How do you choose the right headsets for your organization? Part III

Series by Danny Hayasaka

In Part I of this series we discussed who the top headset manufacturers are and why. In Part II we covered why it’s important to choose an Authorized Partner. Now…let’s get into it. How do you choose the right headsets for your organization?

Back in the day, it was so simple; Plug Prong or Multipurpose Amp, single ear, dual ear or convertible wearing style headset. That’s it.

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How do you choose the right headsets for your organization? Part I

Series by Danny Hayasaka

7/9/18

Having been in this industry for over 19 years I’ve had the opportunity to see the evolution of headsets. Some dismiss headsets as commodities however they are becoming increasingly critical to an organizations business processes and their overall business communications and collaboration strategies.

The headset is how your company’s voice is transmitted to the world. In addition to customers and partners, clear communications are also important internally amongst peers and colleagues. More emphasis should be placed on selecting the right headset if listening to your customers and being able to be heard clearly matters to you and your business.

In the world of business grade headset manufacturers, there are three main players (Plantronics, Jabra, and Sennheiser) with Plantronics and Jabra currently dominating the space globally.

They are the top vendors for these reasons:

  • Global presence
    • All three brands are available to customers globally through distributors and channel partners in their perspective regions.
    • Global, National and Territory reps
  • Compatibility with all major voice, UC, Contact Center, and collaboration platforms
    • All three manufacturers work hand in hand with the major platform providers to offer solutions that are compatible and include features and functions end users need for optimal experience
  • Service
    • Warranty service (1-3 year coverage) is available depending on brand and model
    • Varying turnaround options available
    • Additional services available for large and global enterprise customers
  • Support
    • Pre- and Post-Sales Support available directly and through channel partners
    • Demo/Eval/Proof of Concept units
    • Wireless Density Surveys
    • Mass deployment support
    • Onsite support
  • Accessories
    • Doesn’t seem like that big a deal, however, “shit happens”. The AC Adapter for your multi-connectivity wireless headset has an unfortunate vacuum cleaner incident which renders your headset useless. It’s important that you are able to purchase a replacement.
    • Some organizations “share” headsets. The ability to issue each employee their own set of ear cushions and headset cleaning towelettes is important
    • What about training-y’s, replacement interface cables, mic screens, voice tubes, charging cables, USB cables, ear tips, etc
  • Large Portfolio
    • One size does NOT fit all
    • Each brand works very hard to develop solutions to support the multiple Use Cases, Personas, Work Styles, User Types & Environments
    • Corded and Wireless Headset options
    • USB speakerphone options
    • Multi-Connectivity options
      • Brands offer solutions for any combination of Desk Phone, Softphone and/or Mobile device
      • DECT, Bluetooth, NFC, USB-A, USB-C, 3.5mm, RJ9 options
    • Different wearing styles
      • Single and dual headband options
      • Over the ear
      • In the ear
      • Behind the neck
      • Convertible options that include multiple wearing styles
    • Security
      • All three brands make security a priority. Government, Financial, Healthcare and other industries that require the highest levels of security can rely on Plantronics, Jabra, and Sennheiser.
      • All are members of the DECT Forum and have solutions that are Security Certified
    • Support all budgets
      • All brands offer value to premium options
    • R&D
      • Plantronics, Jabra, and Sennheiser are continuously investing heavily in R&D to produce better solutions beyond headsets to support the ever-evolving communications and collaboration landscape.
    • Headset Management Software
      • As headsets become more prevalent, it’s become more critical to manage them.
      • IT Help Desks are experiencing an increase in help desk tickets requesting support for headsets
      • Headset Management Software can help IT Departments mitigate many issues before they arise
      • Plantronics, Jabra, and Sennheiser all offer Headset Management Software

Above are some of the reasons why Plantronics, Jabra, and Sennheiser are currently the top vendors however there are a plethora of other headset manufacturers/brands. Some notable brands: Logitech, Microsoft and most recently Cisco.

