Zoom goes Boom
A few short years ago, the name Zoom wasn’t exactly what you might call a household word. However, with the enormous upsurge in Zoom video conferencing use, largely due to the Pandemic of 2020, Zoom has made its way into our everyday conversations.
Just like Making a Xerox copy, or getting a Kleenex, Zoom has risen to that same level of association. Today, when we think of collaborative video conferencing, most of us have Zoom at the top of our list. “Let’s get on a Zoom call” isn’t an uncommon battle cry these days.
Zoom, as a company, has prospered nicely, and the public at large has benefited immensely too by having an easy to use, high quality, affordable video conferencing solution to keep us all connected at a time when separation was the order of the day.
Good quality audio is a must
Using Zoom, or other video conferencing solutions requires the use of a speaker and a microphone. Some might opt to use what’s built into the computer as their go to solution.
That’s not what we recommend due to the shortcomings of the sound quality you’ll get. Instead, we recommend (maybe even beg) that you use a good quality headset instead.
By doing this, you’ll not only sound great, but your conference call participants won’t have to hear that distracting noise from your background. And, as an added bonus, you’ll hear them better too. All this makes for a far better Zoom video conferencing experience.
A wire, or no wire . . . that is the question
Given that Zoom video conferencing meetings are carried out using the computer, plugging in a good quality headset is done through the USB port. That said, you have the choice of using a headset that’s wired, or one that’s wireless.
Some might feel that being tied to your desk like a boat to an anchor is just fine. And for many, it surely is.
Allowing my personal bias to shine through here a bit, I favor those models that have cut the cord and gone full blown wireless. I prefer a wireless model for a few simple reasons:
- There aren’t any cords to get in the way and get snagged on things. Annoying, right?
I can stand up, and move around my immediate work area freely and without worry that a cord will drag papers off my desk, or get hung up on something.
- If I’m dying for my 2nd cup of Joe, but I can step away for a moment, grab that needed jolt of caffeine, and in the process, not miss anything that’s being said.
4. I can go settle the dog down, respond to a doorbell ring, or any number of other things that could need immediate attention. With the blessings of the group of course.
The point is, with a wireless headset you have the flexibility to do more than what you’re able to do with a wired model. With that in mind, this blog will focus on one model of wireless headset that I think is awesome for Zoom video conferencing calls, or calls using other video conferencing platforms.
Lots of options
Shopping around for a wireless USB headset will return a lot of makes and models for you to choose from. Even within brands, you have multiple USB wireless headset options that only further confuses things and helps to make a buying decision more complicated. You have choices from many providers such as:
- Poly (formerly Plantronics)
And, the list goes on.
So, how do you sift your way through all the makes and all of their models in order to arrive at the model that’s right for you? Here are a few things to consider as you ponder the best way to approach this.
Know what your budget is. How much money can you spend on a USB wireless headset, or how much money is available for the total spend? Knowing this can help to narrow the field bringing you closer to your eventual choice.
What features do you want or need? Believe it or not, the features on USB wireless headsets do vary. Knowing what you want and need, and what would be nice to have helps when comparing models.
Is it comfortable? Comfort is subjective, but it’s something that still needs to be taken into consideration. A wireless headset that’s priced right that has the features you want won’t score well with the staff if it causes them to scream out in pain at the end of the day. Read a lot of reviews, request a free demo to try it yourself, or have one of your staff test it. Comfort matters.
Does it sound good? A headset can look good, it can have great features, it can be comfortable and priced perfectly. But, what if it sounds crappy? Any value there? My bet is no.
We all want to sound good, even our best. If a USB wireless headset doesn’t deliver in the sound department, keep looking. Sound can be in the form of how you sound to your callers, how others sound to you, and how much unwanted background noise can be heard. Make sure not to overlook this.
Okay, with that said, what wireless USB headset is priced right, has great features, is comfortable, and sounds great? I think this is the point in the blog where you’re supposed to hear a drum roll.
I considered several brands
The Voyager Focus 2 UC is priced in the middle of the pack, it’s super comfortable, sounds great and has a boatload of features, some you won’t find on any other headset out there. Below are a few of the features that help to make this our number one pick for a wireless USB headset for Zoom video conferencing calls.
If you prefer a video review instead
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC connects to:
- Computer via the BT700 adapter (this is an upgrade from the previous BT600) - Mobile devices via Bluetooth
- Computer via micro USB cable (audio over USB). Wired connection in addition to wireless computer connectivity.
The Voyager Focus 2 UC allows you to connect to your computer via the BT700 USB adapter, which is new, and provides you with longer wireless range over the earlier version (BT600).
Like many USB wireless headsets, you can connect to mobile devices via Bluetooth connection. But, one thing here that’s not as common is being able to connect the headset to a computer via the included micro USB cable.
