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TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Principal Consulting Engineer" - I work with an awesome group of people at CDW, LLC. I’ve been at this gig in one fashion or another since 1988 - starting with desktops (remember Z-248’s?) and now I am in Portland, Oregon. I focus on collaboration and infrastructure. This means Exchange of all flavors, LCS/OCS/Lync, Windows, business process, and learning new stuff. I have a variety of interests - some of which may rear their ugly head in this forum. I have a variety of certifications dating back to Novell CNE and working up through the Microsoft MCP stack to MCITP multiple times. FWIW, I am on my third career - ex-USMC, retired US Army. I have a fancy MBA. One of these days, I intend to start teaching. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone.

2013/04/24

Plantronics Blackwire C320-M Lync Device Review

Disclaimer:  Plantronics provided the headset.

What it is

The Plantronics Blackwire C320-M is a “Optimized for Microsoft Lync” stereo (bi-aural) USB headset.

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Build Quality

This headset demonstrates the first class build quality that we have come to expect from Plantronics.  In particular, on my laptop, the USB connection is nice and tight – not all loose and nasty like some devices.The rotating boom mike stays put rather than flopping around, the foam earpieces look and feel good, and the wire leads in and out of the inline control button thingy have reinforcements that make me think that the leads won’t be breaking or pulling out anytime soon.  Overall, pretty doggone nice.

Features

The headset lead has the typical built-in buttons for call control, volume and muting – except that as a Lync-optimized device, these controls actually control Lync also.  The microphone boom has very nice feel to it.  And you can bend it to fit whatever position you want it to be in, and it stays there.  I like it.

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Lync Integration

The documentation for this headset consisted of a single multiple-folded (made up that word just now!) 15 language, single piece of paper.  Of which 4 pages actually covered everything you need to know and then some.  What is more important was that on multiple systems that I checked this device on, I never needed to read anything, configure anything, or mess with anything.  I plugged it it, and it worked.  The call button takes Lync off hook as expected and terminates the call if you press it again.  The mute button makes a rising beep when it mutes, and a descending beep tone when you unmute.  And yes, the buttons controls the Lync client as well.

The buttons light up to show function.  In a call and muted:

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The volume up/down makes louder and softer tones also – with no discernable change in the system settings (volume mixer) – but the volume goes up and down.  Nice trick, eh wot?

The Plantronics official tear sheet is here. I have used this headset for a week on four different workstations; used it for meetings, regular calls, Lync meetings, calls to cell phones and calls to other Lync users.  In each case the audio was crisp and clean.  The microphone is sensitive, but the device also seems to be very good at blocking the extraneous background (i.e.: something that is not right in front of the microphone boom).  According to the official brag material up on plantrontics.com, this headset has “…Dynamic EQ…” – whatever, it seems to work well.  When it came to Lync, both 2010 and 2013, this thing just worked, and worked well.

Complaint Department

There were two things I did not like about this unit.  One of them might be because Plantronics shipped me a bulk-order unit and not a boxed unit.  The first is that there is no clip or something to hold the headset lead to your person/clothing/otherlocation.  I tend to find the inline control module under my forearm on my desk with me accidently pushing buttons in an un-wanted fashion.  Annoying.  And such a little detail.  The second is that the wire/cable from the USB connection to the headset itself is sort of … stiff.  It might be just me, and I am wire bundle challenged – but the headset lead kept getting in my way.  Over the course of a week, it never got more flexible.  OTOH, this might indicate that it won’t break!

General Observations

Overall, I like this device.  When you consider that a quick Google-fu session prices this unit in the $35-47.50 – this headset starts to look better and better.  And comfy for my brain housing group also.  Over the week, I not once thought that I had something uncomfortable latched onto my gourd.  Combined with the overall workings and build quality, that might be what makes the decision.

YMMV.

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