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UC Speakerphones Hybrid Work

Top 5 Picks for UC USB Speakerphones for Hybrid Work and Work from Home

One thing we have all learned from countless hours of video meetings via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and more is that audio is critical. Don’t get me wrong, great video resolution from a business webcam certainly enhances the overall experience. But, if you cannot hear or be heard, the productivity of the video meeting suffers.

Corded USB Headsets and Wireless Headsets certainly fit the bill when it comes to providing professional-grade audio quality. Those fortunate enough to have a dedicated workspace in their home or corporate office may find a personal USB Speakerphone to be extremely beneficial. They are a great primary or secondary audio device. As organizations develop device standards for hybrid and remote work, USB speakerphones should be included as options. USB Speakerphones offer these key features:

  • Always On – Every speakerphone listed in this blog has a USB cable that can be used to power the speakerphone when connected to a computer. No need to change batteries or use an additional AC power supply. Just plug into your computers USB port to start using.
  • Mute feature – When on a call, the mute button is your friend. These speakerphones have a prominent mute button that allows you to quickly mute to block out undesired noise from pets, children, lawn mowers, blenders, significant others or even a cough or sneeze from you!

I have tested several personal USB Speakerphones from these leading brands: Poly, Jabra, EPOS, Konftel, Yealink, and Yamaha UC. You can check out the multiple test videos in this Business Personal and Small Group Speakerphones Video Playlist.

Price

Personal USB Speakerphones range in price from MSRP of $99.95 for a basic Poly Calisto 3200 all the way to $329 for the premium Jabra Speak 750 and $349 for the Yamaha UC YVC-330 that supports up to six people.

Connectivity

Beyond, USB-A or USB-C corded connectivity, some speakerphones offer USB Bluetooth dongles for wireless connectivity to your computer and Bluetooth and/or NFC pairing to your mobile device. Some include a 3.5mm jack and select models include a 3.5mm headset port.

The 3.5mm headset port is an ideal option for use cases that require the user to switch from public to private conversation by simply plugging in a 3.5mm headset. These models offer this feature:

Models with Bluetooth and/or NFC are great for pairing your mobile device. This greatly improves the overall audio quality of voice calls and streaming music and media! Please note that not all Bluetooth models include a USB dongle for wireless connectivity to your computer.

Compatibility

Business-grade speakerphones are compatible with all major communications and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco Webex, 8×8, and more.

Select models have met Microsoft Teams specification certification requirements. This peripheral certification program ensures USB devices like headsets, speakerphones, and webcams are plug and play and will work, to include call control with no extra configuration required. Some devices are Skype for Business certified with Teams upgrade. Newer devices will be Certified for Microsoft Teams and include a dedicated Teams button with LED indicator.

Full Duplex

Full duplex speakerphones allow a more natural conversation since both parties can transmit audio simultaneously. Most speakerphones support half-duplex where each party can transmit audio one at a time. Currently only select USB speakerphones have full-duplex audio.

My Top 5 Picks for USB Speakerphones 

For over a year, like many I have been working from home. As empty-nesters, my wife and I are fortunate to each have dedicated rooms in our house to use as offices. She is a Director of Human Resources and like me spends a lot of time on voice and video calls. My wife has long curly hair, so headsets are not her friend. She prefers to use a speakerphone. I spend most of my days on video calls or, filming videos for our YouTube Channel. Even back in our corporate HQ, I had a dedicated office so my set ups are similar minus the revolving door of people that would physically come in and out of my office. Now it is IM’s, texts, and impromptu video meetings. Because I test audio and video devices as part of my role, I have several devices always connected.  

Please note, no manufacturer is paying me, and I am not in any affiliate program. These are my picks based on my personal tests and preferences. 


1. Jabra Speak 750 – This is my current default USB speakerphone. The audio quality is superb, and I love the kickstand feature which helps to reduce the footprint and direct the audio towards me. And, like the Jabra Speak 710, it has the Link button that allows you to wirelessly pair two Speak 750’s to cover a larger area. Check out this video comparing the Speak 710 and Speak 750! 

