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Prescribing The Ideal Bluetooth Headset For A Small Office

Recently someone found this site while hunting around for insight about the ideal headset for their small office. Not finding exactly the answer they were looking for they emailed me the following note.

I came across your blog and I love it. I run a digital agency from my home office in Manhattan, and I’m looking for a high quality over-the-head boom mic bluetooth headset to use on my late-model Android phone for client calls. Despite all my research, I can’t seem to find a really good high quality boom mic bluetooth headset. I purely want to use this in my home office, as do several of my freelancers who also work from home. Any suggestions? Cost isn’t the issue, quality is what I care about most.

Thank you,

Zachary

Well, Zachary, thanks for the kind words. I can see that we share a common belief that it’s worth the effort to communicate well. I share your frustration with respect to the kind of tool that you’ve been seeking. The solution isn’t obvious, but I can offer you some guidance nonetheless.

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Skype Offers Tips For Improved Audio and Video Quality

Skype-Jabra-Jims-book-300pxMatthew de Beer has penned a couple of recent blog posts over at Skype’s The Big Blog. The most recent one is called, “See no evil, hear no evil – Tips for audio and video quality” and offers some sounds advice on the use of the mute button. It also offers guidance on lighting considerations for video calls. These are both simple, but helpful tips.

I’m constantly amazed at how many people have video calls in a completely ad hoc manner, giving no thought at all to how they look, or the situation around them. A little thought about lighting can dramatically improve your experience with video calling.

Mr. de Beer also had an earlier post entitled, “Gearing For Success.” In this case he promotes the use of a headset over the built-in microphone & speakers common to a laptop.  I concur, but I would make the case more fervently.

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Holiday Gift Idea: Jabra SPEAK 410 USB Speakerphone

Jabra SPEAK 410 USB SpeakerphoneOk, you’re here, so that makes you something of a geek. Perhaps you have another telephony geek in your life, or your family are asking for a Christmas list. Whatever the case, a good USB speakerphone is really handy and makes nice present.

I’ve used a number of these things over the years. For the past few months I’ve had a Jabra SPEAK 410 on the corner of my desk.

Little round-and-loud has proven to be a solid performer. I’ve used it to participate in Google Hangouts, with Skype and GotoMeeting as well as various SIP soft phones. You might have seen me show it in a recent VUC call with Logitech. Whatever the client software, in every case it worked well. It sounds great to my ear and conveys my voice clearly to the far end.

The microphone is omni-directional, effective to about one yard. That makes the SPEAK 410 ideal for desk use, even if you have a person on either side of the desk.

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The Questionable Economics Of EHS Cables & Lifters

If you spend a lot of time on the phone then I believe that you need a proper headset. Many headsets require some form of interface hardware to connect to a desk phone. Many IP phones, like my Polycom Soundpoint IP series, require the use of an “Electronic Hook-Switch” (aka EHS) cable or a mechanical lifter.

A mechanical lifter is a Flintstone-like approach to hook switch control by purely mechanical means. It literally lifts the handset to take the phone off-hook, replacing it down again to hang up the call. To me this is essentially a kind of telephony steam punk.

Moving to 21st century methods, an EHS cable allows some aspect of the headset to control the hook state of the phone electrically. That is, it allows you to answer or hang up a call using switching that’s built into the headset. This may be true with both wired and wireless headsets.

To be blunt, lifters and EHS cables just aren’t cheap. The few times that I’ve had to buy an EHS cable it cost in the $50 – $80 range. That’s a considerable price when compared to the cost of the headset or the desk phone itself.

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Can You Hear Me Now? Headset vs Speakerphone In The Home Office

Headset vs Speakerphone Every time you make or receive a phone call it’s for a reason; there’s a point to be made, something to be communicated. Communicating effectively is critically important in business.

Anything that helps to make your message more clearly gives an advantage. Inversely, anything that makes it more difficult to communicate is, in reality, a threat to your business. This principle should be your guide as you select equipment for your small office or home office.

When considering home office telephony the technologically inclined often get bogged down in debate about the use of traditional phone service vs various forms of IP telephony. This is a big issue, with many complexities to be considered. However, there is a simpler issue that can have a dramatic impact on the enhancing your ability to communicate clearly; do you have a good headset?

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