Plantronics Blackwire 700 Series Headset
Looks and feels comfortable on your ears.
[More from Mashable: 5 Hip Bluetooth Headsets]
Every once in a while, a gadget comes along that solves a problem that was just starting to get annoying. The Plantronics Blackwire 700 Series USB Headset is that gadget.
Like many people, I work in an open newsroom/office environment. I can hear everything everyone else is saying and doing, and vice versa. Looking around, almost everyone is wearing earbuds or a headset, presumably to drown out of the noise and help stay focused. Ok, some of them are listening to Taylor Swift, but even that I'm told, helps them stay focused.
The problem begins when you're listening to a video or webinar on the computer, and you miss calls or messages on your mobile phone while you're focused and unable to hear the alerts. You do turn your ringer low or off so you don't disturb your co-workers, don't you?
Since many of us are using our mobile phones for personal calls, especially due to lack of privacy in some offices, it becomes increasingly an issue to find you're missing important calls, especially from a babysitter or your child's school.
Plantronics has solved this problem with the Blackwire Crossover Series USB Headset. It connects to your computer via USB, while also connecting to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. That way, when you're working with your headset on and a call comes in, it automatically comes into your headset. People who work in crowded, close environments will particularly like the detachable cable and clothing clip that lets you take the personal call into a conference room or somewhere more private.
The headset has built-in sensors which can tell whether the device is on your head or on the desk. If a call comes in while it's lying on the desk, you can simply pick it up and put it on your head. The call will be routed to the headset. Same thing works in reverse.
Additionally, if you're listening to music from iTunes or a streaming service like Pandora on your mobile phone or tablet and take the connected headset off, it will automatically pause the music so you never miss a beat.
I tested the sound quality in the newsroom and found the audio to be great when plugged into my computer's USB. The sound coming from the PC was crisp and clear. A Skype call sounded big and bassy, and the recipient said he could hear me just fine.
Where it didn't fare as well was on a mobile call. I initiated a call to another mobile phone and while both of us could clearly make out what the other was saying, we did encounter static on either end. This happened on two separate calls.
Set up was simple. The headset plugs into the USB slot on the computer, as well as charges off the computer. Plantronics claims six hours of listening time if you're not plugged into the PC. As soon as I turned it on it went into pair mode and pairing with my mobile phone was easy. After that initial pairing, it automatically connects when I plug it in.
The in-line controls tell you whether the device is charging, let you control the volume, and also house a mute button. I often have a hard time telling if my line is muted or not but as soon as you press the button, a voice alert confirms "phone muted" so you can be sure.
You need to download software drivers in order to utilize the PC audio and call control feature.
The ear cushions fold flat and come in a carrying case for storage and toting around. I can see this coming in handy in homes where there is no landline phone, or for travel where they can be used simultaneously for listening to music as well as making hands-free calls.
The Blackwire series is offered in a single ear style (if you like to hear what's going on around you) for $129.95 and dual-ear hi-fi stereo headset for $149.95. They're comfortable - I had no problem wearing them much of the day, and they certainly made taking and making calls convenient, but the price tag seems high for personal use.
If you can get your boss to spring for a pair of these, you'll enjoy them.
This story originally published on Mashable here.