Plantronics Blackwire C325-M USB Dual Ear Headset Optimized for Microsoft Lync Review

By Danny Hayasaka

Unboxing: The new Plantronics Blackwire 300 Series. Plantronics will sell these in bulk via the case. Call One, however, will break cases and sell as 1ea. Blackwire 300 Series come packaged in bubble wrap, well at least headset portion. USB cable/inline control are wrapped in a plastic baggie. Included is Quick Start Guide and pretty nice, mesh-like storage bag with zipper.

 

Headset: I am evaluating the dual ear C325-M model optimized for Microsoft Lync. Looks just like the other 300 series except for two differences: leatherette ear cushions and foldable speakers that allow the headset to lay flat. The microphone boom is flexible however it does NOT have a 360-degree rotation.

USB Inline Control: It’s standard inline control. Call Answer/Hang Up button, Volume Up/Down and Mute. Placement of inline is actually higher up/closer to the headset so it’s not down by my foot. It’s in a more accessible location/position. The answer/hang up button didn’t work. I can’t seem to answer or hang up using inline control. The Mute button works well.

 

 

Comfort: It’s “ok”. Not the most comfortable, however, not uncomfortable either. I headband does seem to feel like it’s digging into the top of my head.

Set Up: USB headset, plugged it in and allowed drivers to be installed. It is Lync optimized so once the device was ready for use, it became an Audio Device option via Lync client.

It’s also detected via Plantronics software:

AudioQuality: It’s “ok”. Not spectacular but it works. I can hear and be heard. The person on the other side stated I sounded “muffled”. I’ll make a few more calls to identify if isolated or not. Other calls state I sound good and clear.

Summary: Not certain how this product is priced compared to existing Blackwire 300 Series however, I’m assuming it will be lower price point than Blackwire 500 and 700 Series. After just an hour of wear, I find myself wanting to take it off. The headband feels like its digging into my head. May I just have a pointy head. Also, it feels like it’s squeezing my head. I’m certain after a few days it will loosen up.

Logitech Wireless Headset Dual H820e – Review

May 7, 2013

Received the New Logitech Wireless Headset Dual H820e – Optimized for Microsoft Lync

Set Up – Very easy. Only two cables: power and USB cables – The “W” and “N” is Wideband and Narrowband switch.

 

Use – Very simple design. The base is heavy and solid feeling.

  • Answer/Hang Up Button on the back of microphone boom – When engaged in a call, back of boom lights up to indicate in use
  • Mute switch also on the boom. When depressed, small red light on tip of Mic boom lights up red. Not certain how useful that is since when you are wearing the headset, it’s tough to see the tip of the mic
  • Volume Up and Down is two separate buttons and are shaped differently to help you differentiate. Nice feature
  • Lync Optimized – Software/Drivers install automatically – and becomes selectable audio device option via your Lync client
  • Audio Quality – The audio quality is good. I experienced no major issues – you can hear me breathing as I was walking up/down stairs. Noise canceling is “ok” however anyone speaking in normal tone nearby can be heard.

Concerns –

  • Weight – as I mentioned, the base is heavier than most wireless. I’m concerned as to what that will do to shipping costs for larger deployments/orders
  • Service – We haven’t been selling Logitech products long and to date, I’m not fully versed in their service offering. Basically, what happens if the headset breaks within the first 30 days, 30+ days and after the warranty expires
  • Accessories – Not currently aware if there are available accessories, i.e. spare headset, spare ear cushions, ac adapter, USB cable
  • Battery Life – Again, new to wireless line of headsets, not certain how long a battery life when it comes to Talk Time as well as just how long before the battery will need to be replaced – which goes back to accessories – also, does H820e series have field replaceable batteries?
  • Only Headband Style Options – No Convertible Model
  • Only USB connectivity – No multi-connectivity variant/s

Conclusion

This is simple to set up and use headset. Because it connects only via USB, you’re limited to PC only applications. While more and more businesses are shifting to VoIP softphones or UC platforms, there are still plenty of hybrid platforms out there with a desk phone and PC based voice applications. (and let’s not forget the mobile space of laptops, tablets & smartphones. This is not a mobile employee (road warrior) solution as it requires AC power to operate.

The range was good, the audio quality good. Easy to use.

