Amid the noise of a crowded office or the bustle of a busy café, you can find your own quiet corner of video communication. By donning a pair of headphones and disappearing into a private face-to-face conversation you can focus on work while those around you play.
If those headphones are wireless, you have an extra dimension of freedom. You can move without fear of unplugging a cord, shake your head and gesticulate without fear of tangling yourself in a plastic noose and switch between video and audio calls while keeping your hands free.
Once, wireless technology equated to poor audio, digital interruption, and short battery life. Now it’s as powerful as the cabled version without all the clutter. Wireless headset video conferencing is the next step in your daily communication routine, and it’ll free you up to work as naturally as if you were the only person in the room.
Wireless Headset Video Conferencing
In the past, the term headset was used to refer exclusively to devices that place the microphone on the end of a boom–the classic call center look. We’re going not going to limit ourselves to that model, however, because the current generation of headphones with the microphone built into the ear pads has become sophisticated enough to make this type of headset a worthy choice no matter what you intend to use it for. As a bonus, the boomless versions are a little more casual and don’t obscure your face.
The microphone and the visual aspect are what separates video conferencing headphones from the type you’d use for solo listening: you’re not alone on a video call, you need to be heard.
Because this is the case, you’ll have to pay as much attention to the quality of your headset output as you do to the input. The key to this is noise cancellation. There are several ways to filter out the unwanted din of a busy office or the background conversations of a public place, but the most effective methods use active, algorithmic digital technology rather than simply isolating your ears in a leather pouch. The same techniques can be applied to microphones as well; they should make sure it’s your voice, and only your voice, that comes humming through the video call.
Video calling headphones make one more demand beyond what a solo device would need, and that’s vendor compatibility. If you know what video calling platform you’ll be using, then make sure your headphones have been optimized for that service. If you don’t, you’ll need to look for a brand that takes an agnostic approach.
These extra features, and the cost of employing cable-free Bluetooth connections, are reflected in the comparatively higher prices of wireless headphones. However, there is still a wide range of price points available which we’ll discuss below.
The Cost of Wireless Headphones
Advances in Bluetooth technology–the predominant way to make short-range connections–have improved the capacity, and therefore sound quality, of wireless headsets. As we mentioned, though, including that technology in a headset does impact the price. Logitech, for example, begins their wired headset offerings at less than $40, but you’ll have to go over $70 to shed the cable. Their wireless range extends from the H600 ($69.99) and the Bluetooth enabled H800 ($99.99), to the sleeker, more corporate feel of the H820e ($199.99), and on to the gaming selections headed by the G933 ($199.99, currently on sale for $139.99 on the Logitech site).
You shouldn’t have to go beyond the $200 barrier to get a quality wireless device, however. Plantronics, which has just bought into the video conferencing world with the acquisition of Polycom, offers one of its best overall headsets, the BackBeat Pro 2, for around $200.
By contrast, the Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless range and the Jabra Engage series easily pass the $300 mark by offering features like custom colors, built-in Google Assistant optimization, touchscreen-controlled settings, and an enhanced frequency range.
Once you’re into that price range, you start adding things out of want, rather than need. Keep your needs first and foremost, however, and you can have all the advantages of high-quality wireless video calling without destroying your budget.
A Checklist for Your New Wireless Headset
When buying any set of video calling headphones, wireless or not, the biggest concern is the clarity of the call and the comfort of the headset. The best way to figure out these basics is to try a few pairs on. Beyond these baseline concerns though, there are a few additional features you’ll want to take note of as well.
Battery Life: Most of the major manufacturers have beefed their battery life up to around the 10-hour mark by now. That should be plenty of talk time for the average working day, as long as you can charge the set for a few hours at the end of the day. It’s generally a good idea to avoid paying for more power than you need.
Wireless Range: Think about how you’ll use your headphones. Most of us will want the freedom of roaming around our desk or perhaps the whole office floor. If the headset is for video conferencing at work, though, it’s unlikely you’ll make use of the entire 300+ feet of range some brands offer, so don’t make this feature a dealbreaker.
Connectivity: Your headset should be able to instantly connect with a range of devices. If possible, make sure you can use them with your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone–every aspect of your unified communications network. Also, be aware that not every headset will work to its optimum performance on every video calling software, so find out what suits your video vendor of choice.
LED and Call Indicators: If you work in the kind of bustling office that leaves you prone to interruptions from colleagues, it might be wise to buy a headset that features an on-call light. Again, don’t pay extra for novelty items, but there are brands that offer such features if you need them. Any headset designed specifically for office use, such as the Jabra Engage 65 and other headsets with booms, should have an on-call light.
On-Ear Controls: There’s no point being wireless if you can’t control your video call from your headset. On-ear controls are standard now, but make sure you can start and end a call from your headset as well as adjust the volume and activate mute.
The right wireless headset should add an extra dimension of movement and convenience to your video call experience. You get all the intimacy and isolation of a traditional headset, but with radically improved comfort and one less cable dangling across your desk. Shopping for a wireless headset should be about finding technology that can provide you with as natural a video conferencing experience as possible.
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