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Plantronics Calisto 620 Speakerphone Review



Plantronics Logo

On review here is the Plantronics Calisto 620 UC wireless Bluetooth speakerphone. It’s designed to pair with a smartphone or tablet for impromptu teleconferences and as the UC (Unified Communications) variant, the Calisto comes with a pre-paired USB Bluetooth transceiver, working well with IP-based telephony such as Microsoft’s Lync or Skype for Business.

In my experience, speakerphones fall into two categories; those that are normal phones with a speakerphone capability and those that are dedicated speakerphones and typically have no handset. The former usually sound rubbish with the feature added to tick a box, whereas the latter can provide clear communication into a meeting. Let’s take a look and see if the Calisto 620 also provides that much needed clear communication.

With the unboxing video out of the way, how well does the Calisto work in practice? It’s certainly very easy to use. Once paired with a smartphone, it can be treated as simple Bluetooth headset. The 620 doesn’t have voice dialling or voice commands, so calls have to be placed via the smartphone. I don’t see this as an issue given the expected usage of the Calisto 620 within an office environment. Incoming calls can be answered by pressing the call button on the unit.

Using the 620 with IP telephony was similarly easy. The pre-paired Bluetooth transceiver plugs into a spare USB port on the PC and the connection to the 620 is established automatically. For incoming calls, press the call button to take the call; for outbound calls, select the Calisto as the audio device in Lync and dial via the softphone.

The Calisto 620 supports A2DP meaning that music or video soundtrack can played through the speaker. Ok, it’s not hi-fi, but it’s a massive improvement on most smartphone speakers. The volume isn’t going to fill a lecture theatre but for a conference room or office, it’s perfectly adequate.

With regard to audio quality, it’s surprisingly good on both sides of the call. According to the Plantronics specification, the Calisto has “Bi-directional microphones (that) activate in the direction of speaker’s voice” and “Full duplex audio with 360° room coverage”. What that means is that 620 can pick out whoever is talking wherever they are in the room…

One of the biggest benefits is simply that the Calisto 620 is battery powered and can be located wherever is most convenient. Cabled (speaker)phones are still restricted to the length of the cord. Battery life is rated at seven hours talk time which I think is accurate as I got a working day of music out of the 620, with a few breaks here and there.

In summary, the Plantronics Calisto 620 wireless speakerphone is an ideal addition to the office arsenal of technology. Whether paired to a smartphone or IP telephony, the 620 provides portable voice-conferencing for small groups which can be up and running in seconds. At around GB£80, it’s competitively priced against its rivals, many of which don’t have the seamless integration with Microsoft Lync or other IP telephony systems.

Thanks to Plantronics for supplying the review Calisto 620 speakerphone. Feedback welcome from GNC readers on the unboxing video.


Plantronics Voyager Edge Bluetooth Headset Review



Plantronics LogoWhile smartphones and tablets are the poster children for the mobile revolution, the Bluetooth headset is an often forgotten cousin. Many of us have used headsets in vehicles out of necessity but being hands-free at the desk is a revelation and once freed from the tyranny of the telephone handset, there’s no going back. Perfect for this journey to freedom is Plantronics latest model in the Voyager series, the Voyager Edge UC. Let’s take a look.

Plantronics Voyager Edge Headset

The Voyager Edge is an in-ear Bluetooth headset with a battery-enhanced carry case. With a squarish head and a short stubby microphone arm, the Edge is designed to sit snugly in the ear without the traditional over-the-ear loop. A selection of three silicon ear pieces help get the right fit and I found that a slight rotation of the ear piece kept the Edge firmly in my ear. Looking round the headset, there are an on-off switch and volume rocker on the sides. The whole top surface is a “call” button and there’s a command or “voice” button on the microphone arm.

Plantronics Voyager Edge with Earpieces

In the box, there’s a charger with both European and UK plugs, a USB cable and the previously mentioned selection of clear silicone earpieces designed to achieve the perfect fit for headset wearers. Obviously, there’s the Voyager Edge itself and there’s the curiously shaped charging carry case.

PICT4676

The charging case itself verges on genius. First of all, I love the shape and texture; the curved and ribbed rubber hints at a more natural form, whether bark or shell, I’m not sure. It’s rugged too and I don’t worry about the case rolling around in the bottom of my bag – I’m not so sure I’d say the same thing about the Voyager Legend‘s case. The Edge’s case holds both the headset on the top and the Bluetooth transceiver on the bottom. Pushing the headset into the case lights up blue LEDs which show the battery level of both the case and the Edge. The lights turn to red when the battery gets low and charging from the case to the headset starts automatically. The headset is held firmly in the case, needing a good tug with a finger to pull free and in daily use, I rarely returned the Edge to the case except at the end of the day.

