The Great Communicator, Pt. 2

The Great Communicator, Pt. 2

The built-in microphone and speakers on many Macs will take care of a voice call in a pinch, but once you’re using VoIP regularly, you’re sure to want better noise control and sound quality. Whether you prefer the portability and comfort of a headset or the familiarity of a traditional phone handset, these Mac-friendly devices are sure to satisfy.


Logitech’s headset was comfortable for long stretches, and works with all three of the VoIP services we tested.


Logitech Premium Notebook Headset. These behind-the-head-style ’phones impressed us immediately with their sound quality, for both voice calls and music playback. Voices on computer-to-computer calls on Skype sounded rich and full, with nice detail in the lower registers. Bass response was impressive when we listened to music. And call recipients were consistently impressed by the sound from the microphone.


The mute and volume controls are conveniently placed on the cable for quick adjustments. The headset is designed for quick disassembly and storage in a provided travel case. The Logitech case is much larger and a bit less sleek than the case provided for the Plantronics headset (see below), but it still fit easily into our laptop bag.


Our primary complaint was that the combination of analog plugs and a USB adapter made packing the headset into its case a bit more time consuming than it needed to be. We would have preferred a sole USB connection, but the dual connections make it more compatible with PCs. Also, the headband’s behind-the-ear design can take a little getting used to for people who wear glasses. Although this headset is marketed to laptop users, it provides great sound quality in voice calls for both desktop and laptop Macs.


COMPANY: Logitech


PRICE: $59.99


Excellent sound quality. Comfortable wear during extended use. Compatible with Skype, Gizmo, and SightSpeed.

Analog-to-USB adapter makes assembly and storage a bit more cumbersome.



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This compact set looks like a mess of wires, but it features earbuds and a tiny integrated microphone.


Plantronics .Audio 480 Virtual Phone Booth. Depending on your priorities, the miniature footprint of this headset is either a huge downside or its chief selling point. On the plus side, the earbuds, flexible microphone, and relatively short cable easily collapse into the provided travel case, which itself is barely large enough to hold a small pair of reading glasses. The case took up almost no space in our laptop bag; indeed, we passed right over it - twice - when searching through a side compartment. As anyone who travels with a laptop knows, this is a good problem to have.


The earbud-based design, however, can become uncomfortable after long periods of use, especially the left earbud, which is attached to the microphone. The weight of the microphone pulled on the earbud in our testing, eventually loosening it. None of the provided earbud sizes were a good fit for our ears, but in all fairness, we’ve had this problem with earbuds before. A friend who tried the device wore it comfortably for an hour.


Audio quality from the earbuds was more than passable for voice calls. Plantronics claims the headset was designed to block background noise, and this proved true when we tested it in a noisy coffee shop. Sound quality wasn’t as good as that from the Logitech headset, however, which was most noticeable when placing Skype-to-Skype calls or listening to music. Sound quality from the microphone received a similar verdict. When calling out, those we spoke to generally preferred the sound provided by the Logitech Premium Notebook Headset. And when we were on the receiving end of the call, we agreed.


If reducing the clutter in your laptop bag or calling from noisy locations is your priority, the .Audio Virtual Phone Booth is for you. But if you’ve had difficulties with earbuds in the past, or if audio quality is your chief concern, then the Logitech headset may be a better option.


COMPANY: Plantronics


PRICE: $109.99


Small form factor provides easy transport in provided case. Good sound quality in noisy environments. Compatible with Skype, Gizmo, and SightSpeed.

Weight of microphone can make left earbud uncomfortable. Average audio quality. Pricey.







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