Which Microsoft Lync Device is the Best for Audio/Voice Use?

That’s not the right question. A better question is which device is best – for you? You see, there are a bajillion choices when it comes to finding the right handset/phone or headset to use with Microsoft Lync. A casual search on the Lync Catalog will show you many options. Most are good, some are better. The key thing to remember is – we all have opinions.

From time to time, I’m asked the question, “Hey Daryl, which Microsoft Lync device is the best? What do you use with Lync? Do you use a phone? A headset? Both?” Well, that’s a trick question. I use a lot of things.

At Mirazon, I am currently the practice lead for both our Networking and Unified Communications (UC) consulting practices. I am not the “boss” but I have the responsibility, and privilege, to make good technical choices, develop partnership/relationships, and technically guide how we implement and solve creative solutions for our customers. It’s a pretty fun gig. It is also hard to make the “right” decision, so we make many different “right” decisions. For example.

Here is my desk at work:

which microsoft lync device is the best

No, it normally does not look like that. And those are not *all* of the various headsets and handsets that Mirazon uses with Lync. We try to get some of everything so we can properly advise our clients with what fits their unique technical need and budget need. You can ignore the “beast” of a tower machine on the left. And yes, that’s my guitar on the right.

Here are the devices that I use and prefer (Daryl’s favorite way) for Microsoft Lync. And it changes depending on the context as you can see.

My Handset of Choice

Polycom VVX 500

which microsoft lync device is the best

This phone is sexy. This is my primary handset when I’m sitting at my desk. I like the audio quality. It’s touchscreen and people seem to like that. It supports Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) at 10/100/100 network speeds (although changing audio devices “in call” only works from the phone to the computer – not back to the phone yet). From time to time, I use speakerphone, but we’re an open office and that’s annoying to my coworkers. As nice as this phone is, I rarely use it. Plastic phones are a staple in an office, but are not a necessity with Lync and I find them more hindering then useful.

My Wired Headset of Choice

<ERROR 404 — Not Found> Really, wires? Let’s be real.

My Wireless Headset of Choice – Non-Active Noise Canceling (ANC)

which microsoft lync device is the best

Sennheiser DW Pro 2 – DECT

I like both of these devices relatively equally. The Sennheiser device is my daily go-to device. I use it every single day I’m in the office. I like the range of Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT). I can carry on calls while pacing around the office swinging a golf club or wandering to the kitchen to grab a Diet Coke. It’s a “duo” device – with both softphone (Lync) and rj11 capabilities for a more traditional phone need. It’s light, doesn’t smoosh my hair (ha – just kidding, I’m mostly bald), and the audio quality is great. But, as a DECT (via USB) device, I’m tethered to a computer to use this. No iPhone usage for me.

Jabra Evolve 65 Stereo – Bluetooth

The Jabra Evolve 65 is light and the audio is great. Even in an open office – without active noise canceling – I’m surprised at how much the leather pads keep noise away from you. The battery life is awesome. It does come with a dongle for your PC usage. Use the dongle. Really. The Bluetooth is nice to sync to my iPhone (and the audio is awesome) but when using the Evolve 65 on my computer without the dongle, it isn’t a great experience. Unlike the DECT device above, since I can use this with my iPhone, I can also wander about the office using the Evolve 65, but only when the call is on my iPhone (in my pocket). There are pros and cons for sure. These are my current favorite lightweight, non-ANC headsets.

My Wireless Headset of Choice – Active Noise Cancelingwhich microsoft lync device is the best

Jabra Evolve 80 – USB/mini-jack

So, what about those times where it’s loud? Like an open office, coffee house, airport, etc.? Or what about those times I need to really focus? I’m glad you asked. Just like above, I like these devices mostly equally. When I’m sitting at my desk, heavily using Lync, the Jabra Evolve 80 is amazing. Many people in the Lync/Skype4B community have reviewed this. I won’t add to the clutter. The “busy light” functionality is handy so people know I’m – well – busy. As a tethered (USB) device, audio quality is top notch and I have no complaints. Using it on my iPhone is a bit awkward because of the cable. It’s not undoable, just inconvenient.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro – Bluetooth

That Plantronics Backbeat Pro? I use it primariy in two use cases: when I’m using Lync on my iPhone (since it’s untethered/Bluetooth) and when I’m only listening to music (not talking on the phone using Lync on my computer). I prefer the music audio quality of the Backbeat Pro. The sound is just “richer” – the highs, mids and lows just “hit” better for me. What does that have to do with Lync? Nothing of course. I also prefer the Backbeat Pro when I’m on an airplane – which I am often. Using the Backbeat Pro with Lync, while Bluetooth tethered to a PC is not great. There is no dongle like with a Plantronics Voyager UC series. You are “stuck” using whatever Bluetooth version and stack your operating system uses. I gave it my best shot, but, it simply just isn’t for me.

My Personal Speaker of Choice

Jabra SPEAK – The Hockey Puck USB/Bluetooth

Plantronics Calisto C620 – Bluetooth

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Finally, let’s talk about personal speaker devices with Lync. I don’t need to explain how useful this is… because we all (from time to time) need to have a conversation on speaker phone. That is not always convenient at your desk (because you can annoy your neighbors). And, crowding around a small cell phone (or worse yet, your built-in speakers of a computer) is a bad experience.

I only have a Jabra SPEAK 410 – the USB model.  I’ve used the 510 (USB and Bluetooth model) and it’s really awesome too. The Plantronics device is Bluetooth only. I keep both of these in my laptop bag. I use them quite often. The real difference for me – in which one I use – comes down to convenience. If my computer is already booted up – the SPEAK is a faster usage model for me: plug it in and go. That’s not to say the C620 is inconvenient, it’s just not *as* convenient for me.

But, let’s say my computer is not booted up and I’m using my iPhone. The C620 is a FAR better experience than my iPhone speaker phone. The quality is really great. The on-device audio and mute buttons are handy. Also, it’s great to stream music from iTunes Radio or Pandora to a speaker phone. And, since is my personal review after all, I use the Plantronics C620 every night when I travel. I sleep with white noise to help calm my brain so I can sleep. For me, having a white noise app on my iPhone streamed to my C620 sitting on the nightstand is a necessity.

So, there you have it. These are my choices – my preferences. And that’s the brilliance of the Microsoft UC Ecosystem! Many partners make devices and finding the right one is more often than not a matter of context.

What do you use for your audio/voice? Let me know!