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What’s the difference between ANC and NC?

By Danny Hayasaka

August 14, 2019

Every day I hear customers requesting “ANC” or “NC” headsets. Some know the difference however many don’t. It’s kind of like “Bluetooth”. To some, “Bluetooth” simply means “wireless”. Whether it’s DECT, 2.4Ghz, 900Mhz is irrelevant to them. They want a “Bluetooth (Wireless)” headset. For this blog, I’m talking about headsets for professional use by Poly (formerly Plantronics), Jabra & Sennheiser.

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Plantronics Voyager Family

By Danny Hayasaka

December 12, 2018

If softphone (PC/Laptop) and mobile (tablet/smartphone) are your primary devices for communication, the Plantronics Voyager Family may be a right fit for you.

There are close to twenty different variants available that differ in wearing style and feature sets.

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Plantronics Voyager Focus UC revisited

By Danny Hayasaka

May 16, 2017

Almost a couple years ago I wrote “Plantronics Voyager Focus UC Review”. As more and more organizations transition to open office spaces as well as work remotely from anywhere, the need for Active Noise Canceling has become increasingly important.

The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is ideal for folks who want the ability to “Focus” on their work. Many do this by streaming their favorite tunes or podcasts via their mobile device.

There are four Voyager Focus UC variants:

  • PLT-202652-01-006         Plantronics B825 Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth Headset
  • PLT-202652-02-006         Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC Lync/Skype for Business Bluetooth Headset
  • PLT-202652-03-006         Plantronics B825 Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth Headset (No Stand)
  • PLT-202652-04-006         Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC Lync/Skype for Business Bluetooth Headset (No Stand)

It has phenomenal talk time (up to 12hrs) and listening time (up to 15hrs).

Let’s focus on Plantronics Smart Sensor technology. It’s a very cool feature. As I wrote before, Smart Sensor means the headset knows when you are wearing it and when you are not. Here are some applications on how Smart Sensor Technology is beneficial:

  • Your mobile device rings and you aren’t wearing headset, simply answer call by putting headset on.
    • Let’s say headset wasn’t quite in reach, that’s okay…answer call via mobile device. If you find it will be longer call, put the Voyager Focus on and the audio automatically transfers from mobile device to headset
  • You’re streaming media, you can pause by removing headset and resume by putting it back on.
  • Maybe you need to sneeze, cough or co-worker taps you on the shoulder to ask quick question while you are in a call, if you take headset off, it automatically mutes the mic so the party on the other end doesn’t hear.
  • In our Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business. If you take headset off, it will change your Presence status to “Away”. Voyager Focus UC will also answer Microsoft Lync/SfB call by putting headset on.

Use sensors: Smart sensors respond when you put on or take off your headset.

With active sensors Putting on headset will: Taking off headset will:
Call Answer the call Mute the headset
Music/Media Resume music/media (if playing previous to taking off)* Pause music/media (if playing)*
Mute Unmute if on an active call Mute if on an active call

NOTE *Functionality varies by application. Does not function with web-based apps.

Reset sensors

You may need to reset the sensors if they are not working as expected. There are two ways to reset the headset sensors. Choose:

  • With your headset powered on, charge your headset on the charge stand for 10 seconds
  • Press and hold both the Mute and Play/pause buttons for more than 4 seconds until the LEDs flash purple twice, being careful to not touch the earcup padding or allow it to come in contact with surfaces

Disable sensors

You can disable your headset smart sensors several ways:

  • Manage sensors through Plantronics Hub software
  • Hold both the Mute and Call buttons for more than 4 seconds until the LED flashes purple then red. Repeat to reactivate; the LED flashes purple then blue.

NOTE Sensors cannot be disabled while streaming audio.

To learn more about the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC or to find out if this solution is right in your environment, contact us.

From October 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 Plantronics is offering a special promo where you receive a FREE Voyager Focus with the purchase of 10 Voyager 5200 UC headsets.

 

Plantronics Voyager 5200 UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

June 7, 2016

I’ve been watching the Plantronics YouTube videos on this product and couldn’t wait to see if this headset lived up to the hype. In particular the noise canceling/wind reduction capabilities.

Finally received and I was so excited to get it set up and start testing.

Here’s the model I received and currently using:

What’s in the box? Plantronics Voyager 5200 Bluetooth Headset, Get Started Guide, Safety booklet, Warranty insert, Small, medium, and large ear tips, USB to micro USB charge cable & Portable charging case with integrated docking stand.

