For anyone who works in an office, finding the perfect headset can be difficult. Sound quality, microphone clarity and general comfort are three of the most important pillars to consider when purchasing a headset, especially if you're likely to be on calls for hours at a time. Unfortunately, not many units offer all three features simultaneously.
Whether you're working at home or in a "cube farm," distraction is a real obstacle. What I do involves a lot of email and voice communication, so isolation from distractions with a headset seems like a good use of cash.
We tested the Jabra Evolve 80 ($329, £210, AU$380) headset for a few weeks to see if it does in fact boost productivity in noisy work environments. The company claims to deliver an "unmatched solution for businesses of all sizes, enabling greater concentration and focus in the open office." With modern office design trending toward fully "open" floor plans and communal Sonos playlists, sometimes getting some peace and quiet seems impossible.
Jabra is a leading manufacturer of innovative audio solutions. The Evolve's best feature is the noise-cancellation technology, aimed at enhancing productivity by providing a "concentration zone" for the user to tune out the rest of the world.
While we tested out the Jabra Evolve 80, there are five headsets in the series - 20, 30, 45, 65 and 80 - all built for the purpose of shutting out the hustle and bustle of an open office. This even includes features that signal when to just leave that person alone – think of a "Do Not Disturb" sign from your headphones, in the form of bright red rings around each of the sides of the headphones.
The box included the Jabra Evolve 80 headset, carry pouch, cable management clip, USB controller, along with the User Guide & Warranty info.
One of my favorite features about the headset was the boom microphone, which worked very clearly. In an open office where everyone can hear your conversation, I wasn't forced to yell into it or repeat myself over-and-over in order to carry on a meeting. When it wasn't in use, it wasn't clunky and obtrusive to the rest of the headset design. Instead, it tucked back up parallel to the headset when it wasn't in use.
The microphone is perfect for sales representatives meeting with clients on-line or for internal meetings. The more substantial microphone works better than the chest-level type common in earbud headphones, which often is too far away from the mouth, leading you to use one hand to hold it closer to your mouth, obstructing the view of your facial expressions and taking one hand away from typing notes. While this style of microphone seems a bit dated and isn't the "sexiest," Jabra does a good job of making it as sleek as possible.
The headset comes with a somewhat clunky USB controller, which includes an answer/end call button, volume down, volume up, mute switch and the aforementioned Busylight indicator.
The controller has a convenient rubbery grip pad on its underside, which prevents it from slipping around on your desk. This is more convenient than other headsets, which usually have the controller hanging around your chest or your knees. The desk option makes this easily accessible for switching modes or optimizing volume. You can even accept and handle multiple calls at the same time via the USB controller, which is great for jobs that have a high volume of calls throughout the day.