If you often find yourself in back-to-back meetings or needing to block out the world for the afternoon, the Poly Voyager 8200 UC could well be the headset for you. However, while sturdy and comfortable, this wireless headset is let down by a handful of design quirks.
Great battery life
Effective noise cancellation
Strange design decisions
Micro-USB, not USB-C
Why you can trust TechRadar
It’s lightweight and offers generous padding, making the headset perfect for long sessions. The battery life is also seriously impressive, so you’re unlikely to get caught short during a meeting or half way through a playlist.
The four-mic boomless design is refreshing and still captures the voice with great accuracy. And the sound quality is solid too, with rich bass notes and accurate treble, even if there’s a little blowout at maximum volume.
However, the headset is held back by a few strange design choices. The smart business aesthetic is compromised by unflattering side panels and the buttons and dials have a decidedly non-premium feel.
We also encountered minor audio glitches that settings tweaks failed to clean up entirely, which isn’t something you’d expect from a piece of kit at this price point.
Price and availability
The Voyager 8200 UC sits at the top of the price range for headsets, available from the official Poly store at a price of $379.95/£386.95. However, bargain hunters will currently find it cheaper at Amazon, at $250/£235.
For your money, you get the headset itself, Poly’s BT600 Bluetooth dongle, a USB-A to micro USB cable, a 3.5mm audio cable and a fabric carrying pouch.
The website suggests you can also purchase spare ear cushions (in black or white) should yours wear out, but no price is quoted.
Although the price tag puts the Voyager 8200 UC firmly in the premium category, a number of the design choices would seem to contradict that characterization.
The tone is set by the plain and unattractive packaging, which gives off a decidedly non-luxury feel. Sure, this is a business-focused device, but the packaging makes a poor first impression nonetheless.
While the headset itself is pleasing enough to look at, with an all-black aesthetic suitable for any business context, Poly has taken the inexplicable step of decorating the side panels with what looks like laminate flooring. What’s worse, the fake wood grain is slanted in a different direction on each earphone, making for an awkward and unsymmetrical look.
The company has also chosen not to label the three-mode noise cancellation switch, meaning anyone picking up the headset after the plastic film has been removed will be clueless as to its functionality.
The volume dial, meanwhile, feels lightweight and plasticy and is frustrating to use. Instead of rotating freely to turn media volume up or down, the dial only turns by ten or so degrees, which makes large volume adjustments finicky.
Weight - 289g
Battery - 24 hours listen, 20 hours talk, 1 month standby
Charging - micro USB
Roaming range - 30m
Microphone - Boomless dual-paired omnidirectional mics
Connectivity - Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, 3.5mm audio, micro USB
Noise cancellation - Yes
Despite all this, Poly has designed a headset that is comfortable to wear for extended periods, with generous padding that envelops the ears without pressing too hard on the side of the head. The range of extension also means the Voyager 8200 UC should fit even the largest proportions comfortably.
It’s also easy to pause media, skip songs and exit calls thanks to dedicated panel buttons and the quick mute button on the underside is an invaluable addition, especially in the era of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. And the large L and R printed on the inside of the ear cups meant we were never at risk of putting the headset on the wrong way round.
Beyond the obvious audio and microphone functionality, the Voyage 8200 UC offers a selection of handy extra features.
For example, the headset detects when it has been removed from your head - say, to have a quick word with a colleague or family member - and will pause whatever you’re listening to. When you return the headset to its original position, the content will resume automatically.
In a similar vein, when you’re not on a call, the mute button doubles up as an “OpenMic” button. When pressed, all media will be paused and audio from the room fed into your ears. Although it’s nice to have the option, it’s almost always going to be easier (and more polite) to quickly remove the device from your head when having an in-person conversation.
More useful is the automatic mute alert feature, which lets you know immediately if you begin speaking while your microphone is inactive - a common remote working faux pas.
There’s also multi-device pairing, which will allow you to hook the 8200 UC up to additional devices - such as your smartphone or tablet - via near-field communication (NFC). This way, if a call comes in on your mobile, you can pick up without having to wrestle with the headset.
The 8200 UC is supported by an excellent desktop companion app, called Plantronics Hub, which makes fine-tuning the headset to your preferences simple. From here, you can also check for firmware updates, see your remaining battery life and access documentation that will help you solve any problems you might have.
Broadly, the Poly Voyager 8200 UC does a solid job from a performance perspective, both when listening to audio or video content and when using the headset during meetings.
The bass is deep and rich and high frequency sounds are not at all harsh, which means a wide range of music genres sound great. And the headset is more than capable of delivering meeting audio with clarity, the job for which it’s designed.
The Poly BT600 Bluetooth dongle always maintains a consistent connection, even from the other side of this reviewer’s (modest) flat, so you won’t be interrupted by interference or connection dropout.
The noise cancellation mode is brilliant too, cutting out all external distractions without you having to bump up the volume to an uncomfortable level. There are three modes, depending on the amount of noise cancellation you prefer: off, medium and high. And no matter what mode you’re listening in, sound leakage is minimal.
The only real sound quality issues we encountered came when boosting the volume to maximum, which produced a measure of blowout, especially with treble frequencies.
However, we did encounter performance issues beyond sound quality. When we first received the headset, it was practically unusable on conference calls, because our voice was played back into our ears at a slight delay, making conversation extremely difficult.
We spoke to Poly about how the issue might be remedied and found that turning the sidetone to low via the companion app went a long way. However, even after tweaking the settings, we continued to encounter the issue on occasion, albeit to a much less dramatic extent.
Poly says the battery will last up to 24 hours in active use or up to a month on standby, which our testing suggests is probably about right. The headset charges from flat to full in roughly three hours, which isn’t too bad, but could presumably be improved significantly if the company had opted for USB-C over micro-USB.
The Voyager 8200 UC from Poly gets plenty right, both from a sound quality and comfort perspective. The lengthy battery life and effective noise cancellation also mean you’ll be able to knuckle down for long periods without interruption.
A few smart features - such as auto-pause, multi-device pairing and mute alert - combine to set this headset apart from less premium business models on the market.
That said, a number of questionable design decisions detract from the overall experience. Even if you can overlook the unpleasant faux wood grain paneling, you’ll be frustrated by the finicky volume dial and button labelling. Issues with excessive sidetone and blowout at maximum volume must also be taken into consideration.
Ultimately, the Voyager 8200 UC will be a reliable companion for anyone that finds themselves in back-to-back video meetings or working from a noisy space. Given the price tag, though, this headset’s foibles can be hard to ignore.
Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.