The high tech world keeps moving forward. While there have been no huge breakthroughs in the world of headsets, they keep getting incrementally better as shown by the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC B825. In fact, although there may be only minor changes and additions to the specifications of these types of headsets, in the Focus, they add up to a very nice overall package.
The Plantronics Voyager Focus headset is really aimed at the office worker. On the Plantronics website, you will see text like: “Distracted in the office. Find your FOCUS.” These headphones work with all the leading UC (Unified Communications) applications normally found in call centers and offices. Yet, in my testing, I found them equally well-suited for individual and home use.
Although the Focus headphones look similar to the black headphones that we have seen for years, there is a difference. Weighing in at only 5 ½ ounces, the headphones are feather light. The ear piece is covered in an extremely soft leather-like material that makes the headphones comfortable for hours at a time.
The microphone contains three separate mics producing clear and crisp voice replication. The microphone arm can be easily turned in either direction. The outside ring on one earpiece is a volume control and inside that ring are the pause/play and forward and back buttons for playing music. The bottom of that earpiece also holds the small switch for the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). While I found the ANC in my Bose headphones slightly better, the ANC on these headphones works quite well.
While I expected these headphones to have excellent voice quality, I was surprised by the great quality of the stereo music playback. Treble was crisp and clear and base was booming with excellent separation.
The Voyager Focus headphones com with Bluetooth 4.1. They paired quite easily to all the devices that I tried. You simply put your phone, tablet, or other device in pairing mode, then press the Bluetooth switch on the side of the earpiece. One wonderful feature is that you can have the headset connected to multiple devices like a computer and phone at once.
As expected, the Focus works quite well when paired with a laptop or desktop computer. Plantronics provides a dedicated Bluetooth dongle that comes already set up. Just plug it into your computer and it goes to work. This dongle uses its own Bluetooth stack to communicate with the headset so it doesn’t slow down you other Bluetooth devices. Also, the dongle is lighted. It flashes purple when you are listening and shows solid blue when connected to the PC.
The Bluetooth range is most impressive. While many Bluetooth devices cop out at 35 feet, this headset has a wireless range of 30 meters or 98 feet. If you know your phone is around somewhere, but happen to not remember exactly where you left it, as long as the headset is paired to the phone, you can simply put on the headset and answer the call. I’ve done this when the phone was as far as 50 feet away. The long range also allows me to roam around my entire home while talking and/or listening.
You can easily mute/unmute the microphone with the touch of a button. Taking the headset off will stop the conversation, music, or video which is wonderful when listening to an audiobook, playing music, or watching a movie. This however, does not seem to work with web-based apps like YouTube.
If you are listening to something else when a call comes in, the audiobook or music automatically pauses. You can tell when you are on mute by looking at the USB adapter. And if you try to talk when on mute, the headset will give you an audible reminder that your microphone is muted.
The headset is rated for up to 12 hours of talk/listening time per charge. I can use it for hours or all day without running out of power. It charges through the USB port on the bottom of one of the earpieces.
To tell how much battery power remains, just press any button on the headset and you will see a set of indicator lights and, depending on what you are doing at the time, may also hear an audible account of the battery power. You can also install the optional hub software that lets you see things like the battery power right on your computer screen and enables you to perform addition customization of settings, even allowing you to set ringtones for various connected devices.
The Focus comes with several accessories including the Bluetooth dongle, a desktop charging stand, USB charging cable, and a nice soft Focus carrying case.
The L-shaped charging stand is quite useful, especially if using the Focus with a desktop computer. Just slide the earpiece into the stand. It catches magnetically. Unfortunately, the stand has the charging cable hardwired into it. If it were removable, the stand could also be used away from the computer to simply hold the headset even when it is not charging.
The Focus retails for $299 and comes with a one year limited warranty. While not the cheapest headset around, it does give you a lot for your money. If you want good sound quality, comfort, ease of use, adaptability, and good battery life, the Focus will have you covered. Whether in an office or at home, it can be a very useful addition to your arsenal of tech tools.