The office landscape today is clearly different from what it looked like just a year or two ago. The pandemic of 2020 really shook things up, and in many ways. You saw swift and significant changes in where people were expected to work, and it wasn’t shoulder to shoulder with their fellow workmates.
Instead, everyone was turned around at the front door and sent home to stake out some space to call their new office. Whether that ended up being the kitchen table converted to a workspace, or maybe even having the kids double up in one room to help make space for Mom or Dad’s temporary office.
Wherever everyone landed, it was a major shakeup, and that included getting all the technology dialed in so working from home was not only possible, but transparent to the customers.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about one of those changes that quickly surfaced during the pandemic which involved the mass scramble to secure the correct headsets for employees working from home.
In this mad dash to find available headsets, people were buying many different brands for computer connectivity or for connection to traditional desk phones. This blog will cover one brand only, which is Poly (formerly Plantronics).
In this blog, I’ll present five excellent headsets for use in an office, which involves connection to a phone, a computer, a mobile phone or a combination of them.
There are a lot of brands and models, and to cover them all would be an enormous undertaking. Instead, I’ll focus on what I feel are the top 5 headsets overall, from the global leader in communication headset technology, Poly.
To begin, I need to break things down into a few categories;
- A headset that connects to a desk phone.
- A headset that connects to a computer
- A headset that connects to multiple devices (desk phone, computer etc)
The other distinction that will be weaved into this will be whether the headset is a wired model, or one that’s wireless. Clearly wireless office headsets are more popular, but when wireless mobility isn’t needed, and budgets are tight, then having a headset with a cord is just fine.
With that said, let’s jump into this and see which models within the Poly product line rise to the top of my list.
Desk Phone connection only
If you’re using a desk phone, and you don’t anticipate migrating to a Softphone anytime soon, then you might want to consider a headset for use with a desk phone.
You can get a Poly Encorepro 500 or 700 model, if connecting to a desk phone via a wired headset is your preferred headset style.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in connecting to your phone using a wireless headset, then the highly popular Poly CS540 might be your best choice.
Though the CS540 has been around for quite some time, it remains highly popular and for some very good reasons. Primarily this is because it’s lightweight, comfortable, reliable and it just sounds good. Digging into this a bit further, here are some key points to the CS540 that help to make it well worth considering if you want to use it with a desk phone.
Rather than having to choose between a headset that’s worn over the head, or over the ear, you get both with the Poly CS540. It comes with a headband for those who prefer to wear a headset over the head, but it also comes with different sizes of ear loops, and ear gels if an on-ear wearing style is your preference.
You can even get an optional neckband in the case that the other two wearing choices don’t appeal to you. Convertible headsets also make it easy for Buyers to deploy to a team because they don’t have to worry about matching the right headset style to each individual.
The Poly CS540 wireless headset weighs in at a mere 21 grams, or ¾ of an ounce. The weight of a headset really matters especially if you plan on wearing it over the ear.
A lightweight headset helps to reduce headset fatigue which is the fatigue you feel from wearing an uncomfortable headset for extended periods of time.
You won’t experience this with the Poly CS540. From the moment you put it on, you’ll quickly feel how lightweight it truly is. Having a comfortable headset to wear all day long is one less
thing to concern yourself with when you’re needing to focus on work and not annoyances.
Noise cancelling microphone
Having great sound is always high on the list of things that are important when it comes to selecting any headset. The Poly CS540 has a great sounding microphone that helps to eliminate unwanted background sound so your callers hear you, and not those things going on around you. The CS540 microphone will keep you sounding crystal clear and professional all day long.
Wireless range & talk time
Having decent wireless talk range and talk time are a couple important things with a wireless headset. If you’re very limited on either, or worse, both, then you’ll be making compromises.
No compromises needed with the Poly CS540. It’s rated to provide you with up to 350 feet of wireless talk range and up to 12 hours of continuous talk time. In most cases, this should get just about anyone comfortably through even the busiest of days.
No worries about dropping your call, and no worries about your battery dying on your mid-day.
Conference call feature
The Poly CS540 helps you to collaborate as well. Rather than gathering in a meeting room, you can have up to 4 people collaborating on a conference call using your wireless headsets. This just requires a simple procedure to get everyone linked up. Once linked, everyone can return to their workstations to participate on the
call rather than having to reserve a conference room with everyone present. Using the wireless headset is more convenient, doesn’t occupy a conference room, and allows everyone to be able to access data from their computers while on the call. It’s a great feature that’s standard with the CS540.
