!!! So battery power is crazy long with these! I’ve been using daily with my iPad at home for listening to music and watching videos and movies. The audio quality is pretty awesome! I’m actually wearing them now as I type this. I’m testing out in middle of sales floor listening to some tunes. I feel as if I’m all alone in my own little world. I had to get up and look to see if anyone was in here.

Should you happen to exhaust battery, you can use the included 3.5mm Apple cable. The cable allows you to adjust the volume, play/pause music, track forward, track backward and activate Siri.

The Plantronics BackBeat PRO is a really cool feature packed set of headphones that can be used by pretty much by anyone. Not necessarily restricted for business. I use them more for personal entertainment and I think they’re great!

 

New EncorePro HW530 and HW540 Review

By Danny Hayasaka

October 22, 2014

Plantronics has introduced a new series of headsets called the EncorePro Series that includes the following models/variants:

Right now only the HW530 and HW540 variants are available.

HW530 – What’s in the box: EncorePro 530 headset that terminates in Plantronics QD, Lapel Clip, Small and Large Earhook, Headset Bag, Quick Start Guide

HW540 What’s in the box: EncorePro 540 Headset that terminates in Plantronics QD, Lapel Clip, Small EarHook, Neckband, Headband, Headset Bag, Quick Start Guide

EncorePro Set Up: Decide which wearing style. HW530 offers a small and large ear hook to choose from. The HW540 offers small ear hook, neckband and headband. Plantronics really did some work in making it super easy to change wearing styles. The ear hooks, neckband and headband easily snap on and off. Next step connect Plantronics QD to Plantronics interface ie. M22, 26716-01 Cable, HIC Cable, AP15, etc. In my case, I connected to DA45 USB Adapter and then into my PC with Microsoft Lync client.

Actual Use: The first thing you’ll notice is how very lightweight and sleek looking the EncorePro 530/540 variants are. I tried all wearing styles and all were comfortable. Another cool little feature is the little gauge on the ear piece to show mic position to ensure proper positioning every time.

 

Audio Quality: The speaker audio quality is good. I can hear clearly. The transmit quality is also very good. I can be heard clearly. Here’s my only ding. The noise canceling mic isn’t that noise canceling. Feedback I received from folks I called was they could hear background noise. Other than that, the EncorePro 530/540 are pretty solid in terms of performance.

The Plantronics EncorePro 530/540 are the lightest corded headsets I’ve worn to date. Even though small and light as they are, Plantronics was able to get very good audio quality in them. I especially liked how super easy it was to change wearing styles. The EncorePro 530/540 are nice additions to the Plantronics portfolio.

 

Jabra Evolve 80 Microsoft Lync Stereo Review

By Danny Hayasaka

October 16, 2014

Jabra Evolve is new series of USB headsets that includes multiple models however this particular variant is one of the cooler headsets I’ve had the pleasure of evaluating.

Two Evolve 80 variants:

Jabra Evolve 80 Microsoft Lync Stereo (Jabra SKU# 7899-823-109)

Jabra Evolve 80 UC Stereo (Jabra SKU# 7899-829-209)

What’s in the box: Jabra Evolve 80 Microsoft Lync Stereo Headset, Carry Pouch, Cable Management clip, USB Controller (Jabra Evolve Link), User Guide & Warranty Info

Set Up for Softphone Use: The Evolve includes hardwired 3.5mm cable that connects into the USB Controller. Connect USB cable into USB port on PC. Like the majority of business use headsets, it’s important to download the appropriate software for optimal quality and feature functionality. Jabra offers Jabra PC Suite for individual download or Jabra Xpress for mass deployment. Once downloaded, check to see firmware is up to date. Since we use Microsoft Lync I have also configured for Microsoft.

Right and Left ear speakers are clearly marked. The boom microphone is on the right side.

The USB Controller includes answer/end call button, volume down, volume up, mute switch and Busylight indicator (little ring around Jabra logo).

Another cool feature that at first may go unnoticed is the little grippy pad on the underside of the USB controller. It prevents controller from sliding on your desk. Most other USB headsets with inline control typically hang down by your knees and aren’t very practical. So this is nice feature.  Additionally you can accept and handle multiple calls at same time via USB controller. Read user manual for “how to” do this.

The Evolve 80 has Active Noise Canceling (ANC) which is awesome feature if you really need to concentrate and block out background noise. The ANC on/off button is located on the underside of Right speaker. There is also a “Listen In” feature that allows you to listen to your surroundings if you need to. Listen in button also Right speaker under Jabra logo.

You must charge headset for at least 3hrs for ANC to work. Once charged you get up to 24 hrs. of ANC time. Battery indicator light on underside of Left speaker. Evolve 80 must be connected via USB for headset to charge. 3.5mm cable alone will not charge headset.

Set Up for Mobile Device: Disconnect 3.5mm cable from USB Controller and connect 3.5mm plug to mobile device that supports. Reminder that headset does not charge when connected via 3.5mm plug.

If your softphone supports transferring call to mobile device, you can switch from PC to mobile.

Actual Wear and Use: I’m all for the “open office” concept.  It does foster more collaboration amongst co-workers however at times it can get “noisy” and hard to concentrate. The Evolve 80 is a great solution. When you really need to concentrate simply put your Evolve 80 headset on, turn on the ANC and focus. The speakers completely surround your ears in what feels like a cushiony pillow.