There are micro USB ports on both the case and the headset to charge. Talk time is rated at six hours, standby at seven days and the case will recharge the headset about one and half times, giving a total talk time of sixteen hours away from a power supply. Although I was never able to use the headset until the battery died, I’d be confident the figures aren’t far off the mark.

Plantronics Voyager Edge Charging Case

Being the UC or Unified Communications variant of the Voyager Edge, a pre-paired Bluetooth USB transceiver is included which can be kept in the bottom of the charging case when not in use. Getting the Edge setup with Skype for Business or other IP-based telephony system is simply base of plugging the transceiver into a spare USB port and turning the Edge on.

Plantronics Voyager Edge Charge Case

Pairing with a phone can be done in two ways, both of which are easy. If the phone is NFC equipped, hold it up to the top surface of the Edge and pairing will begin automatically. Without NFC, press the voice button on the boom, say, “Pair” and then pair on the phone as normal. I paired with a range of smartphones and tablets without any problems. The Edge will store pairings with up to eight devices, although only two can be active at any time.

The Edge does a great deal based on sensors and voice commands. Putting on the headset will auto-answer an incoming call. With the headset already on ear, saying, “Answer” or “Ignore” will direct the call as desired. Pressing the call button on the top surface will pass voice commands through to the phone’s dialler and calls can be placed without touching the phone.

Call quality was excellent, both when connected via IP telephony and smartphone. When used with Microsoft Lync (or Skype for Business as it’s branded now), no-one had any idea that I was on a headset rather than a handset. I simply love being hands-free at my desk.

Overall, I liked the Voyager Edge. I found it comfortable to wear for extended periods, call quality was excellent and worked well with both my smartphone and corporate telephony. The charge case was robust and didn’t need to be treated too carefully. The truth is that the Edge is currently my headset of choice when I’m out and about, either taking calls on my OnePlus Two or connected into my laptop for internal calls.

At the best part of GB£100 the Plantronics Voyage Edge UC isn’t cheap (the non-UC version is about GB£75) but the Edge is a very good Bluetooth headset that is well matched to today’s high end smartphones and IP telephony solutions.

Thanks to Plantronics for supplying the Voyager Edge UC for review.


Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset Review



I’ve been a user of Plantronics’ Bluetooth headsets for many years, starting with the Explorer 320 and more recently the Voyager Pro. I’ve always liked them because I found them a good fit on my ears but they’re trouble-free and easy-to-use with no problems pairing on a wide range of phones. More recently, I’ve taken receipt of a Voyager Legend and, so far, it’s living up to its name.

On review here is the full Voyager Legend UC package which comes with the headset itself, Bluetooth adaptor, desktop charging stand and charging case. This is the complete outfit for those in the office and on the go, aimed at those who use both mobile phones and IP-based communications, such as Microsoft’s Lync or Skype. This is the Microsoft version with an alternative version supporting Avaya, Cisco and IBM services. The Legend can manage two Bluetooth connections simultaneously so calls coming in from both routes can be answered on the headset and speaking from experience, this is very handy.

Plantronics Legend Box

The Voyager Legend UC comes in a plain box but opening it up reveals a wealth of accessories and adaptors, including UK and continental plug adaptors plus various USB connectors and chargers.

Plantronics Legend Inside Box

Here’s the charging case with the USB Bluetooth adaptor and the Voyager Legend itself. The Bluetooth adaptor is half the size of the previous generation that came with the Voyager Pro.

Plantronics Legend Charging Case

As might be guessed from the name, this is a charging case and the case has a built-in rechargeable battery which charges the Legend when it is in the case. In the photo below, you can see the contacts in the case on the right. It’s a clever idea, especially when on extended travel as you don’t need to lug around chargers – the case itself recharges via a micro-USB connection.

Charging Contacts

Of course, the desktop dock provides a convenient place to keep the Legend and charge it at the same time. There’s a magnetic catch to snap the headset in place.

