I have to confess, I have never been paid by Plantronics but I have received free merchandise from them on several occasions. I am the admin of several online IT user groups in Western Canada and frequently attend IT conferences where Plantronics does giveaways. I have also received free merchandise from writing and being interviewed by vendors.
In the world of headphones, earpieces and bluetooth devices, there is no other name in the marketplace for me except Plantronics. Is this because I have received free gear? No. I wish it were that simple. I actually used Plantronics headsets with my desk phones long before trying out their Bluetooth offerings. I really liked their quick release headphones which allowed me to disconnect and leave my desk and plug back in without fumbling around.
At the time, probably 2011 or something, I was using a BlueAnt bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone and had just changed to a Jabra for more comfort (these are both for sale if you are interested). I quickly realized that the BlueAnt had something that my new Jabra didn’t… support for A2DP which is basically the technology that allows your Bluetooth earpiece to stream audio from your cell phone.
So while I thought it was a little more comfortable, this was a deal-breaker for me. I listened to my cell phone for music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc. I simply needed A2DP, even though I had no idea what it was a few weeks earlier.
Another problem I had, which I wasn’t aware of, was that I looked like an idiot most of the day. No, not when I got home and put on the Hawaiian shirt my wife has been threatening to throw away for several years… but when I was at the office and I walked around with two earpieces. My left ear was for my desk phone and my right was for my cell phone. It would have been a hard call to decide which one was used more at the office.
This was where a great CDW re-seller came into my life and suggested that we swap out my existing headsets (a Plantronics Savi W700 and a Jabra) for a Plantronics Voyager Legend… and Jason seemed to have an answer for everything that day…
I was worried about that big ugly thing behind my ear being uncomfortable… he simply guaranteed that it wouldn’t. I like guarantees. It was so comfortable in fact, that I have fallen asleep in it several times, worn it into the shower once and jumped in a lake once with it… the Voyager Legend is not waterproof.
I didn’t know how this little headset would work with my desk phone… he sold me an MDA400 and tied my computer, my desk phone and my cell phone into one device. No more having two earpieces on my head all day.
I needed to play music. Not only did the Legend do this, but it did it with such quality and clarity that I followed it up with buying a Voyager Focus for home, where having nine children and a wife (who had already divorced me once) required any technological advantages to help me ignore outside interruptions… I mean focus on my work. I thought the product name was a sign that I was supposed to own it.
I loved that thing for several years (and still wear it quite often) and then Plantronics released the Voyager 8200 UC. This headphone takes the cushions of the Focus and turns them into those 70’s over-ear headphones I remember my mother plopping on my head when she tired of hearing me play the motorcycle revving up at the beginning of “Born to be Wild” from the Easy Rider soundtrack over and over and over again. This new toy, I mean tool… was more than a nostalgic memory, but a truly comfortable listening device like I hadn’t felt since being a child on the floor in front of my mothers’ record player.
The Voyager 8200 UC blew me away
Where the Focus was a dual-earpad version of the Legend, with similar buttons and boom mic to pull down in front of your mouth to talk, the Voyager 8200 has no boom mic to pull down. I was instantly worried when I saw this. The clarity and beautiful sound that my clients and friends are used to hearing will be gone. And my voice needs all the help it can get.
Over and over I tested both the Focus and the 8200 with people… “so you are saying that this one sounds better”… switching headsets, “not this one”?
Consistently, a dozen people confirmed that they heard a much richer and fuller sound with the 8200 than the Focus. Nobody had complained about the Focus sound in several years since I started using it, how could Plantronics improve on it while removing the boom mic? That is kinda rhetorical because I am not a sound engineer and really have nothing to add. The 8200 simply delivers the clearest sound in and out, of any bluetooth device I have ever used.
The Voyager 8200 has all the bells and whistles that you would anticipate I would require with my discerning style and taste… or whining entitled geekiness.
Do you want multi-level Active Noise Cancelling technology? You got it.
Do you want crazy long battery life? This thing charges in a few hours, lets me talk and listen to Love Shack and Steppenwolf for almost a full day and if I leave it turned on it seems to last for days on end in standby mode.
Want range? I can walk anywhere in my 4-level split without losing a signal. I could never do that with my Voyager Legend or Focus. I have actually been meaning to test how far I could listen from my office into my backyard.
Want Smart Sensor technology? The same tech that Plantronics uses to automatically answer calls when you put the headset on, or pause audio from your favorite audiobook when you take them off, is here again and working fantastically.
Multi-point? Yes, you can connect and answer two phones if you happen to require this… big bonus if you have a work and personal cell phone.
Don’t have bluetooth on your laptop? Order the product with the UC in the model (Universal Communications) and plug the USB key into your laptop… or use the Micro-USB cable or 3.5mm audio cable that are supplied with both models or readily available on nearly every desk in the country.
Do you need advanced audio control? You can start, pause, skip forward and back and adjust volume of all streaming audio.
Probably my favorite feature, because I use it so often, it’s what Plantronics calls “dynamic mute alert”. When I dial into a conference call, I typically mute myself so that I can tell my kids to shut up, convince the dog to stop barking at the neighbor, or yell at the cat until it stops using my dry cleaning as a scratching post. If I am sitting there listening, as I often do, with no plan to add any comments, something almost always happens… I end up wanting to add my comments.
That is when my phone, hearing my voice, reminds me that the mute is on. The fact that I get this notification before I say everything I am going to regret while on mute, has allowed me to instantly regret so many more things I have said on conference calls which allows me to assume so much additional work that my life doesn’t allow me to do the things I love most… like writing this review.
If you don’t think you need the business features of the Voyager 8200, like the extended range, mute notifications and Skype for business; maybe you can get away with the lower cost BackBeat Pro?
Either way, I am very happy with Plantronics for what they do to make my life easier, my work more enjoyable, and my whole life more peaceful. My family wishes something could do the same for them I am sure. Now back to waiting for Plantronics to start making motorcycle helmets…