This week I have a review on the Jabra Evolve 80 headset. I am in no way sponsored by Jabra and this is an independent opinion in a series of Lync product reviews I plan to publish. Jabra is up first as the company was the first to send me the headset as part of this series.
Jabra description declares them to be a “more than headsets, a workplace evolution” but are they?
Stale Hanson has already provided some information on the headset which can be found as part of his LyncPro series here.
For any office worker who works in an open plan or open area this is an optimal headset. I have three children whom I often have to work within earshot of and having the ability to use the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to eliminate the outside interference gives me the chance to concentrate on the task at hand and finish that Pomodoro timer. The brilliant ANC isolates from distractions whether at home or inside the office working from cubical or open area to turn anywhere into a ‘Concentration Zone’.
Rating headsets falls into three separate categories; sound quality, microphone, and comfort. Because people often wear a headset inside the office for several hours in a stretch it’s imperative that the headset is able to meet all of the features simultaneously.
I’ve noticed that the sound quality from the headset from the PC Powered USB is really good, one of the best headsets I’ve used, and activating the ANC seems to push the amplification up a gear—although this does come with some sound bleeding, as you would expect. Although the headset is closed cup, in that they isolate the nose around you and in doing so prevent others from hearing your music. Whereas an open headphone will possibly provide better sound but with little to no isolation from music and outside world.
The headset is easily unplugged from the USB control unit and a 3.5mm connection can be plugged into a mobile phone or other device. The quality to a phone is, again, good, perhaps not as good as plugged direct to the PC but the ANC and volume are more than adequate.
The boom is located on the right side. This isn’t necessarily a problem unless you have a preference of having the boom on the left. When not in use, the boom is simply placed in an upward position and it’s out of the way. The quality from the microphone was clear and, even in an open-plan office, I was always able to hold conversations at a normal level. The microphone can be muted using the USB controller during a Skype for Business call and traditional volume and call functionality can be adjusted.
Having worn the headset for several hours per day for several weeks, I have found it very comfortable. It is slightly on the heavier side at 11.7oz or 331 grams but, as with most professional grade headsets, to drive the sound you require a decent sized magnet. The ear cushions are made of leather and even with almost daily use, and several international flights, the headset has held up perfectly. The leather ear cushions can be replaced at a cost of $20 from Jabra.
About the controller:
The controller has a foam underneath to prevent it from moving around on the desk. The controller enables you to turn up and down the volume, mute the headset and pick up an incoming call. But, in addition to that, you can press the central Jabra button and it illuminates the busy circle on both sides of the headset as a visual indicator to others that you’re busy. This is what provides the Optimized for Lync functionality. The controller is also the main source of charging the headset. The 3.5mm outer rim isn’t exactly round, it has flat points on two edges, and this must connect to charging points within the controller and when the device is plugged into the USB it charges the headset.
About the headset:
The headset seems to last over 24 hours with ANC enabled. I try my best to remember to flick the ANC switch which illuminates when on, however I have returned to the office the next day having left the device on overnight and continued to use it with the noise cancelling turned on. The sound is fantastic from USB, which I tend to use most days and the comfort is good. The headset also has a listen/mute button—if you are in ANC mode and listening to something you can press the right ear cup and this will mute things so you do not have to take off your headset to speak or listen to things outside your ‘Concentration Zone’
The Jabra direct software is pretty impressive. On the landing page you can see which applications are configured to use the headset, and you can also launch the firmware updater which is native to this application without visiting a web page or launching another application like some other headset providers require.
One really cool feature that the software has is Intelligent Call Transfer.
Intelligent call transfer understands that while a Skype for Business call is in process, whether it is a conference or a point to point call, when the 3.5mm connection is removed it will call your designated number. In my case, it is my mobile phone. The call is made through your Skype for Business server’s gateway. This is brilliant in bridging some of the capability that Cisco Call manager have had for some time. Having the ability to take my call and seamlessly transfer it to my mobile phone by unplugging my headset from my PC, connecting it to my mobile, then answering it is pretty impressive.
What I liked:
USB Sound was a thriller, I genuinely love the sound that comes out of these when they are plugged into my PC. The intelligent call transfer is a super-smart advancement in the way Lync and Skype work. The first time it happened it caught me out as I wasn’t expecting it to work as well as it did. I can look like a cool hipster with oversized headset, right up until they see my microphone and realise I’m just a dorky business guy.
What I disliked:
The headset is bulky. I understand the competition in that Bose, Beats, Sony, and even some of the higher end Sennheiser headsets I have used are comparably bulky, but the size makes it a bit difficult to transport them from site to site and, as a road warrior, I would prefer the ability to take advantage of the ANC yet travel with the headset in my bag.
I recommend the headset for a person who is stationary and wants to have top of the line sound quality. For a person who works in an open office and would like to keep focused, these headsets are perfect. The Optimised for Lync features work flawlessly, and the integrated software with Skype for Business is a really useful feature on top of a really well built headset. For me, someone who spends just as much time at home and office as well on the road I tend to leave them for the home office and I use a Bluetooth headset which is smaller and lighter while out and about.
This is certainly a brilliant headset for someone who would like a sanctuary within the workplace.