If you’ve ever been embarrassed during a conference call because your dog was barking in the background, or because your office colleagues were loudly debating their theories about Game of Thrones, then you’ll appreciate the wisdom behind some of Plantronics Inc.’s new audio devices.
The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based firm released four new pieces of hardware on Thursday that are designed to work with your unified communications solutions. Whether it’s Skype, Lync, or an enterprise softphone client, Plantronics’ new hardware will be compatible with it. All four items can plug into a Mac or PC with a USB connection.
The new devices are all about recognizing that people are working in different ways nowadays, according to Jennifer Adams, the senior enterprise marketing manager for Plantronics. Most of those trends mean that background noise is becoming more of an issue.
“Remote workers are working from home or other locations where they can’t always control what’s happening in their environment,” she says. “We’re also seeing trends around an open office environment. That’s great for collaboration, but it can create a lot of problems when you’re trying to focus on the phone.”
Here’s a look at the four new devices and why you might want to use them:
This USB stereo headset contains the same active noise technology often used in consumer headphones – you know, the ones you like to wear when you’re on an airplane. There’s other audio enhancement magic at work here including a Dynamic EQ feature that optmizes your voice quality when on calls, and adjusts equalizer settings when you’re listening to multimedia from your PC.
What’s different about this headset is the noise cancelling is applied to the microphone too, so the person you have on the other end of the line also benefits from a quieter experience.
“It’d be ironic to create a quiet space for yourself, but the person on the other end can hear all the noise you can no longer hear,” Adams says.
Price: $179 USD
Voyager Edge UC
Designed for the road warrior, this is a Bluetooth headset that can simultaneously connect with a PC via a wireless USB dongle. A smart sensor on this device means you can automatically answer a call just by putting on the headset, and you’re protected against making calls from it accidentally while not wearing it. It also tells you who’s calling you if that person is on your contact list.
“The headset knows when it’s being worn and when it’s not,” Adams says.
There’s a suite of audio-enhancing technology at play here too, with digital signal processing for a more natural sounding voice, and protection against loud noises with SoundGuard.
Price: $199 USD
It’s a speakerphone that is made to be portable enough to take on the road, or move around an office. Again, it’s connected to a PC by USB and it has the digital signal processing found on the other devices. The microphone captures audio evenly from 360 degrees.
Price: $99 USD
It’s the UC device for those stubborn users that won’t give up their desk phone. Basically it is a desk phone that plugs into your PC via USB, offering a screen, a tactile dial pad, and compatibility with hearing aids.
The audio is enhanced and can be set to different tones to accommodate for different hearing loss patterns. Audio can be amplified up to 30 dB and there’s noise cancellation for environmental noise.
“It’s for someone a bit older and a bit less familiar with technology,” Adams says.
Price: $149 USD
While Plantronics devices work with your VoIP application of choice, there are software tools available to help manage the devices. The Plantronics Manager Pro 3.0 is a cloud service that the IT department can use to deploy updates for Plantronics devices and resolve help desk requests. The Plantronics Hub is for individual users to configure their device and upgrade it to the latest firmware.