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

VXi Reveal Review

By Danny Hayasaka

March 5, 2015

VXi is already known for having the best noise canceling mics in the Bluetooth world with their BlueParrott B250, B20-XT+, and new B350-XT. However, some folks aren’t fans of those larger, headband style only Bluetooth headsets.

I actually had a glimpse of a beta unit a while back so I was excited to finally receive my VXi Reveal.

What’s in the box? Reveal Bluetooth Headset, Carrying Case, USB Cable, Car Charger, 4 ear buds, 2 earhooks, and a User’s Guide

At first glance: The VXi Reveal is very different form factor from what I’m accustomed to from VXi. It’s smaller than any other Bluetooth headset VXi has produced.

Set Up & Use: The VXi Reveal offers Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. I have an iPhone 6 Plus so I paired via Bluetooth. When you first turn on headset, it goes into pair mode. Go to Bluetooth menu on phone and select Reveal.

You have four contoured ear buds to choose from plus a couple ear hooks. I tried all and settled on the small bud with ear hook. For me, that was the most comfortable.

VXi Reveal offers these features and functions:

  • Volume Up/Mute
  • Volume Down
  • Extendable Microphone Boom
  • On/Off Switch
  • Indicator Lights
  • Multifunction Button
  • NFC Zone

When it came to using on calls, VXi Reveal didn’t disappoint with the noise canceling mic. One of the cool features is the ability to extend the mic when in noisier conditions however, the noise canceling capability was pretty good even with mic boom not extended. The speaker quality is very good as well. I can hear clearly and it’s loud enough.

The VXi Reveal  offers over 7hrs of talk time, supports streaming music or GPS directions and allows you to connect to two Bluetooth devices so like your smartphone and tablet.

Make your phone a walkie-talkie with the free BlueParrott Push-to-Talk App (Android/iOS).

I have been digging this new Bluetooth headset by VXi. Happy to see they were able to reduce the size of the headset and still maintain a strong noise canceling mic.

 

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:

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.

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.

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”.