Other brands: Addasound, Accutone, Axtel, ClearOne, JPL, Yealink, VTech, Spracht

Point is there is no shortage of options however you should consider bullets I listed before you begin your journey to choosing the right headset for your organization…

 

Jabra Speak 710 Review

By Danny Hayasaka

May 22, 2017

 

Finally got my hands on a couple of Jabra Speak 710s. When it comes to portable USB/Bluetooth speakerphones, the Speak 710 has the best audio quality I’ve experienced.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s go through the process.

The Jabra Speak 710 comes in two flavors:

What’s in the box? Jabra Speak 710 with a hardwired USB cable and integrated folding table stand, Link 370 USB Dongle, carry case, Quick Start Guide

Jabra Speak 710 Features:

  • Immersive sound for calls and music
  • Intuitive plug and play connectivity – connect to a laptop, smartphone and tablet via USB or Bluetooth®
  • Lightweight design, protective travel pouch, and 15 hours of battery life (3hrs to fully charge)
  • Flexible and scalable for small and large meetings
  • Interact with your voice assistant with the one-touch Smart button
  • Certified for Avaya, Cisco, and Skype for Business for a plug-and-play experience

Set Up and Use: For any Jabra US device, I strongly recommend downloading the FREE Jabra Direct software of individual use or Jabra Xpress for mass deployment.

 

Set up is a breeze. You have two options for connecting Jabra Speak 710 to PC/Laptop:

  1. Connect to PC via USB Cable (USB cable hardwired to Speak 710 and has nice cord management system)
  2. Connect to PC via Bluetooth (Link 370 USB dongle)

To connect Speak 710 to Bluetooth mobile device, hold the Bluetooth button for 2 seconds and follow the voice-guided instructions to pair to your smartphone.

Speak 710 controls:

  • Power on/off
  • Answer call
  • End call
  • Volume Up
  • Volume Down
  • Mute
  • Bluetooth
  • Battery status
  • Smart button
    • By default, the Smart button will activate your smartphone’s voice assistant (Siri®, Google Now™, Cortana™). However, if you would prefer the Smart button to instead speed dial a phone number on your Smartphone or PC, this can be configured using Jabra Direct.
  • Link Button
    • To temporarily link the audio between two Jabra Speak 710s, press the Link button on both speakerphones when they are within 2m/6ft. The Link button will only be visible when two Jabra Speak 710’s are within 2m/6ft.
    • To unlink the speakerphones, press the Link button on one of the speakerphones.

NOTE If two Bluetooth devices are connected to the Jabra Speak 710, the last connected Bluetooth device will be replaced by the temporary link.

The Jabra Speak 710 is a premium, portable speakerphone for business leaders and C-level executives that ensures amazing sound for conference calls and music – anytime, anywhere.

I have two Speak 710’s linked together so the audio experience is absolutely fantastic for calls and music!!!

Here are some use cases:

  • Small meeting room: 1-6 participants in the meeting room (place Speak 710 in the middle of the table)
  • Large Meeting room: Up to 12 participants (Link two Speak 710’s and place at either end of the table)
  • At your desk (Private office/home office): It’s recommended to put Speak 710 in an upright position using the integrated table stand.
  • Stereo media: if you are presenting or viewing stereo multimedia, two Jabra Speak 710’s can be positioned on either side of a projector or display for automatic stereo sound.

To help you keep track of tiny Link 370 USB dongle, there’s a slot on the underside of Speak 710 so you can store for travel.  Let’s say you forget dongle or forgot to charge…that’s okay, fortunately, there is a hardwired USB cable you can always use. The table stand is also a nice feature.

The Speak 710 is for those who need better audio quality for voice calls and streaming media. Additionally, the look of the Jabra Speak 710 is very nice compared to Speak 510.

I’ve tested all the business-grade portable USB/Bluetooth speakerphones from the major manufacturers and hands down, the Jabra Speak 710 provides the best audio quality.

 

Jabra Evolve 75

By Danny Hayasaka

May 2, 2017

It’s no secret that noise and interruptions negatively impact productivity. Especially in open office environments. The chatter from neighboring colleagues can sometimes be too much when you are trying to complete a project.

