The scoop: Voyager Focus UC, by Plantronics, about $300.
What is it? This system comes with a headset, charging dock, Bluetooth USB dongle (for connecting to a PC or Mac) and carrying case. The headset lets users connect to two different Bluetooth devices (such as a computer and mobile phone, or a mobile phone and tablet), switching them automatically between those audio sources when a call comes in. On the PC side, this means using the dongle to connect to “softphone” apps such as Skype, Lync, FaceTime, etc., or music services like Spotify or Pandora. The headset also includes an Active Noise Cancellation feature, so if you’re annoyed by the sounds of your co-workers, you can flip the switch and pretend that you’re on an airplane.
Why it’s cool: Previous unified communications headsets from Plantronics seemed more like mobile phone Bluetooth headsets – you’d just attach it to one ear and start conversing. With the Voyager Focus UC, you get more of an old-school headset look and feel – the set covers both ears and includes a boom microphone. The goal here (in which Plantronics succeeds) is to provide an office worker with a comfortable headset that they could wear all day, especially if they’re in a noisy work environment (lousy, noisy coworkers!). During those moments when they’re not on the phone, a worker can use the headset to listen to music, podcasts, videos, etc., or press the ANC button and avoid the outside distractions. This negates the need to have two separate headsets – one for phone calls and one for music.
I also can’t stress how comfortable this headset was (compared with other UC-style headsets). Like Plantronics’ BackBeat Sense headphones (reviewed last year for our holiday gift guide), the Voyager Focus UC features soft memory-foam ear cushions, and a double head-band, a strong metal outer rim for structure and strength in fitting on the head, but a softer, flexible, cushion-like inner rim that hugs the top of your head. You really could wear this all day and not get “headset fatigue”.
The Voyager UC also has a cool feature seen on other Plantronics headsets – it can detect whether the user is wearing the headset and take appropriate action. For example, if you’re listening to music and you take the headset off, the music pauses. If you’re not wearing the headset and a call comes in, the headset answers the call when you put the headset on.
Some caveats: All of these outstanding features comes at a price – at $300, this could be too pricey for companies to give to all of their employees. Most likely, this would be something given as a benefit (or reward), or to an employee who is on the phone a lot, constantly annoyed by their co-workers and complains to their boss about it (in other words, the squeaky wheel at the company). So if you want these, start squeaking!
Grade: 5 stars (out of five)
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