Plantronics Blackwire 710-M: Outstanding Quality and Comfort

Continuing my practice of evaluating the best in Unified Communications hardware, I have been provided a terrific opportunity to take a look at one of the newest headsets from Plantronics (thank you Debbie Bukosky).  Plantronics is in the process of launching several new UC Devices including the Voyager Legend (to be reviewed soon) and others.

The Blackwire series of headsets has continued to evolve into more comfort and easier control than past headsets.  While the trend has continued to move towards wireless technology, the reality is that despite everyone’s best efforts, there is still a big market for corded headsets and so it is important for corded headsets to evolve for a large user base.  What the 700 Series of headsets provides is the reliability of a corded headset, with the flexibility of a cordless headset AND the ability to pair multiple devices and offer different form factors based on the user preferences.

Smart Sensor Technology

Smart Sensor technology is exclusive to Plantronics. I’ve started playing with it and so my thoughts on it are still coming together, but thus far I have been impressed. The smart sensor technology in the headset automatically will answers softphone calls when the headset is put on. It is really convenient when you are rushing into your office to answer the phone and can’t put the headset on and click to answer the phone. The headset detects that it was put on and answer’s the call for you. If you are on your mobile phone and you have paired it with the headset, when you pick up the headset it will transfer the call to the headset from the mobile device. If you are listening to music, when you put down the headset it pauses the music. Pretty great stuff there.

What is included in the 700 Series

The Blackwire 700 series of headsets is the premium headset from Plantronics that allows for the ability to participate and manage calls on both your PC Softphone as well as mobile devices.  Bluetooth connectivity makes it possible to provide call control for your mobile device.  A2DP support makes it possible for the headset to serve as the audio endpoint for music streamed from your mobile device or tablet as well.  There are technically 4 models of the headset: the 710, 720, 710-M and 720-M.  The M series are optimized for Microsoft Lync and OCS.  The 710 headsets are monaural and the 720 headsets are stereo.  I was provided the 710-M for this evaluation

What’s inside?

The 710-M shipped easily enough with the headset.  The key is that it shipped with a hard case for storing the headset.

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The case provides ample room for the headset and the charging cord and zips up into a nice clamshell.  It might not seem like much, but the case is a pretty nice detail.  If you are desk bound and will have this connected to a traditional desktop, then it might not seem like a big deal, but how many times have you thrown your headset into a drawer and then tried to pull it out later only to have it tangled in a bunch of other cords.  Additionally, I have recently gotten feedback from colleagues that the headsets that they have today have nice carrying bags, but since the bags are soft, the headset gets smashed around their bag and ultimately breaks.  That nice hard clamshell case will prevent that for road warriors who want to take this on the road and want comfort in knowing they won’t pull out 2 pieces of a broken headset when they stop.

The call controls are pretty straight forward.

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A button (left) is for controls for the PC softphone.  On the right is the button for controls on the mobile device.  The middle device is the volume control and the mute button is on the bottom.  If you have the mute button activated, you get notification and frequent reminders via audio in the earpiece.

Headset comfort is provided via the earpieces that are very well padded

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The padding has made it easy for me to wear this headset for hours at a time (which I have done every day since I unboxed it Smile).  The audio range coming out of the headset is terrific.  I have used it to listen to music from my Nokia Lumia 920 while I’m sitting and working on documents between calls.

Microphone is a standard swivel boom microphone which has provided good audio quality.  I have continued to check with both softphone as well as mobile calls to ensure quality.

Speaking with people I am on the phone with, the feedback has been that audio quality is very good whether bluetooth to my mobile device or via the softphone.

Pairing your mobile device

When the 710 comes out of the box and you plug it in, the headset immediate goes into pairing mode on the bluetooth side.  If you aren’t ready to pair your device until later, the process is easy enough, put the headset on (so you can hear the audio prompts) but simply press on the mobile device button and hold it.  Eventually it will flash red and blue and you will get an audio prompt that it is in pairing mode.  With my WP8 lumia, pairing it was a snap.

WAIT, It’s Cordless TOO????!?!?!