Easy to connect and use
The CS540 wireless headset is very straightforward as to how it connects, and how you use it. Some models can be complicated as to connecting or using it. That’s not the case with the Poly CS540. The connection cables only fit into one slot which makes getting it connected wrong next to impossible. The headset controls are easy to access as well as understand. Who doesn’t like simple?
Though the Poly CS540 wireless headset has a manufacturer's price of $319.95, it can be purchased in the market for well under that price which makes it a great value.
You can also find them refurbished with a 1-year warranty (same as new) for under $150.00. Whether you get a new one, or a refurbished model, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up being disappointed. This wireless headset has enjoyed an enviable reputation for a very long time, and that’s no accident.
Highly reviewed, highly recommended
Whether you purchase on a reseller website, on Amazon, or another online source, you’ll see a lot of reviews. In fact, you’ll see thousands of reviews from these various sources, all of which are 4 to 5 star rated.
When making a purchase decision, it’s always comforting to know that the product you’re interested in is rated so favorably. Simply put, it’s an excellent headset. Without question, the CS540 is a solid choice for anyone looking for a wireless headset to connect to a desk phone.
Computer connection only
If your need is for an office headset to connect to a computer, you have a couple of ways you can go.
- You can buy a wireless USB headset
- You can get a USB headset that has a wire.
So, to help make this decision, you should ask yourself a few questions like whether you want or need the ability to step away from the desk, but still want the ability to continue the conversation when you step away.
Further, would you like the ability to answer an incoming call when away from your desk?
Would you like to be wireless so you can step away from your desk and grab a coffee, answer the door, or get the household pet to quiet down?
If any of these situations applies to your situation, then your aim should be towards a wireless headset.
On the other hand, if you have no need to be mobile, then a headset with a cord would work perfectly for you.
Let’s take a look at a wired and a wireless Poly USB, computer headset
Wireless headset for computer only connection
Poly Savi 8200 UC
The Poly 8200 UC series is designed to allow you to connect to a computer with the headset wearing style you prefer. These high quality, high performing headsets come in these variants:
- 8210 Mono (single ear) standard USB
- 8210 Mono Microsoft version
- 8220 Duo (covers both ears) standard USB
- 8220 Duo Microsoft version
- 8240 convertible (includes several wearing styles) standard USB ● 8240 convertible Microsoft version
- 8245 convertible with unlimited talk time standard USB
- 8245 convertible with unlimited talk time Microsoft version
- 8240/8245 convertible variants with USB-C
As you can see, the Poly Savi 8200 series has a wide assortment of models to choose from. Whether you prefer a headset that’s worn over the head, or over the ear, there’s an 8200 wireless model that’s sure to meet your wearing preference.
A few quick facts about these headsets:
- Up to 13 hours of talk time for the 8210 and 8220 models
- Up to 7 hours of talk time on the 8240 & unlimited talk time on the 8245 - 3 hour battery recharge time
- Line of sight wireless talk range up to 590 feet, office environment up to 180 feet - Multiple voice prompts for ease of use
- Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) on the 8220 model for enhanced concentration - Noise cancelling microphone with close conversation limiting for optimized sound - DECT security for private conversations
- SoundGuard Digital hearing protection
- Poly Hub software to interface with the headset for multiple adjustment options - Wideband audio - won’t impact user density
Though these models are mirroring those that came before them, they are refreshed and updated, but still follow the same overall design pattern. That’s not a bad thing really because the prior generation of wireless headsets they are replacing, were well received in the market, and without question, good headsets.
So whether you prefer to wear a headset over the head, covering one ear, two ears, or you’re not sure if an over the head wearing style is right for you, then you might want to consider the convertible model that comes with multiple wearing styles.
A convertible headset allows you to change up your headset configuration whenever you want. Having that flexibility is not only convenient, but to a buyer who’s purchasing for a team, that helps to make the purchase an even easier decision.
The Poly Savi 8200 UC series of headsets is a great choice if you’re looking for a reputable, great sounding, comfortable headset that’s packed with features and backed by the biggest name in the headset industry, Poly.