Enter the Jabra Evolve 75. This wireless headset comes in four variants:

  • 7599-832-199 Jabra Evolve 75 MS Stereo with Charging Stand
  • 7599-838-199 Jabra Evolve 75 UC Stereo with Charging Stand
  • 7599-832-109 Jabra Evolve 75 headset MS Stereo
  • 7599-838-109 Jabra Evolve 75 headset UC Stereo

What’s in the box (Charging Stand Variant): Quick Start Guide, Evolve 75 headset, Jabra Link 370 USB adapter, charging stand*, protective travel case, USB cord (allowing for use while charging)

Set Up and Use on PC: Setting up the Evolve 75 was very simple. Please note microphone can only be worn on the right side. First, charge unit 2.5hrs. Download Free Jabra Direct software (Individual desktop), Jabra Suite for Mac or Jabra Xpress (mass deployment). Plug Jabra Link 370 USB dongle to a PC USB port (allow device drivers to install). Turn on the Jabra Evolve 75 headset. Should connect almost immediately. You can adjust settings via Jabra Direct:

You can also check the status of Link 370 Dongle via Jabra Direct.

To pair to a mobile device via Bluetooth. First, go to your mobile device Bluetooth menu and place into discovery mode. Slide and hold on/off/Bluetooth switch on Jabra Evolve 75 to Bluetooth symbol for 3 seconds to place Evolve 75 into pairing mode. Select Jabra Evolve 75. You should be “Connected”.

 

To mute Evolve 75 simply lift boom arm up. There’s a little button with microphone icon on right speaker towards the top. When I pressed this button, it activated Siri on my Apple iPhone.

Active Noise Cancellation button allows you to eliminate unwanted background noise. The Listen-in feature allows you to listen to your surroundings without taking your headset off. To activate “Listen-in”, press button on the left speaker.

There is an integrated busy light that kicks on when you are in a call. It’s important to educate employees and inform them that when lit up red, the person is “busy” and should not be disturbed. You can manually activate busy light by pressing volume up/down buttons simultaneously. If you are not on a call but need to concentrate.

 

 

I’ve toured some “open office” environments and a solution like the Jabra Evolve 75 is a must in many use cases.

Training-Y for USB Headsets in Softphone environment?

By Danny Hayasaka

April 20, 2017

This question continues to come up again and again. Can you connect two hardwired USB headsets to some sort of splitter for training purposes? The answer is still “No”.

As more and more companies adopt new voice technologies that include softphones there has been a shift from traditional QD headsets to hardwired or wireless USB headsets. The shift from desk phone to softphone does not eradicate the need to train. Businesses still need supervisors/team leads/trainers to sit with new employees/agents and train.

I recently visited a small credit union call center.  Fortunately for them, they were using Jabra PRO 9450 wireless headsets across the floor. I noticed they had a spare PRO 9450 on a shelf plugged into power to keep it charged. Attached also was a Zoomswitch Trainer. I asked what it was for. They said for training purposes. They connect two PRO 9450 bases to a Cisco desk phone via Zoomswitch Trainer.  I then asked if they were aware of Conferencing Feature that allows them to pair up to 4 headsets to one base. They were not. I provided the instructions on how to do this and they were ecstatic. Much easier and cleaner solution.

I bring up that story because another shift we’ve seen is customers ordering MORE WIRELESS headsets. This is good news when it comes to training. Most major headset brands (Plantronics, Jabra, Sennheiser) that offer wireless headsets include the Conferencing feature.

  • Plantronics Savi 700, Savi 400, CS500 & CS500 XD Series
  • Jabra PRO 9400, *PRO 900 Series (*some models)
  • Sennheiser SD, D10 Series

If you have hardwired corded USB headsets you will run into some challenges if you need to connect two headsets for training.

What are your options? First, understand you can’t connect two hardwired USB headsets to one PC for training. Next, review employees’ roles and daily routines. Based on their roles and daily routines, is corded best option? Perhaps single or multi-connectivity wireless headsets are better options. If you deem corded is best, then let’s look at training options for USB softphone environment.

