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!

 

VXi B350-XT Bluetooth Headset Review

By Danny Hayasaka

October 20, 2014

Whenever I’m asked for a Bluetooth headset with the “best” noise canceling mic. Only one brand comes to mind: VXi. Hands down, based on the multiple Bluetooth headsets I’ve evaluated, VXi’s BlueParrott Bluetooth headsets have the best noise canceling mics. Typically the “truckers” headset of choice, however, more and more folks need really good noise canceling mics.

The NEW B350-XT does not disappoint!

What’s in the box? B350-XT™ Headset with Leatherette Ear Cushion, Spare Foam Ear Cushion, Spare Microphone Windscreen, USB Charging Cable, AC/DC Wall Charger, Auto (DC) Adapter, Quick-Start Guide, Warranty and Compliance Document (not pictured)

Set Up and use:

What’s the difference between NEW Logitech H570e USB Headsets vs H650e USB Headsets?

By Danny Hayasaka

September 12, 2014

More and more organizations are implementing/deploying some form of unified communications and collaboration platform/application. This has increased the need for USB headsets in certain environments.

I should write a blog on the importance of devices, the variety and the critical role they play in the adoption and optimization of a UC&C platform. Of course, education and training on all the feature/functionality of a new platform is also a must.

Due to inaccurate budgeting for UC&C devices, there is a strong need for low-cost USB headsets to get people up and running. Many device manufacturers have recognized this and have created USB headsets to fill the need.

The latest addition to the Logitech Business Product Portfolio is the Logitech USB Headset Mono H570e and Stereo (dual ear) models. Customers ask… What’s the difference between H650e and H570e???

Below are some differences and similarities between the two series:

 

  • In-Call LED right-light indicator on the back of the mic boom
    • H650e models have this feature vs H570e models do not
    • In a high paced open office/contact center environment this visible in-call indicator is a great feature to let others know you are actively in a call.
  • Carrying Bag
    • H650e models include vs H570e models do not
    • This is great for protecting and storing your headset when not in use.
  • Color & Ear Cushion style
    • H650e has metallic highlight in boom vs H570e solid black boom
    • Ear Cushion style different
    • H570e Stereo
    • H650e Stereo
  • Audio Quality
    • Based on my own experience, audio quality both receive/transmit were comparable, however, the H650e series did fair a little better.
  • Compatibility
    • H650e Series: Compatible with most leading UC platforms such as Microsoft Lync, Skype, Google Hangouts Pro, Cisco and more.
    • H570e Series: Compatible with most leading UC platforms, such as Microsoft® Lync™, Skype™, Cisco Jabber™, Cisco® IP Communicator, Google Hangouts, Apple FaceTime, etc.
  • Certifications
    • H650e Series: Optimized for Microsoft® Lync™; Cisco® compatible
    • H570e Series: Optimized for Microsoft® Lync™; Skype™ certified; Cisco® compatible
  • Comfort
    • Both H650e and H570e series are very comfortable headsets. I found the H650e to be just a tad more comfortable.
  • Warranty
    • Both H650e and H570e Series include a 2-year limited hardware warranty.

Both Logitech H650e and H570e headsets should be considered if you are looking or corded USB headsets for your

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.

What replaces the Jabra GO 6430 and GO 6470?

July 14, 2014

By Danny Hayasaka

The Jabra GO 6400 series have been deemed End of Life/Discontinued. So now what?

Fortunately Jabra has the new Motion Series available. The main differences in the GO 6400 series vs the Motion Series listed below:

  1. Wearing style
    1. GO 6400: Ear Hook, Headband, Neckband
    2. Motion: Wrap around the ear
    3. A2DP Streaming (profile that allows multimedia audio (i.e. music, GPS audio) to be streamed to headset
      1. Supported by Motion (Bluetooth 4.0)
      2. Not supported by GO 6400 (Bluetooth 2.1)
    4. NFC (Near Field Communication)
      1. Supported by Motion
      2. Not supported by GO 6400
    5. Talk Time/Standby time
      1. GO 6400 series up to 6hrs/Up to 100hrs
      2. Motion series up to 8hrs/Up to 360hrs
    6. Busy Indicator Light
      1. GO 6400 series do not support
      2. Motion
        1. Busy indicator light on headset
        2. Motion Office base has Busy Indicator Light port on base to support external Jabra Busylight Indicator.