The challenge is Plantronics and Jabra have been out there promoting, pushing complete UC portfolios for many years now so unlike the first couple of years where Plantronics and Jabra were relatively unknown in the IT space, they are now the top two UC device players when it comes to headsets, especially wireless.

Because Logitech is bigger than both Jabra and Plantronics, you certainly cannot dismiss their attempt at entry into the headset world.

 

Review of Jabra Link 850

By Danny Hayasaka

Dates Evaluated: 6/12/2012-6/19/12

The Jabra Link 850 is a new amplifier/switcher box that allows you to connect to a PC and Desk Phone. In our case we are connected to a Polycom CX600 phone plus our Microsoft Lync client online.

What’s In the Box: Link 850, Jabra QD to Modular Lightweight Coil Cable, USB Cable, Telephone Interface Cable, Switch Cover with Screw, Secondary Locking Cover

Set Up: Set up was fairly simple following the included Quick Start Guide. I connected the USB cable my PC. Next I connected the QD cable and then the telephone interface cable to telephone. Because I will primarily be making Lync calls via my PC I switched the Telephone to PC switch to the PC icon. Not certain having the Telephone/PC switch on the underside of the Link 850 is the best placement. The switch should be on top where it can be easily accessed. The handset/headset switch is prominently located on the top portion of the Link 850.

Use: Made initial test call using a GN2025-NC headset. The sound quality on my end was really good. I had to decrease the volume which was simple via the large scroll volume control directly on top of base. Our voice platform is Microsoft Lync 100% of calls run through my PC. That meant there is no need to transfer between phone and PC. I like the large mute button. In call centers that is a “must have” feature. You can easily see if you are muted or not.

I have multiple Lync optimized devices connected to PC to include Polycom CX600, Jabra PRO 9470, Plantronics Calisto P830-M and Plantronics Savi 740-M. Although I selected Link 850 as audio device. When calls came in, they would route to the PRO 9470. If I made a call, it would go through the Link 850 & GN2025.

I watch multiple videos online. After going to control panel on PC and selecting the Link 850 as default audio device, PC audio from videos would automatically default to the Link 850/GN2025.

Audio Quality: The audio quality of receive and transmit were very good. I had no complaints in terms of my transmit volume or quality. The speaker/receive quality was really good. As I mentioned earlier, I had to initially turn down the volume.

Comments: I like the smaller form factor/footprint. I like the secondary headset port for training purposes. A concern some folks may have is that when using two headsets on Link 850, neither headset wearer can hear the other headset wearer. Both can hear the caller and the caller can hear both persons. Will the inline mute switch work in this scenario? Customers will ask. Will standard Training-Y cables work?

Call Center Agents with limited workstation space will appreciate this smaller Link 850. I didn’t really read the instructions (as most folks will not) so I don’t know what the other two switches do. There is a switch with an icon of a music note and “OFF”. There is another switch with what appears to be an icon of a head wearing headphones and “OFF”. Just by looking, I don’t what those switches do. For the music note I assumed “streaming music” but I’m not certain. Then there is the circular cover with the icons of a closed and open lock. I opened it to see what was under cover. Just by looking, Still not certain what the purpose is nor what the second circular cover is for.

I have access to USB ports however, there are call centers and companies that don’t give their employees access to USB ports due to security issues. That causes concern in reference to power. There is optional USB AC Adapter connection available.

Conclusion: I like the direction Jabra is headed in terms of reducing size of amp while adding more functionality capability. Removing battery cost factor is going to be a benefit to many organizations. Removing the need for AC power is also a benefit in organizations that don’t have AC outlets available. Of course regardless of what you do to an amplifier, the fact remains the audio quality must be on point and the Link 850 delivers with great audio quality in both receive and transmit. There are some concerns and issues that I would like to see ironed out before firm decision is made to replace GN8000 and GN8050-TCA. I don’t have any pricing so I couldn’t offer feedback in that regard.

 

VXi BlueParrott Xpress Review

Dates: 5/22-5/23 2012

by Danny Hayasaka

Received the VXi BlueParrott Xpress, 5/22/12. It is “retail” packaged. Here is link to “unboxing” video posted on CallOneInc YouTube Channel: http://youtu.be/rYqN4SryqYE

What’s In the Box: Xpress headset with Ear Hook and Medium Eartip, Large and Small Ear Tip, USB Charging Cable, DC Car Charger.