All major headset brands (Plantronics, Jabra/VXi, Sennheiser) include standard training solutions for USB softphone environment and typically consist of:

  • Two QD (Quick Disconnect/Easy Disconnect) Headsets + Training-Y Cable + QD to USB Adapter

Before you buy all hardwired USB headsets, make note of how many trainers/supervisors and how often training is done so you can order the appropriate number of standard USB training solution.

Alternative options.

  • Two Jabra QD Headsets + Jabra Link 265 USB Training-Y
  • Same Series Wireless Headsets using Conference feature

Contact your dedicated Call One, Inc. Account Executive to help you identify what solution is best in your environment.

 

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:

 

 

Jabra PRO 900 Series Wireless Headsets – Simple, Reliable, Affordable

By Danny Hayasaka

April 21, 2016

Wireless headsets are much more prevalent in the workspace. I remember many, many years ago the first wireless headsets by ACS then GN Netcom. And of course, Plantronics joined in and took the market by storm. Now all major headset manufacturers offer wireless solutions. I remember how hard it was to get businesses other than call centers to even consider trying corded headsets.

When wireless headsets finally became affordable we couldn’t keep enough on our shelves. There is no question wireless headsets increase productivity. What’s been happening over the past decade is a shift in how businesses/people communicate and collaborate. Most businesses don’t have just one method. They have desk phones, softphones, web-based collaboration platforms and of course mobile devices.

Wireless headset manufacturers began developing multi-connectivity wireless headset options to fit the varying connectivity requirements. While extremely beneficial for multiple businesses…there is still a need for a more simple solution.

Jabra offers the PRO 900 Series. What I like about this series is the simplicity. They are easy to set up and use. They have great talk time, very good audio quality and well… they just work.

I think customers/vendors sometimes forget this series exists. I also think there is some confusion with the multiple PRO 900 Series variants. I’ll try and simplify.

The PRO 900 Series has four main connectivity options:

  1. Desk Phone
    1. Jabra PRO 920 Mono
    2. Jabra PRO 920 Duo
    3. Jabra PRO 925 Single Connectivity
  2. Softphone
    1. Jabra PRO 930 UC Mono
    2. Jabra PRO 930 UC Duo
    3. Jabra PRO 930 Mono for Microsoft Lync/SfB
    4. Jabra PRO 930 Duo for Microsoft Lync/SfB
    5. Jabra PRO 935 Single Connectivity
    6. Jabra PRO 935 Single Connectivity for Microsoft Lync/SfB
  3. Desk Phone and Mobile
    1. Jabra PRO 925 Dual Connectivity
  4. Softphone and Mobile
    1. Jabra PRO 935 Dual Connectivity
    2. Jabra PRO 935 Dual Connectivity optimized for Microsoft Lync/SfB

Why so many variants? Jabra recognizes the increase in wireless headset use. To help address wireless density issues, they offer DECT and Bluetooth options. If the model ends in “0” it’s DECT. If the model ends in “5” it’s Bluetooth. The Jabra PRO 920 Mono is DECT. The PRO 935 Single Connectivity would be Bluetooth.

Now that you know which models are which…here’s what makes the PRO 900 Series winners:

  • TALK TIME!!!
    • Up to 8hrs – PRO 920 and PRO 930 variants
    • Up to 12hrs – PRO 925 and PRO 935 variants
  • Conference up to 4 Headsets on one base
    • Great for Training purposes and multi-shift scenarios
  • Supports EHS Cables (sold separately)
    • Cisco, Avaya, Polycom, Toshiba to name a few
  • Firmware Upgradeable
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Mono Variants Convertible
    • Headband and Over the ear (This is probably my only con. Ear hook, not the most comfortable if worn for long periods of time – at least for me)
  • Dual Connectivity Variants
    • Desk Phone and Mobile
    • Softphone and Mobile – It just works. Once mobile is paired it connects as soon as you are in proximity automatically
  • Really Good Audio Quality
    • I’ve had no complaints in reference to receive volume
    • Audio is clearly heard
    • Transmit quality also good – no negative feedback
  • And of course… THE LOW PRICE!

If you are in search of a simple, good quality wireless headset that just works at a low price….then you need to check out the Jabra PRO 900 Series…

 

 

 

My USB headset isn’t working… “Have you updated the firmware?”

