Plantronics have a reputation when it comes to headsets with a sound clarity that is unique. They now also have a reputation as a supplier of headsets that can be integrated with Unified Communications platforms. The Savi 740 is one of these.
Unified Communications (UC) is a technology that promises to increase the efficiency of communications, no matter how these happen — by phone, mobile, VoIP, or email. UC relies on software to integrate all these forms of communication, but also on hardware. The hardware must be suitable to integrate with the software so that you can switch between mobile calls and VoIp without losing either, for example. Plantronics has a range of products for this purpose.
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Price (approx.): €400
The Plantronics UC products come with software that enables you to control the hardware. The hardware itself is made to integrate with either Microsoft’s Lync platform or with a whole range of platforms, including those from Cisco, Avaya, and Skype even. The integration is to be understood as the capability of the headset to control the software as well as communicate with the software, e.g. to record the voice data. UC is incredibly important when it works well. For example, UC in a hospital environment can automatically ‘follow’ nurses when they check in to see an individual patient and push the correct data to their DECT phone. They can also automatically be called on the device best suited at any moment in time. When they are in the operating theatre, they can get silent calls, or calls on wired phones instead of a mobile, etc., etc.
The Savi 740 that I tested was the general version. I could therefore test it on Windows 7 with Skype installed. I also tested it on the Mac OS X platform. On Windows, Plantronics offers control hardware. With this hardware you can set up the headset to your liking, view battery status, and much more.
On Mac OS X, the headset functions as a regular sound interface. The Savi 740 has three buttons: one to open up communications with the computer (VoIP), one to integrate with your cell phone, and the last one to integrate with a wired phone. I tested all three of these modes, and found them to work flawlessly. The sound quality of the wired phone connection was the worst of the three, but was still better than using the handset by itself.
The Savi 740 has a stylish desktop holder in black with the three selection buttons at the top. Communications with your mobile happen through Bluetooth. The headset itself is located at right, in its own cradle. The headset is beautifully designed and has a rechargeable and replaceable battery that should last for several hours. The headset should also keep working without interruptions when exchanging batteries.
Unfortunately, I could not test this feature as Plantronics did not send me a replacement battery for review. However, I did try out plainly removing the battery and see what happens. It turned out the call wasn’t dropped. I couldn’t hear my correspondent anymore — and he couldn’t hear me — but the call itself was kept alive.
According to Plantronics’ user guide, you have 5 minutes of backup power in the headset before the call gets dropped while replacing batteries. One problem that I see for individual users is that you can’t find the Plantronics replacement batteries easily — unless it’s online you want to shop. Where I live as well as where I come from I would have a harder time buying them from a local store. Plantronics’ PR suggested a couple of consumer stores, but I know for a fact they don’t stock them and refuse to order them!
You won’t have that problem if you’re a company, of course, and that’s also where the Savi 740 feels most comfortable. It really is a professional tool. That’s also readily apparent from the whole range of mounting pieces you get with the headset. You can wear the headset in headphone style over the head, behind the head (with a piece that sits in your neck, and which is quite comfy), and as a traditional earphone style headset. My personal favourite is the over-the-head headphone wearing style as it is the easiest to position the microphone. Regardless of which style you choose, the sound and features are always top-of-the-bill.
The Savi 740 isn’t a cheap headset, but given its UC capabilities and the accessories that come with the set, it’s not exactly expensive either.