2. Poly Sync 20 – I love the way this sounds when streaming music! In addition to the Jabra Speak 750, I have the Poly Sync 20 paired to my mobile device so I can play music in between video meetings and if I happen to get a mobile call, I use it for improved audio quality. As an added feature, I take advantage of the USB port to keep my mobile phone charged! Get a complete audio and video solution with the Poly Studio P5 Webcam with Poly Sync 20 for only $249.95! See and hear the Poly Sync 20 in action! Check out this video on the Poly Studio P5!   

3. Yealink CP700 – This is the younger sibling of the Yealink CP900, but I must tell you, I’m a fan of the kickstand feature. The audio quality is very consistent throughout calls across multiple platforms and it is priced at MSRP of only $129! (currently on our website Yealink CP700 only $104.95!). Unlike the other models that provide a neoprene carry case, the Yealink CP700 and CP900 include a solid, sturdy carry case to provide greater protection as you travel back and forth between locations. Watch this Yealink CP700 vs CP900 Video! 

4. Yamaha UC YVC-200 (Black or White) – Yamaha UC solutions don’t get enough attention in my opinion and they have great sounding products. All speakerphones mentioned have a Microphone Mute button so the other party cannot hear anything you are saying. The YVC-200 also includes a Speaker Mute button. Let’s say I’m jamming out to some music via the YVC-200 and my wife comes in to ask me something, I can very quickly hit the speaker mute button to quickly stop the sound. You can also get complete audio and video solution including the YVC-200 with these bundles.  

5. Jabra Speak 510 – This rounds out my list. This is a solid performer that has been around since 2013. This speakerphone just works. Plug it in and start using it across all collaboration platforms. And would you believe I don’t have a video on this device? I have added to my list of videos to film. You cannot go wrong with the Jabra Speak 510.  

When it comes to audio devices, it is important to stick with leaders in this space who develop solutions that provide professional audio quality, are easy to set up and use, and are compatible across all business collaboration platforms. As an authorized partner and reseller, Call One, Inc. can help guide you to which audio and video devices are best for your organization and multiple use cases. Contact us to learn how we can help you do your business better!

Contact Center Headset Solutions

Contact Center Headset Solutions for 2021

It’s been a year since the first stay-at-home orders were issued here in the US. I remember how incredibly easy it was for Call One, Inc. and our sister company Hello Direct to transition from in-office to working from home because we had invested in cloud platforms for our ERP/CRM and business communications and collaboration platforms. We’re looking at the best contact center headset solutions for 2021.

8x8 Contact Center Difference Between UCaaS CCaaS Contact Center Headset Solutions

Our businesses utilize 8×8 as our primary voice and UCaaS platform however, we also use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco Webex, and other collaboration platforms to communicate with our customers, partners, and vendors. Our team has access to pretty much any headset they would like. Many of our team members are using the Poly Voyager Focus UC (MSRP $299.95, currently only $199.95). It was great in our open office environment, and it’s also a great solution in their home office environments. It provides ANC speakers, compatibility with all major business communications and collaboration platforms, wireless connectivity to their computer and mobile device, and up to 12 hours of talk time which is more than enough to cover an 8hr workday. Shop all Poly Voyager Focus Series Here!

For this blog I’m focused on Contact Center Headset Solutions that are available from the leading manufacturers: Poly (formerly Plantronics + Polycom), Jabra, EPOS, Cisco, and JPL.

Compatibility

Poly, Jabra and EPOS are the current leaders globally in the contact center headset solutions space for a reason. Poly has been in the call center/ contact center space since the 1960’s and Jabra is a subsidiary of the GN Group that’s been around for over 150 years. These leaders have deep relationships and integration with all leading contact center on-premise and cloud platforms like Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, NICE inContact, Amazon Connect, 8×8, Five9, talkdesk, twilio, and more!

Flexibility – Wearing Styles, Corded and Wireless

Headset Wearing Styles – Headsets are available in a variety of wearing styles to include: Single or Dual Ear Headband Style, Over the ear, Neckband (behind the neck) and Convertible options that include multiple wearing styles with a single sku (Headband, Over the ear, Neckband, other).