If your battery goes down on you, you can still use the headset, and it charges in the process. This is a very useful feature in real world situations.
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC has ear cushions that are very soft and comfortable. Believe it or not, ear cushions vary quite a bit, and having ones that are soft and easy on the ears help to enhance comfort.
Another comfort feature found on the Voyager Focus 2 UC is the headband. Essentially there are two touch points on a headset. One is the ear cushions, mentioned above, and the other is the headband that rests on the top of the head, and helps to carry and distribute the weight of the headset across the top of your head.
The Focus 2 UC has a unique canopy pad design where the headband pad is on a suspension. This is along the lines of a shock absorber, and to feel this is to appreciate it.
Unlike other headbands that have the metal or hard plastic band resting on the head, the Focus 2 UC pad is resting on the head, not the band itself. And, given the pad is on a suspension, further adds to the comfort experience. This is a unique design, and from my personal experience, it works as designed.
Noise cancelling microphone.
Having a noise cancelling microphone on a USB wireless headset isn’t something you’re going to write home to Mom about. Pretty much all of the competing models have this.
What makes this microphone better is it not only does a great job to pick up your voice volume for a crisp, clear sound, but it has noise cancelling, and what Poly calls Acoustic Fence noise reduction technology.
Acoustic Fence takes noise cancelling to the next level. In our tests, it did perform better than standard noise cancelling microphones. So, if having a great sounding call is important to you, the Voyager Focus 2 UC microphone will help to make that a reality for you, and for those you’re talking to.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
Having a noise cancelling microphone is designed to give your callers a better sound experience by not subjecting them to the sounds going on around you. The noise cancelling microphone helps filter that unwanted noise, so your callers hear you, and not what’s going on around you.
Active Noise Cancellation is designed for you, the person wearing the headset. ANC is designed to allow you to remain focused on your work and not be distracted by sounds going on around you.
This is an electronic feature on the headset that when it detects outside sound, it sends out an electronic counter measure designed to prevent those sounds from reaching you.
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC allows you to control how much of the sound you hear, or don’t hear. You can turn the ANC off, set it to low, or high. You’re in control of your environment, not the other way around. Unwanted distractions are the leading cause for reduced productivity, and ANC is one tool to help fight this.
Battery - Talk Time - Listening Time - Recharge Time
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC has a battery that provides you with the following
19 hours with Active Noise Cancellation off
16 hours with Active Noise Cancellation on
40 hours with Active Noise Cancellation off
24 hours with Active Noise Cancellation on
Battery Recharge Time
Compared to other wireless USB headset available, these are solid specifications. For most people, having a full 16-19 hours of available talk time will power just about anyone through their busiest day, unless of course you’re someone who’s always working and never sleeps. If so, you’ll have to use the included micro USB cable to keep you going.
All in all, the battery is solid, and as noted, it’s nice to have the option to plug in the micro USB cable as a safeguard.
Smart Sensors - what that means to you
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC comes with smart sensor technology. That sounds great and all, but what does it really mean?
This has to do with what the headset does when you put it on, or take it off. For example, if you put on the headset while the microphone is muted, it will unmute the microphone automatically. If you take the headset off, the microphone mutes automatically as well.
If you’re listening to music and you take the headset off, your music will pause. Putting it back on allows your music to resume. So in the context of smart sensors and the Focus 2 UC, it has to do with functionality that occurs when you put on, or take off the headset.
On the subject of muting the microphone, if you begin talking when the microphone is muted, the headset will tell you (audibly) that your microphone is muted. This helps to avoid situations where you’re unknowing that your microphone is off. Poly refers to this feature as “Dynamic mute alert”.
Continuing with the microphone, if you raise the microphone boom up, it will automatically mute the microphone. Once you lower it back to the normal position, it will unmute it.
The Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC has a built-in busy light that turns on when you go live on a call. This helps to avoid interruptions when you’re on a call. When the light turns on, it lets others around you know that you’re busy and not to be interrupted. Interruptions when using a headset is very common, and a busy light is one thing that helps to minimize these interruptions.
Nobody wants to run the risk of hearing loss due to sudden, unexpected sound spikes. The Voyager Focus 2 UC has hearing protection called SoundGuard. This feature is activated when you download the Poly Lens app.
If you’re looking for a USB wireless headset for you, or your team, you really can’t go wrong by considering the Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC. This is a great sounding headset that’s about as comfortable as you’re going to find. It’s packed full of features that protect you, enhance your sound quality, and gives you technology that makes for a better wireless headset experience.
Poly (formerly Plantronics) has a well known reputation for providing good quality products. The Voyager Focus 2 UC fits right into this lane. Without question it’s a quality product, and one that I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with should you decide to make this new model your next new headset.