Jabra GO 6400 series included the GO 6430 and GO 6470 both were UC compatible and optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator and Lync.

  • GO 6430 allowed you to pair to Mobile device and PC via USB Bluetooth dongle
  • GO 6470 allowed you to connect/pair to Desk Phone, PC and Mobile device

 

Jabra Motion Series includes the Jabra Motion UC, Motion UC+, Motion UC MS, Motion UC+ MS, Motion Office and Motion Office MS.

  • 6630-900-105 Jabra Motion UC – Mobile and PC connectivity
  • 6630-900-305 Jabra Motion UC MS – Optimized for Microsoft Lync – Mobile and PC connectivity
  • 6640-906-105 Jabra Motion UC+ with Travel Kit – Mobile and PC connectivity
  • 6640-906-305 Jabra Motion UC+ MS with Travel Kit – Optimized for Microsoft Lync – Mobile and PC connectivity
  • 6670-904-105 Jabra Motion Office – Desk Phone, PC and Mobile Connectivity
  • 6670-904-305 Jabra Motion Office MS – Optimized for Microsoft Lync – Desk Phone, PC and Mobile Connectivity

How you work, communicate and collaborate will determine which Jabra Motion is best for you. It’s strongly recommended you speak with device specialist to help guide you.

Logitech CC3000e Review

By Danny Hayasaka

April 7, 2014

I can’t believe I haven’t written about the Logitech CC3000e!?

This is a super exciting product. All the buzz these days is “collaboration”. There are numerous web-based collaboration platforms customers are using: Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber, WebEx, Bluejeans, Zoom, Skype, Google+ Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Vidyo, etc.

There hasn’t really been a good solution for web-based collaboration meeting outside of 1-4 people using standard USB webcam and USB speakerphone.

When you have 5-10 people, you really need a more robust solution. You need a better speakerphone and you definitely need a better camera. The Logitech CC3000e is the solution.

It’s a USB device that is PC and Mac compatible and is compatible/optimized/certified with all the major collaboration platform providers.

What you get in the box: Speakerphone, Camera, Remote Control, Powered Hub, Wall/Table Mount, Two 16-foot cables for Speakerphone/Hub and Camera/Hub Connection, USB cable for Hub/PC Connection, Adhesive solution for hub mounting, Power adapter and Quick Start Guide.

Set Up: The actual set up is easy. What may help make it even easier is if you determine “where” the camera and speaker will go? Actually connecting the camera and speakerphone to the hub is easy. Connecting the USB cable to a PC is simple. And just about anyone can connect the power adapter to the wall.

Use: I personally have had multiple video calls across a variety of platforms: Microsoft Lync, Skype, Bluejeans, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Vidyo and more. The picture clarity and audio were great. I can hear and be heard clearly. With the handy remote control, I can pan, tilt and zoom camera to position it to exactly what I want the viewer to see. I have some pictures in my office that I like to zoom in on to show the powerful zoom and just really nice crisp video. Perfect for zooming in on a whiteboard. There is one preset webcam angle. That makes it nice to zero back in if during call cam has been pointing here and there. There is also a lens security cover so you can rest assured you are not seen if you don’t wish to be.

In addition to connecting via USB to PC/Laptop/Mac the speakerphone also has Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication). This allows you to have better audio for a conference call from your mobile device (tablet, smartphone).

Conclusion: The Logitech CC3000e gets two thumbs way up. There is so much versatility with this device. Set up and use are simple. Because it’s USB, it works across multiple platforms plus it’s Bluetooth and NFC enabled. This is great for any organization looking to enhance their meetings, for interviews, training, teaching, brainstorming sessions, for collaborating. The BEST part is the price. Normally video codecs with PTZ cams can cost thousands and thousands of dollars and possibly a proprietary platform/infrastructure. The Logitech CC3000e is ONLY $999!!! The only negative thing about the CC3000e is that we can’t keep them on our shelves!!! I’m not the only one who is impressed and sees the value of this device. Order yours today!

