Plantronics recently introduced four new UC (unified communications) audio devices designed to deliver exceptional audio quality and noise management technology to help people effectively communicate and collaborate, regardless of workplace or location. Of course the one QTOOTH is most interested in is the wireless Bluetooth headset Voyager Edge UC. The other three offerings are the Blackwire 725-M, the company’s first UC stereo headset with Active Noise Canceling (ANC) for those people who want to stay focused in noisy office environments; the Calisto 610, a portable speakerphone for instant anywhere conferencing, and the Clarity 340, designed for those who face vision, hearing, or dexterity challenges. Now, workers in the office and on the road have tools they can use to control outside noise that allow them to hear as well as be heard clearly.
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“There’s been increasing emphasis on the importance of a reliable, high-quality, seamless user experience when communicating and collaborating today, and rightly so,” said Rich Costello, senior research analyst, unified communications, IDC. “The new Plantronics offerings not only address these important requirements, but also the surrounding noise factor on both sides of the call.”
“Everywhere is the new workplace. We know office noise is increasingly becoming a concern due to more open working environments that promote collaboration, but workplace noise isn’t just a problem for those in the office,” said Bill Loewenthal, vice president, enterprise product solutions, Plantronics. “You can’t always control your environment and you certainly can’t control your caller’s environment, so we help ensure workers have solutions they need to block out the noise, allowing them to have a high-quality communication experience wherever their workplace is.”
The shift to Smarter Working-style environments, though undoubtedly beneficial, creates new noise challenges for individuals and their colleagues which can often undermine productivity gains. The following are Plantronics’ new solutions that address the inherent ambient noise challenges and potential audio quality concerns associated with today’s Smarter Working scenarios and environments:
Voyager Edge UC
New wearing style for mobile UC users who need to be heard and want to use their Bluetooth® enabled communications devices (laptop, smartphone or tablet) together. The solution includes a small Bluetooth USB dongle that provides seamless wideband audio to your laptop. The latest addition to the Voyager line features a slim, sophisticated design that fits quickly and comfortably in your ear and comes with its own portable charging case. It boasts signature Plantronics audio technology that eliminates disruptive background noise and includes intuitive, responsive features that keep you moving by automatically answering calls as you place it on your ear.
The point of UC, or Unified Communication, is that one device can seamlessly work among several different communication sources, automatically switching from one to the next. This comes in handy especially in work situations, where you might be taking calls on your cell phone, your office phone system, and your computer using platforms like Skype or Microsoft Lync. In fact, there are actually two models available: the Voyager Edge UC and the Voyager Edge UC-M. If you haven’t guessed already, the “M” in the second model means it is compatible with Microsoft’s “soft phone”, over-the-pc, communication platforms. It’s a real treat to be listening to music one moment, taking a call on your phone, going back to your music, then joining an online conference call… all without having to reconfigure your system or re-pairing Bluetooth to the next device. Plantronics definitely has this experience down with the Voyager Edge UC.
Smart Sensor Technology
The Voyager Edge has built in Smart Sensor technology that senses when you have put the headset on and will automatically answer calls from either computer or mobile calls. When the headset is not worn, it automatically routes incoming mobile calls to your phone. Then, if you simply put the headset back on, your calls are automatically transferred back to the headset. If you want, any time you are wearing the headset and are on a mobile or computer call, your softphone service will automatically update your availability status.
One great feature of the Smart Sensors that we really appreciate is the call button is automatically locked when the headset is not worn. This eliminates any classic accidental “pocket dialing” that may occur, and certainly has for us, with other headsets.
We also really like the fact that our media pauses playback as soon as we take a call. It doesn’t work with all media players, but it certainly does with iTunes and other major media playback programs on the market. Pretty cool, though, to jump right back into the music, podcast, or ebook that we were listening to before we were so rudely interrupted… by work, no less!