First Impression: Larger than most “Bluetooth” headsets on the market however still pretty sleek looking. Extremely lightweight.

Wearing: Headset can be worn on the left or right ear. Easy to change ear hook. Still debating whether or not I like the ear tip.

Pairing: After charging via USB. I paired to my phone which was fairly simple to do. If headset is “off”, simply press the multi-function button (MFB) until light flashes blue rapidly. On my iPhone I navigated to Bluetooth menu and made certain iPhone Bluetooth function is “on” and “discoverable”. The option for the VXi Xpress appeared, I selected and Xpress and iPhone were paired. Fairly standard process.

Use: The headset does have voice prompt feature. For example you hear “Power On” when headset is turned on and “Discovering” when in pairing mode. “Power Off” when headset is shut off. I was eager to see how well the noise canceling mic worked. Up until now, the VXi B250-XT has the best noise canceling mic. I made a few phone calls plus left myself a message to “hear” how well the noise canceling mic worked. First I made call with car off. Next I started car and started driving. In city traffic, audio quality was great. Next I got on the highway. First I cranked up the stereo to all the way up to volume level 36 (Level 16-22 is a good strong volume level. 40 is max volume level for my car stereo). Next at speeds of 55+ MPH I lowered the windows in the car, first the driver’s side and then all four windows. Even with all the noise, the person on the other end was able to hear me just fine. They claim at they could hear that music was playing and could hear “wind” sounds however, when I spoke, they heard me just fine. I called left myself voice message. The noise canceling mic on the Xpress headset definitely works extremely well. Additionally, the speaker volume was good. I could hear the other caller fairly well in the extreme conditions.

Closing Comments: I would definitely recommend the VXi Xpress Bluetooth headset to anyone who requires a best in class noise canceling mic. I still believe the B250-XT has the best noise canceling mic however this is almost on the same level. The upside to the Xpress is that it offers a great nc mic in a much sleeker, more attractive form factor.

Plantronics Calisto P240 Review/Evaluation

By Danny Hayasaka

Received Calisto P240 a few days ago. Finally getting around to testing.

Unboxing: Standard Plantronics package/box. Contents included: Calisto P240 USB Handset, Calisto P240 Quick Start Guide, Handset drawstring bag.

First Impression: Looks like a little handset. Good size, not too small, not too big. Fits nice into my hand. Lightweight. Just one connection, USB.

Connecting: Very easy to connect. Simply plug USB cord into free USB port on PC. We use Lync for Voice. The model I have is NOT Lync Optimized version, I had to “select” P240 via Lync Client.

Use: I was able to dial “extension” on P240 and it dialed and connected call. Additionally it changed my presence status to “In a call”. The sound was actually very good and clear. I am so used to using wireless. This is not a device that I would recommend for the office user. This is a good device for someone who does NOT want to use a headset. Maybe a “Road Warrior” that can connect to his laptop to make/take softphone calls. It has a cord management Velcro strap that assists in keeping cord nice and neat. Also, the included handset bag is a great way to store handset.

I didn’t use for too long. It’s just not practical for me because I receive calls via Lync softphone, Inter-Tel desk phone and iPhone. A multi-connectivity wireless headset (like the Savi 740) better suits my needs in how I operate on a daily basis

Received VXi UC Proset 10V

Date: 1/6/12-1/13/12

By Danny Hayasaka

The launch box I received was very cool. Included the headset, letter from Mike Ferguson (President & CEO), sell sheets, sticky note pad, a chrome-VXi-labeled yo-yo and I received a bottle of champagne which is a nice touch. You can never have enough champagne and reason to celebrate.

What’s In the Box: UC Proset 10V headset, Leatherette ear cushion on headset, spare foam ear cushion and mic screen, lapel clip and instructions.

First Impression: At first glance, I said “Wow!” This is completely different than any other VXi headset. It looks like a very cool headset. It’s very light weight. Also, the cable is different than most other corded headset cables. It appears to be  a woven fabric of some sort. Like a nylon rope.

Wearing: Okay, I get a little critical here. I know it’s “new” so there is the “new” stiffness however it seems very “tight” on my head. Additionally, it doesn’t seem to be sitting comfortably on my head. I attribute that to there not being enough mobility in ear piece (speaker). I’ve worn for about an hour now and the tightness on my head is a bit uncomfortable. We use Microsoft Lync so I’m connected to my PC via the VXi X200 USB adapter. My PC tower is located under my desk. So I have to connect the X200 USB cable basically on the floor and the X200 seems to “pull” on the headset causing discomfort. I disconnected the X200 and that appears to be a major cause to the level of wearing discomfort I was feeling.

