As we stroll along down the road of innovation, we constantly look for new ways to increase comfort in our daily lives. Communication has always been a big one for us as we moved from heavy stationary phones on the walls, to long curly cables, to cordless phones to wireless and cellular everything. When there is nothing left when it comes to cords hanging from the side of our heads, there are only so many directions we can go from there. One of these, is eliminating having to “hold” anything up to our ears. So then you get Bluetooth and other wireless earpieces and headsets to accomplish this. We have them for our cellular smartphones, but what about everything else? Wouldn’t you rather have a wireless headset for that boring office phone of yours, or your PC when you make Skype calls?
We aren’t new to wireless headsets obviously, but there is still on ongoing evolution of headset solutions delivered by so many companies to solve all of your needs with. VXi, familiar for so many styles of headsets, including BlueParrott solutions, is one of these companies who continues to deliver these solutions to both consumers and enterprise alike. Today, we get the chance to talk about their V200 headset for both desk phones and PCs. So if you have an office phone or would like the office-like setup at home using your computer–listen up.
The V200 is a base and headset-style solution that supports USB PC connectivity as well as a wide range of popular office phones brands and models, including Cisco (used in our tests), Polycom, Avaya, etc. It will also work on your home phones as well, although you’ll have to play with lifting your original handset on and off the unit to trigger answering and hanging up (unless your phone has a dedicated headset RJ-11 port/jack (not common outside of office phones).
The design of the headset and unit has a modern high-tech kind of feel to it. It’s all plastic outside of the rubber feet under the base with a two tone matte/glossy finish. There is enough weight to the unit to make it feel as though it is a durable piece of equipment and not some cheap device you over-paid for. The earpiece fits nicely into its cradle for charging and storage and doesn’t have too much weight to it, therefore allows for comfort during long term use, even with the ear-hook (although the bands provide further comfort during long use).
You have three options to chose from for wearing the headset, including an ear hook, an over-the-head band and a around the back of the neck band/solution. They are completely interchangeable, so you can mix it up as you use it or simply find what works best for you and stick with it. The around the neck and over the head options features a round cushion that lays against your ear for comfort and the around the ear (hook) option uses silicone tips to get a good fit with while providing that comfort. There are three sizes of tips to choose from so you can get a nice tight fit but without too much pressure.
Setup is easy, regardless of the mode you chose. If you are using an office phone likes ours that has two separate RJ-11 jacks (one for the normal handset and one for a headset like this one), you simply plug the provided RJ-11 cable into your phone and the base jack input on the back of the unit (represented by an orange dot). Now you can answer calls simply by pressing the button on the face of the headset (by the logo). You also activate the line for dialing by this button as well. If for whatever reason, you do not hear a dial tone, there is a “phone compatibility” switch on the left side of the base/cradle. It defaults to “D”, but your phone could be something else. The instructions say that some Cisco phones require “A” settings. Simply slide the switch around until you find the right configuration mode that matches the model of your phone (ie, you get a dial tone and everything starts to work).
If your setup involves an office phone that does not have a headset jack (or you are looking to use this on a consumer model phone), you would plug the base of the headset into the handset jack of your phone, and then plug the original handset into the handset port on the back of the headset base (try saying that three times fast). That way, the headset is “in-line” between the phone and the original handset. To make a call, you would lift the handset off of the phone like normal but place it to the side. Then you would hit the button on the headset to turn it on, and you should be ready for dialing. To hang up, you disable the headset and place the handset back (“on the hook”) as you normally would.
Both of these options due require the headset to be in “phone” mode, which is identified by the LEDs on the front of the base. You have phone (green) and PC to the right of it (red). If the PC (red) light is light, simply hit the mode button on the side to switch (or in our case, we hit the PC or Phone button on the front) between the modes. Also both of these scenarios as well as PC mode obviously require the headset base to be plugged into the wall for power. That power adapter should “always” be plugged in to work, regardless of what you are using the headset for.
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So for PC, you would want the red PC light to be lit. Now is where setup is slightly different, but still very easy. Besides plugging the base into the wall for power, you simply use the USB to micro-USB cable that comes with the headset. Plug the base into a USB port on your Windows PC. As long as you are running a recent version of Windows, you should be ready to go. There was no initial preparation on our end as Windows automatically recognized the headset and set Windows’ default sound and recording device as the headset. Now, to make a call, you would simply begin a session with an application like Skype and click on that same button on the face of the earpiece/headset to enable it. You will now hear everything from your PC coming from the headset. When you are done with a call, hang up using the software and also hit that button again to disable the headset. Or, if you tend to make plenty of calls, simply keep it powered on and on your head as your software will control answering and hanging up.
The buttons on the headset/earpiece are simple. Outside of the main button on the face, you have volume control on one side and a mute button on the other. All other buttons are located on the base. I have already pointed out the phone compatibility mode on the left side and the mode bottoms. The PC and Phone mode LED and buttons are located on the front along with a pair button to pair the earpiece to the base in case it becomes unpaired for whatever reason. This one came paired right out of the box, so there was no need in our experience with it. The right side of the base unit features a level up and down for the microphone, the mode button discussed a moment ago and the micro-USB port for connecting it to a PC with.
The back of the base contains all or your RJ-11 connections. The power adapter is already plugged into one of them. There is a battery door-like lid that pops off from below that gives open access to these jacks. This lid protects the jacks from easily becoming disconnected or played with. You have four additional jacks to choose from. The far left one (represented by a blue dot) is for an optional lifter for answering calls remotely. To the right of the power adapter is a wall jack (red) for plugging it directly into the wall with as a secondary satellite unit vs straight to your phone (like having another phone in the house or office on the same line, but without dialing capabilities). Next to that you have your base jack (orange) that plugs into your phone. Finally, to the right of that, you have your handset jack (blue) where you would plug your original handset into if your phone doesn’t have two jacks available to choose from.
