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      25.09.2009 10:50
      Very helpful



      Average entry level telephone head-set - spend a bit more, though, and get a lot more

      A whole bunch of bright young things, sitting in banks of desks (or standing up and pacing the few steps the cord allows them) - this is what is often envisioned when one thinks of telephone headsets. However, headsets are useful things. I touch type, and so like having both hands free when I'm on the phone (this allows me, amongst other things, to type a note of the call I'm making whilst on the phone, or net surfing, or any number of things one might like two hands free for). I don't like cradling the phone between my neck and shoulder. Modern landline handsets just aren't designed for that, and the cradling causes neck and shoulder ache. Therefore, I use, when I can a headset.

      I was supplied, at my place of work, with a BT Accord 10 headset - an entry level, inexpensive (BT sell it for £37.21 including VAT in their online shop; you can probably get it cheaper elsewhere) corded headset.

      == Specifications - the technical nitty gritty ==
      This is a 'monoaural' (using only one ear to you and me) headset, with a flexible stalk leading to the microphone. It comes with two ear cushions - a fake leather one (which I use) and a foam one, if that's what you prefer. There is also a foam cover for the microphone. There is a quick disconnecter halfway down the cord, allowing you to disconnect the headset, thus putting your caller on hold whilst you walk away to make a coffee (or whatever). If you are using this on a home (corded phone), it also comes with a little round box, so that you can switch between the handset and the headset easily. The box has a mute button. The box is not needed with many work phones, as they typically have two connection points for head/handsets, and have their own mute, hold and transfer capabilities. I therefore don't use the box, and have the headset plugged directly into the phone.

      There is a little clip which can (with a tadge bit of difficulty, it is quite stiff) be attached to your clothing to keep the cable from dangling around your chin - I don't tend to use this.

      == A Perfect Fit? ==
      I have used the BT Converse 10 with two phone systems now. In both cases, I simply plugged the headset into the spare hand/headset socket, and off I went (both phones have an integral headset button, allowing you to switch between hand and headset).

      It's easy to use. It is not uncomfortable, however, it is not as comfortable as the more expensive and professional Plantronics handsets. I do miss having a 'proper' box (like the Plantronics have) allowing me to mute my voice, yet still able to hear the caller. The earpiece can be worn on either ear (I wear mine on my left), and the microphone is adjustable to get it the proper distance from your mouth so you can be heard. The bit that goes over your head has a slider so that you can adjust it to fit your head (there's a padded bit that sits above the ear not in use, as it were), however, it is limited, and you may struggle to find a truly comfortable fit. It's not _uncomfortable_, but nor would you want to wear it for hours at a time.

      I find the earpiece shifts on my ear - the shape isn't ideally suited to the human ear (or at least to mine - perhaps mine is non-human?) I typically wear a hair clip near the top of my head - I find it difficult(ish - these things are all relative - it's not as tricky as, say, brain surgery) to find an ideal place for the alice band part.

      The cord is quite long, and has a straight part and a coiled part (like telephone handsets typically have - the stretchy part that on handsets can get tangled and tie you to your phone; this hasn't happened with my headset). This does give you plenty of space to move around, and so you can set your phone a reasonable distance from your head. I can actually stand up and do a little dance (were I so inclined) whilst wearing the headset.

      == Caller, are you receiving me? ==
      The sound quality is adequate, though again, not as good as its more expensive competitors. I notice the drop in sound quality particularly when talking to someone on a mobile with a bad line, and find myself regularly cranking the volume on the phone up.

      I do need, in addition, to make sure the microphone is really pretty near my mouth, or else the person on the other end of the line struggles to hear me (and I talk fairly loud - I '''AM''' American). Fortunately, the stalk on which the microphone sits is reasonably stiff, and holds its shape well.

      == Caller, have I answered your queries? ==
      As an entry level headset, for a small or home business, this is a more than adequate product. However, if you spend most of your day on the phone, I'd be inclined to look at Plantronics, or, at the very least, one of the higher specced (and more expensive) BT offerings.

      If you can, you'd be well advised to try the headset on in the shop first - what suits my head and ears may not suit yours so well. You should also check the connections on your phone and make sure that you can actually plug this in - a typical office phone will often have two handset sockets, whilst a home phone may just have one. If you only have one, you need to make sure the box that comes with the headset will do what you need it to do (allow you to switch between hand and headset, and perform mute functions).

      Do also keep in mind that this headset won't work on a cordless phone (as there are no connectors at all for a headset), so you may need to own (or rent) a corded phone if you intend to use a headset.

      If I were working from a home office, I would certainly consider the BT Accord 10. It is inexpensive and adequate. However, if I were going to be on the phone for most of the day, every day, I'd splurge and get a Plantronics.

      Recommended, therefore, with reservations.



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