 

VXi CC Pro Review

By Danny Hayasaka

April 4, 2014

Received VXi CC Pro 4010G Monaural Headset with Jabra QD.

In the Bag: Yes, this product does not come in a product box but in a bubble wrap bag much like the Plantronics C300 Series. Inside you have the CC Pro 4010G headset and VXi CC Pro Headset Instructions

 

Initial thoughts: Looks like solid contact center headset with clearly large foam ear cushion.

Set Up: Basically you place headset on headband style with one ear covered. Connect QD portion to appropriate compatible QD cable/amplifier/adapter.

I received “G” variant of CC Pro so I connected to Link 265 and my PC with Microsoft Lync.

I must say headband is a bit snug on initial wear however you can remove headband and gently stretch headband to loosen it up a bit.

Because I’m using Jabra Link 265, it was plug and play with Microsoft Lync. Lync client recognizes Link 265 and I have all the feature functionality: answer/hang up, mute, volume up/down

Audio Quality: Had several test calls including one fairly long conference call and audio was good. There were no complaints from persons I was calling and the audio on my end was very good. The noise canceling appears to be very good. On one of the test calls I played music in the background and slowly increased volume. I had the volume up loud (not maxed out but then even I wouldn’t be able to hear myself). Person on other end had to be told there was music playing however they couldn’t really distinguish song and it seemed to cut out when I was talking.

Closing Comments: This is a fairly priced contact center headset the competes with Plantronics SupraPlus, Jabra GN 2000 Series and Sennheiser’s SH 300 Series. Key selling point is that like other VXi QD headsets, you have the options of Jabra, Plantronics and VXi Quick Disconnect variants to easily transition from those brands to VXi.

VXi ConneXt – Review

By Danny Hayasaka

February 26, 2014

Received my VXi ConneXt Deskphone/PC Switch

In the Box: ConneXt switch box, Phone to ConneXt cable, ConneXt to USB cable, QD cable (VXi, Plantronics and Jabra QD variants available), Headset Stand, User Guide, Warranty Info card

Set Up: Easy. Attach headset stand to the base. Connect QD coil cord to the base and run along the cord management system on the underside of base. Connect base to phone patch cable. Connect the USB cable to base.

There are A, B and C switch settings on side of ConneXt depending on the phone you are connecting to. “A” switch setting is the most common (Polycom, ShoreTel, Panasonic, and others). “B” for Cisco 6900, 7900, 8900 and 9900 Series and “C” for Avaya 1600, 9600 and 96×1 Series.

Additionally, there is a built-in microphone boost. There are 8 settings (1-8). Position #1 (default) is when no additional boost is needed. Position #8 is for maximum microphone boost.

 

I have no desk phone so I was only able to connect to my PC with Microsoft Lync. Lync recognized the device as VXi 2-Wary Switch V1.0

If I was connected to the desk phone, I would use the toggle switch on ConneXt to switch back and forth between desk phone and PC.

Making calls. I used my Microsoft Lync client to make calls. The audio quality was really good on my end. There was a delay in “answering” a Lync call however after I went into Control Panel à Sound and made VXi 2-Way Switch default, there was no delay.

VXi VoxStar UC – Review

By Danny Hayasaka

December 17, 2013 – January 14, 2014

Received the new VXi VoxStar UC Bluetooth Headset and USB Dongle

In The Box: VoxStar Bluetooth headset, USB Bluetooth Dongle, ear hook, ear cushions and rings, headband, neckband, USB to micro USB cable, AC power adapter with USB port, VXi VoxStar UC Quick Start Guide

Set Up: Charging is simple. Connect micro USB connection to back of VoxStar headset. Connect USB plug to AC Power Adapter or to USB port on PC. Headset charging, the LED will illuminate red and blue when fully charged.

To turn headset on, hold multi-function button (MFB) for 2-3 seconds, if you are wearing headset, headset will state, “Power On”. To power off, hold MFB for 3-4 seconds and you will hear, “Power off”.

When you first connect USB dongle to PC, a series of drivers install before device is ready for use. VoxStar automatically pairs to USB Dongle when VoxStar is turned on and USB dongle is connected to PC.

