Bluetooth headsets are mostly associated – literally, in fact – with cellphones, but there are plenty of people looking to go wireless with their computers for VoIP. Plantronics’ Voyager PRO UC looks like a regular headset but is designed to pair not only with your phone but your computer via a bundled USB dongle, and to maintain those connections simultaneously. Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.
The design of the Voyager PRO UC won’t come as a surprise if you’re familiar with other models from Plantronics’ range. It’s not the slickest of Bluetooth headset designs, with a size-able battery section that hangs over the back of your ear, and a reasonably long boom microphone arm, but it’s well made and the plastics and rubber feel of high quality.
Since the ear-loop is responsible for keeping the Voyager PRO UC in place, the earpiece itself doesn’t need to be buried in your ear canal. That minimizes longer-term discomfort and also allows for some background noise to still be heard. If you’re planning on wearing the Plantronics throughout your work day, it’s useful being able to hear what’s going on around you when you’re not on a call. In the box there are two sizes of soft gel ear tips and two sizes of foam ear tips, and we had no trouble finding one to suit; a medium-sized ear tip is preinstalled on the Voyager PRO UC itself.
Setup is, as with most Bluetooth headsets of late, straightforward. The Voyager PRO UC has volume controls on the top of the earpiece, a call control button on the outer fascia, a power button on the lower back edge and a microUSB charging port on the bottom. There’s also a reasonably discrete status LED just above the power button. Pairing with a cellphone requires holding down that button until the LED blinks red and blue, and then tapping in 0000 on your phone; from then on, you can answer and end calls with the headset control button, double tap it to redial the last number, or press and hold to trigger voice dialing.
Of course, what sets the Voyager PRO UC aside somewhat is the bundled USB Bluetooth dongle, which comes pre-paired to the headset. That’s simply a case of plugging it into a spare USB port and waiting for the LED to go red; since it uses Class 2 Bluetooth it offers 33 ft range. Plantronics say the headset is compatible with a considerable number of softphones and VoIP clients, including industry standards like Cisco and Avaya; happily it’ll also play nicely with apps like Skype, allowing you to answer and end calls with the control button. Since the Voyager PRO UC can remain not only paired but connected to both the dongle and your cellphone at once, you can also flip between calls.
Although we had no trouble getting the headset to work out of the box, Plantronics also supply the Windows-only PerSono Suite app which gives on-screen battery feedback, integrates with Skype to show notification evens, and handles system sounds more intelligently. As well as the Voyager PRO UC, Plantronics also offer an “Optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator 2007″ version which, as the unwieldy name suggests, is specially tailored to Microsoft’s comms platform.
Of course, all this would be pointless if sound quality was below par, and thankfully the Voyager PRO UC is another Plantronics headset with decent audio performance. Like other models there are two microphones each with wind screens, paired up with DSP to cut out background noise. It manages to walk that fine balance between clarity and sounding artificially processed. As for battery life, Plantronics reckon you’ll see up to five days of standby or six hours of talktime from a single charge, and with a day of periodic use with both Skype and our cellphone the battery indicator was still showing 75-percent. Unless you’re literally talking throughout a full work day, the Voyager PRO UC should suffice; meanwhile a recharge generally took 1-2 hours.
The biggest hurdle with the Plantronics Voyager PRO UC is the pricing. With an MRSP of $199.95 it may be small change to the office manager, but for a home user looking to balance VoIP and cellphone calls it’s a considerable step up from impressive models both from Plantronics’ own range and from rivals like Aliph and Jabra. You’re paying in no small part for the convenience of the pre-paired USB dongle; of course, if your laptop already has Bluetooth built-in, you needn’t bother with the dongle at all. The Voyager PRO UC’s MultiPoint abilities are good, its battery life excellent and its audio quality brilliant, but we’d opt for cheaper models like the basic Voyager PRO – at half the price – which still deliver the strong performance.