Possible breakpoint

Sound Quality: Received call via Lync. I was able to use the X200 inline control to answer call. It also changed my presence status when I was “in a call”. The sound quality was very good. I was also able to mute using the X200 inline control. My transmission level was good according to the caller.  My receive volume was pretty good. So pretty good sound quality.

Additional Comments:  I noticed a potential break point. It’s actually already breaking a little where the headband slides in and out. There seems to be an area of stress there. There is no give at ear piece. I’ll continue wearing for at least rest of day and report in later.

End of Day: The headset does lose its “stiffness” after a couple hours of use. The sound quality has remained steady and good so far.

Day 2: Again, the initial stiffness seems to have gone away.  The mic is not like their traditional mics in terms of placement. It seems further away and I can’t seem to “move” it. It’s pretty fixed. However, I haven’t had any complaints in terms of my transmit quality and volume level.

Day 4: All is well. The sound quality is still good. The comfort level has improved  (or I’ve just gotten use to it).

Day 6: After about a week of use the headset definitely feels more comfortable. I really like the woven fabric cable and wonder if they can make other cables using that same material. The headset continued to work well with our Microsoft Lync client. Because I have grown so accustomed to wireless, I’d reach up to the ear piece to answer whenever I would get a call. Even after a week of using, I still do that. Also, it was hard for me to get use to the cord and I realized quickly why I like being wireless so much more.

Closing Comments: The VXI UC Proset should be well received in contact centers who already use corded headsets. In the office space, if there are employees using corded headsets, this may be a nice option based on its appearance. It’s going to be critical to inform customers that headset will take a few days to “loosen up”. I utilized with Microsoft Lync and it worked well. No issues with sound (Receive or Transmit). I really like the material and feel of the cable. It is a “cool” looking headset. Pricing seems to be competitive.  This product definitely needs to be sent out to customers to “try”.

Jabra PRO 930 – Evaluation

Date of Receipt: 10/13/11

Date of Eval Completion: 10/19/11

Model: Jabra PRO 930 USB (930-65-503-105) Optimized for Microsoft Lync

Set Up

Set up is fairly simple. There are only two cables to connect; the AC power to outlet or power strip and USB cable to PC or laptop USB port. Additionally, I have Jabra PC Suite installed.

 

We have Microsoft Lync so the PRO 930 was recognized once connected to USB port and became one of my device choices (I also have PRO 9470, Savi 740 and CX600 connected to the same PC). I charged for about an hour before I began to use.

 

 Jabra PC Suite

 

Wearing Styles

I wore it headband style. It’s comfortable. Pretty standard headband fit. Replaced to ear hook for today. Changing from headband to earhook was fairly simple. Snap off the headband and snap on earhook. I personally am not a fan of over-the-ear. So far it’s comfortable. I’ll see how it feels after a full day of wear. Changing wearing from right to left ear was also fairly easy. May want to consider including instructions on how to change earhook from right to left ear. A first-time headset wearer may not know you can pull the ear hook off and I didn’t see anything in the hard copy Quick Start Guide.

Sound Quality

I have made and taken calls. The speaker volume is good. You do have to remember where the “+” and “-“ keys are depending on whether you are wearing it on the right or left ear. If on right ear “+” is the top button. If on left, it’s the bottom button.  The transmission volume and sound is good. I did have one instance where I “cut out” for a brief moment. For now, we’re attributing that to the internet connection. It hasn’t happened since. The noise-canceling microphone is sufficient for my work environment. It suppresses background noise.

Range

I don’t have exact range however I am able to roam around the entire 2nd floor of our office without losing the call or the sound quality degrading. From my desk to the end of one corner of our building is about 60ft. It’s about 90ft-110ft to the other corner of our office.

Design/Comfort/Durability

It’s a clean design with a small footprint that doesn’t take up much desktop real estate. I have worn now for a few days both headband and over the ear style. Both styles are relatively comfortable but I prefer headband style and is comfortable and light enough to be worn for an 8hr work day. I’ve only had a few days so I can’t answer to durability but so far so good.