You can also go to www.vxicorp.com/usb for more info on configuring your specific operating system.

To pair headset to mobile device, from headset turned off, press and hold MFB for 5-15 second, it will state “Discovering”. Place your mobile device into Bluetooth pairing mode. Select VXi VoxStar as your device. Once connected/paired, it will state “Your headset is connected”.

You can make and take calls via Lync. The only negative is that you can NOT answer Lync calls remotely. However I hear VXi is “working on that”. Folks may overlook lack of remote answer capability once they realize how good the noise canceling mic is. I have three different comparable Lync optimized audio devices and the VXi VoxStar provides much better noise canceling mic ability.

Conclusion: VXi has produced a pretty great product. There are currently other Bluetooth headsets that allow you to pair to mobile and PC/Laptop via USB dongle however, the great noise canceling mic really takes this product to another level. Plus the three included wearing styles and multiple charging options are very nice features. I would definitely recommend this product to those in need of a Bluetooth with exceptional noise canceling mic.

Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e – Review

November 25, 2013

Received the New Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e – Optimized for Microsoft Lync

Set Up – Very easy, only one cable. USB cable attached to speakerphone and has cable management. There is also AC power adapter with the USB port so you can charge via standard wall outlet or power strip.

Use – Very simple to use.

Via PC: We have Microsoft Lync so as soon as I connect the USB cable to PC it registers and sets it up as a device option via my Lync client.

Once Logitech P710e is selected, I can make calls via my Lync client either by clicking to call or dialing like I normally would. If I get a call, I can click on accept call or I can simply touch the green handset icon on P710e to answer. The P710e rings when you have an incoming call. You can increase and decrease the speaker volume. There is also mute feature available at your fingertips.

Via Mobile Device (Smartphone/Tablet): The Logitech P710e allows you to pair via Bluetooth and/or NFC (Near Field Communication). To access Bluetooth, simply press and hold Bluetooth button until the unit is in pair mode. Go to your mobile device Bluetooth menu and select the Logitech Speakerphone:

 

If you have NFC enabled device, simply tap a mobile device to NFC icon on P170e. Your device will ask if you would like to pair to Logitech Speakerphone.

Another cool feature of the Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e is the sliding top that allows you to sit your mobile device for better experience. It’s great for video calls (seated vertically) as well as for watching videos (seated horizontally).

 

 

 

Other features of the Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e:

  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for enterprise-quality audio
    • Advanced DSP technology enables precise tuning for both the mic and speaker so conversations are more life-like.
  • Wideband audio
    • Hear and be heard in true wideband audio, so those on both sides of the call can enjoy a life-like communication experience.
  • Optimized for Microsoft® Lync™, Cisco® compatible** and Skype™ certified
    • Ensures enterprise-quality audio and an integrated experience with most all business-grade UC platforms.
  • Dynamic Equalizer
    • Automatically switches between voice and music modes, delivering the best sound quality and EQ for what the user is listening to.
  • Headphone jack
    • Plug a headphone directly into the Mobile Speakerphone P710e when additional privacy is desired.
  • Acoustic echo cancelation and noise-canceling microphone
    • Optimized to hear and be heard even in noisy workspaces, this is a mobile speakerphone users love to use.
  • Visual incoming call indicator
    • Onboard LEDs flash to provide a visual alert when a call is coming in.
  • Zippered neoprene carrying case
    • Protect the speakerphone in style with the zippered neoprene carrying case.

 

Great features but how does it sound? I have been using for close to a month now for quick calls as well as long conference calls. I haven’t had anyone complain about audio quality yet via Lync calls.

When it comes to mobile device calls, the audio quality is good, however not as good as Lync call. Of course, I’m also at the mercy of our weak Wi-Fi signal. So I’m certain that plays a factor. I used for Facetime call and I could see and hear very well. It’s also a good speaker to listen to streaming music from your mobile device.

I believe Logitech has a winner with this device. As the business world turns to more and more web-based and mobile applications for communications and collaboration, the Logitech Mobile Speakerphone P710e is a great device, especially when paired with a Logitech webcam like the C930e or B910.