By Danny Hayasaka

January 21, 2016

We get lots of calls from customers who claim their USB headset isn’t working. One of the first questions we ask is, “Have you updated the firmware?” Most issues are corrected once customers download the software and update the firmware.

Yes, you need to download the appropriate software when you purchase a corded or wireless USB headset from Plantronics, Jabra, VXi and Sennheiser. Jabra and Plantronics also offer an Enterprise solution that allows IT to manage remotely versus going from station to station making changes.

Here are links that will direct you to the current software downloads:

Most also have software for Mac.

Here are some of the feature/functions that USB headset software offers (go to each link for specific details on the various software and supported devices and softphones):

    • Change device settings
    • Visible mute and battery status
    • Readiness Status
    • Device-level call control with call answer/end, mute, and volume adjust
    • Compatibility for a broad range of softphones
    • *Remote Call Control (Answer/End Call, mute, redial etc) from the headset
    • Readiness Status
    • And More!

Most of the software offers a graphical user interface (GUI) that makes it easy to “see” what you are connected to and status.

The GUI also allows the end-user to quickly make device setting changes.

You can quickly and easily make device setting changes with a few clicks.

The main point is if you are experiencing issues with your Plantronics, Jabra, Sennheiser or VXi USB headset and haven’t downloaded the software and updated firmware… that may be the issue.

 

Can I extend the range of my Bluetooth headset in a 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):

 

“What is the best Bluetooth headset?”

May 28, 2015

By Danny Hayasaka

I’m often asked, “What is the best Bluetooth headset?” The answer is always, “That depends”.

Let’s first understand Bluetooth. Bluetooth isn’t a mystical, magical power. It’s short-range wireless technology. There are currently three main wireless range categories for Bluetooth.

  • Class 3 – up to 3ft range
  • Class 2 – up to 33ft range – Most commonly found in mobile devices
  • Class 1 – up to 300ft – certain commercial grade Bluetooth headsets offer this range

Additionally, there are various versions, profiles and protocol stacks. Perhaps in another blog, we can get into those. For now, let’s focus on Bluetooth headsets.

Like any other communications and collaboration device, the use case will determine which headset is most appropriate. Because our company focuses on B2B, I’ll narrow my options to commercial/professional grade products. There are a TON of consumer-grade Bluetooth headsets available. I focus on business communications devices.

We’ll need to understand the environment. Is user in private office, open office, car, airport, coffee shop, etc.? Additionally we’ll need to understand the application, is it FaceTime, Skype, Google + Hangouts or is it an enterprise-grade UC platform like Microsoft Skype for Business/Lync, Cisco Jabber, or other. In addition to a mobile device, will the user need to connect to a PC or laptop? What about a desk phone?

How, what, when and where to start to determine which Bluetooth headset will be the better fit. Additionally, personal wearing style preferences also help you to choose.

Here are some suggestions for Bluetooth headsets based on use case:

  • Commercial Drivers or users in very noisy areas will require strong noise canceling mics and extremely long talk times. There are no better than VXi when it comes to noise canceling mics and 20+Hrs of talk time:
    • VXi BlueParrott Bluetooth Headsets (single connectivity however you can order VXi BT2 USB Adapter for connectivity to PC/Laptop)
      • VXi B350-XT+ (24hrs talk time)
      • B250-XT+ (20+ hrs talk time)
    • Microsoft Skype for Business/Lync Mobile Users – Laptop and Mobile connectivity
      • Plantronics Voyager Edge UC-M (B255-M)
      • Plantronics Voyager Legend UC M (B235-M)
      • Jabra Stealth UC-MS
      • Jabra Motion UC-MS
      • Jabra Motion UC+ MS
      • Sennheiser Presence UC ML
    • Unified Communications (Cisco, Avaya, etc.) Mobile Users – Laptop and Mobile
      • Plantronics Voyager Edge UC (B255)
      • Plantronics Voyager Legend UC M (B235)
      • Jabra Stealth UC
      • Jabra Motion UC
      • Jabra Motion UC+
      • Sennheiser Presence UC
      • VXi VoxStar UC