Plantronics HW251N-USB Wideband Headset

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog -
Rich Tehrani
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Plantronics HW251N-USB Wideband Headset

Correction... Despite my best efforts to be perfect this device is called the HW251N-USB not the HW351N-USB. Sorry if this caused you any problems.

If you are like me you look for ways to ensure your entire team is as productive and efficient as possible. You look for ways to increase productivity and if possible costs at the same time.

As communications solutions have evolved and Moore's law has lent it some speed, we have all benefited from a  slew of faster and faster solutions that can do more for less money.

This coupled with the power of IP communications has led us to a world where communications is becoming truly unified. One of the companies at the center f this trend is Microsoft and they are responsible for a wideband codec which they embed as part of their Office Communications Server product and Office Communicator, the software which sits on the client desktop.

But having the communications software is part of the equation. Wideband codecs rely on devices to ensure there improved sound quality can not only be heard but transmitted effectively.

It is for this reason Microsoft has worked with many companies to ensure plug-and-play compatibility with Windows systems.

i was fortunate enough to recently get my hands on the Plantronics HW251N-USB wideband headset for use with Microsoft Office Communicator.

The company supplied TMC with two of these advanced headsets and Tom Keating was kind enough to accept the challenge of testing the sound quality of this new device with me.

The headset itself looks like any typical one you would see a call center agent use. The difference is that it is USB device and truly autoconfigures when you plug it in.

The sound quality of the headset is great and there are four in-line buttons which control volume, mute and even disconnect OCS calls.

The headset was tested with Office Communicator and Skype and it is was interesting to note that OCS produces a dial tone sound when you press the disconnect button while engaged in a Skype call.

There isn't really much room for improvement in this device. It does what it supposed to and seems rugged enough for a typical casual office environment. I did notice the microphone boom cannot be moved farther or closer to your mouth but that is a minor quibble.

The headset is not really compact but fits into a  laptop case without taking up too much room. It is really the perfect complement to any soft phone.

Of course until the rest of the world's devices start to support wideband, this device and the few others on the market will be "audiophole telephony islands." I am looking forward to seeing more and more devices support high quality voice so we can finally leave the telephony jail of decades-old audio quality.

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