When I plugged it into my PC for the first time, I noticed that the indicated for battery life came up in my system tray

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I didn’t understand what that was about.  What does a corded headset need a charge for?  Well, this is the real surprise that the Blackwire 700 series provides.  How about those calls when you need to get up to get a drink of water or answer the door, or get an answer from your colleague in a cube down the way?  Well, the 700 series has an answer to that. 

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At the top of the call controls, you can DISCONNECT the USB cable.  Got that, you can disconnect it and walk away. Do your thing and walk back.  You can reconnect when you are ready and the battery will charge while connected.  That goes for phone calls, music, whatever.  VERY NICE addition.

It should also be noted that I have used this headset with my Surface RT tablet.  no difference in usage except that I do not have the plantronics software on my tablet to provide me with the indication as to the current battery life.

Conclusion

The Blackwire 700 series headsets are a comfortable and extremely versatile solution for users that are deskbound as well as road warriors.  It might not be your everyday bluetooth mobile solution, but the reality is that by providing the cord to allow for direct USB power, but being able to go cordless as well is extremely useful and helpful to users.  The comfort is exceptional, so I absolutely recommend this headset to users out there.  I have been a fan of the Jabra premium corded headsets because of the BT support.  THIS headset trumps it with the ability to go cordless and now has a place in my bag moving forward.  

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Lync for Surface – First Look

What is Surface and why do I care?

I try to provide info based on what I have learned and experienced using a variety of products in the Microsoft UC platform space. Mostly, that info is around devices (and I do have a device to review, but in this case I will be looking at the Lync experience on the Surface tablet. If you haven’t seen the surface yet (because you have been in outer space or perhaps just woke from a coma) it is Microsoft’s direct foray into the tablet space. It combines the familiarity of Windows and the ease of use that the Windows Phone brought to the PC/Tablet world:

Properly using this device requires that applications be capable of delivering the experience in the “Windows 8 UI experience”.
Lync in this case delivers that in spades.

I received my Surface and the first 3 task I completed were:

  1. Update Office to RTM
  2. Install Skype
  3. Install Lync.

One of the things I was most pleased about was the fact that I could actually do work on this device. I’m writing this blog entry from Word 2013 installed on my Surface RT. Lync was extremely important for me to truly consider this a companion device.

User Interface’

The UI for the Lync Surface client is slick. Its sexy, it’s good for touch screens and it is exactly what Microsoft needs to release if Surface and Lync are going to be taken seriously.

As you can see, the interface is very touch friendly. Your presence and personal note are located in the upper right corner. Clicking on that opens your card where you can update your note, change your presence, change your call forwarding settings and log out,

The layout is optimized for Touch. Lync meetings are automatically available in the left hand corner along with tiles for voicemail, your contacts and your conversation history. You favorites are available via the center tile and your contact groups are available on the right.

Inside the contact groups, you can see that you get the photos as you expect.

As you select a contact you have the option of starting communications through modalities including IM/Voice and Video. The contact card is also available if you wish.

It’s a very familiar interface with comfort for a touch screen

How does it perform

I was a little skeptical at first about how it would perform, but when Joe and I did a video call from surface to surface, it was pretty impressive. The performance didn’t lag at all and the video quality was excellent. Having the ability to switch between the front and rear cameras was a nice touch as well.

Verdict

Overall, I found the client to be a terrific addition to the Lync family. My only disappointment is that I haven’t seen a way to share or participate in sharing session yet. I will have to update this further when I have been able to try that. I am going to hope that considering the iPad supports content sharing, that the Surface would support that as well.

 

Stay tuned.

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Lync 2013 Client–First Look

In the last couple of days, there have been a number of postings about the new preview for the 2013 release of products from Microsoft, specifically Lync 2013. Jeff Shertz has provided a very thorough discussion of Lync 2013 video interoperability here, and Chris Norman has written up a nice summary of why going Lync 2013 Standard for SMBs is going to be an improvement over Lync 2010 here. There are plenty of documentation and training links that I will write up at the end of this, but what I wanted to do here is spend some time going over some of the client changes based on my initial use over the past week.

