Part 3 – New Year, New Devices

Recap

In the first 2 parts of this series, I extolled the virtues of the W440-M cordless DECT headset and then the Blackwire C435-M. Both are outstanding headsets and both have their place. Specifically, they both have their place in my laptop bag as my choices for both Lync and Skype as telephony devices. The final installment of this series of product reviews will be about the Calisto P240-M “handset” from Plantronics.

The Calisto P240-M

Plantronics recently released the Calisto P240-M. It is the well-designed successor to the P210-M (available for OCS) and competitor to the Jabra Dial 520. I am often asked why folks would want to use the form factor represented by this device. The answer is very simple, some users require the feeling of a handset form factor when making phone calls, but also want portability that they cannot get from a device such as the Calisto 540 or Polycom CX300. My personal reason for carrying this device in my bag is simple, it’s a small device that I put in my bag and leave there, and you can see below that the form factor and packaging are quite succinct:

I leave it in my bag and those days that I am at the coffee shop and don’t have scheduled calls; I will plug this device in. Now I have a phone that I can use for those ad-hoc calls. Audio quality is great due to the support for wideband that comes with all of the Lync optimized devices and I am really happy glad to see some of the improvements over the P210-M.

Device Improvements

If you look at both devices side by side, some of the changes look pretty obvious (the P240-M is on the right)

You can’t tell from the pic I took with my WP7, but the new P240-M is significantly thinner than the P210-M. The biggest noticeable change is the addition of the LCD screen. The competing Jabra Dial 520 is a much smaller/thinner device from the P210-M and has an LCD display so the thinner form factor and LCD display are welcome changes. The P240-M also makes available a full-duplex speakerphone which is enabled by a switch on the side of the device. The opposite side of the device has volume control. The absence of the ringer switch is somewhat disappointing. I enjoyed being able to just switch off the ringer when I wanted some peace. Now you have to navigate some menus on the display to disable the ringer, not quite as convenient. I also enjoy the fact that the Plantronics device actually HAS a ringer. The Jabra Dial 520 doesn’t have a ringer. That was a significant oversight and was the reason I preferred the Plantronics over the Jabra, despite the size and screen.

This device was designed for the mobile worker so it goes without saying that its extremely convenient to carry. That said, the P210-M was also designed for the mobile worker and it wasn’t nearly as convenient to carry as the P240-M is today.

Operation

Using the P240-M is pretty straightforward. The phone rings and you answer it. There is a green button on the left to answer or take the phone off-hook and a red button on the right to hang the phone up. It’s a familiar interface seeing as it has been used on cell phones for the last 15 years. The action buttons right underneath the LCD are to navigate the menu for controlling ring volume and other options and there are up/down buttons to assist in navigation as well. As I have stated, audio quality is good of course because it is a wideband audio device. The only caution I would make is that long phone calls could get uncomfortable since you are holding this device up to your ear, but it wouldn’t be any more uncomfortable than your mobile phone. If you are a pacer on long calls (like me), then you might get some anxiety if you are on a long call with the P240-M since you are tethered to your PC. However, I am a big fan of using the right device for the right call. If I am going to be on a long call, then I want either the Backwire 435-M OR the Savi W440-M. I would prefer the 440-M since I am a pacer, but there is the off chance I have a battery issue in which case I would go to my “steady always ready” wired headset.

Wrap-Up

The P240-M is not going to be the device for everyone. I know that this form factor has been popular in Europe and as a mobile worker, I am pleased with the form factor. I am grateful for the design changes that went into the P240-M, the thinner form factor and LCD screen are great additions and I like the speakerphone capability as well. I am disappointed in not having the ringer on/off switch, but that isn’t stopping me from carrying this device. I would prefer to have a ringer than not.

If you find yourself working from ad-hoc locations like coffee shops/bookstores/local supermarket and don’t like having to rely on a headset for simple ad-hoc calls, I would contact your Plantronics representative and take this device for a spin. I think you will be very happy.

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About scavali

20 years of Information Technology experience, including 15 with Microsoft Services and Sales to some of the largest and smallest companies in the world, give me some unique perspective on the technology industry as a whole. Now I am the Unified Communications Practice Manager for Janalent, 2 time UC Worldwide Partner of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Combine that with my passion for photography, scuba diving, all things Key West and my time volunteering with the Madison, NJ Fire Department and you will find an eccletic combination of thoughts and experiences conveyed on this blog. Please contribute, I value people's productive feedback.
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