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Review: Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth Headset – Part 2

PLANTRONICS-SAVI-&-VOYAGER-PRO-UCIn part one of this review I examined the use of the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC in mobile applications. In this chapter I’ll share my experience using it in my office for computer-bound applications.

Given that I still have the Plantronics Savi Go headset in my home office I felt that at least theoretically the Voyager Pro UC presented me with more opportunities for mobile applications. After all, the Savi Go is a Class 1 Bluetooth device with a one hundred foot range that covers my workspace completely. The Savi Go sounds good and I like the convertible wearing options. In general, I didn’t feel that I needed something better for office-bound activities.

Nonetheless, most people will buy one headset for use both in the home office and with their mobile phone. Thus I felt it only appropriate to explore the use of the Voyager Pro UC around my home office.

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Review: Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth Headset – Part 1

Preface: I’m taking a little different approach with this review. Plantronics offers the Voyager Pro headset in several versions; the Voyager Pro targets the common portable application accompanying mobile phones, while the Voyager Pro UC extends it reach to use with soft phones or Unified Communications (UC) clients on computers. Since these use cases might be considered separately I’ve decided to offer the review in two parts, one addressing each use case specifically.

PLANTRONICS-SAVI-&-VOYAGER-PRO-UCWhile I have tried a number of Bluetooth headsets over the years, I’ve found that most are seriously disappointing. Until relatively recently I had simply given up on trying to find a Bluetooth headset that would meet my needs.

In the fall of 2009 Plantronics gave me a Savi Go Bluetooth headset to use in the presentation that I was developing for Astricon. Given the project at hand I had some very specific needs, including wideband audio capability to compliment a SIP soft phone. The new generation of cordless headsets targeting “Unified Communications” application seemed like a good match for my needs. “UC” implies wideband audio.

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Bluetooth Headsets: Style vs. Function

Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura, the original wireless headset goddess Let me lay before you a simple premise; people who habitually wear a wireless headset in public are often viewed as Geeky, Nerdy or very possibly even Dorky. The trouble isn’t the technology, but rather the question of its use, and abuse in various circumstances. Whether wearing such a headset is socially acceptable depends largely upon situational context. I’ve mentioned this once before.

To wear a wireless headset is most often a matter of convenience, only occasionally a matter of necessity. I accept that there are states where such tools are mandated for use while driving. I applaud such laws, and further think that a driver should not be allowed to operate a cell phone in any manner while a car is in motion.

Actually, I suspect that such headset laws are the result of intense lobbying by a secret cartel formed by the world’s leading headset manufacturers. It seems fairly obvious to me that Plantronics, Jabra, Motorola and maybe Jawbone form a kind of headset-axis-of-something-or-other.

Seriously, someone should look into this.

As ever, I digress.

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The Question Of Sidetone

Just a couple of days ago I received an email asking about side-tone. Marshall Wilgard asks;

“A VoIP expert has written that he would never buy an IP phone that did
not have “sidetone” in the handset because he would want to hear a
little of his own voice when he talked.  The Grandstream phones I use
do “not” have sidetone.  Do you believe that sidetone is important?  And
if so, which brands of IP phones have sidetone?”

As you note, sidetone is the mixing of a little of the users voice into the earpiece such that they can hear themselves as they speak. I believe that sidetone is critically important to comfortable user experience with a phone.

It’s very unnatural to not hear yourself, or hear yourself from another acoustic perspective, as you engage in conversation. Without sidetone you sound like you are very far away even though the other party sounds very near. It’s an inversion of acoustic perspective that can be discomforting.

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Deep Geek: Audio Beam-Forming In The Real World

Have you ever encountered something that seems a little odd, then find that you are in fact surrounded by examples if it in your daily life. So it is with “Beam Forming.” You may never have heard of it, but it’s all around you, and it’s more than a little interesting.

Wikipedia tells use that, “Beam forming is a signal processing technique used in sensor arrays for directional signal transmission or reception.” It is essentially a way of using an array of omnidirectional sensors to synthesize directionality.

Cast into the audio domain beam forming is a way to use the signals from multiple omnidirectional microphones to create the equivalent of a direction microphone. Further, since the process is based upon signal processing, it can be variable. It can create the equivalent of an electronically steerable microphone, complete with the ability to “zoom” in or out. It’s not unlike a zoom lens for sound.

Sounds cool, right?

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Wired Headset Happiness: The Return Of ETY.COM

Despite the fact that I have a couple of very good wireless headsets I still find that a wired headset can be handy. This is true both in the office and on the road. While lately I’ve been traveling with a Plantronics Voyager Pro UC cordless headset I also keep an Etymotic ETY.COM wired headset in a my laptop bag.

I’ve mentioned the Etymotic ETY.COM wired headset previously. It remains my favorite wired headset for mobile use. It sounds great and has a boom that reaches around to the corner of my mouth, which is ideal for use in a noisy environment.

However, since I changed cell phones back in November 2009 I’ve not been able to use the ETY.COM with my cell phones. Whereas the Blackberry Pearl has a four conductor 2.5mm jack for the wired headset, the newer Blackberry Bold2 (9700) has a larger 3.5 mm headset jack. The ETY.COM doesn’t fit the 9700 without an adapter.

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