Compatibility

So first things first, you will need to be able to use it or there is really no point is there J. Microsoft has posted a terrific set of documentation ahead of the release of Lync 2013. This alone is a terrific improvement and helps get IT Pro’s ahead of the curve. The Lync 2013 interoperability table provides a breakdown of the different clients going all the way back to Communicator and Live Meeting. The table will show compatibility with the different versions of Lync Server and OCS. Bottom line, you have to have Lync 2010 deployed at a minimum (or Lync Online) to be able to play with the Lync 2013 client preview. The Lync Web App (new to 2013) is only compatible with Lync 2013 server, so we will have to cover those capabilities in another posting.

How do you get the client?

I can’t explain exactly why, but right now, the only way to get the Lync client today is to install the Office 2013 Preview. I haven’t messed with the install for Office just yet, so I went ahead and dove in and installed all of Office 2013 Pro Plus. I found that I could install only Lync 2013 and it could co-exist with Lync 2010. The login screen and main UI look very much like the previous version of Lync with the nuances associated with the new Office 2013 UI

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As you see, there are a lot of similarities to the 2 clients. There are some nuance changes to the UI, in particular they have streamlined the UI a little bit. With Lync the development team was looking to make as much functionality available on the main screen without having to dive through menus. That theme is continued here in the 2013 client. Happily there aren’t any new menus. The real changes are in the UI during the different communications.

Tabbed IM

Folks who have been waiting for Tabbed IM will be happy to see that it is a standard feature in Lync 2013. Personally, I was never a real fan of it, so it will take some getting used to.

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In this implementation, the shortcut on the bottom left will take you direct to the unread message that you have. Of course, you also have the flashing indicator on the conversation that has unread messages as well. As I said, it will take some getting used to, but I doubt that it will be much of a learning curve. I like this implementation a lot more than the “tabbed converations” application that was available as part of the free downloads of the training and adoption kit for Lync 2010.

Some other Nice UI enhancements – Conferencing

It will require several more postings to cover all of the UI enhancements, so I am going to go through a couple of the nice things I noticed while I was participating in a conference using a federated partner’s conference center on Lync.

First, the UI is streamlined. Now I know I said that in Lync 2010 there was an effort to streamline the client experience, but the product team has done even more to make the client a more intuitive experience. I would encourage users to keep an open mind when trying the product. It WILL be different, especially if you are going from OCS R2 to Lync 2013 directly. The initial view of a conference with audio is pictured below:

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You have a view of the participants in the meeting. The IM Window is not immediately available because you are on an audio call, but you can see that IM is available for each of the participants. Audio is currently enabled with our mystery participant currently speaking, CDK User 21 muted and CDK User 22 unmuted. Video and other sharing is not currently available. The “Invite More People” button is more prominently displayed and you can see from the bottom buttons that my client is currently muted for audio. I can unmute easily by just clicking on the microphone. This view is known as the “compact view”.

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The other view is the speaker view as shown above. The speaker view is a more expanded view that includes the photos of the speakers:

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The active speaker is displayed as the large picture and your picture is displayed in the lower right.

Clicking on the phone icon (second icon in from the left) displays the phone controls for the audio portion of the conference

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The dial-pad view is initially displayed with the phone buttons and the controls to mute and hold controls. Unmuting your call can be accomplished through this screen, OR, by simply clicking on the mute icon in the compact view

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Switching from the dial-pad to the device view will offer the opportunity to change the current audio device in use

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I will need to spend more time with this. I’m not sure that this is an improvement over previous versions. I do like having access to the volume control and device selection through the one screen and that I still have the ability to mute/unmute as well as place the call on hold.

If you click the participant icon (on the right) you get the participant configuration options

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You have the option to hide the names of users, make everyone an attendee (very handy for internal meetings) preventing attendees from having video as well as muting an entire audience. A very nice set of selections that make this product much more friendly for larger meetings and webinars. My hope is that we will see an attendee support increase in Lync 2013 to support larger meetings than Lync 2010.