USB Corded Headsets – As many contact centers shift to cloud-based platforms, there has been an increased demand in USB corded headsets. Manufacturers have developed headsets with USB-A and USB-C connectivity as well as offer UC and Microsoft Teams certified models. Look at available corded USB headsets from Jabra, Poly, Logitech, Cisco, JPL, EPOS and Yealink here!

QD Corded Headsets – Headsets that terminate in a QD or Quick Disconnect (Easy Disconnect for EPOS Headsets) allow agents to change out interface cable to support connectivity to a desk phone, computer, dispatch console, turret and more. There is not a universal cable that allows you to connect a headset to all phones, computers, and consoles. An authorized headset vendor like Call One, Inc. can provide compatibility and help you choose the right interface option.

Wireless headsets today offer a ton of flexibility. They utilize DECT and/or Bluetooth to support multiple connectivity options and provide you freedom to move about your workspace.

The preferred wearing style for most contact center agents is single or dual-ear headband style like the new JPL Element TT3 Avant Monaural and Binaural options that have QD (Quick Disconnect) feature that allow agents to change out interface cable to support connectivity to a desk phone or computer.

Contact Center Headset Solutions
Jabra Engage 50 series

The Jabra Engage 50 series are headsets designed for the digital contact center. The Jabra Engage 50 features a powerful processing chip in the earcup that delivers advanced functionality including call analytic data. A unique, 3 microphone system with intelligent noise-cancelation filters our background noise and breathing sounds, giving callers a superior experience. For greater efficiency and call control, pair with the Jabra Engage Link. The call control unit accessory enables agents to adjust volume levels and mute, speed dial, answer and end calls, and update their status lights at the touch of a button. The control unit is easy to use and designed to stay in place.

Contact Center Headset Solutions Blackwire

The Poly Blackwire Series offer a broad range of solutions that include ANC speakers, USB-A, USB-C, and 3.5mm Connectivity options, UC and Microsoft Teams certified variants, and headset models that align with all budgets. From the entry-level Blackwire 3200 and 3300 Series all the way to the Poly Blackwire 8225 that includes Hybrid Active Noise Canceling (ANC) speakers and microphone that is Noise canceling with Acoustic Fence Technology and meets Microsoft Teams Open-Office certification levels. Check out this video below showcasing Poly Blackwire 8225 vs Barking Dog!

https://youtu.be/cr5ILr2HrhU

Pre-and Post-Sales Support

All leading headset manufacturers along with their authorized partners like Call One, Inc. and Hello Direct understand the challenges of the contact center. Together we can work to support Proof of Concept or Pilots that allow you to thoroughly evaluate headset solutions before you make a purchasing decision. Additionally, for those contact centers looking to deploy wireless headsets, select brands offer Wireless Density Surveys to determine which wireless headsets and how many you can deploy.

Call One, Inc. offers Agent in a Box service to help simplify deployment of headsets nationwide by including all the required components in one box. We can ship headsets to your contact center agents wherever they are (Business and/or Residential addresses in the US). Learn about how Agent in a Box helped one organization deploy thousands of EPOS SC230 & SC260 Headsets, CAVA31 phone cable and ED01 USB Adapters here!

Warranty Service – Most Contact Center headsets include a 1-3 Year Warranty depending on brand and model. In-Warranty Service is available directly from the manufacturers.

Full Line of AccessoriesSave money and Increase the life of your headset by replacing accessories like ear cushions, mic screens, voice tubes, wireless headset batteries, and more!

Wireless Headset Accessories

Corded Headset Accessories

Headset Management Software

 As Contact Centers shift to working remotely, a robust CCaaS solution like available from 8×8 is becoming critical, as well the ability to monitor and manage headsets remotely. Most IT leaders understand that you need more than the ability to push out software and firmware updates. Headset Management Software continues to evolve. Today, headset software from select partners allows you to monitor, manage and maintain your headsets. IT can help troubleshoot and fix issues remotely as well as manage deployment and inventory effectively. But there’s so much more! Contact Center customers can improve the customer experience by leveraging the power of analytics to influence business results with unique data captured directly from the headset. Please contact us to learn more about current headset management software.

Poly Lens

 Other Contact Center Services

Call One, Inc. can support contact centers of all sizes. Global Contact Centers may have additional services available directly through the manufacturers depending on size and global footprint. Contact us directly to see if you qualify!

