I work from home near full-time, and the rest of my team works remotely too, so I spend a decent amount of time on VoIP calls for scheduled meetings, paired debugging sessions, and general chit-chat.
For at least the last four years I’ve been using a Plantronics .Audio 615M USB headset that I received free at a conference back around 2009 and it has been working very well. Built-in Windows drivers recognise it as a USB communications headset so it becomes the default microphone and speaker for Slack Calls, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. I also love that it is a single-ear headset so I can still be aware of my surroundings while I’m wearing it, and the over-ear design (as opposed to in-ear) means it is comfortable to wear for extended periods.
What frustrated me about this headset was that I was tethered to my desk during a call, and I couldn’t use the same headset with my phone whilst on the go. The long cable also made it awkward to use when working from a café. So I started looking for an alternative.
I found TechRadar’s best Bluetooth headsets 2018 article and was drawn to the Sennheiser Presence UC at position 5 primarily because it “can connect to phone and laptop at the same time for easy switching”. The same article also called this headset “not the most comfortable” but I’ve had good experiences with other Sennheiser products, so I checked out the official product page where I discovered that an over-ear headband and charging stand was also available for this device. So I took a chance, and ordered the whole set.
I’ve been using the new Presence headset for over a week now and I am very happy with the product. It paired to my Android phone trivially, and the USB dongle for the laptop required no special drivers. Like the old Plantronics, the new Sennheiser headset also became the default device for my VoIP applications.
The USB dongle also has a light indicating that the headset is paired (dull blue), active (bright blue), or even disabled (red) because I toggled the “microphone mute” key on my laptop keyboard.
Battery life is supposedly 10 hours of talk time but with the charging stand in easy reach, I leave the headset there when I’m not on a call and I don’t need to think about the battery. The lack of cable also means I’m not getting it tangled in my chair wheels, and I can step away from my desk to refill my coffee while I’m on a call.
So far I only have two complaints with Presence headset: firstly, the slider switch to power on/off the device is a little too easy to slide accidentally when picking up the headset from the stand to put it on for a call. I need to be mindful of how I pick it up to avoid waiting for a power-off, power-on, pair cycle.
Secondly, it is not simple to remove the over-ear headband and revert back to the in-ear configuration. There are a couple of small pieces that need to be found and reconnected, and later removed again to re-attach the headband, and it would be easy to lose them. As such I think I’ll just be using the headband accessory while I’m travelling.