Managing Editor, www.smallbusinesscomputing.com
If you constantly talk on the phone, you may want to consider a telephone headset system that you can wear and that frees your hands and relieves that strain in your shoulder and neck. And if you often want to walk as you talk, a cordless telephone headset such as Plantronics' CS10 can be a major convenience.
The CS10 combines a 900 MHz cordless amplifier and headset and lets you talk on the phone within a range of up to 150 feet from the base unit. The CS10's base unit, which sits on your desk, is a vertical mini-tower that stands about as high as an average paper back book to save desktop space. The compact remote unit is about the size of a pager and easily clips onto your belt or into a pocket.
The remote unit slides into a repository on the base station where it automatically charges itself. The antenna on the base station has a little notch that lets you drape the headset over the entire unit. This makes the headset easier to store when it's not in use. There's also a pager function that helps you locate the remote unit in the event that you leave it somewhere and can't find it.
In use, the CS10 is comfortable and works well. To talk on the phone, put on the headset, lift up the receiver on your office telephone, and press the "talk" button on the remote unit or on the base station. If you need to walk around, slide the remote unit out of its base and clip it to your pocket or belt, and you're ready to walk and talk.
In our testing, we wandered around our offices, and despite the walls and even closed doors, were able to continuously talk on the phone and listen to sound that was clear and easy to understand. The remote unit comes with a rechargeable battery that the company says gives 6 hours of use.
A convenience, Plantronics sells an optional handset lifter that lets you answer and hang-up calls when you're away from the telephone. Without the handset lifter, you must lift the telephone's handset to use the cordless headset. The CS10 remote unit offers volume controls as well as a mute button. If you prefer an over-the-ear loop instead of a headset, the CS10 comes with parts that let you convert the headset.
It takes some experimenting to become comfortable with the CS10. The microphone sits a few inches from your mouth and does an excellent job of picking up your voice. However, because the microphone is so sensitive, you can experience some feedback through the headset when you're near your telephone. You'll need to adjust the volume and find an optimal level that lets you still hear the call and not experience feedback, or you may have to move the headset to a distant part of the desk each time you take a call, as we ultimately did.
The CS10 is easy to hook-up. The fold-out installation sheet offers clear instructions and pictures and we had our CS10 up and running within15 minutes. The CS10 connects to single or multi-line corded telephones. The downside is that you have to connect the cord from your telephone's handset to the CS10 base unit, and there's not enough room under the base station to easily accommodate a phone's twisted cord. Because of this, the base station has a tendency to rock and be a tad unstable.
A general problem with a headset system, and this goes for any system that we've used, you end up with a tangle of cables on your desk. According to the Plantronics Web site, the CS10 Cordless Telephone Headset System is supposed to come with a noise-cancellation headset. However, there was no mention of this feature on the product's packaging or in its documentation, and we heard no such improvement when using the headset.
If you prefer a cordless headset that offers dialing capabilities in the remote unit, Plantronics sells its similar CT10 Cordless Headset Telephone. The remote unit of the CT10 comes with a full telephone keypad that lets you make or place calls.
In all, Plantronics CS10 is a first rate product that effectively frees your hands and lets you comfortably sit or walk around as you talk on the phone. At $299, the CS10 is pricey, but it's a solid product that can save your neck.
Manufacturer: Plantronics, Inc., www.plantronics.com
Pros: lightweight and comfortable, gives effective coverage.