I’ve been a big fan of Platronics Voyager headsets for some time. Like many busy professionals, I don’t have time to stand around holding a phone to my head. I am on the phone constantly, and if I couldn’t use my hands at the same time I wouldn’t get any work done, and I’d have terrible RSI. So, for me, headphones are a vital piece of equipment.
Not all headsets, or earpieces, are made equal. I grew tired of “can you hear me? Now?” conversations a long, long time ago, as well as devices which seemingly dropped off Bluetooth by their own volition on a regular basis. Now, I don’t know if my ears are unusual, or I just don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ve never particularly enjoyed earbuds, either.
Call me picky, but for me, a good headset or earpiece is a business tool that I will use day in, day out. It’s not something I don occasionally to enjoy some music. I spend a large part of my life connected to my phone.
I stumbled across a Plantronics Voyager Bluetooth headset a decade ago, which immediately caught my interest with its long boom-mike, comfortable over-the-ear design, and have keenly followed the line since as it has evolved, adopting active noise-cancelling technologies, omni-directional microphones, digital signal processing, in-ear instructions, intelligence to know when being worn or not, a smartphone PLT Hub app for firmware updates and instruction manuals, and many other things.
Yet, as terrific as the previous Voyager models have been, even the boom microphone is too subtle to free me of “are you on the phone?” visitors to my office.
Well, technology has moved on. The Plantronics Voyager 8200 isn’t any of those things. It’s not an in-ear or subtle over-the-ear earpiece. It’s not a low-end, uncomfortable, USB or 3.5mm jack cabled headset. It’s certainly not the hi-fi equipment of the 1980’s.
Instead, it’s a super comfortable premium business-grade headset which connects to your smartphone, tablet and/or computer via Bluetooth - or through an included 3.5mm cable if you prefer.
It can be managed and updated via an app with a rich range of options. I effortlessly updated the firmware and changed the spoken language to English (UK) with ease, then experimented with other options. These include G616 anti-startle acoustic shock protection standard, which limits audio levels to your ear and HD voice, which provides higher quality audio albeit at reduced battery life. Other options allow you to pause audio streaming when you take the headset off, and resume when placed back on, auto-answer of calls when donning the headset, notifications when a second call comes in or if you are speaking while muted, announcing callers, and other features.
The packaging includes a handsome and stylish soft travel bag to safely package your headset in, including a zippered compartment for the 3.5mm cable if you wish to use it, and a micro-USB charging cable. You also get a tiny USB Bluetooth adapter to use with your PC if it does not have Bluetooth built-in.
Buttons across the headset allow you to adjust volume, play tracks, mute yourself, modify the automatic noise cancelling, invoke your digital assistant of choice whether Siri or Cortana or Google Now, among others.
You may wish to take the headset off when not in use. I found it so comfortable, I was happy to leave it on while no longer on a call, offering me the convenience of just continuing to work. At the same time, I was still alert to what was happening around me; the headphones when not in use did not interfere with outside sound.
While in a call the clarity was crystal-clear, both for me hearing my correspondent, and them hearing me. Despite being a boomless device, the Voyager 8200 UC includes four beam-forming microphones to detect and amplify the speaker’s voice, and two additional microphones detecting and blocking environmental noise. In practice, picked up my voice perfectly, but not other sounds occurring around me.
There was also no confusion whatsoever among my erstwhile colleagues as to whether I was on the phone or not.
Plantronics says the Voyager 8200 UC is designed for the connected executive who needs to be in constant communication, and for employees in an open office space who find themselves facing distractions and noise.
This latter one is an interesting use case, and entirely valid. While the open-plan office space is supposed to bring the great positives of collaboration with reduced fit-out costs, in reality, it often simply results in a difficult-to-manage cacophony of noise and diminished focus. In these cases, the 8200 UC can be a smart investment.
"With the workforce becoming increasingly mobile, communication has become a top priority for many businesses and one of the main components of managing a mobile workforce successfully,” said Graeme Gherbaz, managing director at Plantronics A/NZ. “The Voyager 8200 UC enables mobile professionals to communicate, collaborate and stay focused anytime, anywhere in comfort and style. As our premier product in the Voyager Family, it’s packed with features that deliver exceptional design and performance, as well as business-grade audio and manageability.”
As a business-grade device, it is also supported by Plantronics Manager Pro, a service with asset, usage, conversation and acoustic analysis insights. These insights offer IT Managers and business executives with quality impairment scores to identify users with the lowest average call quality, to help take mitigating actions.
The battery offers up to 24 hours listening time, and this can be managed via the PLT app as well as voice prompts when putting the headset on.
It offers wireless range of up to 30m from supported class 1 Bluetooth devices.
The Voyager 8200 UC is available in diamond black and buff white at Plantronics authorised partners with an MSRP of $495.