Plantronics VOYAGER raises the headset bar
I am one of those people who is easily distracted. So when it comes to being able to focus on a story or work on a proposal for a client, I try to make sure I minimise the shiny things around that could beep, pop-up-notify and ring-ring.
So when I have to work, like most tech-geeks, I like to stick on a good pair of headphones, blasts some tunes and somehow just get on with my work even resorting to the extreme “all devices in aeroplane mode” !
The catch with headphones is that its a hit and miss as different headsets focus on different tasks. There are those optimised for music, those optimised for gaming, those optimised for hands-free Bluetooth mobile calls. Then there is the whole noise cancellation bit which is especially useful on planes and in busy offices.
I was sent a paid of the Plantronics VOYAGER FOCUS headset to review and then keep which were described as a smart headset. Not sure what that meant, but after using it for some time, I can confirm that it is the Swiss-army-knife of headphones as it does everything you need, for every device, under every situation
Comfort is the first item I notice on a headphone set. When I travel I wear this for most of the flight which could be as much as 12 hours, so the headset needs to be comfortable and light but also sturdy enough not to be bumped off the head with every move. The Voyager Focus is an on-ear headset with leatherette memory foam ear-cushions This together with a metal headband that is also cushioned make a great comfortable pair to wear all day. Clearly these are built for the all-day office use and so comfort was a design priority. Nice !
The headset consists of 5 microphones for talking, active and passive noise cancellation. This means that as you switch on the headset, its microphones detect the ambient noise and automatically try to isolate that noise. It works really well when the noise is constant such as the engine noise on the plane or that constant talking hum in a coffee shop. As with all noise cancelling headphones, it will not drown out those loud mouths, cackle laughter or screaming for more ice-cream kids, but in an open plan office, these work perfectly well to give you some peace and quiet sanity.
The headset can connect via Bluetooth to multiple devices such as laptops, tablets, mobile phone and has an impressive range. If you are blasting your favourite Bieber / Taylor Swift, you have full control direct from the headset. So whilst making that coffee in the office kitchen you can change the volume, play the next or previous song in your play list, pause the song and restart again. Its all about having control at your fingertips (or ear-tips?)
The headset is your office friend. It connects via Bluetooth to your mobile so you can answer calls but also handles Voice Over IP software from your laptop such as Skype and your office phone system. So when you receive a call you don’t have to swap headset or use those in-ear free headphones that come with your mobile phone. The Voyager headset reduced the volume of your music and announces the caller if they are listen in your phone’s address book.
The call capabilities and quality is really impressive and having the Dynamic Mute on the headset is a big plus to block out surrounding noise whilst on the call.
Having tested a Skype call in a busy coffee shop in Rivonia, I can attest that there was no loss of quality and I could hear and be heard perfectly clear. This was over the coffee shop’s WiFi with other people using the network. I then swapped headset to the in-ear ones and immediately I needed to begin repeating myself as the ambient noise was being broadcast into the call. Using the Active Noise Cancellation whilst talking made a huge difference to the quality compared with my in-ear normal headphones.
I found I could get between 12 and 14 hours of battery depending on the volume setting and how many calls I was making and receiving on any given day. The unit comes with an impressive charging docking station so that you can simply hang your headset when not in use. Big win.
When you travel and need to charge, it has a built in micro-USB charging point so you can use any of my normal charges without carrying a specific propriety one for this device.
Whilst on the topic of power and travel, I would have liked the option to have a 3.5mm jack in case I wanted to conserve power and plug in the headset to whatever device. Not all planes have a USB charging point so that is normally an issue. Saying that, what I do like is the headset updates you with its power status so you arent caught off-guard – now that is handy !
What is cool:
When listening to music and call comes through, the music is paused whilst you chat and as soon as you hang up the call, the music continues from where it left off.
I also like the fact that is has Smart Sensor so that if you have the phone laying on the desk or in the charging station and a call comes in on your mobile phone, you can answer the call on the mobile device as the headset “knows” you aren’t wearing it. As soon as you put the headset on, it transfers the call from the mobile to the headset automatically.
The automatic Mute is also great. If you are in the middle of a call and you take the headset off, it will mute the microphone until you put the headset back on and then it unmutes the call.
The same applies to music. As you remove the headset, the music is paused and when you place it back on your head, it continues. Smart especially when you listen to podcasts and dont want to miss anything.
Summary and Where to buy
Overall the headset is really slick. I like the fact that everything is thought through from the desk-charging stand to including a micros USB cable with a travelling pouch. The pouch has an inside little zip where you can keep your Bluetooh dongle and the micro-USB cable so they are not lost or get mixed up inside the pouch with the headset. Nice touch.
If you are more interested in looking good with your “friend-Approved-DJ-Brand-Hipster-Headset” then these might not be for you. However, if you are in an office environment, looking to retain some sanity at work whilst having amazing clarity of sound and a host of smart features, this is something you should definitely be looking at.
Check out this link to find where it is available in South Africa costs where the launch special price is R 3999 (inc VAT) which we can thank our lovely Rand/ Dollar exchange for that.