I don’t review devices all that often but today I find it necessary to say some words about the Plantronics Voyager UC Focus…wow…what a name. But now that we have gotten over the absolutely crazy name of the device let’s talk about it. I’m not going to break down all of the features as I think Finchbot has done a great job of that. And honestly I almost wasn’t going to even bother with a review/write up but I felt as though some items need more explanation.
Desktop Use vs Mobile Use
A lot has been said about the dongle that comes with this device and the fact that the base (we will get to that next) doesn’t have a place to store the dongle. My thought on this device is this isn’t a headset for on-the-go like the old Voyager (or the many good Jabra devices are) but rather for the home office/office space. I don’t see myself unplugging the dongle and wanting to bring the headset + dongle + USB cable with me in my backpack all the time. Although this device pairs great with a cell phone, I don’t think this is the device you would bring with you on the road.
Instead, for me, this is my home office device and it does a fantastic job of doing that! It most likely will never travel with me in my bag to a customer site but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
It seems like companies love to create these easy charging bases for the headsets and some of them are great and others are awful. This one goes straight in the middle. It’s great because the headset easily sits on the base and doesn’t need any yoga like moves to “lock it in”. It fails because of the USB port issue. And although Finchbot mentions this I cannot undersell how annoying this really is. In the world of fewer and fewer USB ports on computers/laptops why a headset would be designed that requires 2 usb ports is almost unforgivable. It Plantronics is looking for how to make this device even more amazing (and it is!) they would do the following: Make the dongle built into the base. And I’m not saying that you plug the dongle into the base. No, I’m saying just build the technology into the base. Why even bother with the dongle if I’m going to have to plug this into my computer to charge. Or better yet, make the device “more on the go” by having my above mentioned “non dongle-dongle built into base” plus have the dongle as well – and I would tell you to find a place on the headset itself to store the dongle.
Evolve 80 vs UC Focus
I think these devices are going to get compared to each other often! If you have read my blog before or followed me on twitter you know that I LOVE the Evolve 80. Unlike many people who must have larger than average sized heads the Evolve 80 doesn’t squeeze my brain into a headache. I’ve worn the headset for 10+ hours and never had a problem with it.
So which one is better? I really think it depends on the user. I’ve said this a million times that headsets are a very personal option. Companies should never force a single headset on it’s users. Choice is key and this is no exception.
For me, I’m using both devices because I think they play very different roles for me. When I hit the road and need to throw a headset in my bag, it’s the Evolve 80. It has a USB cable (not Bluetooth) and has the 3.5 mm jack option. Both of these are huge wins for me if I’m flying on a plane, etc.
Although the UC Focus has Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), I think the Evolve 80 does a better job of blocking out noise. I believe this is because the Evolve 80 has muffs which go completely over/around the ear – so it’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. If I was in a super noisy cubical farm it might be a better fit. My kids can be playing the drums behind me with the 80 and I have no clue they are there – but with the Focus UC I definitely can hear them.
That said, the UC Focus is an absolutely amazing device! A few things that the UC Focus has going for it over the Evolve 80 which shouldn’t be overlooked. The UC Focus is a lot lighter – at least it feels like it – I could find the weight on the Jabra website. Although I don’t have the brain squeeze issue the Evolve 80 is a heavy device. I almost forget that UC Focus is on my head. Second, the UC Focus allows you to have the boom mic on either side of your head. For some people, this is a really big deal. The Evolve can only have the boom mic on the right side. Third, the UC Focus uses the great Plantronics Hub software so you can set it to automatically answer calls when you put the device on your head (if you weren’t wearing it for some reason) and control all sorts of other features. The one thing I haven’t gotten to work correctly is for the Hub to mute Groove Music when an inbound SfB Call comes in. This is more of an issue with Hub then the UC Focus. Lastly, the sound on the device is really great. I don’t consider myself a audiophile but I will tell you the UC Focus is a bit heavier on the bass then the Evolve 80 and I love that.
Should you go buy/try this headset? Yes! Absolutely. It’s an amazing headset even with the base/dongle issue I noted above. This device has been such a hit in the family that I have already ordered one for my wife to use in the home office as well. For me, this has become my daily driver! If you want stars/rating I would give a solid 4.8/5. Near perfection.