There is also an RJ-11 splitter, in case you want to go that route.
When using the headset while connected to one of the office phones, it actually performs quite well. Well enough that our media assistant has currently taken ownership of it and claims she is holding it hostage until someone can give her a good reason to let it go and only temporarily. Volume control between the earpiece and the microphone works well and both parties can hear each other perfectly. There is a tinny-ness to the earpiece as the frequency range is pretty much all highs, no mids or lows.
It functions like a headset should function in the mix of things and we didn’t find any flaws to point out outside of the tinny-ness. The a headset of this price, the sound quality should be a little wider.
We did get clear across the office floor and didn’t begin to get any dropouts until we hit the stairs. The specs claim it will operate up to 300ft away from the base, so it’s perfect for the office environment and someone like our media assistant.
Noise isolation is pretty good when it comes to the sounds around you. It isn’t mind-blowing though, as you can still hear some things in the background at times.
When using it as part of a phone that doesn’t support and extra jack, it also functions well. We had to bring in a normal house phone to test this side of things with. You only suffer if you forget to hang the handset back up when finished with a call, which didn’t seem to be a problem as it was second nature to us when using it. If you forget to hang up the headset, nothing happens as long as that handset is pushing down on the hook. I don’t want to go too much further into this direction though since you aren’t likely to be buying this for use at home (there are more affordable solutions for that, with less range and features).
Now, connecting it to a PC is definitely something worth going into detail with. As mentioned, when you plug the USB into the computer, Windows should automatically detect it and set it as your default sound and recording (microphone) device. If you have Skype, it will pop-up a little message asking if you want to use it as a headset. If you have a version of Windows older than Windows 7, you “might” have to manually set it in your sound and recording properties. I can’t tell you that because none of the PCs here go that far back anymore, even in virtual systems (except for pre-Windows 98 VMs which we won’t talk about).
Now, it will function like any other USB headset or headphone with a mic, plugged into your PC. Nothing fancy, but it works for taking/making calls. In our example, we used Skype for making calls. We removed the headset off of the base, hit the main button on the headset to enable it and started a call with Skype. All works the way you would expect it to. You then hang up via Skype’s window. You can then press the button on the headset to de-activate it if you want or keep it on in case you want to listen in for more calls or plan to make a bunch.
Since it is set as your default sound device, this also means it is your sound device for everything (not just phone calls). So you will have to keep this in mind. As long as it is connected to the PC via USB, everything including music playback will play through the headset. Since you have nothing but highs to listen to, the music will get extremely exhausting, really quick. So I wouldn’t advise using it as a headphone solution on top of things. To your a pair of speakers or other sound device, you will have to either unplug the USB from the PC or manually set your sound properties back to where they were (or to something else).
One thing we did notice when using it with a PC, was that the volume and mic level configuration didn’t really seem to do much. The mic level adjustment didn’t really seem to do anything at all really. We found a little trouble with this because when using it as a USB headset, we really picked up a lot of sound in the mic, from the earpiece. We pressed the level down button for the mic on the base numerous times, but it didn’t seem to help. We also brought the recording device level property in Windows from 100 to 10 and we were still picking things up from the earpiece and your voice comes through to them pretty hot. We wound up taking Windows main sound level down as well before we could get any improvement. So make sure to rock your main Windows sound level (when it’s plugged in) at 50% or less.
Also, noice cancelation didn’t seem to work as well with USB. I don’t know if this is because we tested this part of the headset in a different room from the other tests or not, but I can at least point out that the noise levels didn’t appear to be much different between the two rooms. Maybe, noise cancellation works better when connected to a phone vs a PC. Maybe, it’s a random coincidence that found its way into our tests.
We have recorded a test using the headset while connected to a PC so that you can hear what your voice sounds like while using the headset during a call:
The headset (at the time of this article) hasn’t exactly made its way to the market just yet. It is still coming soon. When it does, you will be able to find it on VXicorp.com as well as online stores such as Amazon.com.
There you have it! The verdict is in and we decided to give it a pretty decent score, yet not perfect. It has a lot of features and a wonderful range that allows you to walk all over without having to worry about losing your call. It’s ability to adapt to multiple brands and models of phones is pretty nice and comes with three choices to how you wear it (again, over the head was best for us, but then you’re in danger of messing up your hair…if that’s a concern you’d fear). The sound quality of the earpiece could be better. We’d like to see some mid range in there with a slight touch of mid-lows preferably. If tiny little Bluetooth earpieces can pull this off, this expensive headset should be able to as well. Speaking of Bluetooth! Why not just add the option to the base unit. There is no Bluetooth support and this would have been a grand feature for this model. Keeping the base in the mix, you’d have a Bluetooth headset that can walk up to 300ft away. Sadly, this is not the case so no mobile devices or other Bluetooth connectivity to laptops and PCs. We absolutely suggest that they add this to the next model in order to expand on the versatility of the unit.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
V200 User Manual — Click here
0.94 oz. (26.65 g)
3.15″ (8 cm)
Headband, neckband, ear hook
Operating System Support
Windows XP and higher
Macintosh 10.8 and higher
7.25″ L x 4.5″ W x 5.25″ H (18.42 cm L x 11.43 cm W x 13.34 cm H)
26.7 oz. (756.93 g)
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.