At first glance: Plantronics has a knack for designing good looking headsets. Looks very similar to the Voyager Legend form factor however there are differences with color, buttons, the shape of mic boom AND you can now charge via micro USB!!!

Ideal for: Mobile professionals who use PC audio, mobile phone, or tablet communications in noisy environments

Set up and Use: Nice and easy. I plugged USB cable to PC and micro-usb to charging case/stand. Placed headset on to charge (approximately 90 min to fully charge). Voyager 5200 UC includes three different size ear tips. To change out ear tips push in the ear tip and rotate to the left to unlock it. To attach different size ear tip, align ear tip into slot, push, rotate to the right and lock into place. I mention this because folks who don’t know, tend to break them before they even get started. I plugged BT600 USB Dongle into my PC. Once I turned headset on, it paired almost immediately to dongle. You get an audible “PC connected”. You use the answer/hang up button on back of mic boom to place 5200 UC into pairing mode. Go to your mobile device Bluetooth menu, select “PLT V5200 Series” and you will get audible “Phone one connected” and on my iPhone screen you can see its “Connected”.

 

We use Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business. From my Devices selection I select “Plantronics BT600”. I also have Plantronics Hub software that is absolutely necessary. In an Enterprise environment I HIGHLY recommend Plantronics SaaS subscription to Plantronics Manager Pro.

I want to get right to it. I have made several test calls. One of the last test calls made was really something else. Most manufacturers tout great “noise cancelling” mics in their Bluetooth headsets however the reality is most Bluetooth headsets have lousy to okay noise cancelling.

I’m driving in my car going 60mph, car stereo on and then I roll down the window during middle of storm. It’s so windy and loud. I can’t even hear myself. However I proceed with test. When I played back recording I was very impressed. It’s like you can hear the wind and then it just cuts out and all you hear is my voice. Again, very impressed with Noise Canceling mic.

I’ve had several Lync and Mobile calls in private office, open office space, in airports, hotel lobbies, car, and other various locations inside and outside. No one has complained. Typically if person I’m speaking with “hears” background noise they ask, “Where are you?” I haven’t had that question asked yet so I’m assuming they can’t hear what’s going on in the background. I did ask my wife when I was outside a hotel near airport if she could hear anything. It was a busy street and you can hear the planes taking off overhead. I asked if she heard that jet fly by. She asked “what jet?” I asked you didn’t hear that plane that just flew by super loud? Have you heard all the cars zipping by?” Her response was “No”. Again, I’m very impressed with the Noise Canceling ability of the Voyager 5200 UC.

And of course it’s very comfortable. I wear Voyager 5200 UC from roughly 7:15am until 6:30pm and there is no discomfort. Receive volume is good. I like the location of the volume increase/decrease buttons. Easy to access.

The Charging Case is very sleek looking and doubles as charging stand. When traveling there is slot for BT600 USB Dongle in case.

The Voyager 5200 UC is packed with features:

  • Four adaptive microphones and proprietary DSP
  • Six layers of WindSmart® technology
  • Wideband audio
  • SoundGuard® technology
  • Worry-free mute assurance
  • Up to seven hours of non-stop talk
  • P2i moisture protection
  • NFC pairing
  • 14-hour portable charging case
  • Smart sensors auto-manage calls
  • Range of up to 98 feet/30 meters
  • Works with smartphones, laptops, tablets, and Bluetooth desk phones
  • Enhanced voice alerts
  • Quick access to smartphone Virtual Personal Assistant
  • Designed for all-day comfort
  • Simple voice commands
  • Dynamic mute alert
  • Dedicated mute button
  • Timed voice alerts
  • Visual mute status
  • Customizable mute notifications

In conclusion, this is a pretty awesome headset. It’s comfortable. It pairs up automatically. I can now charge at home no problem with one of the many micro-usb chargers I have floating around. I can use it in the office with my PC via Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business calls as well as my mobile. It’s the perfect fit for how I work. And of course, the Voyager 5200 UC noise canceling is really really good.

 

 

Plantronics Voyager Focus UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

July 27, 2015

Do you work in an open office environment? Are your primary modes of communication a PC and Mobile device? Do you like streaming music while you work? Are there times when you really need to focus but can’t because you’re distracted by all the noise around you? If you answered yes to any of those questions, the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC may be the device for you!