Trade-In Programs – To help simplify the deployment of new headsets, trade-in programs are sometimes enabled to leverage existing headsets by assigning them a dollar amount and using that as a credit towards the purchase of new. Contact us to see if you qualify!

Eprocurement – Our in house Ecommerce team can integrate with your existing purchasing platforms and even help to develop and manage CIF and PunchOut catalogs to help simplify access to the headsets and full line of accessories you need. Contact us to learn more!

Budget Optimization Program – Call One, Inc. offers convenient monthly payment options for your contact center headset needs. We understand the value of positive cash flow and provide equipment financing options to help you make the most of your budget. Contact us to see if you qualify!

CCaaS Solutions – Call Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions enable you to architect a customer experience that will leave your customers pleased and feeling good about interacting with your brand when they call. They enable a more dynamic business with on-demand scalability, global reach, and easy, out-of-the-box integrations into the widely used software that makes your business run. Contact us to learn which CCaaS provider is best for your Contact Center!

Conclusion

2021 marks 34 years of servicing customers. In the beginning we served primarily call centers and dispatch centers with Plantronics, GN Netcom, ACS and Unex headsets. Today, the contact center manages multiple channels of communications with customers that includes email, social media, chat, voice and increasingly, video. Our long term and very strong relationships with the leading brands and providers give us an additional layer of support when it comes to helping meet your contact center headset solutions needs. If you would like to learn how we can help your contact center, contact us today!

What EPOS is Seeing in This New Normal

What EPOS is Seeing in This New Normal? | Interview With Scott Houston

Danny Hayasaka, Sr Director of Marketing and Emerging Technology of Call One, Inc. and Hello Direct had a virtual Q&A with Scott Houston, Field Engineer with EPOS to learn what they’re seeing in this new normal. What questions did we ask? Here’s a list

1. In regard to peripherals, what changes has EPOS seen from users when it comes to headsets and speakerphones?

2. How are organizations managing these assets for remote users? Does EPOS offer a solution?

3. What technologies does EPOS utilize in their solutions that make them a good fit for Contact Centers?

Scott answered the first question( In regard to peripherals, what changes has EPOS seen from users when it comes to headsets and speakerphones?) with the following:

“What we’ve seen before, you know, pre-pandemic and everything that’s happening. You’re in your office space, and you’re kind of just handed a headset.

But now with so many working from home and utilizing so many of the features that are out there for these devices, it’s just having a quality product to deliver that message.”

For the second question (How are organizations managing these assets for remote users? Does EPOS offer a solution?) He states:

“There was such a focus for so many enterprises on how do we keep our workers and and the information and, everything that they’re doing secure, right?

“But also what’s been changing is the UC landscape as a whole, right? Changes coming from Microsoft people switching from, island mode into teams only and now with the removal of Skype for business.”

And finally, the last question, (What technologies does EPOS utilize in their solutions that make them a good fit for Contact Centers?) here is what Houston had to say;

“So that’s where our offering for it is called EPOS manager. There you have a cloud service where your admin can go in and have visibility of everyone who has kind of the client version on their machines at home.

“It’s not just EPOS devices. So you can see what your people are using out there, which will help you with, you know, troubleshooting calls and keep the burden of support tickets to a minimum.”

Thanks for tuning in! We want to thank Scott Houston for joining us on this Q&A with Danny Hayasaka. If you want to watch the full interview to see what EPOS is seeing in this new normal, check it out below:

EPOS SP30 Yealink CP900

EPOS Expand SP30 vs Yealink CP900 | Speakerphone Comparison

The EPOS Expand SP 30+ and Yealink CP900 with BT50 dongle come in at an MSRP of $259. In this blog/video, we provide similarities and differences between them and then we have some fun. We do a mic pick range test and also a speaker audio test. Watch and listen for yourselves below. Between the EPOS SP30 and Yealink CP900, which one do you think sounds better to you?