Lastly, if you’d like to watch a short 4 minute video on the 8200 series headsets, you can view it here
Wired headset for connection to a computer
When it comes to sourcing a wired headset for use with a computer, it’s the wild, wild west out there. You can buy sub $20.00 models that bear names that suggest their origins are china based, or you can find models every step up the price scale up from $20.00 to the top of the heap in the Poly Blackwire 8225 that will run you between $150.00 - $200.00. The prices vary greatly as do the build and sound quality as well as the comfort and warranty.
In this section of this blog, I’m going to discuss what makes the top dog in the USB wired headsets arena, the Blackwire 8225, an attractive option to consider. Yes, you can find a myriad of choices that will set you back less than this model, but if you’re in search of a beast of a wired USB headset, don’t rule out the Poly Blackwire 8225. Here’s why:
The Poly Blackwire 8225 is designed to provide you with the best possible sound quality. It comes with two audio enhancing features that include:
Noise canceling microphone
The noise cancelling microphone helps to eliminate unwanted sound from your work environment so your callers hear you, and not what’s going on around you. This feature is common to many headsets today, but what isn’t common is the Acoustic Fence technology that’s incorporated into this microphone.
Acoustic Fence takes noise cancelling to a whole new level which helps to make it a premium headset given this is a premium type feature not common to other headsets.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
The noise cancelling microphone gives your callers a great hearing experience, but what about you, the one who’s wearing the headset? ANC is a feature that electronically filters out unwanted noise so you can concentrate and not be distracted by the sounds going on around you.
Distractions are known to be productivity killers, so keeping noise down, or eliminating it all together, helps to keep you focused and more productive throughout the day. ANC is a standard feature on the Blackwire 8225, and it has three settings so you can dial in the level of noise reduction desired. This too is a premium feature you won’t find on most headsets.
Built-in busy light
In an effort to stay focused, you want to minimize interruptions. The Poly Blackwire 8225 comes with a built-in busy indicator. This is a light on the headset that comes on when you get on a call. This light will let those around you know that you’re on a call and not to be interrupted. A busy light on a wired USB headset is uncommon, and a valuable addition to the features of the 8225.
Fully rotating ear speakers
Not everyone is made the same. We all have different shapes to our heads and ears which is why one headset isn’t made to fit everyone. One feature that you’ll find on the Poly Blackwire 8225 is fully rotating ear speakers.
This feature helps to adapt to the shape of a person's head and ears for a more personalized, comfortable fit. Many headsets are very limited in this way, and as a result, require the individual to adapt to the headset rather than the other way around. This is one of the comfort features found on the Poly Blackwire 8225.
The Poly Blackwire 8225 comes with a headband that has a cushion. This helps to make the headset more comfortable and allows you to wear it for prolonged periods of time comfortably. This feature when combined with the soft ear cushions, work in tandem to enhance user comfort.
The controller that’s in the middle of the 7’ 2” cable contains adjustments for: Call control, 3 levels of ANC, Microsoft Teams button, volume up, volume down, mute on, mute off.
When you wear the headset, there are audible alerts you’ll hear for: volume maximum, volume minimum, mute on, mute off, noise cancelling off, answering call. These voice alerts help to make it easy to know the status of various settings which eliminates uncertainty and guesswork.
Here are the different models available within the Blackwire 8225 family:
Blackwire 8225 - USB-A
Blackwire 8225 - USB-C
Blackwire 8225 Microsoft version - USB-A
Blackwire 8225 Microsoft version - USB-C
Overall, the built quality, fit and finish as well as comfort and sound have all been addressed with the Poly Blackwire 8225. So, if you’re in the market for a good quality USB wired headset, this is one model that should be on your short list.
Here’s a short video review of the Blackwire 8225
Poly headsets that connect to more than one device
There are a number of headsets in the Poly stable that connect to more than one device. In this section of the blog, I’ll show you two of them that I like alot with both being from the same family.
Recently, Poly introduced the new, improved, and updated Voyager Focus 2 which makes many notable improvements over the previous Voyager Focus models. This new headset comes in two variants; the UC version that’s designed for use with computers, and mobile devices, and the Focus 2 Office that can be used with a desk phone, computer and smartphone.