In Part 2 of this article, I’ll go over the presentation options and the video options. Lync 2013 offers a number of nice UI enhancements to both. In the meantime, look below for more details on Lync 2013 and visit the different blogs that I have hyperlinked in this session since the MVPs have taken the time to share information so you don’t have to figure it out yourself!!!

Client Comparison Tables http://technet.microsoft.com/library/gg425836(v=ocs.15)
Lync Web App supported platforms http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/library/gg425820(v=ocs.15)
Lync 2013 Technet preview http://technet.microsoft.com/library/gg398616(v=ocs.15)
Lync Developer Training http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/lync/gg394196

 

Keep Communicating!!

-Sam Cavaliere

Sam.cavaliere@janalent.com

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#Jabra Supreme UC, all about comfort for Bluetooth!!

Continuing to do my evaluation of different UC devices, I was recently made aware of the Jabra Supreme UC headset. As some folks know about me, I am not a huge fan of Bluetooth (BT) headsets. I have purchased cars that have integrated BT and have been really happy with those over the years so I have used them less and less. Additionally, I had used BT headsets originally when I got involved in UC because of the wireless flexibility. That was until the battery died on the headset with no warning and I lost my call. That said, the Supreme UC sounded like a good idea so, thanks to my friends at Jabra again (specifically, Kim Haymaker, thanks Kim J ) I was provided one to try and convince me that there is hope for BT for me. Let me just say, I’ve become a fan again; the Supreme UC has so far been Supreme for me.

How it comes

My Supreme UC came as part of the road warrior’s kit with a couple of other devices, the Speak 410 and the Jabra Freeway.

The contents are pretty straightforward: a charger, a PC cable, the headset and a second earpiece. Also part of my kit is the Jabra Link 350, the 350 is a USB device to provide the Bluetooth stack to pair to the Supreme UC

Right out of the box, my first concern is that the Link 350 is a standard size USB stick. This is a problem for me and initially a concern about the Supreme UC. The issue is that the size of the device prohibits me from leaving it in my PC on a semi-permanent basis. I would break it when I put it in my bag. Other vendors have already moved to nano sized USB sticks to prevent this from happening. What I understand now, is that Jabra has also done this and the Supreme UC is supposed to come with a pre-paired Nano sized USB Stick. This is good and so that concern is alleviated (although I don’t have that, so it does impact my ability to use it a little bit).

The actual headset layout is very simply laid out. There is a boom microphone that controls the On/Off of the headset. Close the boom, headset is off, open it, the headset turns on. I like it, simple.

The main button is on the whole side of the device and that is for answer/hang up. On the back there is a volume up and volume down button. Push them together and you can mute and un-mute the headset. I like having a button to press rather than randomly tapping on the headset to find the mute control J. On the boom mic there is a button on top of the mic. That button controls the voice command function of the headset. There are set commands to the headset such as “battery” to give you the remaining battery life, or “pair another device” since the headset will support being paired to 2 devices at once. A third command “phone commands” will allow you to use your phone voice commands through the headset. I have a Windows Phone, so I have built in commands that allow me to dial or text someone, etc. I use the “phone commands” to be able to make calls or send texts or have text’s read to me. I have been really impressed with that capability and have been really happy using the device for that reason. I’m finding that Jabra has more and more devices with the “Voice” function that allows you to leverage the voice command capabilities of your phone. That functionality has been consistent whether it was a speakerphone (like the Freeway) or a headset like the Supreme UC. Very nice.

What is the profile

I try to put perspective around devices. All Lync Optimized Devices offer superior audio quality and controls. What is important is that everyone’s taste is different. In this case, road warriors who are always on the go, your standard planes/trains/automobiles scenarios and are really fans of Bluetooth technology, the Supreme UC is a must try. I know folks who are fans of Jawbone, or perhaps my friends at Plantronics who also has some excellent UC BT headsets. The Jabra Supreme UC device has outstanding noise cancellation, but it’s the ergonomics that has really made me a fan. Many folks are not comfortable with earbuds and so standard BT headsets are uncomfortable when used for long periods of time. The Supreme UC has superior comfort because it has minimal ear insertion. It hooks over the ear with a lightweight hook, but then has a rubber cushion that just lays on the ear with 2 small nubs that “hook” the ear to remain stationary. I have left this on my ear for HOURS with no significant discomfort.