If reading is more your style, check out the specs on these speakerphones:

Features

  • Optima HD voice
  • Microphone pickup range up to 6.5 feet / 2 meters
  • Full-duplex technology
  • Noise suppression (NS)
  • Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
  • Acoustic echo cancellation (AEC)

EPOS Expand SP30

Features

  • Experience plug-and-play conferencing anywhere Portable with Bluetooth® or USB-C connection, multipoint connectivity – for up to three devices
  • Get exceptional audio performance for conference calls, music and multimedia With EPOS VoiceTM technology, ultra-low distortion speaker and two echo and noise-cancelling microphones with advanced algorithms
  • Natural conversation experience With industry-leading duplex performance that allows simultaneous speech
  • Crafted to perfection From premium-quality materials in a compact, lightweight design with convenient cable winding and safe dongle storage
  • For personal or shared use In huddle rooms for up to eight participants with a choice of automatic or manual reconnection for an optimal user experience

During our test and direct comparison of the EPOS SP30 Yealink CP900, we found that both speakerphones do a tremendous job at outputting quality audio. That being said, you normally wouldn’t be blasting music out of one of these, but it’s still interesting to compare! For the price they are set at you can’t go wrong with either one. Your personal use case should be the deciding factor. Want to see the full run through? Check out our latest video below where we put them head-to-head:

USB Dongle versus Pairing Headset

Why Do I Need a USB Dongle vs Pairing the Headset Directly to a Computer?

This is a frequently asked question on our channel so we decided to reach out to Jabra, Poly and EPOS for their response. While you can pair your headset directly to your PC or Mac, the primary reason to use a dongle is call control. Using the pre-paired dongle will support the headset user the ability to answer and end calls via headset controls vs platform GUI. Other reasons to use a USB dongle versus pairing headset to Bluetooth are improved audio quality, increased roaming range, and overall user experience.

Here is what they had to say:

Jabra

Using the included Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter with your Jabra device will ensure the following functionality:

  • Integration with computer softphone and software support with Jabra Direct
    Full integration between a Jabra device and a computer softphone usually works only when combined with a Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter. Connecting to a computer without a Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter may provide audio capability in the device but not call control for answering and ending calls.
  • Bluetooth range
    Jabra devices obtain the best possible range when they are used with a Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter and not the built-in Bluetooth in a computer. Bluetooth performance of a computer is usually limited to a range of 2-5 meters/ 6-50 feet in a typical office environment.
  • Factory pairing and installation
    The Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter and Jabra device come pre-paired in the box. The Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter supports plug-and-play functionality, without needing to install separate software drivers on the computer.
  • Identification as a soundcard
    When pairing with the Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter, the device is identified by the computer operating system as a soundcard and can be used for all audio purposes. If a device is paired with the built-in Bluetooth of a computer, the device is usually recognized by the computer as a headset and can only be used for communication purposes.

Poly

Why are BT600 USB bluetooth adapters needed vs. pairing the headset directly to the PC/MAC?

Poly Bluetooth UC devices are full-featured and designed for optimal user experience. To fully benefit from the advanced functionality and have the most reliable audio experience, it is required that the headset is paired via the BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter versus paired directly to the PC/MAC. Poly provides function and additional benefits through the BT600 USB adapter in the following ways:

  • PC/MAC Bluetooth systems can vary widely in design and capability. By providing a BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter, Poly can ensure a better experience because we control both ends of the wireless connection
  • The BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter functions as an audio processor, which assures the best audio experience through wideband audio support—providing the highest voice quality. If connected directly to the PC/MAC, wideband audio is not possible
  • Without the BT600 USB adapter, PC/MAC Bluetooth systems do not typically provide capability to use the call control from the headset. Calls must be managed from the PC/MAC GUI and the buttons on the headset do not function. This eliminates mobility and provides a poor user experience
  • The BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter supports Poly software which provides advanced features, customization, as well as firmware upgrade capability
  • PC/MACs typically do not support all the required Bluetooth profiles or may assign the wrong Bluetooth profile to an application. The result can be poor audio quality, loss of audio on microphone or earphone, and inconsistent operation
  • The BT600 USB Bluetooth adapters enumerates to the computer as an audio device and therefore cannot act as a USB storage device. That being said, BT600 adapters cannot be used to access data on the PC/MAC

EPOS | Sennheiser

It’s the same reason for us, along with being the key to Microsoft Certification. Both the headset and dongle together is what certifies the device for use with Teams, or Skype for users still using SFB. Using the dongle will give you improved audio performance and connectivity performance as opposed to pairing native to the machine which the BT chipset can vary and may not handle audio as well as other machines etc. This is why we recommend it for most users.