The new Voyager Focus 2 is a headset that’s already gaining a lot of attention and right out of the gates, they’re being bought up faster than a drunken sailor laying down his money for that new tattoo. In my view, with good reason. Simply put, the new Voyager Focus 2 headsets are packed with features in a lightweight, technology rich, great sounding wireless headset. Here are a few reasons why I’m high on these headsets:
The Focus 2 UC connects to a computer via the included new BT700 dongle/adapter (this is an upgrade from the previous Focus model that uses the BT600 adapter with the BT700 offering longer wireless range). You can also connect to your mobile device via class 1 Bluetooth version 5.1
The Focus 2 Office models connect to desk phones using the included telephone interface cable, to the computer via the USB-A cord that’s included, and finally to your mobile devices via class 1 version 5.1 Bluetooth.
If you need connection to a computer and mobile device, then the Focus 2 UC model would be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you need those connections in addition to a connection to a desk phone, then you’ll want to consider the Focus 2 Office model. In either case, one thing for sure is you’ll get a capable wireless headset to get the job done.
The new Focus 2 models come with a noise cancelling microphone to help eliminate unwanted background noise so your callers hear you loud and clear, and not the distracting sounds going on around you. Having a noise cancelling microphone isn’t anything out of the ordinary. However, Poly incorporated next level technology into the microphone that they call “Acoustic Fence” noise reduction. In our tests, this technology clearly elevates noise cancellation to the next level.
What this technology means to you is that you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your customers will hear you better and not what’s going on around you. Poly refers to this approach to noise reduction as having a sound bubble that shields you from penetrating noise. If giving your customers a good quality sound experience is important to you, then the Focus 2 wireless headsets should be on your headset purchase short list.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
Active Noise Cancellation is an electronic feature that counters incoming noise. This is designed to reduce the amount of noise the headset wearer hears. The noise cancelling microphone with the Acoustic Fence technology is designed for better sound for your callers. This one (ANC) is for you.
Distracting sound is the leading cause for reduced worker productivity. Getting better control of that will allow you to stay focused, eliminate distractions, and in the end, get more done. The Focus 2 models all have 3 stages of ANC which means you can control how much, or how little noise you hear from your work environment.
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 wireless headsets come with super soft perforated ear cushions that are extremely soft. These ear cushions are mounted to speakers that have good movement that allow the headset to conform well to different sizes and shapes of ears. The soft ear cushions and rotating speakers all help to enhance user comfort.
The weight of a headset plays an important role in user comfort too. The Poly Voyager Focus 2 weighs 175 grams, or .38 pounds (6.17 ounces). This is very light for a dual ear headset that’s worn over the head. Many people will find that they’ll wear the headset most of the day, and should that be your situation, you should expect this headset to be comfortable all day long.
One other thing that’s nice on these headsets include the suspended, padded canopy that rests on the head. Unlike traditional headset designs where there’s a hard piece of metal, or metal with a cover and/or a cushion, the Poly Voyager Focus 2 models elevate headband comfort to another level entirely.
When you put on the headset, the pad that spans from one side of the headband to the other, sits softly and comfortably on your head. To wear it is to understand this point. Suffice it to say, this is perhaps the most comfortable headband on any headset available today.
How’s that for a feature endorsement?
The talk time on the new Voyager Focus 2 wireless headsets are far more than adequate. They’re a few notches above that. Here’s why:
Poly Voyager Focus 2 battery details
Talk Time with ANC on = 16 hours
Talk Time with ANC off = 19 hours
Listen Time with ANC on = 24 hours
Listen Time with ANC off = 40 hours
Standby Time = 30 days
Battery Recharge Time = 2 hours
Taking the specifications noted above, you’d think that’s sufficient for most any perceivable need. That would be a pretty accurate statement, but Poly added one other thing to the mix that makes this even more attractive.
You can use the wireless headset as a corded headset with the included cable. While using it, the battery will recharge too. So, if you come to the point where the battery needs recharging, you have the option to continue using the headset in wired mode.
This may not sound like a very unusual feature, but surprisingly, many wireless headsets don’t have this capability.
Wireless Talk Range
Here you’ll find a couple of different range estimates.
Focus 2 UC is rated to give up to 164 feet of wireless talk range
Focus 2 Office is rated up to 300 feet of wireless range
The Focus 2 UC uses class 1 Bluetooth, and the USB Adapter for its wireless connectivity, where the Office version uses a combination of Bluetooth and Dect technologies. A Dect connection will provide you with longer wireless range, which is why you see the additional 136 feet on the Office model.
A side note about wireless talk range. Manufacturers typically use “line of sight” or “open field” as the basis for the wireless range tests. This means the headsets are being tested without any obstructions at all.
