In my workplace, I'm still one of the lucky ones - I have an office door that I can close whenever things get loud here in the newsroom or if I'm in a conference call. I'm probably the one creating most of the noise around here, but it's still nice to be able to shut the door to drown out the excess noise.
A lot of employees don't have that option, as they are stuck in cubicle-land, or their companies have adopted the open-space environment trend, in which employees are allowed to collaborate more by "tearing down the walls" of offices and even cubes in favor of "more open space."
But this likely is going to create some more noise - whether it's a chatty co-worker in the area next to you, or whether your workplace is now the coffee shop on the corner. This could create problems for employees who need to talk on their phones or participate in conference calls.
At least that’s what Plantronics, which makes such headsets, is hoping as they introduce a new line of gear aimed towards those types of workers. From the company’s UC (Unified Communications) division comes four new products - the Blackwire 725; Voyager Edge UC; Calisto 610 and Clarity 340 - aimed at tackling some of the issues being faced by today’s knowledge worker. All four products are now available from the company’s web site and channel partners.
The Blackwire 725 ($179 MSRP) is an over-the-ear headset with Active Noise Cancellation, geared towards “knowledge workers in an open office environment looking to block out distracting noise” while also dealing with PC-based conference calls or consuming multimedia (aka “listening to music while writing emails). The Blackwire 725 is a corded PC headset (attaches via USB) that is part of the company’s 720 line of headsets - with the ANC replacing Bluetooth. Like previous versions of the headset, the Blackwire 725 includes “smart sensor” technology that answers a call when you put the headset on (if a call is coming in), and the noise-cancellation not only helps the user reduce noise from their distractions, but also reduces noise for the person on the other end of the call.
The Voyager Edge UC ($199 MSRP, pictured at top) is an updated mobile headset from the Voyager Legend UC line of headsets. This one is geared to mobile “road warriors” who take calls on their mobile phones but also participate in PC-based webconferencing/communications. The device features a USB adapter that communicates via Bluetooth to the headset, and you can connect to the phone directly through Bluetooth as well. The headset includes three microphones for noise and wind cancellation, and a charging case helps keep the unit powered for up to 10 hours of talk time.
The Calisto 610 ($99 MSRP) is a USB speaker phone geared towards the “flexible worker”, one who likely works out of their home office or needs to go on the road occasionally and wants a speakerphone for impromptu or small collaboration settings. Features include wideband audio with a noise-canceling, omni-directional microphone, digital signal processing and a Kensington-style lock port if you want to keep it in a small conference room.
The fourth product, the Clarity 340 ($149 MSRP), is aimed at office workers within the company who are getting older. This UC USB handset includes a large display with easier-to-see numbers and letters, and additional amplification for those who are having trouble hearing calls. The handset includes a larger 12-key dial pad and “4-tone settings to accommodate specific hearing loss patterns”. The Clarity 340 is also hearing-aid compatible, and includes a connector port for “neckloop-style telecoil couplers”, Plantronics said.