Plantronics Legend Headset and Dock

Plantronics Legend in Dock

In use I find the Legend very comfortable to wear and I almost use it almost exclusively to answer my calls at my desk, whether the call comes through on my mobile or my desk phone. The headset is stylish enough to wear without feeling self-conscious, though I tend to take it off when I’m away from my desk. The Legend has three earpiece sizes in the box to accommodate different ears and can be worn on either the left or the right ear.

The Legend has some great features, such as auto answer, which detects when the headset is lifted from the dock and answers the call automatically. The Legend accepts voice commands, letting you put the headset into pairing mode, answer or decline calls and check battery level with ease. There are hardware controls on the headset for on/off, volume up/down, accept call and a multi-function button which does a couple of different things.

The talk time is rated at 7 hours and I never had any trouble with the battery running down unexpectedly. The charging case extends this even further with two full recharges from the case taking the total call time to 21 hours. Call quality is excellent, with callers sounding clear and natural, and most people don’t realise that I’m on a Bluetooth headset. The Legend also supports A2DP, which is handy if you want to listen to music or podcasts, albeit with one ear.

Plantronics have an Android smartphone app which, amongst other things, can help you track down where you last used the headset via GPS. It’s a neat idea but I found the app didn’t always play nicely with other GPS-using apps as the Plantronics app would turn off the GPS after getting a lock. The other app would than flail around looking for a signal lock. I submitted a bug report to Plantronics so hopefully they’ll get that fixed soon as it’s very irritating when playing Ingress.

There’s no two ways about it, the Plantronics Voyager Legend UC is a brilliant headset which I’m sure will do me for years – it has both the features and the construction to last. It’s definitely a premium product and it doesn’t come cheap: the RRP is over £150 but you can find it online for less than £100 including the carry case. However, it’s worth it if you want to to use a hands-free headset on an extended basis both at the desk and on the go.

The Voyager Legend UC was provided by Plantronics for review.


Plantronics .Audio 1100M Review



Plantronics .Audio 1100MThe Plantronics .Audio 1100M is a simple USB VoIP telephone handset optimised for use with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 and Lync 2010, though it will also work with Skype and other softphone applications.  Habitual users of these systems will recognise the benefit of having a dedicated handset rather than relying on speakers or built-in microphones.

As you’ll see from the photos, it’s functional rather than aesthetically pleasing, with just a numeric keypad plus buttons for mute, speakerphone, call and hang-up.   There are also volume and ringer controls on the left and right sides respectively.

The handset has a good weight to it – not so heavy as your hand gets tired, but it feels like a solid product that isn’t going to break the first time it hits the floor.  The back of the phone is curved and fits nicely into the palm of your hand.

Phone in Monitor HookAlso in the box is a cradle which can be attached to your monitor or other vertical edge.  This keeps the handset handy for when a call comes in without cluttering up your desk.  The picture on the right shows the handset in the cradle.

On both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10,  the .Audio 1100M was instantly recognised and the drivers loaded.

The 1100M has been optimised for Microsoft Communicator 2007 or Lync 2010, as it’s now called.  This means that when used with either of the two Microsoft products, all the buttons work as expected and allow you to dial numbers, pickup and reject calls and so on.  Call quality was good and the person on the other end of my call could hear me well.  I’d definitely rate it as one of the better handsets I’ve used for call clarity.

When used with Skype, the 1100M works as a basic USB audio device in that you can have a conversation but the numeric keypad and the accept / reject buttons don’t work.  Call quality was still high.

A few colleagues suggested that an LCD screen would be useful to see the number being dialled but I’m not sure that it’s essential.  When used with Communicator and Lync, you can see the number displayed on the PC screen so I think you’ll be more likely to look at that to check the phone number.

The online price is just under £60 or $70 going by Amazon.  Clearly, there are cheaper handsets on the market, but this device is not aimed at the individual consumer.  The .Audio 1100M is for businesses implementing unified communications where a lower cost device is needed for basic phone calls.  One scenario I can imagine is someone who works from home occasionally but connects to the work network via a VPN.  This handset would suit them.

If there were a couple of things to improve…first I’d make drivers available so that all the functions work with Skype or similar softphones.  To be fair, the .Audio 1100M is designed for Microsoft Communicator / Lync and it doesn’t try hide this.  Second, I’d make a curly USB lead available to make the device more phone-like.  And finally, I hope the next version of the handset is a little bit more attractive.

Other than that, the .Audio 1100M is a good solid device with better-than-average call quality.

Thanks to Plantronics UK for the device.