Conclusion

I have said that Jabra “brings it” to the mobile worker. The Supreme UC is just another example of Jabra working towards mobile user comfort. It is important that if you go the route of the Supreme UC headset that you ensure that you get the NANO USB device. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the USB stick or your laptop.

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Plantronics Smarter Working UC Toolkit – NOW ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE

Working in the Unified Communications space is just awesome if you love technology. Unified communications is a rapidly changing technology which is deep with competition. With the level of competition involved, it’s important to differentiate yourself to ensure relevance in the market. Otherwise, products quickly become obsolete or worse, completely forgotten. In the UC device space, this is more true than ever and so proactively assisting customers in their evaluation of technologies can make you very relevant quickly.

Enter the Smarter Working UC Toolkit

Plantronics introduced the “Smarter Working UC Toolkit” sometime back in 2011. The Toolkit is described in detail in the Plantronics datasheet for the Smarter Working UC Toolkit. I made it a point of going to the website to try and get the kit, and for those who haven’t seen it, the page looks like the picture included below:

I started to download it to my PC, but found that the collections of documents were all separate and there were different downloads. Then, to complete the download I had to fill out a form so I could expect a phone call from a Plantronics Inside Sales person, so I decided to forgo the toolkit and figured it was a piece of marketing more than something that I could leverage with my customers. In essence, I dismissed it. I admit it, I’ll own it, as friendly as I am with folks at Plantronics, I said, “nah, not this time”.

Last night I saw a tweet from the Plantronics team about the Smarter Working UC Toolkit App for iOS. I was interested because I was wondering what would be different about the iOS version of this tool that I really couldn’t easily peruse on my PC. Since it wasn’t going to hurt me any, I downloaded it to my iPad and since I had a short commuter flight to Vegas from San Diego I thought I would take the time to go ahead and start looking through the application.

Impressions

WOW. I am impressed with the content of the toolkit. I like the presentation of the application. The application has a similar look to the webpage, but obviously optimized for the iPAD.

As I sat and went through this app I found there were 2 things I really liked about this application:

  1. Its really easy to use and all of the necessary documents are included in the app download.
  2. While it’s a Plantronics app, the content isn’t Plantronics marketing material. Its genuine agnostic guidance for customers on evaluating devices for their users.

Yes, there is some material on the Plantronics device line. The setup guides are all about that, but as you look through the different phases of evaluation, it’s the kind of material that isn’t specific to Plantronics. Its general enough that you could use for any device evaluation. The different phases are covered with thoughtful material that would assist any IT Pro in conducting a UC device selection. Don’t misunderstand, there is material that is specific to Plantronics, but that is not the heart of this kit.

Conclusion

I wasn’t a big fan of the original website for the Plantronics UC Toolkit. The website had a good layout, but it was difficult to get the materials and documents that were included. The addition of the iOS application is outstanding and a productivity equalizer since all of the documents is downloaded with the package. Bottom line, if you are involved in a Unified Communications deployment, the materials that are passed to you as part of the Smarter Working UC Toolkit would absolutely be valuable.

Take a look, share your thoughts on the board.

Sam Cavaliere

SIP:scavaliere@Janalent.com

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Forefront Security for OCS now supports Lync!!!

Forefront Security for OCS Hotfix Rollup 4 was released at the end of March. The information on what was included in the hotfix is documented in the knowledge base for Microsoft here and Chris Norman has published a quick article on it as well http://voipnorm.blogspot.com/2012/04/forefront-security-for-lync-2010.html. So why am I adding to it, well I want to make sure that one thing that is mentioned in the KB for rollup 4 is highlighted. It is often seen that Forefront for Lync is a silver bullet for prevention of propagating malware via the Lync client. This is a huge step forward for Lync, but you want to make sure that you are not complacent. Security is always a multi-tiered approach and one solution is never enough. In this case the Forefront Security for OCS shows this to be true. You will see in the article that your clients are covered in Forefront for OCS so long as you have a 2 person IM conversation and you do a file transfer. As soon as you add a 3rd person, that changes and it is called out in the article. When you add that 3rd person, the session becomes a conference and as such it is no longer a peer to peer file transfer. Forefront Security will filter/scan a peer to peer file transfer, but NOT a file transfer via the conferencing service. It’s a small nuance for sure, but one that should be highlighted so there are no surprises moving forward.