Summary

As you can see, through all three partners, they have similar options on using a USB Dongle versus pairing headset to Bluetooth. Having a USB dongle is critical for having a better sound, connection, and overall better experience. Want to learn more? Check out our latest video:

EPOS Adapt Presence UC

12 Days of Call One | Day Two EPOS Adapt Presence UC

The EPOS Adapt Presence UC Grey is a Bluetooth headset with BT800 USB dongle designed for connectivity to computer and mobile device. This headset can be used in the office, while working from home, or whenever you’re on the go! In this video I put this headset to the test from a home office environment.

Before we hop into the video, lets go over the details.

EPOS ADAPT Presence UC:

  • 3 noise-cancelling microphones and filtering technology, benefiting both speaker and listener
  • Up to 10 hours of narrowband and 8 hours of wideband talk time between charging
  • For headset, USB dongle and USB charging cable that fits easily into your pocket

The Adapt Presence comes in two variants Presence Grey UC which includes BT800 USB Dongle for PC and mobile connectivity. Then there is the Adapt Presence Grey Business that does NOT include dongle and is designed for pairing to mobile device only. Each option is solely based upon the way you work. What do you need to improve your call quality? Are you looking to travel on the go with it? These are all options to consider when choosing a specific variant.

In our most recent test, we found that the EPOS Adapt Presence UC doesn’t meet up to the established “82 ft”, but hits fairly close to it. If you’re looking to move on the go with it, you’ll need your paired device by your side. As for the microphone and sound quality? It’s very much what you would expect from EPOS. Clear, crisp, sound quality. There was little to no static interference while we used it. It’s a very comfortable, slick, and effective piece of tech at a reasonable price of $199.00 (For the UC version).

Check out our video as a part of our #12DaysofCallOne series. In this video we test, overview, and share opinions about the EPOS Adapt Presence UC. You don’t want to miss this! Continue here for more EPOS | Sennheiser solutions.

Comparing The Best Headsets

Comparing The Best Headsets

This is a big one! In this post, we’re comparing the best headsets and testing the microphone audio quality of these heavy hitters: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 UC, EPOS Adapt 660, Jabra Evolve2 85, and Poly Voyager 8200 UC!

With more people working from home as well as the rise of remote learning, the ability for the headset wearer to block out surrounding noise via ANC speakers has become very important. Typically, the best ANC (Active Noise Canceling) comes from headphone style headsets. Additionally, they need to be compatible with leading business collaboration platforms from Microsoft, Zoom, Cisco, Google, and more!

The challenge? When comparing the best headsets, how well do the mics perform in a noisy home office environment?

Product Information

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCESBose 700 UC Comparing The Best Headsets

BOSE 700 UC

EPOS Adapt 660 Comparing The Best Headsets

EPOS ADAPT 660
Jabra Evolve2 85 Comparing The Best Headsets


JABRA EVOLVE2 85
VOYAGER 8200 UC
POLY VOYAGER 8200 UC
UC Certified✔️✔️✔️✔️
ANC✔️✔️✔️✔️
Padded Headband✔️✔️✔️✔️
Bluetooth 5.0✔️✔️✔️✔️
MSRP$449$439$429$379
Weight9oz8oz10oz10.1oz
Battery Life20hrs30hrs37hrs20hrs

This graph demonstrates the features, pricing, and weight of each headset:

So Which is the Best? Unfortunately, there is no “best headset”. However, there is a best headset for you. What is your use-case? Where are you working? How are you working? If you want more information on choosing the best headset, check out this video we made, highlighting the key points for choosing a headset:

In this video we do our best to nail the information, and get the details, facts and figures out as smooth as possible comparing the best headsets based on microphone audio quality. This is a non-biased review of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 UC, EPOS Adapt 660, Jabra Evolve2 85, and Poly Voyager 8200 UC.  If you have any questions regarding these items, please, feel free to reach out to us and check out our other videos on Youtube and subscribe. Enjoy the video below!