Company looks to differentiate itself from other headset vendors through software and innovation
Historically the headset was not an area of the communications space where people expected tremendous amounts of new technology. Certainly wireless standards like DECT and Bluetooth have brought headsets into the tech space but for Plantronics these were a stepping stone for tighter integration into the world of unified communications.
After 40 years of making industry-leading headsets, the company has now upped the ante by announcing a suite of new products which are designed to add intelligence, flexibility and ease-of-use to communications endpoints. As mobile devices like smartphones and netbooks continue to gain momentum, the company is looking to provide the unified communications glue which connects various devices together while better integrating music/entertainment and business communications/UC markets.
The company just released Savi Office which is designed for office workers and provides a single wireless headset for desk phones and PC audio/softphone calls. Savi Go as the name suggests gives mobile professionals a simple-to-use wireless headset to connect to PC and mobile phone. Both products have variants that support UC offerings from companies such as Avaya, Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft, and popular IP communications services, such as Google Talk and Skype.
Savi Office is a really interesting offering in that it allows the audio from IP communications calls coming from a computer to be mixed with the audio coming from a phone so you are able to conference a Skype and PBX caller quite easily. A series of icons available in the company's Persono Suite software allow a user to interact with their music player, IP phone, PC and headset with simple button presses on a GUI or the base of the headset. If you are using typical media players, your streaming music stops automatically when a call comes in. If you are enjoying Flash-based audio such as Pandora or YouTube, your music won't pause - but at least it won't be heard until your call is over.
There is support for wideband audio otherwise referred to as HD voice and the company tells me in informal tests that users don't seem to mind giving up the stereo headset experience for wideband in one ear. For those of you who want the best of both worlds, stereo options should be available soon.
Great pains have been taken to ensure the software accompanying this product offering has tremendous flexibility, allowing custom ringtones and other options. In addition, IT departments can block users from making changes if they so desire. Moreover, Plantronics has made sure that headset bases are interchangeable so they can be standardized to minimize inventory needs.
In a nod to the changing workplace, where multiple people share a single workspace, the company has not put a limit on how many of these DECT-based headsets can be connected to a single base. In addition, the headsets allow impromptu conferencing with a maximum of four connected at once for training or other purposes.
There is also state-of-the-art power management as headsets know how far they are from the base and when they are nearby they go into a low-power mode to save battery life and energy.
While Savi Office is dedicated to the professional who spends much of their time in the office, Savi Go is really focused on bridging the mobile and office worlds by interfacing seamlessly between mobile phones and softphones (a Bluetooth dongle is included as part of this solution). A smart move by the company is a longer microphone boom included in this solution which allows for better audio quality on the road, in a car, in a noisy hotel lobby, etc.
In addition, Class 1 Bluetooth ensures range of
350 200 feet instead of the typical 33 feet range of most Bluetooth devices. The first edition of this solution will work seamlessly with Microsoft OCS and a more agnostic solution will be released shortly thereafter.
Another great feature is downloadable firmware which minimizes product returns if upgrades are needed for proper performance.
My take is Plantronics has taken headsets to the next level with a blend of software and hardware innovation. In addition, they have moved upmarket with these solutions and in doing so provide more flexibility for companies looking for the latest UC solutions to boost productivity and sound quality. Although the Savi products have noise cancelling microphones, to make a killer solution the company needs to add a noise-reducing binaural Bluetooth stereo option so people can ditch their single function noise-cancelling headphones once and for all.
Persono Suite in its Relaxed State
Persono Suite Even More Relaxed -- Just Chilling, Listening to Tunes
Persono Suite Taking a PBX Call
Persono Suite Transfering a Call
Savi Go Offering With Larger Boom Microphone (laptop/smartphone not included ;) )
Savi Office Bridges PC and UC Audio/Telephony
Allows PC Recording of UC Calls and more