This method helps to establish the outer reaches of available range when no obstructions are present. However, in practical usage you’ll have many different obstructions that can be in the form of people, partitions, walls, elevators, windows and the list goes on.
The wireless signal must penetrate these obstructions, and in doing so, weakens the signal, and as a result, lessens the available wireless talk range. A rule of thumb we use at Headset Advisor is to take the stated wireless range and divide it in half. This figure should represent a more real world, realistic estimation of the wireless talk range you should expect.
Headset Smart Sensors
The new Poly Voyager Focus 2 wireless headsets have a high level of technology, and one example of this is in the Smart Sensors that are built in. In short, here’s what these sensors do:
- Put the headset on to answer a call - it will answer the call automatically 2. The microphone mutes automatically by taking the headset off
- Taking the headset off will automatically pause your music
- Putting the headset on will automatically resume your music
- If you raise up the microphone boom arm, the microphone mutes automatically 6. Lowering the microphone boom arm, and the microphone automatically unmutes. 7. If you talk while the microphone is muted, you’ll get an audible that lets you know you’re muted. Poly refers to this feature as “Dynamic Mute Alert”
As you can see, there’s a lot going on behind the exterior of this new and innovative wireless headset. The things on this list won’t be found on most wireless headsets, and
I do feel the need to give credit where credit is due. Poly did a superb job with this new headset.
The last thing we want is to be interrupted when we’re on an important call The Poly Voyager Focus 2 has a built in busy light to let those around you know when you’re busy and on a call. When you get on a call, there’s a light that’s located on the earcup that turns on and flashes. This feature will help to avoid annoying interruptions and keep you focused.
SoundGuard. SoundGuard is a feature found on the Focus 2 models that helps protect you from harmful sound spikes. These spikes can come in the form of feedback, static, shrills, shrieks and any other unexpected audio sounds that are out of the ordinary.
NOTE: In order to utilize this feature, you are required to download the Poly Lens App.
The Poly Lens app helps you to get the most out of your wireless headset. You can easily manage your devices, keep your software up to date, manage your settings or access the health and wellness section to keep you healthy and sharp while at work.
Both Focus 2 versions come with a manufacturer warranty of 2 years. Some wireless headsets offer a 1-year warranty and one brand, Discover, offers a 3-year warranty. All things considered, a 2-year warranty is very good for a wireless headset because not that long ago, nearly all wireless headsets came with a 1-year warranty. I’m sure we’d all agree that when it comes to warranties, longer is always better.
Available Models. The new Poly Voyager Focus 2 is offered in different variants. Here’s a quick breakdown of them:
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Standard USB-A
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Standard USB-C
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Microsoft USB-A
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Microsoft USB-C
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Standard USB-A Charge Stand
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Standard USB-C Charge Stand
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Microsoft USB-A Charge Stand
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC - Microsoft USB-C Charge Stand
Poly Voyager Focus 2 Office - Standard USB-A Connectivity Base
Poly Voyager Focus 2 Office - Microsoft USB-A Connectivity Base
As you can see, the differences between the models include;
Standard vs. Microsoft versions (Microsoft versions have a special teams button) USB-A vs. USB-C variants
Charge stand vs. no charge stand.
When you use the charge stand on the UC versions, the stand serves to provide a docking station for the headset and battery charger.
When you use the stand with the Office versions, it provides a docking station for the headset, charges the battery, and it also is a communication link between the base, headset and a desk phone. In other words, it’s an active base, vs. the UC base which is a stand and charger only.
All in all, the Voyager Focus 2 wireless headsets are technology rich, comfortable, great sounding and one you should really consider if you’re in the market for a wireless headset.
Watch Focus UC 2 Review
Poly, formerly Plantronics, has a well earned reputation for producing excellent headsets for working professionals. Whether you need a wired headset to connect to a phone or computer, or a wireless one to allow you to move freely within your work area, Poly has products that can get the job done efficiently and comfortably.
The headsets discussed in this blog are just a few of those that are available. There is no perfect headset for anyone really as it comes down to your needs and personal preferences.
Still, if you look through the many headsets that are available from Poly there’s bound to be one that calls out your name. If you get your sights set on one model, but find that it doesn’t fit into your budget, remember that there’s a headset rental plan available from Headset Advisor at very reasonable rates and the monthly rate includes just about everything from replacement ear cushions, wind screens, batteries and more. Something to consider if the budget is tight.