Testing Plantronics & Jabra Bluetooth Headsets
First, both of these are great devices. I haven’t had any problems with being heard on either… even in windy or noisy conditions. If anything, they are too clear. (My wife complained about the intense noise when I called her from a hotel corridor just as the staff walked by with a cart full of rattling glasses. It wasn’t that loud in real life.) Of course, both can be paired to multiple devices (like my iPhone and laptop) making switching call sources easy and both feature deep software integration with IBM Sametime.
The Voyager Pro UC has a some nice features that really enhance the overall experience and improve usability. For example, when you turn it on, a pleasant female voice says “Power On. Talk Time 6 hours.”. This is really useful. Other headsets I’ve used play different tones or flash the LEDs to communicate this information…. which requires me to remember what it all means. This is much more obvious. Even better, it has a sensor that can detect if the headset is on your ear. If so, it tells the cell phone to direct the audio there. If not, the audio stays with the phone. If you’ve ever received a call and scrambled to find your headset or fumbled with the phone settings to quickly turn off the bluetooth, you understand the utility of the sensor. Finally, while this unit will pair to my laptop using the built-in bluetooth, it also comes with the smallest USB dongle I’ve ever seen. The dongle is useful because it provides the headset with dedicated bandwidth and ensures that your audio is not disrupted by other bluetooth traffic. (Yes, I have a lot of bluetooth gear.) Since the dongle is so small, I’m not worried about it snapping off if I leave it in my machine all the time.
Of course, nothing is perfect. My biggest issues is that I can never quite get the ear bud fully seated in my ear. The resulting gap lets in surrounding noise and requires the the volume to be all the way up for every conversation. The volume buttons are also small and on the top of the device… so they aren’t the easiest to find when wearing.
The Jabra Extreme doesn’t have sensors and doesn’t speak. But it’s really, really small and sits securely in my hear. It fits so well I don’t need the over the ear attachment to keep it in place. It also has a “real” power button. This old fashioned slider switch shows a red background when off or a green one when on. The switch is so convenient I can leave the Extreme off when not in use and quickly turn it on when a call comes in… extending battery life. (Contrast this with other headsets where you have to hold down the main button for 1-3 seconds to power up then wait for it to do so.) Speaking of battery life, this unit is supposed to have 6 hours of talk time… the same as the physically larger Voyager Pro UC. I believe the Voyager rating because I’ve used it. I need to test the Extreme.
On the downside, I find the “accept call button” on the Extreme difficult to press when on my ear. Only the front end of the button can be pressed as the back side doesn’t move. You wouldn’t think it would that big a deal to press a button 1/2 of an inch long… but I keep hitting the wrong end. Like the Voyager, the Extreme comes with a bluetooth dongle. But this one is big… actually longer than the headset itself. I’m already worried that it will be quickly broken by my one 1 year old (she likes to grab Daddy’s computer) or when I move the laptop around the house.
Really, my complaints are minor though. I look forward to using both of these in the future. (And yes, I am on enough conference calls that I need two headsets to get through the day.)