 

Summary

Overall the Jabra PRO 930 appears to be a very good product. It’s easy to set up, use and operate. It’s comfortable and light enough to be worn all day. I haven’t seen pricing on this yet. Pricing will be a fairly

VXi V100 Wireless Headset & L50 Handset Lifter Review

Dates: 1/6/10 – 1/11/10

By: Danny Hayasaka, Call One, Inc.

Packaging – I have a beta unit so I’m not certain if the actual production models will be packaged in plain white boxes however, in order to keep costs down, it may.

Included in the V100 box was the V100 base station, headset, ear hook, headband, neckband, telephone line splitter, base jack cable (mod to mod), tel wall jack cable (fat mod plugs), ac power supply and standard patch cable (mod to mod).

Included in the L50 box was the lifter, ring detector and anti slip pad.

Set Up – I normally don’t read through the instructions (I try and behave like the majority of typical customers) however all the various cables and unique design of the lifter had me scratching my head so I briefly skimmed through the instruction manuals.

Initially I tried to set up like all the other current wireless headsets on the market. The “base jack” cable did NOT work. I used the standard patch cable and also had to go through the switch settings and found that on our InterTel phones, Switch Settings B and D seem to work.

The L50 Lifter is very different when compared to the current handset lifters in the market. Instead of “lifting” the handset, it’s a plunger that presses the hookswitch button on the phone. There are a couple moving parts so it took some trials and adjusting to get it just right. I will say that it appears to work much faster than current lifters on the market.

Wearing Styles – I personally prefer the neckband wearing style. The earpiece can be changed to be worn on the left or right ear. Not certain if the production model will be better built but after a few changes from the left to right, the earpiece no longer stays in place and pops right out.  It seems to have worn out the groove that holds it in place. The headband is fairly standard and works like it should, it’s easily adjusted for left or right ear wear. The earhook is okay however I’m not certain it will be for everyone since there is a non-removable tip that enters the ear. When I wore over the ear, it was comfortable at first however after a few hours the eartip portion began to cause some pain & discomfort.

Test Calls – A test call to an internal extension yielded the switch setting results of B and D. I made a call to an outside line to simple test if I could hear and be heard. I did make some adjustment to the mic volume via the controls on the base unit.

Range – I was able to go throughout the entire 2nd Floor of our building. I literally walked to each corner on the top floor and was still able to hear and be heard. I lost connection when I went into our Shipping Dept which is on the 1st floor of this building.

Normal Work Day Use – The battery life is sufficient to last the entire day. While I am away from desk, I do get an audible beeping when my phone rings and can answer remotely with no problems. The sound quality is good in both receive and transmit. I haven’t lost any calls and I can’t stress how “fast” the lifter answers and hangs up. It’s the fastest one I’ve used to date.

Final Thoughts – In terms of competing in the today’s marketplace, the VXi V100 appears to be a direct competitor to the very popular Plantronics CS55. In a side by side comparison, the VXi V100 appears to be the better value/choice.

CS55 & HL10 V100 & L50
MSRP: $379.95 MSRP: $350.00
Operating Frequency: 1.9GHz DECT Operating Frequency: 1.9GHz DECT
Talk Time: Up to 10hrs Talk Time: Up to 10hrs
Standby Time: Up to 50hrs Standby Time: Up to 120hrs
Range: Up to 300ft Range: Up to 300ft
Wearing Styles: Over the ear, headband, (Optional neckband sold separately @ $19.95ea) Wearing Styles: Over the ear, headband & neckband all included
Conference Capability: none Conference Capability: Ability to conference two headsets on one base station

 

Jabra T5330 Review

– By Danny Hayasaka

 

Packaging – Retail

It looks wonderful however as a distributor I would prefer bulk packaging.

 

Set Up – I’ve set up many, many headsets in my day so this was fairly easy. One of the different things about this unit is, according to the User’s Guide (yes, I’m a nerd and read it), you can actually connect directly to the headset port of phones that have one.

 

Instead of the switch settings A-G like other GN Netcom wireless units and amplifiers, there are only A, B, C on the underside of the base. The “transmit” control switch is also on the underside and has level’s 1-3. You can connect the GN1000 RHL to this model which is nice.

 

The headset itself has an answer/hang-up button, “receive” volume control (must be on call to adjust) and mute switch.