The scoop: Logitech Wireless Headset Dual H820e, by Logitech, about $200 (mono version costs about $180).
What is it? This headset includes stereo earphones and a flexible boom microphone (it can be rotated so the microphone can be used on the right side or left side), and is geared toward business users who use unified communications (such as Microsoft Lync or Cisco platforms) or PC-based softphones (including Skype and Google's voice apps). The headset connects wirelessly through a nice, small base station, which then connects to a PC or Mac via USB cable. The base station can also recharge the headset when you're not using it for calls. Logitech offers two models — mono (one ear) or stereo (sound in both ears).
Why it's cool: The headset's wireless connection uses the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard, which lets you move up to 300 feet away from the base station. In my tests, I could wander around most of the Network World editorial offices without experiencing any loss in sound or voice quality. The additional roaming area, compared with Bluetooth's typical 30-foot range, makes it useful if you need to get up from your call to grab something, or if you're working at home and need to make a fridge or bathroom run during a call (just be sure to mute the microphone during those situations!). The DECT standard also reduces any potential interference issues that you might discover with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices in a busy office environment.
Cushions on the ear pads and under the bar connecting the ear pads (on top of the headset) make it comfortable enough to wear on your head when you're not on a voice call — if you like to listen to music while working, you can keep these on most of the day without worrying that your ears are going to get sore.
In my tests, the sound quality via a Skype call was pretty good — definitely better quality than relying on the microphone built into the PC/Mac. The headphones picked up some external noise during the call, but that could be Skype compensating for volume changes from the caller on the other end — if the person you're calling moves away from the microphone, Skype boosts the sound. But the external noise was never bothersome enough during my tests to make it a nuisance.
Some caveats: Unlike some other business-focused headsets, you don't have any flexibility on wearing styles — you are limited to the over-the-head style, which may turn off some users who prefer a behind-the-head version. The unit also doesn't offer different-size ear pads — one size fits all here. The $200 price tag may scare off some people — although you could switch to the less-expensive mono version, or you could look at Logitech's USB corded model (the H650e), which costs about $90 (or $80 for the corded mono version). These would be recommended for users who make a lot of phone calls via their UC or softphone systems. Other inexpensive options are available if you are looking to just have a headset for occasional calls or if you want to listen to music while working.
Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five).
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