Mar 20 2007

Plantronics CS55 and HL10 Bundle

This wireless in-office headset is a tried-and-true gadget for the worker on the move.

With the technology industry throwing out another great new gotta-have-it gadget every day, and technically minded people constantly buying these latest gadgets, it’s important to slow down once in a while and check out not-so-recent-technology gadgets you might have missed. The Plantronics wireless headset system is such an item. Although it’s neither the latest product nor does it use the latest technology, but boy, it does it job well.

End-user advantages: The most obvious advantage is that you can talk hands-free up to 300 feet away from your telephone, letting you use both hands during conversations. Before using the CS55 and HL10 bundle I was aware of the benefits, but after using it for a few weeks, I knew the corded headset was obsolete. The Plantronics wireless headset system quickly became a requirementwhen I was on the job. 

Unlike most gadgets where the benefit is usually encroached by some level of frustration and/or inefficiency, the headset has only good things going for it. It’s simple — a small ear piece attaches to your ear via a simple hook, similar to most Bluetooth hands-free cell ear pieces. The ear piece sits in a small base attached to your existing desk phone, which is also connected to the optional cradle lifter. The ear piece uses 900-megahertz technology to let you use your office phone securely and clearly from up to 300 feet away. The optional lifter even lets you answer and hang up calls from that distance.

Now I find myself talking to clients while sliding my chair across my office, grabbing a file here, looking through a call log there, jotting down notes here. Productivity has never felt so good. Based on my increased efficiency, I bought my staff the headsets. They quickly became hooked as well — so much so, that some of them have gone home still sporting their ear pieces.

Why the Plantronics wireless headset works for IT: For the information technology department, the integration of the unit with current phones is a nonevent. The product works with any desk phone. A small cord goes from your current handset to a small base unit, and that’s it. If you use the optional cradle lifter, there is a little more finagling to get the cradle to work with your handset. The advantages of the cradle lifter are great though. I can be in a meeting with my employees on the other side of my office and still answer an expected important call easily via my ear piece.

Disadvantages of the Plantronics wireless headset: The only disadvantage is that the units are battery powered, so you need to keep the headset in its base once in a while to fully charge it. I’ve made one or two calls where I forgot about charging; if it’s low on battery, the ear piece gives a series of short beeps to warn you that it’s about to fail.

Slow down a little on the latest technology and check out this gem. It’s rare these days to find a gadget that has true seamless integration, is easy to use, requires no support, has hardly any learning curve and increases productivity instantly. The Plantronics CS55 and HL10 Bundle lives up to all five of these claims.

MSRP: $399

Arthur Zards is president of XNet Information Systems (www.xnet.com), an online services company in Lisle, Ill.