This is another great product from Plantronics! It’s a Bluetooth stereo headset with Active Noise Canceling speakers. There are a couple of other Active Noise Canceling (ANC) products that have recently been introduced however they are corded and miss the mark on some features/functionality. The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC seems to address those missed features.

There are currently four variants:

  • PLT-202652-01-006 Plantronics B825 Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth Headset
  • PLT-202652-02-006 Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC Lync/Skype for Business Bluetooth Headset
  • PLT-202652-03-006 Plantronics B825 Voyager Focus UC Bluetooth Headset (No Stand)
  • PLT-202652-04-006 Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC Lync/Skype for Business Bluetooth Headset (No Stand)

I’m reviewing the Plantronics B825-M Voyager Focus UC-M for Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business.

What’s in the box? Plantronics Voyager Focus Stereo Headset, Charging Stand, BT600 USB Dongle, Micro USB Charging Cable, Travel Case, Quick Start Guide, other documentation

At first glance: It’s a pretty cool looking wireless stereo headset.

What does it do? Bluetooth stereo headset with Active Noise Canceling speakers. Pairs to your mobile device via Bluetooth and to a PC/Laptop via USB Bluetooth dongle. You can answer softphone calls and mobile calls. You can stream music. There are some other very cool features I’ll get into.

Set Up and Use: The charging stand has one hardwired USB cable. I connected to USB port on my PC and I placed headset in to charge. I only charged for few hours because I was excited to use it. I didn’t read any of the instructions however I’ve set up tons of headsets in my almost 17 years doing this. The Voyager Focus UC was fairly intuitive. I assumed if I wanted to pair to mobile device I would just turn on and hold on/off/Bluetooth button until headset went into pairing mode. It did. I selected “PLT Focus”. Next I plugged the new BT600 USB Dongle. It took a little bit however soon my Lync client recognized it and I selected the Plantronics BT600. Also, if you want this to be your primary device, be sure and go into your PC’s Control Panel –> Sounds (or Hardware and Sound) –> Select Plantronics BT600 as Playback and Recording Default Device. This way you hear when you get notifications, emails, IM’s, as well as have audio through the headset when streaming online media.

 

The Voyager Focus UC is a very comfortable headset. It has very soft leatherette ear cushions and a nice cushioned headband.

The power button acts as “on/off” as well as the button to place headset into pairing mode. The red “mute” button is on the mic boom. You get audio prompt letting you know “Mute on” as well as “Mute off”. It automatically turns “Mute off” if you hang up call.

The “answer/hang up” button is on the mic side of headset as well as the online indicator lights. A cool feature if you are streaming audio from mobile device is that if you get a softphone or mobile call, it will pause the music. When you hang up call, it starts the music from where it paused. If you are using a music streaming program like Windows Media Player and answer a call, it pauses the music and starts back when you hang up. If I am watching a YouTube video and answer a call, it does not pause the video or audio. In fact, I can hear the audio from the video and the caller’s voice simultaneously. So that was interesting. No, the caller can’t hear the video that is playing. Another cool feature, let’s say you are in a call and as it quite often happens, someone comes up to you and they can’t wait for you to get off call. If you take headset off, in the middle of call, it automatically places headset on mute. When you place headset back on, it turns mute off. Also like the Voyager Legend and Edge, the Voyager Focus UC has Smart Sensors so it knows when you are wearing the headset. Let’s say you aren’t wearing the headset and you get a mobile call. You can answer via your mobile phone like normal, if you put the headset on; it automatically transfers the call from your mobile device to the headset. I’ve loved this feature ever since it was available. Similarly if you aren’t wearing headset and you get a softphone call, simply put the headset on and it answer call. Super cool.

The non-mic side contains the controls for music: Volume Control, Play/Pause button, track forward and back buttons. A cool feature of the volume is regardless of which side the mic is on, forward is always volume increase and if you rotate back it’s volume decrease. The Active Noise Canceling (ANC) on/off button is on same side.

Audio Quality: So it looks good, it’s comfortable but how does it sound? If you are streaming music, it’s great! Sounds really, really good. If you have ANC activated plus the music streaming…you won’t be able to hear anyone or anything. This is so important if you are working on an important project that requires your complete attention. Ok, here’s where I give a just a couple dings. The noise canceling mic is not going to completely drown out background noise. If you are in an area with “loud talkers” or there is laughter, cheering, etc in the background, it will be heard. However, it’s a sufficient noise canceling mic. It does have an online indicator however, it’s a tiny little light so not certain how effective it would be at showing/informing others you are in an active call unless you educate them beforehand.

