Being productive at work means you need to multitask. To do that at the office, you need both hands free. That means wearing some kind of headset to make and receive calls and for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been using the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC. This is a premium headset, featuring active noise cancelling, wireless bluetooth stereo audio, charging dock and comfort and looks to match the relatively steep price.
Before we get to the value for money equation, we need to break down what the device is, how it works and then assess if you should pony up the cash and buy it over alternatives.
When it comes to the looks of your headset, its not often something business customers pay a lot of attention to. But we live in a world where personal lives are invading the business world and if you’ve spent $300 on monster headphones, its unlikely you’ll be happy with the $30 supplies headset by corporate.
The Voyager Focus looks fantastic, with its slim design, black red and silver colours and subtle touches like charging and bluetooth LEDs make the whole package something you’re co-workers will envy. After posting photos of the review product on social media, I was quickly met with compliments about how good it looks.
While looks are one thing, ultimately the success of a product like this will be how well it functions.
The metal band at the top of the headset, features 10-step adjustments on each side, making it easy to adjust to your personal head size. The stereo on-ear earmuffs swivel a full 180 degrees, helping them fit your head, hovered it angles. Not all headphones offer this and as such can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. I’ve certainly found comfort to be fantastic and have worn them comfortably for 6hrs+ of an 8hr day at the office. The light weight (just 155grams) the headset also aids this endurance comfort.
The space on the back of each of the earmuffs has been used incredibly well. The left features play controls, as well as a volume rocker. That volume rocker also initiates voice prompts when you’ve reached the minimum and maximum volumes. To the bottom of the left ear piece, you’ll find an ANC switch, this is how you activate the Automatic Noise Cancelling, one of the best features of this headset. Plantronics understand that many workplace environments can be noisy, particularly those in open-plan offices and to let you block out the noise and focus on your work, you just flick a switch, too easy.
On the right you’ll find the on/off switch, the charge port and the flip down microphone. This microphone can rotate in both directions, so you can wear these backwards if that’s your personal preference. There’s a call pickup button in the center of this ear, which often is far easier than grabbing the mouse and navigating your way to the Skype dialog box to answer the call.
The microphone is a lot shorter than the other headsets and if there was a complaint, this would be it and my most severe recommendation for an improvement in future models. Getting the microphone to as close to the mouth is critical in achieving audio quality on the call and reducing ambient room noise.
While working away, you may need to get up to grab documents from a printer or refill the water bottle at the cooler, thanks to great Wireless range, these tasks were done successfully and the person on the other end of the call had no idea I’d moved from my desk. This wireless connectivity will let you move up to 30 meters away from the USB dongle connected to your PC and the headset will last around 12 hours.
The headset offers cordless freedom and to do that communicates with your PC through Bluetooth 4.1. This means its great on battery life, providing up to 14 days in standby mode, but most of the time you’ll have it docked unless you’re travelling. More importantly, Plantronics are able to push pretty stunning audio over that connection phone calls using Skype for Business, sound clear and crisp. From time to time, I’d ask callers to report on my audio quality and from the dozen or so people I asked, they all reported very positive things.
They use triple-mics with enhanced DSP for background noise cancelling. I did think the active noise cancellation, while noticeable, wasn’t as effective at stopping noise getting in as in-ear headphones or over the ear.
Generally listening to the audio coming from my PC, like music from Spotify, or Streaming video from YouTube, Foxtel Play or Netflix, all sounded great. For those whole love to listen to music while you work, the volume is certainly capable of going louder than is comfortable.
Price and Availability
The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is available now from Platronics website and partners. As a premium headset, you should expect to pay up. The Focus UC sells for between A231.83 and $309.20 on Shopbot.com.au
The Focus UC headset from Plantronics is without a doubt one of the best headsets I’ve had the opportunity to use. I’ve often been disappointed with headphones and headsets as they come dangerously close, but generally miss out on one or two critical aspects that ultimately leave me looking for something better. Thankfully after using this one for a few weeks, I’m happy to report this is a delight to use, ticking every box you need for a daily-use headset.
Are there headsets with better audio quality on the market, maybe, but what you won’t find is one that has such an extensive feature list and doesn’t come with a bunch of compromises. I’ve gone back and forward between in-ear, on-ear and over-the-ear headphones and headsets and the associated comfort issues that inevitably arise. If you’re after something that’ll last you through that marathon conference call without leaving you with sore ears, you found it.
My advice is to do whatever you need to do to convince your boss you need this headset. There’s plenty of cheaper headsets that are mono and wired and they’re priced accordingly. In many respects, this investment is one you or your company should make and forget about this problem for many years to come, the problem is solved with the Focus UC.
The UC version of the focus works with applications and softphones from Avaya, Cisco, Skype and more.