 

Look for more product reviews coming soon!!!

 

Sam Cavaliere

Sam.cavaliere@janalent.com

Sip:scavaliere@janalent.com

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Jabra “Brings it” for teleworkers – The 9450 with Busylight!!!

I’m going switch back to devices again since I have some updates and new devices to discuss.  As folks have seen, I spent some time going over some of the Plantronics line of headsets. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding. Jabra, has a terrific line of headsets as well and today I will be talking about the Jabra 9450 Dect headset.

History Lesson

I have been involved in Microsoft Unified Communications for 5 years. In that time, I had the opportunity to not only see the Microsoft solution evolve from OCS->OCS R2-> Lync, but I have also been able to work with the different device manufacturers as well. The reality is that aside from one or two notable bombs, the reality is that the devices have been SOLID and have provided terrific durability and quality. This is a result of 2 things:

  1. The Optimized for Communicator/Optimized for Lync program. Device manufacturers who took the time to go through the certification have devices that have survived versioning of the product and have produced durable products.
  2. The manufacturers who are producing devices for OCS/Lync are not new to this business, they are not “fly by night” providers who spent 5 minutes building a hockey puck speakerphone. They build devices for a living and they build them to last. Jabra is a large player in this space and as such folks know and expect that when they buy from Jabra, they are getting a quality product.

Now that I have set that foundation, let me provide a quick evolution of the Jabra headset line to where we are today. In 2007 I received my “workhorse” headset. It was a Jabra 9350 headset designed for the office/home office worker. It was a DECT based headset with unmatched range, quality, durability and integration with OCS. I say durability because it was the staple on my desk in my home office for almost 5 years and my customers heard me sing its praises over and over again. In 2010, I was provided a real bonus. The 9350 had the ability to add a secondary battery charger and battery so that if you were on a marathon conference call, you could swap the battery, without losing the call, and the batter would charge in the charging stand. This was KILLER as I was on a marathon 10 hour conference call. This will tax the battery life of any headset. In my case at the 8 hour mark, I started to have issues, so I swapped the battery, no big deal.

The range of the 9350 was amazing. I often would be wandering all over my home during conference calls and the controls were amazing, I could quickly mute the device and have the notification in my ear to let me know that I was muted. Just a plain awesome and timeless product.

Introducing the Jabra 9450

So I told my friends Bob Knepp and Kim Haymaker at Jabra that I had been a fan of the 9350, but hadn’t seen anything new from Jabra around DECT and they quickly moved to remedy that. So I received my care package from Jabra and I will be doing some additional reviews, but I jumped on the opportunity to try out the 9450 because I am a HUGE DECT fan. I need the range since I am a teleworker and the clarity that comes from DECT just isn’t matched by Bluetooth. The 9450 is part of the Jabra Pro line of headsets which have very sophisticated base stations/docks. While I was unpacking it, I noticed the accessories that were available and it included a “busy light”. I was totally intrigued by that and Jabra sent me a sample of it. So, just to be clear, here is the package I was looking at:

What you can notice here is a couple of items, first the headset is very comfortable. It is an on the ear as opposed to in the ear. I’m a huge fan of that as well as the comfortable cushions that Jabra has started making standard on their headsets. This is more conducive to longer term wearing. What I mean is I can have this headset sitting on my hear all day and its comfortable. For me, an inside the ear headset is good, but its tough for me to wear all day. That’s why you won’t see me walking around with a Bluetooth headset all day.
Its tough on my ears. Understand that the over the head form factor can be swapped out for an over the ear, but the bottom line is that the cushion is still there which makes it very comfortable.