The speakers do fold flat for easier portability. I was impressed that in addition to the charging stand, they also include a micro-usb charging cable and travel pouch. The travel pouch has another zippered compartment where you can neatly store the charging cable and even the BT600 USB dongle for safe keeping. Really digging the second compartment.

Conclusion: The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is another great addition to the Plantronics portfolio that definitely fills a void. It’s packed with many very cool features. Oh and one of the best parts!!! Can’t believe I hadn’t mentioned it earlier. Are you ready for this? 12 HOURS OF TALK TIME!!! 15 HOURS OF MUSIC STREAMING!!! So you get ALL DAY hi-fi stereo sound! If you really need to “focus”, the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is definitely a must.

Plantronics Voyager Edge UC Review

By Danny Hayasaka

February 16, 2015

The Plantronics Voyager Edge UC is one cool little solution. It’s a Bluetooth headset (also supports NFC) that pairs with your mobile devices as well as a PC/Laptop via Bluetooth USB adapter for use with softphone clients as well as other web-based collaboration platforms. It comes in two variants:

B255, 202310-01 – Voyager Edge UC  – UC Standard version built for UC applications and softphones from Avaya®, Cisco®, IBM®, Skype® and more

B255-M, 202320-01 – Voyager Edge UC-M – Microsoft-certified version optimized for Microsoft® Lync and Microsoft OCS 2007

What’s in the box? Voyager Edge Headset with medium eartip attached, Charging Case, USB Bluetooth adapter, Micro USB cable, small and large eartips, and ear hook

At first glance: It’s a small, sleek, cool looking Bluetooth headset.

Set up & Use: It was fairly easy to set up. First I charged Voyager Edge UC in charging case (90 minutes for a full charge).  Voyager Edge also supports micro USB charging which is cool. Voyager Legend requires a proprietary charger.

This is an “in the ear” style eartip. So if you aren’t into that, then this isn’t for you. I personally don’t mind and it’s actually very comfortable to the point I forget I’m wearing. The occasional email/text notifications let me know I’m wearing.

When I turned on, it automatically went into pair mode. I went into my Bluetooth menu on my iPhone 6 plus and selected PLT_Edge. To pair to PC I simply connected Bluetooth USB adapter to a USB port and shortly thereafter I heard “PC connected”.

I have to admit that initially, I didn’t know how to answer/hang up. (I should probably read user guides/set up guides prior to use.)I just started dialing to make a test call. Below is a diagram of all the various buttons:

I’ve used many Bluetooth headsets, so I had a preconceived idea of what the audio quality would be like. I was pleasantly surprised. First I can hear loud and clear. Secondly and the most impressive was the noise canceling mic. Typically the shorter the boom mic, the poorer the noise canceling ability. The Voyager Edge changes that. The noise canceling was very good considering the size of the boom. I’m not saying it drowns out all background noise, I’m just saying for its size, it blocks out a considerable amount. I included an image of Voyager Edge vs Voyager Legend

Other Cool Features: The Charge Case actually acts as a secondary charger on the go if needed and adds an additional 10 hours of talk time for a total of 16 hrs of talk time. It also includes cool little slot/holder for the USB adapter.

The Voyager Edge UC has responsive smart sensor technology. This is a super cool feature that was first available with the Voyager Legend. This technology basically “knows” when you are wearing the headset and when you are not. If you get a phone call via your mobile and you are NOT wearing a headset, you can answer via your mobile device, if during the middle of call you place the headset on, the call is automatically transferred to Voyager Edge headset. Additionally, you can answer calls simply by putting the headset on. If you are streaming music and you get a call, it pauses music. You also have voice commands that make call management easy.

P2i technology is a nano-coating applied during the manufacturing process, resulting in invisible liquid repellent properties that help protect headset from rainy days or drink spills.

As always, with any USB device, I strongly recommend downloading the appropriate software. With Plantronics Hub you get added value of:

  • Call control across multiple softphones
  • Battery meter conveniently displays headset battery life remaining in PC icon tray
  • The headset control panel allows for customization of settings, including call notification and related options
  • UC presence automatically updated when on a call; not only on PC calls, but also when on mobile calls (Microsoft Lync and Skype only)

In closing: So far I’m digging the Voyager Edge UC. If your two main communications mediums are a mobile device and PC/Laptop, this may be a solution for you. It’s lightweight, comfortable, easy to set up but more importantly, it sounds good.