Recap of Part 1
In Part 1 of this series, I spoke about the benefits of using Lync Optimized devices and why it is important to use quality devices. I then continued and provided an overview and review of the Plantronics W440-M cordless DECT headset and why it is high on the awesome meter. It is portable with good range and accessories such as spare batteries that are hot swappable to provide the battery life that information workers require.
Part 2, the Blackwire C435-M
A word about Corded headsets
I will now switch gears and talk about a new corded headset that I received. I have gone through multiple iterations of devices through my bag over the last 5 years. Since my previous role in sales for OCS/Live Meeting and into Lync, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to sample a number of devices. Customers would frequently ask me about what devices I use every day. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a loyal fan of the Jabra 9350 but it has since been usurped by the W440-M as my favorite cordless device and I have since given my 9350(s) away. The problem with the Jabra 9350 is that it wasn’t portable. That required me to have an “everyday” type of device for when I was away from my home office. As I said previously, I was never a real fan of Bluetooth (BT) headsets with OCS/Lync so that left me with corded devices. When it comes to corded devices, the mobile professional is generally left with 3 options:
- Corded Headset
- Corded Phone/candy bar “style” devices (such as the Jabra Dial 520, Plantronics P210-M and the Calisto P240-M)
It is the first item on the list that I will be discussing here. Corded headsets generally come in 2 styles, Mono and Stereo. My personal preference has been for mono headsets when dealing with telephony headsets. Additionally, “optimized for Lync” continues to be critical to ensure that drivers and device quality are maintained. There is no excuse for not using an “optimized for Lync” headset. Travel “pouches” were typically included with the headsets to attempt to easy the portability of the device when it is “tossed” into a laptop bag. Some headsets continue to offer a pouch for travel. I’ve been ok with that, but those pouches don’t necessarily protect the headsets from abuse inside of the laptop bags that carry the headsets. A tougher case could provide a safer environment for the headset when in a bag that could take abuse. Especially considering what travel is like these days.
The Blackwire line of headsets from Plantronics represents 4 different lines of headsets that have been optimized for Microsoft Lync. The Blackwire C435-M is my first hands on experience with a Plantronics Blackwire headset. I’ve had the opportunity to sample numerous other devices from Plantronics and with few exceptions, I have never been disappointed. The C435-M comes in very small and simple packaging. The reality is that the headset doesn’t require much packaging. It is extremely straightforward:
The C435-M comes with the headset, interchangeable ear pieces and a travel case.
The headset has an interchangeable configuration that allows for either a mono or a stereo connection. The headset comes from Plantronics in a stereo configuration. However, the junction where the ear buds connect allows you to disconnect the ear bud without a microphone to put the headset in a mono configuration.
When you disconnect the junction, there is a cover that allows you to have a mono configuration and protect the junction from exposure to the elements.
The call controls are available in-line. The standard controls are available, volume control, mute and hang-up and call control (hang-up and connect). This headset has controls that work across any softphone. The call controls have visible light indicators so that you get visual cues as to whether the line is muted and when the line is open. I had the opportunity to utilize this headset with both Lync and Skype. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the call controls were available in both softphone applications.
The audio quality of the C435-M was outstanding. Audio quality was terrific in all calls. That is to be expected since the C435-M supports enhanced wide-band audio. Phone calls in Lync and in Skype sound outstanding, even when making calls to the PSTN. The over the ear design of the ear bud makes it inconspicuous when making video calls. I was very impressed with the audio quality both for music and for phone calls. The interchangeable ear cushions give options for different ear sizes.
The Blackwire C435-M is an outstanding headset. I was impressed from the time I opened the package to the time that I used it for my first call. As I have said before, Plantronics gets the mobile worker and the carrying case for the 435 is really helpful and outstanding for travel. It is my new favorite corded headset and is now travelling with me in my computer messenger bag which is saying something because I have been travelling with a Jabra Biz 2400 for the last 2 years and have been endorsing it to customers for some time. I have now been telling my customers that I have replaced it with this headset. I truly have been converted.
It should be noted that folks who aren’t happy with ear bud design headsets should likely review another Blackwire headset. Plantronics has 4 different lines of Blackwire headsets, the C435-M may not be the one for you. If you are able to handle the ear bud design of a headset, then I cannot recommend this headset enough. Information workers using Skype or Lync can truly benefit from the flexible design and the extremely portable design. If audio quality is what you look for both for softphone and music, the C435-M is definitely for you.