The controls that are visible on the dock are also well engineered. They are brightly visible during calls with a green indicator showing to indicate when the headset is in use, whether it is connected on the analog OR the PC connection, and there is a bright red indicator for when you are on mute (in addition to the in ear audible indicator). I really like the control on the dock for mute (there is a button there). I am not as big a fan of the on-headset controls. The sliding finger controls for audio and double tap for mute are a nice concept, but I have never been able to consistently make that work well for me. I was a bigger fan of the switch on the 9350 that you pushed up to increase volume, down to decrease volume and pressed in to control mute. With that said, the control on the dock is what I use more than anything. There are also controls to manually switch from the analog to softphone connections. I don’t use analog so mine is always set to softphone.

The headset charging is done via the cradle shown on the left of the above picture. Its magnetic so you can be sure that you are connected and a visual indicator as well. The footprint on the desktop is much sleeker than the 9350 which I like much better.

Setting up the headset is a no brainer. When you unpack and look at the back, you can see it isn’t very complicated.

There is a jack for the analog line, a jack if you wish to use this in conjunction with a headset lifter and a micro-USB connection to connect to a PC for softphone use. The green cable is plugged into a port that is normally covered, that is the port that controls the busy light that I will speak more about shortly. The package comes with a CD with Jabra’s software. I do not have a DVD player in my production work laptop, so I opted to install the Jabra software from Jabra’s website. The software includes their call manager software, the device service (which offers automatic firmware downloads as they become available) and a control center for managing softphone software and the overall device.

I use the headset with both Lync as well as Skype and have been very pleased with the integration available to both. In particular, the one item that has caused me some trouble on a couple of occasions has been mute with Skype, but to be clear, that has NOT been a problem with this device. The 9450 has provided outstanding audio quality on all softphone applications.

It is noteworthy that I tried to use this device with a live meeting webinar that I was conducting and for whatever reason, the 9450 did not agree with the live meeting software at all. I am going to chalk it up to a fluke since I have tried other Jabra headsets with no trouble, so it was likely a local PC issue, I will update when I know more about this.

The BUSY LIGHT!!!!! J

I mentioned the busy light earlier in the post and I wanted to take a moment to talk about that accessory because my belief is that we will be seeing a LOT more vendors provide something similar. That being said, let me show you what I am talking about

Its pretty straightforward, it’s a light. It plugs into a port on the back of the dock and as far as I have seen it has 2 options, white and red. If you are on a call and the headset is engaged, its red to indicate a call is active. Some folks might say, “who cares”. I can tell you, I care. It’s no secret that there is a major increase in telework in the market. Here at Janalent we have a number of consultants who work remotely all of the time. This is done to save our customers money on travel costs since our consultants can work just as effectively remote as they can on site. The most common risk when working remote is that people will walk in on your work area with no regard to what you are doing. This light goes a long way. My family understands that if they walk into my office and see the red light indicator, that I am on the phone and they should come back later.

I can see this working in a standard office environment as well, but it will require some culture change as people will need to become accustomed to looking for the indicator light and making sure the light is placed in a conspicuous location, but I can absolutely see this being successful.

The light comes with a sticky pad that allows you to stick the light on walls and other surfaces and the light itself has a swivel so that if you mount the light to a wall, it won’t stick out dangerously. It’s a nice implementation and I look forward to using it more.

Conclusion

The Jabra 9450 is a more than worthy successor to the workhorse 9350 headset. I can’t say anything about durability just yet, but based on what I have seen, I can’t foresee any issues that would reduce the life of the headset. I am a little down on some of the wonky controls for volume and muting, but it is more than made up for by having the mute button on the dock. That’s good enough for me, I’m not that high maintenance (really) J. I am going to predict that the busy light will be a STAPLE for home workers/teleworkers as the population increases and that organizations that leverage headsets more and more should consider working these types of lights into their culture. Particularly those environments that leverage a lot of cubicles because correctly implemented, a presence indicator on a cubicle doorway could save on interruptions of productivity.

Thank you to Jabra for allowing me to take a look at this device and providing the busy light. I am definitely a fan and look forward to its continual use.

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