This week BTP had a chance to see and try on pre-production models of Plantronics new EncorePro HW540 convertible and HW520 dual ear headsets. Wow! They made a very positive impression on all of us.
Positive Comments on Design, Weight and Usability
There is no question about it – the new EncorePro Series is lightweight and modern looking compared to all the others we are used to. This is exciting!These aren’t just more look-alike corded headsets. There’s been serious thought put into this line and we applaud the Plantronics Design Group. The flexible microphone arm on all the models has intuitive ribbing that prompt the user to bend it towards the mouth for optimal noise canceling and voice clarity. The correct position is 1-2 finger widths away, level with the mouth.
HW540 Convertible Headset – First Impressions
HW540 is easy to convert into 3 different wearing styles. The pieces snap into place, and it doesn’t take an engineer to figure out how to snap it apart again. Keep in mind, when BTP evaluates a new product, we aren’t gentle. Professional office headsets need to be sturdy yet simple to use. And we think Plantronics hit the mark.
BTP team consensus is the over-the-ear configuration with bendable ear loop feels practically weightless. The little speaker is about 1.43 inches in diameter. The soft replaceable ear cushion has a rubber ring on the back that snaps easily onto the speaker. It feels cushy and there is nothing protruding inside the ear. This is what customers have been asking for!
The rubber ear loop (large and small size included) has ribbing where you should bend it for a custom fit. Several remarked that they hardly knew this new headset was on!
For small ears, we recommend snapping on the neckband. It’s easy to convert – when you hear the click it’s on. The neckband is a bit thicker compared to the W740 neckband, although it is super light and comfortable. The new snap on headband for a traditional headset style features a new T-bar stabilizer design that didn’t get caught in long curly hair, a definite plus.
EncorePro HW520 Dual Ear is Upscale, Distinguished Looking
Amazingly, this headset looks distinguished. (Who ever thought a headset could be distinguished?) The new microphone and styling with copper colored turret on black is an expensive refined look you’d expect to see on professionals in small offices or small contact centers. On people who are serious about comfort and style. HW520 was so lightweight and comfortable we couldn’t help but wonder if some of the components were missing! HW520 is noticeably lighter than the current SupraPlus HW261N or EncorePro HW301N (soon to be renamed EncorePlus HW701N).
Soft ear cushions have a special mesh speaker fabric across the “donut hole”. We are told one reason for the mesh fabric is to prevent makeup from clogging the speaker which prolongs product life.
The microphone arm (boom) has audible click locks and tick marks for guidance when positioning. It won’t go too far down below your mouth. (Thus preventing what we call droopy boom syndrome.) For user and supervisor: this visual and audible feedback is a reminder to use the product correctly to the fullest potential so all-important noise cancellation is optimized.
Projected Shipping and Availability Dates
EncorePro HW530 (over-the-ear) and HW540 (convertible) are estimated to ship from Plantronics to distribution around October 24th. BTP customer orders will ship the day we receive the new headsets. HW510 monaural and HW520 binaural (traditional headband styles) are scheduled to ship December 2014.