Yet another great feature is the Busylight indicator on both speakers and USB controller. It lets others know you are in a call. Additionally you can manually turn on/off Busylight. Again, if you need to focus and not be bothered, turn on the Busylight indicator so folks leave you alone.

I LOVE listening to music while working. These Evolve 80 stereo headsets produce great audio quality while listening to music. One of the features of Lync I use sometimes is forwarding calls to my mobile device. I can connect the Evolve 80 to my mobile device and stream music. Paired with Active Noise Canceling turned on it’s like the whole world just disappears and I can just enjoy the music!

In closing, I believe Jabra has knocked it out of the park with the Evolve 80 stereo headset. These can be used at work, home or when traveling in trains and planes. The Active Noise Canceling is comparable if not better than my Bose headphones. I will be replacing my Bose with the new Jabra Evolve 80!

 

Jabra PRO 935 Dual Connectivity Review

August 19, 2014

By Danny Hayasaka

The Jabra PRO 935 Dual Connectivity wireless headset is part of a larger PRO 900 Series family. All variants include Headband and Ear Hook wearing styles.

PRO 920/930 Variants:

PRO 925 Variants:

  • Single Connectivity
    • PRO 925 – Desk Phone
    • Dual Connectivity
      • PRO 925 Dual Connectivity – Desk Phone and Mobile

PRO 935 Variants:

  • Single Connectivity
    • PRO 935 – PC Only
    • PRO 935 MS – PC Only (Lync Optimized)
      • SKU# 935-15-503-185
    • Dual Connectivity –
      • Bluetooth & NFC
      • PRO 935 Dual Connectivity – PC and Mobile
      • PRO 935 MS Dual Connectivity – PC and Mobile (Lync Optimized)

I was curious to test this new Jabra PRO 935 Dual Connectivity wireless headset.

What’s in the box?: Headset, Base, Headband, Ear Hook, USB Cable, AC Power Cable, and some FCC notice.

 

Initial thoughts: Looks just like the PRO 930 MS and looks super easy to set up.

Set Up: Super simple to set up. Only two cables: Power cable you plug into outlet and USB Cable.

Next, you need to decide wearing style. Personally, I think Jabra needs to do a little work on designing better over the ear hook. Not a fan of this current ear hook however, others seem to like it. I personally prefer headband for this headset. Changing out wearing styles is very easy as well. Headband and ear hook just snap on and off. You can wear on right or left ear. Place headset on charging base to charge.

 

I test a lot of different headsets so I am fully aware that for any USB headsets, you should really download the manufacturers’ software. In this case, it’s Jabra PC Suite or for enterprise Jabra Xpress. I help a lot of customers as well as our internal users with “getting their headset to work”. Often times when Jabra USB headset “isn’t working” the first question I ask is, “Do you have Jabra PC Suite or Xpress?” The most common answer is, “No”. Typically once the software is downloaded, they will find they have to “Update” the firmware. This is very important if you wish to have optimal performance out of your Jabra USB headset corded or wireless. Another thing end-users tend to neglect is going into your PC’s Control Panel à Hardware & Sound or Sound à Make Jabra PRO 935 your default device for Playback and Recording if you wish to have all PC sounds go through your headset.

Once updates are complete, you can open Jabra PC Suite Control Center to view other options and customize feature/functionality further.

I use Microsoft Lync so I go into my Lync Options menu and select Jabra PRO 935 as my audio device.

Pairing to Mobile Device: Again very easy process. With the headset on, press mobile device button on the front of the base of PRO 935 until it goes into pairing mode (pairing mode announcement made in headset). Go to Bluetooth menu on your mobile device and select “Jabra PRO”, it should “connect”. Jabra PRO 935 does support streaming audio from a mobile device so you can listen to music or audio from videos.

I didn’t pair to NFC device however I have in the past and that is super simple. Just tap headset NFC zone to NFC enabled mobile device and a message pops up asking if you would like to pair. Again, very easy.

Headset Controls: The Jabra PRO 935 has very pronounced and easy to use controls. The Multi-function button acts as answer/hang up for Lync calls as well as mobile calls. Then there are volume up (+), volume down (-) and mute buttons.

Audio Quality: The audio quality is good. I can hear just fine and I haven’t heard any complaints from people I call about transmit issues.

Wireless Range: Jabra claims up to 300ft from base and 33ft from a mobile device. We have 25,000 sq ft facility and I was able to go to every corner of the building and still remain connected to call. I did begin to cut out in the stairwell as I headed downstairs. However, that’s typical of most wireless headsets. For Bluetooth wireless, it was a very good range. Again, I’m able to roam throughout our office space with no problems. Of course, we have a very open workspace. Wireless range is always dependent on a variety of factors like building material, floor layout, other wireless devices, etc.

Closing Comments: This has been a very good solid performing headset. The initial purpose of the new PRO 925 and 935 variants was to support high-density wireless deployments as these new variants use 2G4 Wireless (Bluetooth 2.4GHz operating frequency). However, I believe these can be great standalone devices purchased by anyone looking for wireless PC and Mobile connectivity in the office. Another awesome feature is 12hr Talk Time!!! Fortunately, I haven’t had to work a full 12hrs but it does last a full 8am-5pm day.