Throwing in a charging case is something that Plantronics has been doing for a while with all of their premium headsets. It’s a great idea and we wish more companies did it. Most headsets of this quality are in very similar price ranges. The amazing thing is that Plantronics is doing this without charging you any more than their closest rivals do. The benefit? The headset typically has a talk time of 6 hours on its own. But if you store it in the case, which is more like a quick-deploy holster than a case, it is easy to get 16 hours of talk time before needing to plug in the headset or the case. There is also a cool little storage space for the USB dongle (more about the dongle in a moment). A thoughtful detail is the addition of a on-demand visual battery status indicator for both the headset and the case. Since between the two of them there is quite abit of charge time it’s easy to forget that they do indeed need to be recharged. The display is helpful in anticipating when to recharge before it’s too late.
The audio quality in our tests has been great. They rate the background noise cancellation to work in environments of up to 80 decibels. We’ve found that to be easily true, at least from the receiving caller’s end. Even when it was too loud, easily above 80 decibels, for us to hear our caller, they said that they still had good results in understanding us. Be advised, although listening to music on the Voyager Edge UC is better than acceptable, that is not the ultimate use target of this device. Everything about it is designed to provide the best speech quality available. It does just that quite well.
Bluetooth USB Mini-Adapter
Plantronics has started to call this a “mini-adapter” versus a dongle. We’re cool with that. Most people who are super-techy may not be familiar with what a dongle is anyway! Either way, this adapter provides a better connection to your computer and helps allow for the seamless transition between one device to the next. It’s small enough to keep plugged into your computer’s USB port all the time, but it also has a cool compartment to itself in the charging case (as mentioned above).
The Voyager Edge has built in A2DP, which let’s you listen to streaming media from all of your Bluetooth devices, including songs, video, turn-by-turn navigation and more.
As all wearable tech and the Internet of Things (IoT) is moving in the direction of more voice control than ever anyway, it is good to see more commands being integrated into these devices to control their own behavior and functionality. This includes using your voice to answer incoming calls, check battery level/talk time, redial, put the headset in pairing mode, and more. There are also very handy voice alerts that tell you important things, like an incoming caller’s name (mobile only), remaining talk time, connection status, battery level, maximum, minimum, and mute levels, and more.
As we mentioned above, the Voyager Edge UC battery allows for up to 6 hours of continuous talk time with an additional 10 hours of non-continuous when paired stored in the case between calls. The headset by itself also has an impressive 7 days of standby time.
The Voyager Edge UC is quite comfortable, especially considering its size. The Voyager does not have the smallest of form factors when it comes to its physical presence. Luckily, it comes in at a mere 9 grams. That’s very competitive to other headsets out there that are also of the “on ear” design. by on ear, we mean that it mounts by wedging itself between the folds of cartilage on either side of the ear passage.
There are pluses and minuses, of course, to its overall shape and design. The headset has a longer and larger mic boom than many “on-ear” mounted headsets, but overall it feels quite balanced and allows for faster mounting and removal of the headset, which can easily be done one-handed. Part of the reason why the audio quality is better on this design with a longer mic boom arm is because the microphone is that much closer to the mouth of the user. However, because the longer mic arm moves some of the weight further away from the ear mount, it acts as a bit of a lever and may add a bit more fatigue to the soft parts of the ear that bear the weight. Once again, this is a slight issue at most and probably only relevant for those who wear the headset for extended periods of time.
he Voyager Edge UC is also protected against moisture damage by its P2i technology. P2i is a nano-coating applied during manufacturing and results in invisible liquid repellent properties and is intended to make the headset more reliable.
Now here’s something we don’t usually see out of Plantronics. Most of their devices,as Henry Ford once famously said, come in “any color you want… as long as that color is black”. Plantronics actually offers the Voyager Edge UC in three colors: black, gray and white:
There is a lot to love about the Plantronics Voyager Edge UC. To find out more about the vast ecosystem of support and apps that can leverage all that this headset can offer you might want to check out the comprehensive article we did on the Voyager Legend UC. Otherwise, this is a great choice for anybody who is on the move and needs a no-fuss headset to get it done.