Revisiting The Plantronics Voyager Pro UC

Plantronics-Voyager-Pro-UC-MDA-300px I’d like to thank William for pointing out the relatively new Plantronics MDA200 interface device. Introduced in October of this year the MDA200
is a device intended to “UC enable” existing USB connected Plantronics headsets.

In the case of a wired headset, like the .Audio or Blackwire series, it allows a headset to be easily switched between use with a desk phone and a soft phone on a computer.

In the case of a Bluetooth headset with a USB interface it allows three-way connectivity between a desk phone, computer and cell phone. That’s very interesting indeed.

For over a year the Voyager Pro UC has been my favorite Bluetooth headset, earning its place in my laptop bag. With the addition of the MDA200  and an EHS cable the Voyager Pro UC can be used with my Polycom desk phones, including the VVX series.

All of this makes me think that the Voyager Pro UC, MDA200  & EHS cable might be  a more cost-effective solution than a premium DECT headset like the Sennheiser DW Pro Series or Jabra 9400 Series.

When I found the MDA200 available online for around $90 I couldn’t help myself, I simply had to order one and give it a try. I’ll have to source the proper EHS cable for our Polycom phones as well.

MDA-200_B230_590x407

There are a number of Voyager Pro headsets amongst my coworkers. If the MDA200 works well I can gift it to one of our staff who will doubtless find it a treat. In fact, we might eventually need a few.

To be able to use one cordless headset seamlessly with a company issued SIP hard phone, Skype and a cell phone is profoundly convenient. Who wouldn’t appreciate that flexibility?

The one down side to this combination is cordless range. The Class 2 radios in the Voyager Pro series provide only around 16 feet of wireless range.

If the MDA200 were paired with a class 1 Bluetooth headset like the Savi Go then we might enjoy as much as 100 feet of cordless freedom. Or perhaps use it with the Savi W430 USB connected DECT headset and go ever further. In that case the DECT radio gives up the ability to connect to a cell phone.

Yes, the MDA200 is a very interesting device. I’ll certainly have more to say about it once I’ve actually had it on my desk for a few days. That presumes that I also get a few days to spend at my desk, which hasn’t been the case in recent weeks.

Disclosure: Sometimes manufacturers provide me with samples of their products for evaluation. Plantronics has occasionally done this in the past. In other cases, like the MDA200, I purchase the device outright acting wholly without the manufacturers knowledge. However the hardware is sourced, the manufacturer has no advance access to any post or review, nor the ability to alter its content.

  • William

    Thank you for mentioning me!!

    The proper EHS cable is the Plantronics APP-50. I ordered it from amazon for about $50. Theoretically also the Plantronics APP-5 will work. The difference is that the 50 has the RJ and 2.5mm plug glued together, whereas the 5 has two separate cables.

    I would also like to point out that you can use the MDA200 without a computer being on if you buy the extra power supply. The manual makes no mention of this. The manual also does not tell you what power supply part number is compatible with the MDA200. According to the Plantronics support forum http://soundingboard.plantronics.com/t5/Voyager-PRO/MDA200-with-Voyager-PRO-UC-v2/td-p/17404 “The part number is: 86079-01”. I was not able to find this power supply anywhere.
    After some further email communication with Plantronics tech support they told me that the output voltage is 9V 900mA. I happened to have on old 9V Plantronics power supply from a CS headset system that had a compatible plug. The MDA200 has been working fine with this power supply. I believe it might be this one http://www.plantronics.com/us/product/ac-power-supply

    • Thank you for pointing out the MDA200. I also ordered one from Amazon. It arrived Tuesday. I ordered the APP-50 EHS cable today. Will have more to say about the combination once I’ve had some time to play.

      I described the combination to a coworker who uses a Voyager Pro with his Blackberry & laptop. He’s eager to extend it’s use to his Polycom Soundpoint IP550 as well.

      It will be interesting to see how the combined cost of the MDA200, EHS cable & headset compares to a competitive system.

  • Ed Miller

    I was beginning to get really interested in this Plantronics headset, but then I headed over to the Plantronics forums and discovered complaints that the battery lasts only about 18 months. Moreover, the battery cannot be replaced whether by the user or under a service program.

    The headset seems to retail for around $150, so that could get pretty expensive over time, even assuming MDA200-compatible headsets continue to be available.

    I just hate devices that do not allow battery replacement. It’s not just the money, it’s the fact that it can limit the useful life of the overall solution one has chosen.

    • OK, but are you aware of any Bluetooth headsets that have user replaceable batteries? None of the BT headsets that I’ve used over the years have user replaceable batteries. It’s a question of the small form factor and the fact that they use customer size/shape batteries that can’t even be accessed. The devices simply don’t open up.

      When I asked Plantronics about this a while ago they told me that, at least in the case of the Savi Go, they would replace the headset at a significant discount when that battery life was no longer acceptable. I expect that such a policy is more likely the case with more costly SMB/Enterprise devices than their cheaper consumer parts. The Voyager Pro series straddles that line, some being a consumer play while others SMB focused.

      • Ed Miller

        A quick web search suggests there are some, but I take your point about custom-size rechargeable batteries being part of the design/form factor. I think it is worth highlighting, however, because $150 is quite a lot to drop on a device with an 18-24 month life, especially if you plan to accessorize it with an MDA-200 and a hook-switch cable etc.

        In exchange for “replaceability”, I imagine I would accept a trade-off around battery-life and form factor, but it’s hard to know in the abstract.

        • I’d think that the anticipated lifespan of the product is around 24-36 months, which makes the battery less of an issue for a typical user. Heavy users may be more concerned.

  • karollggomes

    It’s great to see an article on MDA200. The combination of it with 50 EHS cable is brilliant & I’m excited to use it. I also recommend to use this for any other interested readers. It looks like a true IT solution is around the reader’s corner.